How Do I Build A Business When It Feels Like I’m Always Failing?

Author : , Date : November 26, 2014



“How Do I Build A Business When It Feels Like I’m Always Failing”


Kimberly in NC emailed and asked me;


“Don, how do I make it in my business… how do I mentally get through this process when all it feels like is I’m failing?”


Failure is a part of business. Just because you have a blog that gets a lot of comments doesn’t mean you’re a successful business turning a profit. Just because you have a speaker page on your website doesn’t mean you’re booked solid with speaking events.

Social validation is great, but are you picking up on what others who are doing that look successful but in reality you are not doing anything that is contributing to you making money?

Seth Godin is quoted as saying that he had 800 failures before he had one success.

Learn in today’s video what you need to do in order to have the business you really want and how you can fail your way to success.


Have a thought, question or idea? Leave a comment below


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Don Purdum

Don Purdum

Don works with businesses to help them discover who their customers are and what business they are "really" in. He is an award-winning blogger and branding / marketing consultant.
Don Purdum
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36 thoughts on “How Do I Build A Business When It Feels Like I’m Always Failing?

  1. Hey Don,

    I’ve heard so many stories from people who thought they were an overnight success and most of them would say “yeah, 15 years to overnight success”. People never knew who they were and didn’t see how long they’d been at this but then when they finally started getting somewhere people thought they had just now shown up. I know that feeling.

    You’re right about misinterpreting people as being successful. I did a lot of that in my early years. I would look at someone’s site and be instantly intimidated and I viewed them as very successful and they would never want to speak to someone like me. As I kept meeting people along the way though and learning that I was the one who assumed and we all know how that can turn out. Now people look at me like that but they have no clue how well I’m doing or how successful I am or am not.

    it’s a process and it’s one you have to stick with IF you truly believe in yourself and your capabilities. We don’t always get it right the first time or maybe the second time and on and on but as long as we keep learning, growing and moving forward then we can fail our way to success.

    I love your message and thanks for giving us your take on this. I think it’s pretty spot on myself.

    Hope you’re enjoying your week and thanks again. Great as always and I’ll be sharing this one with my friends too. I know a few that would love to hear this one.


    1. Hi Adrienne,

      You are a great example!!! Like you said in your comment, the truth is we shouldn’t be intimidated by anyone. But it is a process we have to go through in order to build our confidence.

      Belief in ourselves is so important but we need little victories. When I went through a very hard time in my life a few years ago I used to tell my wife that I’m not looking for the home run. I’m just looking for the little things that God is doing in my life and business that offer a little bit of hope.

      That sustained me and really helped me a lot!!!!

      We all fail and that’s the simple truth. Some failures are small and others are humongous!

      But, one day at a time, right? And then one day the world perceives that we’ve made it. But, they never had any idea of what we went through getting there!

      We can learn how to use failure and embrace it or we can allow it to hurt us. The choice is ours.

      Thank you for sharing and for your awesome comment as always!

      ~ Don

  2. “Fail your way to Success” –> Love It Don!!

    Many years ago, before it became common to use one’s real name on social media and forums, I chose “itsallsuccess” as my moniker. Why? Because it is!!

    I’m not sure where in history society moved from seeing mistakes as part of the trial and error learning process and began to label “failure”. I’m guessing it has some ties to mandated education and school grades but that’s a topic for another day.

    We are culturally taught from very young that not getting it right is failure. The reality is, that not getting it right is one more step closer to doing so. Solutions come from attempts. There is grace is trial and error. The best learning in the world comes from experiments and methods that didn’t work out well.

    Have you ever watched a child learn to walk? Or an adult learn to ski? Today I put my ski gear in my car to bring up to my locker at the base of our home ski hill. I am blessed to live in a destination ski resort, visited by people from all over the world. I set my schedule to get on the mountain at least 2 if not 3 days per week. I’ve done this for 20 years… and guess what I see every day?

