How to Navigate Failure as a Small Business Owner

How to Navigate Failure as a small business owner

Here’s the deal ladies, this blog post is written straight from the heart because in the past several weeks I have navigated some down right tough business decisions. Some people may label my recent decision as a failure but I’m going to challenge you to think about the idea of failure in a whole new way.

So, let’s back up for just a sec. In addition to my personal brand and helping small business owners I own a brick and mortar storefront named graced. I opened my first store in June of 2018 in a smallish town, Manitowoc (yep, if you saw Making a Murderer it’s that Manitowoc).

The store, while not an overnight success, has a pretty strong following of loyal customers and seemed as if many people were eager for me to expand and bring a graced to their town.

I only verbalized the idea of possibly having a second store to a few people but seemingly out of no where a friend of mine gave me a tip on a beautiful store front space located 30 minutes south of our current location. I immediately jumped on it and just a few months later opened my second store.

Unfortunately, despite a hugely successful grand opening sales just did not keep up with the costs. After pouring tons of money into marketing, radio commercials and sales nothing seemed to work and I was beyond stressed.

Eight months after opening the second store, I decided that I needed to close the second store. Ugh. It was just gut wrenching and needless to say I felt like a failure.

I was ashamed that I had moved so confidently into this new venture and that it fell flat even before we reached the busy holiday shopping season. If you were to label anything a failure, this definitely fit the bill.

My inner dialogue was less than kind to myself and I’ll admit it, I even called myself a failure.

I let myself feel sorry for, well, myself for maybe 5 minutes but then I brought myself back to reality. I decided that I didn’t fail. That I am NOT a failure. I mean, come on, what is “failure” anyway? It’s just a label, a concept. It’s a negative way of perceiving a situation.

Having the store is only a “failure” if I label it as such. And honestly, what I had to walk through to come to the decision that I needed to close the store taught me some tough life and business lessons.

I know now that this decision isn’t a failure but a lesson learned and likely a stepping stone to something bigger and (hopefully) something better. From the moment I made the decision that I had to let the 2nd store go I felt a huge amount of stress melt away. Which made me ask , “if I was that stressed out by the 2nd location was it ever even worth it?”.

If you’re struggling to make a big decision, personal or business, take some time to sit down with a friend and talk it out. It wasn’t until I sat down with my fellow business owner and friend, Gwen, that I felt like I could move forward. She and I got totally real and dug deep into not just the numbers but how I was honestly feeling about the store. My gut knew…it just wasn’t the right thing for me or my business right now.

Remember, just because something doesn’t work out perfectly in your favor that doesn’t mean you are a failure. You are strong for just having TRIED! So many people don’t even get started so if you start and you don’t succeed, hold your head high and try again until you are proud.

Natalie Weber Hamilton