Last year, my partner Kiki and I went to a Branding conference in Toronto. There were panel discussions and Q&A, throughout the weekend. The experts on stage kept giving advice like: “just keep trying” or the classic: “Don’t Give Up”. Every time they said that I could feel the frustration rising among the new business owners.
Motivation gets blown on us at every networking meeting, and it can be exasperating. After all, the statement: Don’t Give Up” has strikingly few deliverables in it. There are no specific “to do’s” and so, to a newbie, it can feel like a blow-off statement from someone who doesn’t have something more concrete to offer.
However, as I’ve gone through the last year of business, I think I’ve started to understand what those seasoned professionals were trying to share. And to their credit, it was more than just a pat on the head.
You see, “Don’t Give Up” isn’t actually a motivational statement, as much as it is a PERMISSION SLIP. It’s an invitation from every seasoned professional, to stay at the table, to keep going even when you inevitably screw up. It’s the really bad days that make us think we aren’t cut out or qualified to be “experts” or “professionals”. You might feel like a fake. Experienced business owners know the truth: Success is simply the ability to improve after you fail. Every entrepreneur who is successful, got there b making mistakes. Every day that you show up, ready to work, you earn your space in the marketplace.
Every entrepreneur who is successful got there by making a mess and then cleaning it up. They kept showing up and making decisions as though they had a right to be there.
At Brand Ambition, we’ve had our share of disasters,
We still remember the very first client who hated our work and asked for their money back – and we didn’t have it. It was awful, and we didn’t know how to handle it at first. But, we fixed it. We changed the way we paid out our staff, improved our client intake questionnaires, and updated our contracts. Our mistake made us better.
Last year, our hard drive crashed, and we lost hours of video for a client – who was devastated. But again, we responded with the long term in mind. We compensated the client, beefed up our backup systems, improved our storage capabilities, and wrote better contracts.
We hired a staff member who seemed like a good fit at the time, but was a hot mess in front of clients, ruining our reputation with several excellent customers before we caught on. So, we improved our hiring practices, increased supervision and training of new staff and (again!) wrote better contracts!
We had an internet troll who posted negative things about us and tried to tarnish our reputation on social media. But we stayed in the game. We created social media policies for our staff to govern how we respond to these issues and worked harder to manage our image online.
Each crisis moved us further away from amateur status and closer to the professionalism that can only come from experience. Each improvement made us able to handle a larger client or a bigger crisis. Each day, we slowly climb the ladder.
It was never so much about “not giving up” but more about feeling like we deserved to be there. Making decisions for long-term success. If we took each hiccup as a sign that we shouldn’t be doing this, we would never have grown. And neither would any other professional. Even if you have the fancy coffee mug that chirps away at what an empowered go-getter you are, living that message is a little harder when tough times come calling. But the next time you find yourself experiencing crushing disappointment or a terrifying challenge, see it as the invitation it is. It’s time to level up. Own it. Become a success. Don’t give up.