    People FALLING!! And not only beginners. Experts too tumble and slide. The fun of skiing is pushing the envelope and thus one knows there will be bumps, bruises and hopefully nothing worse. We ski in helmets here because the very act of speeding down the mountain on slippery boards, over cliffs and surrounded by trees is risky. Each time we take a run, we have the chance of falling. Is it FAILURE??? NO!! It’s a learning experience of how to do it better next time. No one blames, or judges or laughs (well maybe some laughter- LOL). We fall. We get up. We do it again.

    Business is like that too. Every day. You step out and you try and you learn. I’m an expert skier but I didn’t start out that way – believe me. I’m a successful coach for entrepreneurs, but I wasn’t always successful. I tried. I fell. I tried other marketing methods. Some worked. Some didn’t. So what? Keep going.

    One last thought to consider, particularly when working online.
    Don’t compare others onstage presentation to your own behind the curtain. We all put our best face forward and much can be assumed from a great website or blog post. The reality is, we have no idea how successful someone else really is, yet we compare ourselves all the time to what we see presented. Stop!

    Thanks for another thought provoking post Don!

    1. Hi Deborah,

      I can tell you that in the small business communities I’ve been involved with throughout Dallas / Fort Worth and now in the Northeast that many business owners feel if they are perceived to have failed then no one will do business with them.

      It’s a success or nothing false mentality that is bred out of fear and insecurity that all of us must overcome if we are going to be successful.

      I’m so glad you got one of my main points of being careful that we stay true to ourselves and not become like those we perceive to be successful whether they are or are not.

      I’m not Donald Trump or Mark Cuban. Never going to be. I’m always going to be Don Purdum. I can learn from them, but I can’t nor should I try to be them through imitation or by any other means.

      The reality of it is we all fail and embracing failure is the real key to success. By embracing I mean learn from it, allow it to mold and change you and allow it to help you become the best you can be moving forward.

      Make adjustments, changes, and improve your strategies, goals and objectives and allow the failures to shape those changes so that you can get the results you want.

      Deborah, you never disappoint! Thank you so much for such an insightful comment.

      I hope you have had a great week!

      ~ Don

      1. I did have a great week Don! Thank you.

        I truly feel that “failure” is a word that we should either not use or write a brand new definition. The connotations are so ingrained as a negative that telling people to “embrace” it, creates severe cognitive dissonance!!

        Another thing you and could work on together !

        Thanks Don,

        1. Hi Deborah,

          I hear your thoughts and rational and you make a valid point. However, I do think that addressing it for what it is and helping people see that it’s a positive and not a negative is a worthwhile venture.

          People who are in the middle of it or coming out of it know it for what it is and they want and need hope that they too will be better off for the experience.

          I love it when highly successful people like Mark Cuban or Donald Trump (among every other single successful person) talks about their failures in a very strong and real way and share how they overcame them.

          So in that light, yes I say embrace it because you can’t and won’t avoid it but you will be better off for it IF you allow it to be a positive even in the middle of the negative. It’s all a mindset, right?

          I’m loving this discussion Deborah!!!!!

          ~ Don

  3. Don Purdum, everything you are saying is SO VERY TRUE! This is exactly why I created the Ultra Blog Challenge in the first place and those very points about actually having a business that gets results ie: makes money consistently I just posted in a video I am launching today at the Ultimate Marketing Engine site.

    1. Hi Kathy,

      You are doing a great job at the Ultra Blog Challenge as you teach people how to start networking and help people learn how to blog for their businesses!!!!

      I will be checking out your site shortly!!!!

      Have a great weekend!

      ~ Don

  4. Hello Don,

    What a wonderful video podcast. It is really inspiring too.

    Thanks to Kimberly for asking this wonderful question.

    Very true words Don, failure is a part of our business. But,
    failing again and again can demotivate us.

    When Seth Godin can try 800 times to get one success then
    why shouldn’t we? So, never give up. Just try and try again learn from your
    failures, you should surely get success.

    Thank you so much for the wonderful podcast. I must share it
    with my network and hope this will be motivational for many people.

    Have a great week ahead!


    1. Hi Nisha,

      Thank you for your kind words!!!

