One of my first jobs was selling Cutco Kitchen Knives. I thought that cutting the rope, leather, and penny were so cool, and I liked the quality of the product. Over the years, I eventually reached $3 million in career sales. That may seem like a lot, but it is actually pretty small in comparison to many Cutco greats.
When it occasionally comes up with someone I meet that I sold Cutco, the person will sometimes say, “I sold Cutco too, but I only lasted two weeks”, or, “I tried that, but It didn’t work.” I like to respond with, yeah, I tried it too, I only sold $3 million worth of the stuff. People always seem stunned, I say it that way for effect when in fact, it isn’t that much. I know people who have made a wonderful career from selling Cutco, and some of them make more money than many doctors with less hassle. Some have sold hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Cutco products.
I think our biggest failures come when we give up too soon. We sometimes don’t give things enough time to mature and succeed. Sometimes we quit right before we might have found success. I can promise you this, most of my successes have happened only after I have been tried and tested to the seeming limit of my sanity, strength, and patience.
Napoleon Hill tells one of my favorite stories called 3 Feet From Gold quoted here
I always think of this story when my brain tells me that I have tried hard enough, and I want to quit. It also comes to mind when someone I know who is capable, decides to pull the plug on a dream. As a fellow dreamer, I know that some things don’t work out, but how many of those things didn’t work because we just didn’t fight through the challenges for long enough?
In the case of Uncle Darby, he did learn from his mistakes. He went on to become one of the top earning life insurance sales people of his time. He paid back all of his family and reached his dreams, so the lesson wasn’t lost on him.
This also applies when you try new things in your business. Stopping a new product, a new approach to selling, or even stopping marketing or advertising too early can be detrimental to your success.
I had a client who recently fired me. She didn’t trust that I was doing what I said I was doing, and she wasn’t as savvy as some are regarding digital advertising and how it works. I didn’t do a good enough job helping her see what the work we did was accomplishing, or how it was progressing. I told her it would take 30-60 days to get the Google Ad campaign to produce results. She lost patience after one month. Everyone has different approaches and attitudes and levels of understanding, but I’ll be honest, I took this one personally because I really wanted to help this person succeed. It hurt. It also made me reflect on what I could have done better and what best practices are.
I have been editing my book lately, and it’s been interesting seeing how often I say that any advertising campaign or marketing plan needs to be a long-term affair. It needs to be something you repeat over and over. Clearly, I believe my own advice because I say those words over and over in the book. It is true though. I think it is essential that you find marketing professionals who you trust to do a good job with your marketing. Once you make that decision though, make sure to give the plan time to mature and find success.
Here is a link to my book, in case you are interested.
The same goes for your ideas in general. If you have a successful business, you know you didn’t succeed overnight, and that it took time to master growing and running a successful business. If you are a new, struggling business owner, you are likely wondering what is wrong with you, why you aren’t succeeding at a greater rate than you are. It might just be a matter of time. You need to continue learning and growing, but over time you will get where you are going.
I am not saying that everything you try is the right answer because it isn’t. I think mistakes are a valuable tool that will help you reach true success. One of my favorite sayings is, “You can’t get better, until you start somewhere.”
My daughter recently received a bad review at her job. She was upset because she felt she did a good job, and I believe she actually does. She is young though, and sometimes, when we are learning to work and perform, we don’t realize where we might be falling short.
At that moment, as she was dealing with the pain of feeling like a failure and feeling like she had disappointed her bosses, I asked her to ask herself this question: “Is there any truth to their feedback?” I told her if there is truth to the feedback then learn what you need to learn from the feedback and do better, even if the feedback wasn’t completely true or you feel they over exaggerated your shortcomings. If there is any truth to the feedback, then you should learn from it.
Even when you deal with partial truths, you can still learn from your errors and perform better going forward. She still felt she was being mistreated. I told her if she analyzes her own performance and sees nothing wrong, she has to consider if she wants to continue working there. If the leadership is unhappy with her and she doesn’t change, she will likely lose her job. If she believes they are so inept and they can’t see her performance is actually exemplary, then she should consider leaving on her own accord. She opted to stay to try and find a way to meet their demands. So far so good.
I had a leader teach me this principle years ago, and it is powerful. He taught me that when a leader has a problem employee and they do nothing about it, this will cause other problems in their organization. The other employees will assume one of two things. Either the leader is too clueless to realize the employee is a problem, or they know it but are too weak to do anything about it. Either way, the leader loses their influence with everyone because they don’t act on the clear problem in front of them.
If you are dealing with failure, don’t run from it. Don’t blame anyone else around you, or the economy. Find the lessons you need to learn, and learn them. When we say, “I tried that, it didn’t work!” We are dismissing the valuable opportunity we have to learn and get better. Likewise if we are stuck in trying to analyze or plan the perfect business or opportunity, we are missing out. Start. Make Mistakes. Learn. This is one of the only ways to get where you want to go.
Q & A:
Q: Why is it important to not give up too soon on a marketing or advertising campaign?
Q: What are tips for avoiding giving up too soon on a marketing or advertising campaign?
Q: What are the leadership qualities that are important in your business?
Q: What are some examples of people who have achieved success despite giving up early?
Good luck out there, and if you are going to try something, give it everything you have and then keep going. Once you are down and out, stand up and go again. If you truly can’t go any further, learn the lessons you need for your next adventure.
I have a friend Lance Brown, a speaker and educator, who taught me about this great quote from one of the founders of the Franklin Covey company, Hyrum W. Smith. “Character: The ability to carry out a worthy decision after the emotion of making that decision has passed.”