My friend Jemima Willcox celebrated her 2nd year in business recently. It’s an awesome achievement. Around 50 per cent of new businesses fold within the first year. How did she celebrate? With an event talking about failure.
We don’t like talking about failure. Ask anyone how their business is going and they are likely to tell you everything is wonderful, whether it really is or not. We keep up appearances.
But most people running a business find it a lonely game. Tough decisions. Non-paying customers. Lack of knowledge about how to do things. Those who start a business on their own need to be CEO, finance director, marketing director and sales director all rolled into one. And that’s without doing the work the company offers.
We’re lucky in Cambridge to be in a very open business community. People are willing to share knowledge, work collaboratively and give a helping hand.
Jemima called her event “It’s not failing, it’s learning”. She asked Ed Goodman, who runs co-working space Cambridge Business Lounge and founded Freelance Heroes, and social media consultant Lenka Koppová to talk about their experiences. Both have been key to helping Jemima succeed during her business journey.
“I’ve made mistakes but I wouldn’t call any of them a failure,” Lenka told the audience.
Ed said: “The best solutions we have to the challenges that we face is using the hive mind. The network of tried and trusted people who run a business, in whatever industry. You could be an accountant talking to a photographer. It makes no difference because when you strip away the services, we all have the same issues.”
His advice? If you’re struggling, ask for help.
Talking about our problems, sharing our mistakes or when things didn’t go as planned, helps others. And it can also show us that we’re not alone.
Gerald Ratner, who famously lost a fortune with an ill-advised joke about his family jewellery business, is now a keynote speaker. He talks about his mistakes and what can be learned from them. He’s also written a book called The Rise And Fall… And Rise Again.
One of the things I liked most about Jemima’s event was that I met three new people and it was their first time at a business networking event in Cambridge. They had never met Jemima before. They came along because they thought it sounded interesting. They wanted to hear about what people had learned from things not going as planned.
We need to hear each others’ stories. If you want help to tell yours, get in touch with me.
Rachel Extance helps business tell their stories so they can reach a wider audience for their work and ideas. A professional journalist, she knows how to write stories people find relevant and engaging. If you would like help to get your message across, need someone who can write articles for you regularly, or you would like actionable ideas for how to tell more people about what you do, get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or contact her on social media.