      Unfortunately, failure and pain are a part of life and business. But, if we learn from it, it is a powerful thing!

      Failure as an experience will teach us things we would have never learned or thought of on our own to improve both ourselves and our businesses

      Thank you so much for commenting and sharing Nisha!!!

      ~ Don

  5. Hi Don,

    That is so true, having an online presence and being successful are two different things. I think we all know people who appear to be successful when there’re really not, and what’s more is that we are or have been one of those people.

    Talking to you and reading your blog posts I have learned how important it is the UNDERSTAND what business we’re really in. If we don’t we, can’t really position ourselves in a way so that we can help others, thus we’d have a hard time attracting our target market.

    To take the example of life coaching. For a long time I wasn’t sure in what specific area I should promote myself as a coach, but not too long ago it all came to me, and this revelation helped me restart writing my book again (which I had totally stopped), because I specifically know whom this book is going to help.

    Great video explanation to help us understand this concept.

    1. Hi Sylviane,

      They really are two different things but I’m amazed at how people confuse website / blog traffic metrics with business metrics and then determine they are successful.

      We have to see these things as different. When I talk with a business I always ask them what they expect in social media. Their answer is always the same, more business and money.

      But social media isn’t a sales tool or even a marketing tool; it’s a relationship driven tool where we are giving people a chance to become aware of us as individuals and businesses.

      As small business owners, people don’t do business with out businesses. They do business with us as people who have a service they need.

      Thanks always for your kind words and for you comment!

      ~ Don

  6. Hi Don,

    I am first time on your site and got so impressed.

    What a nicely answered for make business.

    I also use to watch the tagged ultimate video.Its so informative.

    Thanks for sharing…..keep posting..

  7. Hi Don,

    Great video. You are spot on that failure is a part of business. If Seth failed that many times, I am sure willing to fail and suffer and especially so if I learn along the way and use my failures to gain success.

    Perception is something else. Many people see others and think they are successful when we really do not know. Actually that is not even important. What is important to me is like you said, getting our mind focused and DO NOT accept defeat. Failure and defeat are so different!

    When we finally become successful, we will see it is worth it. It comes down to belief, drive, motivation, and a can-do attitude. One of the very best ways I have learned to get where I want to be is to find a mentor who is walking to walk and talking the talk. A mentor that is where we want to be and is willing to share his or her experiences.

    I feel like if I do not fail, I won’t have the experiences to assist others when they are in need. Thank you for sharing such awesome insight.

    1. Hi Nathan,

      WOW! You offer a great perspective. Failure and defeat are certainly not the same things and we are right to remember that!

      I learned the hard way that just because someone looks good it doesn’t mean they are successful. The appearance of success and being successful are not the same things.

      Having a mentor is critical!!! I have been blessed to have a few.

      Have a great weekend Nathan. Thank you for sharing your comment with us!

      ~ Don

  8. Hi Don,

    I couldn’t agree more with you in your video. Failure is part of Success. If Seth Godin failed 800 times before he got one yes, then who are we to say that we will be successful in just one shot of try?

    Success is not the opposite of failure but rather it is part of the JOURNEY.

    Thomas Edison once said, “I have not failed 10,000 times—I’ve successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work.” Imagine that. This genius inventor who everyone look up to today failed 10,000 times but didn’t stop there. If he did stop and didn’t believe in himself we wouldn’t have light today wouldn’t we?

    As an Entrepreneur, many times I feel downhearted but I always remember that depiction of Success. It’s inevitable to escape to pass Failure ville because it is part of the PATH to reach Success ville. So I keep reminding myself and keep praying to God, “Lord, we are in this business together.” So I must go on.



    1. Hi Angela,

      You are so right… failure is not a result it’s part of a process and the journey!

      What a great reminder.

      We are all human and all of us experience times of being downhearted. But, by having a dream, purpose, mission, strategies, goals and objectives we can see a brighter tomorrow as we build our confidence and overome our challenges.

