The Other Side of Success: Our Failures & Facepalms

advice Apr 04, 2024
Our failures and facepalms

In an age where social media reigns supreme, it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of comparisonitis. Scrolling through feeds, we're bombarded with images of online business owners living what appears to be the dream life. Their offices are not just functional spaces; they’re meticulously curated hubs of productivity. Their days are filled with back-to-back successes, and their personal lives seem just as polished and put together (think Michelle Obama with a dash of Sheryl Sandberg). It’s a dangerously seductive world where the lines between reality and highlight reel blur, leading many of us to question, "Why isn't my life/business/kitchen/wardrobe like that?"

But here’s the thing — those snapshots? They're just fragments of a much larger, complex story. A story that often goes untold, filled with unseen struggles, setbacks, and the not-so-glamorous side of entrepreneurship. It’s high time we pull back the curtain and share these aspects, because this is real life. And in real life, not every day is a walk in the park, where unicorns frolic bathed in sunshine and rainbows.

At our core, we both truly believe in transparency and authenticity. And in the spirit of all things genuine, we're here to tell you we’ve had our fair share of challenges and have made mistakes that, while tough to swallow, have taught us invaluable lessons. And we're going to share some of those not-so-shiny moments with you, not to dwell on the negatives, but to show you that you're not alone in your own struggles.

Our Failures And Facepalms

There is truly no such thing as an overnight success, and in the journey of entrepreneurship (yes - VA biz owners fit into this camp!) the road is often paved with unexpected challenges. Here are some of the more recent hard truths we've encountered and the invaluable lessons they've taught us:

  1.  The Reality of Launching: Our first major course launch was a lesson in humility and planning. Aiming for 30 sign-ups, we invested $20,000, only to barely cover our costs. This experience taught us the importance of market research, realistic goal setting, and the need for a robust marketing strategy. It's crucial to understand your audience deeply and to craft your offerings and messages to meet their specific needs and desires.
  2.  The Importance of Contracts: A hard lesson came when we didn't have a contract in place with a collaborator. Without a formal agreement, when it came time for the partnership to part way, things became a little messy and not fun anymore. This underscored the importance of legal agreements in all professional relationships. Contracts are not just formalities; they're a foundation for clear expectations and a safety net for all parties involved.
  3. Recruitment Misstep: You'd think Jo would have her recruitment down pat by now after 12 years! However missing a vital step in the process resulted in a significant financial loss (we're talking thousands). The mistake was two-fold: not thoroughly reviewing candidate testing and allowing too many cooks in the kitchen. This taught her the value of a rigorous recruitment process and the importance of having a clear set of criteria for decision-making. But the worst part - the part that Jo feels most regret about - it put that new recruit through unnecessary stress after finding themselves in a role that was out of their depth.
  4. Overestimating Demand: We've also felt the financial sting that comes from overconfidence. Yup, we ordered a significant number of planners more than we could sell. A $1k+ mistake that is currently sitting in boxes, mocking our misplaced optimism. We put our heart and souls into making the 2024 VA Business Planner epic and were so confident in how amazing it was that we thought it would sell itself - because surely everyone how incredibly useful this business tool was?! Boy were we wrong haha.
  5. Financial Goals and Reality: Year after year, we've come together to set ambitious financial goals for The VA Foundry, only to fall short - each time. The lowest point came last year when our profit share dwindled to a mere $400 each for a particular month. Talk about a sobering reminder that we still have work to do. Although it's important to note that we still stand by stretchy financial goals in general. Even if we don't always reach our ambitious targets, is it not still better to shoot for the stars and land on the moon?
  6. The Trap of Social Media Comparison: Social media, with its allure of instant success, led us down a path of inauthenticity. We (along with so many other online biz owners!) jumped on the Reels bandwagon, dancing our way through content that just didn’t feel like us, with no results to be seen. The realisation hit hard — we were caught in the comparison trap, losing sight of our authentic selves in the process. Lesson well and truly learnt! This may have not been a financial face palm, but we'll never get back the endless hours spent in front of our phones lip syncing. Sam still cringes now thinking about it!
  7. Finding Ourselves In Burnout: The financial and strategic missteps are tough, but the emotional toll can be tougher! Burnout crept up on us silently, manifesting in weight gain for Sam and a profound sense of fatigue. Jo's nervous system was shot regardless of how much laying around in the sun she did. And despite preaching the importance of self-care and burnout prevention, we found ourselves ensnared in the very web we warned others about. The irony was not lost on us.

Each of these lessons has been a stepping stone in our journey, helping us to grow and refine our approach to business. Sharing these not-so-perfect aspects of our experience is our way of letting you know that it's okay to face setbacks. What's important is how you learn from them and move forward with resilience and determination.

Why We're Ditching the Highlight Reel

This journey of highs and lows has led us to an important decision — it's time to ditch the highlight reel! We're embracing our flaws, our setbacks, and our real stories. Why? Because authenticity connects us. It bridges the gap between the perceived perfection of being in business and the gritty reality of it. Our experiences, both good and bad, are what make us relatable. They remind us that behind every VA biz, there’s a human face, complete with struggles, fears, and the capacity for growth.

Building a Supportive Community

We share these failures and face palms not for sympathy, but for solidarity. We know many of you face your own set of challenges, and it's easy to feel isolated in your struggles. But here's the truth — you're not alone. We believe in building a community where we can share openly, support one another, and find strength in our vulnerabilities.

Let's all commit to changing the narrative around entrepreneurship. It’s okay to share the lows as much as the highs. It’s okay to admit we don’t have it all figured out. And it’s more than okay to lean on each other for support. Together, we can create a space where honesty thrives, where we can be unapologetically ourselves, and where the real journey of being a VA business owner — with all its ups and downs — is celebrated.





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