Sharing the Shit
The feelings that circle when your business is failing – not someone else’s but yours – are almost impossible to release into the public.
Failure fuels embarrassment, humiliation, exhausting hindsight and regret. People feel that others judgement will amplify all of these feelings, and that judgement and pity, rather than true empathy, will echo back.
But if we’re all willing to talk more about what failing at business is like… what it feels like… what kind of support would we then be able to lend these brave and wounded spirits, so that the next time they venture out, their projects would be all the more robust?
If these business owners disappear into silence rather then step out to be valued by the people who loved what they were doing, where do we go to deliver our encouragement and hopes for their resilience?
One of our old customers’ businesses has quietly closed its doors. Their business didn’t fail because of the quality of their food. We’ve had numerous reports from their customers that their food was the best of its kind in Brisbane. It failed for lots of other reasons that are hard to explore without the business owner standing up to talk about it.
But their story is like so many others – they jumped into a lease with the energetic abandon of so many food entrepreneurs. The possibility of getting their own place was an engine of passion and optimism, but the drive is like being in love: their judgement clouds. It glammers over the drawbacks and the warning signs.
There we have it- when the love fades, and things are clearer than they seemed before, shame floods the space left behind and the failing owner stands alone and quiet in their suffering.
This particular business owner’s story is not mine to tell, so this is as far as I’ll go with it. I mention it to explain why I ‘share the shit’ as much as I do.
I share it because I hear back from people. They do it privately a lot of the time, but they share their pain and that’s the moment that matters.
The focus on only positive messaging all the time makes business owners feel that if we admit the hard stuff, we lose face. So where does that leave people who are feeling desperate? It leaves them alone, fighting for their livelihood, and sometimes their lives.
That’s why I share the shit, the lonely stuff, the stuff that sometimes only has a side line relationship to food.
Still, there’s plenty I don’t say.
I bet there’s plenty you don’t say, too.
But what if you did?