      Prayer is powerful and you bring up a great point. I too rely on my faith as a Christian and I’m reminded that my life is not my own and my future is safe in his hands.

      With that perspective can I really fail?

      I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving Angela! I really appreciate your perspectve.

      ~ Don

  9. Hi Don,

    Oh boy am I a fan of Seth Godin and know how much he has “failed” before he became a success. I look at “failure” as a big teacher for me!

    Indeed, success all starts in our minds. Developing a positive mindset keeps us strong enough to believe in ourselves.

    No one will ever follow us if we don’t believe in ourselves. I do now, but in the past I didn’t and I had to work very hard on that one! I had to build my confidence.

    From there, I had to learn so much, have many coaches for training to make my first product and then a sales funnel.

    Marketing OMG what a learning curve that was! But it all started from my mindset, believing in myself and believing what I offer. But that does take a coach to do it.

    As I say “The beat goes on” there is never enough coaching as I keep on going.

    Awesome video my friend.


    1. Hi Donna,

      Someone as well known as Seth can really inspire us! Isn’t amazing how many people want to get the results he’s gotten in their business but they are unwilling to sacrifice, overcome, and maybe even suffer?

      Folks don’t just get “lucky” do they? I love your article on that topic!!!!!

      You are so right! If we don’t believe in ourselves no one else is going to believe in us either!

      Through small victories we can build our confidence and leave the past where it belongs, in the past!!!!

      It’s such a blessing to know you Donna!

      I hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving!

      ~ Don

  10. Hi Don,

    That’s a good question by Kim and we all ask it along this journey of entrepreneurship!!

    No one is immune from failure. Failure is not bad. It’s failing to learn and change from failure is the bad thing.

    Most people, me included, think that Failure is a bad thing. While Failing is not fun, it is necessary in the journey through success. We have to embrace failure as our guide to success. This is not going to be easy. This will require to make some changes in the way we approach our business and the obstacles that we can’t avoid or prevent.

    Success is the result of hard work, determination and learning to make it from Failures to Successful Failures.

    Thanks Don for a powerful message and answer to a problem we all face but it is how we learn and grow. Enjoy your Friday and have a great weekend ahead.

    Be Blessed,


    1. Hi Neamat,

      None of us are immunie, isn’t that the truth!

      I will take it one step further, not only is failure not a bad thing; it’s a GREAT thing!!!!

      We learn from failure and it has the power to make us not just better but great! I never met a person who said they learned from success. You don’t learn from success, you enjoy it!

      You learn from failing, making mistakes, bad decisions and then finding out how to solve the problem and improve. It might be ones character or it might be a flawed process or system in the business.

      No matter what happens, there is always hope!

      I love your statement: “Success is the result of hard work, determinatin and learning…”

      I couldn’t say t better myself!

      I hope you have an awesome weekend Neamat!

      ~ Don

  11. Hi Don,

    Wow. That question from Kim, well, I’ve never really asked it of myself over the years…..except like, 40,000 times, ha!

    I can easily recall a few clear, and distinct memories, where I asked myself this question and pondered quitting. I also recall asking the question a gazillion times and trudging forward swiftly.

    It’s funny, but when I recounted how many bone-headed mistakes I made – especially, bailing on strategies/techniques which I deep down knew, were working, but not at my impatient, greedy pace, I felt like I was failing even when I was succeeding.

    Just reading the comment thread, I so vibe with the illusion of execution. I….have….been….there. By getting more clear on my intent, I’ve been able to better execute, in mind, and in body, to harvest successful results. But wow, that sowing/failing season can be a rough one, ya know Don? 😉

    Thanks for sharing your inspiration as always, and thanks for addressing a sore spot for many struggling entrepreneurs.

    Have a fun weekend!


    1. Hi Ryan,

      Mistakes and failures go hand in hand, don’t they? I totally hear you about the lack of patience and have been there myself.

      However, I’ve learned that sometimes the most profitable things happen in small doses at a time where over time you look back and go; Holy Cow!!!!!

