Ten years into my career as a successful B2B Sprint Nextel dealer, I never thought the day would come when I would have to start over. In the fall of 2010, the news arrived that Sprint would not be renewing my contract, along with most other independent dealers nationwide. Achievements of B2B Business Dealer of the Year, 1000’s of happy customers and millions of dollars in revenue no longer mattered. My dealership had to close and for the first time in my 25 year entrepreneurial career, I was without income and without a plan.
One thing I knew for sure is that I wanted to get as far away from the wireless industry as possible.
I spend the next year looking for ways to support my family by consulting former Sprint customers to help improve their wireless solutions and in the process, accepted 100s of old phones as trade for my services. I sold these on eBay and somehow managed to provide for my family during that time.
I still wanted out but couldn’t get away. I fought through bitterness, fear, and my confidence was at an all-time low. I knew what I was capable of but couldn’t find the spark to get going again.
In late 2011, after months of refurbishing used phones and selling them at a reduced rate, I got a call from an IT recycling company that changed my life. I was asked to place a bid on over 2,000 old phones and in spite of a very low bid, somehow I WON! I turned an $18,000 profit in 30 days and suddenly realized there was a new life for me in wireless; one that I could get really excited about. I was now officially in the device recycling business and couldn’t wait to get started! C7 Device Recycle was born.
In 2015, C7 Device Recycle generated close to $500,000 in revenues, a 100% increase from 2014, and is on track to double again in 2016.
I tell this story because I want all entrepreneurs who read this to know that if you’re currently “failing” – your life is not over. Failure is a chance to grow – so reap the benefits! Here’s how:
Learn From Your Mistakes
Seek to understand the lessons in your failure. As dark as it may seem when things fall apart, there is something to be learned from the experience. In my case, I learned that I allowed my company to be at the mercy of a larger entity that could literally shut me down for no reason. I vowed to never be in that position again. I also learned that I was a lot tougher and resilient than I thought I was. Optimism only gets you so far but if you turn your “cants” into “musts” it provides instant energy to reach a breakthrough and ultimately dig out of failure. How will you apply this to your situation?
Assess Your Assets
What skills, connections and desires do you have? Don’t fight the very thing you’re good at just because you’re bitter with the failure. I was bitter at Sprint, not at wireless. I found a way to create a new company in wireless, no longer at the mercy of a large corporation, using my talents, connections and joy of being in an industry I love. When you make a list of your intangible assets, you’ll realize your failure was only a bump in the road on the way to a much bigger purpose. Answer this question for yourself: If money were no object, what would you be doing? Be sure you’re nurturing your true nature.
Establish a Map, not a Plan
Business plans change faster than they can be written down. Don’t worry about the plan, instead focus on the “why” and the how will develop naturally. Find a pace that keeps you challenged but enjoyable. Find a way to enjoy each stage of the rebuilding process or you won’t enjoy any stage.
Keep Your Energy High!
When you’re energy is low, you mind starts to take over. Stay out of your head and keep your energy high even when you don’t feel like it. We are defined by how we handle things when they don’t go our way and as you embark on your new journey, it is critical to manage your state and only make decisions in a peak state.
No Room for Fear!
Coming out of failure, it is a natural tendency to be overly cautious. Face and destroy your fears. You are a Gladiator! Use the skills and drive that made you successful in the first place. My only limitation is ME and my unfounded beliefs that I will fail again. Stop worrying and become a WARRIOR!
Failure is hard to swallow, but ultimately friends, it’s an integral part of doing anything awesome. The trick is to make failure work for you and use it to move on to bigger and better things!