What 3 Failed Businesses Taught Me
From the time I was a child, I had my heart set on being a baker. I wanted a big bakery with gourmet treats that could make your mouth water. So, when I was 24 years old, I got a loan and a building to open my first place. It lasted only six months before I received my first foreclosure notice. My creations were only as good as all the other competitors in town. They had better locations, more menu variety, and better hours. Down but not out, I hit the job market again.
I met my wife Carrie at the age of 28. We were married quickly and couldn’t wait to start our life together. She was a barista and could make the best coffees around. With my baking skills and her coffee knowledge, we open my second financial disaster. This time, I made it two years. Some of the time I saw a profit. But, when a large coffee chain came into town, they wiped me out.
I went back to work in the corporate world, and I was miserable every day. We had a couple kids and life was good. However, I hated punching that time clock every day. I wanted to be my own boss and live the dream. I had recovered financially when I thought it was time to try again. It was the story of Milton Hershey that encouraged me to not give up on my dream. He filed for bankruptcy and was kicked down numerous times before he finally became successful. Giving it one last chance, we opened another business. This time we sold tea, coffee, gourmet pastries, and sandwiches.
This business did well for about 10 years. I became burnt out at the end. The baking that I loved so much became a chore. There were days I could hardly get out the flour and sugar to get started. As I became more worn out from running a business, the bills began to pile up. Customers could tell we weren’t giving it our all. The third business folded shortly after our fourth child was born. I felt like a failure. I was down and out and had nowhere to go.
Figuring Out Where I Went Wrong
I had great ideas and even better execution. I didn’t understand why I was failing. Then I read an article on SBC that said that 30 percent of new businesses fail within the first two years. I needed help. So, I heard through a friend about an executive assessment. A professional would assess me and how I could fit and perform in the workplace. It was an eye-opening experience, and I learned so much about myself. The first thing I learned is that a bakery was a hobby for me. When it became a full-time business, I lost my passion for it. I also learned that I lacked the marketplace and industry knowledge it took to be successful. I should have had a partner with more experience. This was all very eye-opening to me.
Based on my character and motivation, I didn’t have the personality or the ability to grow and change with the job. While I could make glazed donuts until I died, the market was coming up with new things like the cronut. I was too set in my old-school ways. After evaluating my emotional drives, values, and leadership style, I found that the bakery industry wasn’t for me at all. I found that I thought I was good at what I did so I wasn’t willing to expand knowledge or own up to my mistakes. I loved to bake, but only when I could do it on my terms. Self-awareness is a big issue for me.
Did you know that the average person will change jobs 10 times in their life? It’s shocking, but a study found that people don’t truly know what matches their personality or lifestyle. After doing a career assessments, I found that my calling was in social work. Though I had a dream to bake and loved doing things in the kitchen, I found that I found self-fulfillment from helping others. It was 7 years ago since I had that assessment. Today, my wife and I have our degrees and run a successful counseling center that helps underprivileged youth. It wasn’t the job I wanted, but it’s the job that was meant for me.