      But, like I said in the video, a lot of us that are business owners are not looking at the right metrics. Just because we follow on others coattails and our visibility looks awesome to the public that doesn’t mean it looks good to the bank!

      Now, with that said, as long as the successes are leading us in that direction I can live with it growing slowly, but I can’t live with the bank account not growing at all.

      The key always comes back to vision, purpose, strategies, goals and objectives. How many have those?

      Not many.

      Thank you as always for an open moment into Ryan’ world. We can all learn from one another’s experiences and that only happens when we are open to sharing them!

      I hope you have an awesome weekend and welcome back to the states!!!

      ~ Don

  12. Hi Don! Awesome video, persistence and perseverance are important qualities that we need to have in order to succeed despite failed attempts. I think most successful people will agree to that.

    1. Hi Jomer,

      Thank you for the kind words Sir!!! I agree, we all have failure in common but we don’t have the drive to persistent and persevere in common.

      That’s one reason businesses fail so quickly. When the going gets tough it’s easier to fold than to fight through it sometimes.

      I appreciate you stopping by and hope you have a wonderful weekend!

      ~ Don

      1. Hi Don,

        You too. This message resonates with me personally because my situation is somewhat the same. But hey, I am on this position right now because of my past perseverance in spite of many failed attempts. So I thought, why stop now?

        Its just a matter of time and a lot of hard work before I can see the goals manifesting themselves before my very eyes. Just like what I am today, its just a dream few years ago but now a reality :-).

        1. Hi Jomer,

          You are not alone my friend!!! At different times we’ve all been through it and we will go through it again. The key is how do we handle it?

          Our attitudes and desire to improvea and change are the key. Keep visualizing your goals becoming reality, work hard, be smart, get help; and you will get there!!!!

          Keep on dreaming Jomer!!!!! You haven’nt seen anything yet!!!!

          ~ Don

    1. Hi Lux,

      Thank you for the kind words! I never met a successful person who said they were successful because of what success taught them. It’s always the failures we learn from that us better!!!

      Thanks again for visiting and I hope to see you again!!!

      ~ Don

  13. Hi Don

    Wonderful stuff; I would a little add in your point “failure is part of business” as failure is actually part of the success and not its opposite. If someone is failing in business it actually means he is missing somewhere to achieve his targets.

    “You can win if you want” should be the motto of every entrepreneurs. Success actually lies in making good combination of hard work, wisdom, planning and implementation.

    Very to the point and informative video. Thanks a lot for sharing.

    1. Hi Mi,

      Absolutey! Real, long-term success is found through failure. It’s where we learn, grow and prove to ourselves that we have what it takes.

      Failure can and does happen for a lot of different reasons:

      * Overly optimistic
      * Overly pessimistic
      * Overlooking things
      * Unawarness
      * Personal failures
      * Process or system problems
      * Not “really” knowing your business
      * Bad marketing
      * Lack of goals
      * Lack of flexibility

      I suppose I could go on and on…

      I love your motto! “You can win if you want” or what do you think about “You can win if you put in the effort with a great attitude”.

      Your recipe is spot on!!!! Hard work, wisdom, planning and implementation… do you really have a business without these things?

      Execution is where so many businesses fail. Or should I say lack of execution. As I said in the video, I can create the impression of execution without it happening in reality.

      Thank you so much for your comment Mi. You really added some ideas or thoughts here that are powerful and helpful!

      Have a great finish to your week!

      ~ Don

  14. Haha Don! Good stuffs man. Love the video. Been there myself and yes, I absolutely know how Kimberly feels like.

    For me, it would ALWAYS be my trust in myself. Of course, having support from friends and family is vital as well 🙂

    Sharing this around right now!

    1. Hi Reginald,

      You bring out a really good point… lack of trust in ones self is rooted deeply in an insecurity that has to be confronted.

      That’s where supportive friends and family can be so helpful as they help us identify our strenghts and weaknesses and resolve issues that are contributing unnecessarily to our failures and struggles.

      Thank you so much as always for your contrubution to the conversation Reginald.

      I hope you have an awesome end to your week!

      ~ Don

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