The Aftermath of a Failed Business

The last few weeks have been hard, to put it lightly. My husband and I have been dealing with a failed business and the many questions that arise with next steps. What do we do now? How do we deal with this failed thing, this thing that we put so much time and effort and heart and love into? How do we overcome these feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness?

First, I’ll tell you it’s not easy. We had many hard days of frustration, questioning ourselves, anger, resentment, etc. But, we found something good among the disappointment and loss: hope.

The Rise and Fall of KreatNou

Last year, we started a podcast all about creativity. We believe that we, all humans, are meant to create. We were born to create. It’s in our DNA. We just have to find that thing that we love, and create.

Our podcast — The Comte Creative Podcast, later renamed KreatNou (pronounced “create now”) Podcast — talked all things creative. We had a few episodes where just the two of us talked about creativity and provided tips to staying creative. But the real meat of the podcast was interviewing other creatives. We talked to a jewelry maker, a pottery thrower, a martial artist, a graphic designer, a painter, a chef, a YouTube couple, a Twitch streamer, and even a sex therapist. We had so much fun interviewing creatives that we wanted to make the mission of spreading creativity a full-time gig.

So, we did.

In December 2020, we went all in to a new business with the mission to help others recognize and embrace their creative passions. With a strong belief and a good cause, how could we fail?

Our first product was creative yoga. I’m a certified yoga instructor who had been designing creative flows for almost a year. We felt this was an easy seque into launching our business because it’s something I already did.

The product tag line: Creative movement for creatives. Basically, it was yoga focused on getting people physically active in order to stimulate creativity. We thought it was a great product, with a strong purpose. But, it didn’t sell as we had hoped. And even the small following I had before we launched, those I thought would join for sure, didn’t. They remained elusive.

Our second product was a big risk. We wanted to provide a physical product that would inspire others to create. We designed a box full of items either purchased from small-business creatives or designed in collaboration with creatives. The items chosen were meant to provide a sensory experience that would put creatives in a mindset of creating. Again, we thought we had a great product. We loved the items; others would too, right?

But we launched the box and only sold two.

We could blame the failure on marketing, but the stats from our marketing campaign told a different story. People were interested, just not interested enough to buy. We could blame it on timing, that we needed to wait just a little longer, for people to hit that magic three times of seeing the product to finally make the decision. But, when a product doesn’t sell and you have all the evidence of the why in front of you, you can’t keep making excuses. Unfortunately, our company didn’t have the “stuff” to succeed. So we closed shop.

The Aftermath of a Failed Business

The aftermath of closing a business is ugly. You have to deal with all the business stuff that you can no longer sustain, such as marketing accounts and content platforms. You have to tell your social media followers. And it doesn’t matter how small or big your following is, telling your people is not fun. And there’s the debt and unsold stock you have to take care of. Everything you thought would be sustained with the successful sale of products, now falls on you, the person with no money, no income, and no business.

Plus, there’s the emotions and the “now what?” questions.

I cried. A LOT. I yelled at the world. I was angry with God. I was angry with myself. I felt worthless, untalented, and unloved. I felt all the feels. I hurt mentally and emotionally. And amidst all the emotions, I had to figure out next steps, ’cause we had no source of income and money was running out fast.

And then came all the maybe thoughts: Maybe we bit off more than we could chew, all at once. Maybe we should have started out small, maybe making the business more of a side hustle. Maybe we should have started with simpler products. Maybe we should have done more research. Maybe, maybe, maybe. We could go through all the “maybes” until we’re blue in the face. In truth, it doesn’t matter. The business failed, and we had to move on.

But, It’s Not All Bleak

The aftermath of a failed business looks dark and scary, but I believe it has a silver lining. Even amidst all the emotions and feelings of failure, there was a spark of hope. We were forced into a place that caused us to think about what we really wanted out of life and where we truly want to go. It allowed us to make new decisions that would get us closer to our goals.

We tend to look at failing a business as the end — the end of success, the end of our ability to contribute to the world in a meaningful way, the end of all our hopes and dreams. It can definitely feel like it.

But, failing a business is not the end. It’s not even a true fail. You only truly fail when you don’t get back up. Instead, it’s a pivot. It creates a turning point in our lives, a chance to dream and think something new. And I think a lot of times, those new things can lead to better things than we thought possible for ourselves.

What I’ve learned through this whole experience: a failed business can provide new opportunities and a new perspective, if we let it.

We failed a business. We have actually failed two (a story for another day). But through our failures, we learned to pivot and find better paths for our dreams, our careers, and our family.

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