Failing My Way To Success

In order to be successful, your going to need some successes (more small business success stories). Obviously! But what may not seem so obvious, is that your going to need some failures. It’s how you learn, it’s how you get better, it’s how you become a more adaptive person. Blindly rushing into success after success without failure will eventually get you burned. I know I’ve been there before. While it may be a great confidence builder to get some instant wins right out of the gate, it can be a detriment as well.

Let me explain. When I first started my online business several years ago, I set up a website to that was devoted to music. Specifically the pursuit of free music. No, it didn’t have legal, or illegal music downloads anywhere on the site. What it did have is a lot of automatically generated pages. Meaning pages focused on specific keywords, with a lot of automated feeds and advertising built around them. I didn’t really understand SEO, or what the search engines considered acceptable at the time. In case your wondering, search engines hate this kind of stuff. Initially the site did quite well. I did practically no promotion on it, and withing a month or so, the site was getting close to 3000 visitors every day. It even achieved the number one spot on MSN for the term “Free Music” for a day. PPC advertising alone made over 150 dollars that day. When MSN got tired of me, Yahoo fell in love with me in a big way.

For a few months, I was king of my world. Master of my domains, and lord of the internet. I’d only been in business for a few short months, and with just a few websites I was making close to my full time working salary. It wouldn’t last. Eventually the search engines got tired of me (as they rightfully should have), and my website traffic dwindled to a trickle. I’m not sure I’ve really recovered from that. I tried desperately to duplicate that early success but never really came close.

There were two problems here. One, I achieved a perceived sense of success early on with little or no failure. I figured this was easy, I was doing everything right, and and didn’t need to do anything different. I coasted, when I should have been approving and adapting. I should have been getting better. I should have been diversifying. I should have been trying harder. When failure did finally come, I didn’t know how to adapt, and only now am I truly figuring that out. In some ways, I would have been better off with some more failure early on to teach me the lessons of adapting and improving.

The second problem, was that I really didn’t understand what I had done to be successful in the first place. Hence I couldn’t duplicate the success. I just got a little lucky in the beginning. Search engines like Google, Yahoo, and MSN were not back then, and are still not today an exact science. They’re fickle. There are things a webmaster can do, that will improve your chances with them, but no guarantees. I’ve learned that, and a few other lessons along the way. Now it’s just a question of merging all those failed lessons into a string of successes. The moral here being, welcome your success, and adapt to them. It will toughen you and make you better at whatever you do