One Failure Away From Success

Did you know that you might be one failure away  from success? When starting a new business, it is inevitable that you are going to experience many mistakes and small failures. However, you can either choose to learn from these setbacks or you can fall victim to them and throw in the towel. I urge you to stay the course and keep striving towards your goal!

You have to know what success is to know what failure is and vice versa. Nobody ever thinks that they might be one success away from failure. Success is a great motivator. We need to let failure be an even bigger motivator if we want real success. You are probably one failure away from success right now.

I will share with you six failures that I endured but still came out on top. It may be uncomfortable to admit a mistake or failure; but I want to empower you to know that while negative events may happen, you can still accomplish great things. The outcome is up to you.

1. Saved Credit Card

My passion project has also been my biggest learning project. This company is a cycling apparel brand called Heavy Pedal which began in 2008. In the early days, I tried various eCommerce platforms to figure out which of them I liked the most. I came across a platform called Magento; I would not recommend this platform at all.

Here’s why…

It is far too complicated. There are too many options and the user interface is poorly designed. In my case, there was an option for payment called “Saved Credit Card.” I paid a developer to set Magento up so I didn’t know the functionality of this payment option or why it was selected. This option saves the customer’s credit card information and you have to process the payment manually. Since I was unaware of this, I was basically giving away 50% of all orders and paying to ship them out. This went on for months before I wondered why there were little profits to re-stock more products.

2. Moving Away

In the early days of the brand, I moved from Phoenix, Arizona to San Diego, California to work full-time for a bicycle brand. I packed up my belongings and all the Heavy Pedal inventory and headed for a commuter culture, the beach and better weather. Over time, not being able to work directly with Victor (Heavy Pedal designer) proved to be stressful and problematic for us personally as well as the brand. It was difficult to stay focused on a shared vision when you are not working in the trenches together.

3. Noncompete / Cease & Desist

I moved back to Phoenix, Arizona for an opportunity to work with another company in a different landscape of the cycling industry. Part of the agreement was for me to sign a non-compete. Heavy Pedal was already an existing cycling brand so I never thought that our product pivot into bicycles would put us into direct competition with this brand. Ironically, when looking for factories to make our bikes, I surveyed other brands in this space and finally found a reputable manufacturer— too bad they also made bikes for my former employer. As a result, Heavy Pedal was unable to work with this manufacturer on our bikes. Due to complications with bike manufacturing we decided to stick to cycling apparel which proved to be the best decision we could have ever made.  

4. Cease & Desist

We once made a water bottle that purposefully resembled the iconic Jack Daniel’s label. We thought it was a cool looking nod to the iconic brand and our customers thought so too. It received some viral notoriety online which was fantastic. At some point, this bottle design got into the hands of Jack Daniel’s and they sent a Cease and Desist asking for us to remove the product and stop sales immediately. I must say that they were very professional and kind about the whole thing. A brand of that size could have crushed us if they really wanted to.

5. Hooray, Investors

There is a known saying in the startup world,

“If you want money, ask for advice. If you want advice, ask for money.”

After meeting with a mentor for advice about my business, he decided to co-invest with his partner. This was after they reviewed and saw an opportunity with sales, projections, and my future plans for Heavy Pedal. Unfortunately, about 2 months post-investment, we were sued by a competitor that was trying to stop our momentum and the investors decided to pull out. At the time, I was disappointed in the court system and the flighty investors. In retrospect, I understand why the investors flew the coop and it turned out to be a good thing. I have full ownership of the brand again and we are doing better than ever.

6. Six-Figure Lawsuit

As previously mentioned, I was sued by a former employer who claimed that I signed a non-compete agreement which I had not. They made several claims that were not true. To name a few, they claimed that during my employment years I stole information, took trade secrets, and reverse engineered their products. Luckily for me, in litigation the plaintiff (person who brings a case against another) has the burden of proving the defendant’s (me) guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Without providing any documents or proof, the case was settled after a year. We settled rather than continuing to fight due to financial reasons. It made more financial sense to settle. You may wonder if I got my money back? Nope. It would take more court, more paying lawyers, and more time all while having no guarantee that you will win. Thus, I was out all the money spent in legal fees but it is important to note that I was still just one failure away from success.

What is the takeaway?

Any one of these failures could send a person running away scared with their tail between their legs. However, I am living proof that if you are too stubborn to quit and know there is great potential behind your business you can overcome adversity and still find great success. Today, Heavy Pedal does multiple six-figures in sales and employs people full time as well as hires freelancers and agencies for photography and/or marketing purposes. I am sharing these experiences with you to urge you to never give up on your dreams. You will be faced with successes and failures along the way. Who knows, you might be one failure away from success right now. Proceed!

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