Three years ago, I started a business called HelloDesignSugar, I thought now would be a good time to tell you the truth about why my first business failed. It was my first blog ever straight off of quitting my full time job. I used it as my first freelance business to finally make money on my own.
I always had a bittersweet relationship with HDS, I both hated it and loved its potential. I loved the idea of having a girly blog that people would go to for inspiration and lifestyle tips and tricks. I loved the promise of this becoming a cool money making machine around girl power and bursts of color. Unfortunately my goals for it were very superficial and thus it had to die an honest death. Here are the reasons why my first business failed:
Reason #1: It Had No Purpose
I really really wanted HDS to be a cool girly hub but I never quite found what I wanted to do with it, and everything I did was things I thought people would enjoy, not necessarily posts that I wanted to do. So no matter how hard I tried, it just was not working. It lacked a purpose, the reason WHY I was doing it (other than money) and what it was going to bring to my life and to others.
Reason #2: Shiny Object Syndrome
I would see this cool new thing, or that other trendy thing that was happening and try to do it for myself. I kept flip flopping from thing to thing and it was just a mess, and I was NOT happy. I blogged about nonsense with no real goals. I remember at some point I did this DIY post about an industrial hanging mirror. Let me tell you, I am NOT a DIY-er, I am so not cut out for it, nor do I have the patience for it, but there I was, doing it because it was trendy.
Reason #3: I Didn’t Know What I Needed to Do
I had no idea what I actually wanted to do with my new-found freedom but I knew I wanted a blog that made sense to me and a business that could sustain me. I was planning my wedding at the time so I thought: ‘hey I’m a designer, I can totally design wedding invites!‘ I didn’t for a second think if I would actually enjoy that. I didn’t. I spent money on getting a website up, calligraphy courses, fake invitations for portfolio, paid memberships so I could appear on wedding blog vendor searches, I went all out! I really truly hated it. After that I stuck to freelancing and got a bunch of website clients, turns out I hate website design + development. I was alllll over the place, I had no idea what I wanted to do, so HelloDesignSugar which already had no purpose, also had no way of making money.
Reason #4: Zero Strategy
What I mean is, there was no reason behind any blog post, any Instagram, any Facebook post… nothing. I did things without a schedule, without any motive. Was it so that I could get more subscribers? No. Was it to promote my graphic design services? Nope. Did I blog about a certain topic because I wanted to teach my audience something that they were struggling with? Nopety Nope. Everything I did was in the moment, whatever I thought of during the day, there was no plan or strategy behind it, and so… my business never grew.
Reason #5: I Focused Too Much on Others
That green envy monster. I was younger so I don’t judge myself too harshly, but back then I would be soooo angry with myself for not rackin’ up those followers as fast as I wanted. Angry scrolling through Instagram feeling horrible about myself, doubting my talents, comparing myself to others. I was very unfair to myself, I kept thinking that their success was my failure. I had a different mindset that made me believe that because I didn’t have those 100k followers and paid sponsorships already, I had failed. I compared my beginning to someone’s middle and that affected the way I worked and made me feel unconfident.
Reason #6: My Heart Wasn’t In It
That time in my life, I was more focused on traveling than I was on growing a business. I wasn’t serious about it. Deep down I knew that I wasn’t ready, my priorities were askew. I had just gotten married and was blissfully enjoying life while traveling like a nomad, living out of suitcases for a whole year and kept trying to squeeze in a bit of freelance here and there and post on my blog randomly while simultaneously traveling. My heart was somewhere else, it wasn’t my time and I kept forcing it.
The good news is, if I had not started that first business, I would not have figured out what I really wanted to do. Starting HDS not only helped me learn the tools I needed to blog, but it also was my trial and error for everything, from what works in the blogging world, how to find your tribe to what type of designs work best for bloggers. I honestly have no regrets, every panic attack, every angry rant, every crying session was all worth it because in the end, I learned what I was doing wrong, how I could improve, and eventually it lead me to something bigger with a kick-ass business that has a purpose.
What was your experience with your first business? I’m all eyes! Share your story and let’s chat down below!