Here’s the thing about success. It’s not down to talent, or being deserving, or getting a leg-up, or luck (although getting a leg-up and luck certainly do help).
Success is, as Winston Churchill once said, “Going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”
Of course, if you’re Gerald Ratner and you’ve just destroyed your multi-billion pound family business, you’re allowed to spend a little while feeling sorry for yourself.
As he said, this epic failure (and it was an epic failure), “really kind of got him down a bit.”
He drifted through the next few years; nobody wanted to do business with him (big surprise), no bank would lend to him (big surprise), and he had nothing.
So he tried a few things. Looked for a few jobs. Failed.
Until one day, he saw a property in Henley-on-Thames. It was up for around £1million… and would make the perfect health club. He knew he could turn it into a successful business fast, so he went to the bank and presented his idea…
…but they laughed him out of the door.
As did the next bank, and the next.
You’re probably as unsurprised by this turn of events as I am.
But Ratner didn’t give up. Instead, utterly convinced he was going to make a go of this, he put an advert in the paper — a strong advert that sold the benefits of the club and made much of the fact that membership was free… (I looked everywhere for this ad, but couldn’t find it)
And 500 people signed up straight away.
So he went back to the banks and eventually found one that would lend to him. That was all he needed to build the business.
He set it up in 1996 and in 2001, he sold it for a cool £3.9million.
How many people would have given up after the banks said “no” the first time? Most people. Hell, how many people would have given up after the truly epic fail that destroyed the jewellery business? Almost everyone, I’d wager.
It’s the business owners who never give up, who bounce from failure to failure, who take a chance, who find success.
If you want to succeed in business and in life, you have to take your courage in both hands and take a chance. Do something scary and slightly dangerous. What’s the worst that could happen if it all goes Pete Tong?
That’s why I do what I do. I want to help small business owners take those chances and do the scary things. I’m the hand-holder, the encourager, the arse-kicker — and I’m constantly astonished at what my Members are doing and achieving.
Even the small actions all add up. And each small action makes the next one easier.
Fancy a bit of that? Buy a copy of my book, Business For Superheroes here.
Vicky Fraser is a copywriter, author, and entrepreneur. She really did run away with the circus… but when she’s not swinging from a trapeze, she’s showing other copywriters and small business owners how to work with better clients, make more money, and stop missing bathtimes, first words, and dinners with angry partners. In fact, she wrote the book on it. Get your copy here.
PS I try to walk my talk, you know. In business and in life. So last night I did something scary. I went along to an adult gymnastics class (I’ve been wanting to start gymnastics for ages) and talked to strangers. Then I did my first ever somersault. Into a foam pit. Standing on the edge of the mat, looking down, I took that little leap of faith, tucked my head between my knees, and sailed through the air.
And you know what? It was brilliant. So I did it again, and again, and again… because that’s how we get good at stuff.
Make yourself this promise today: “I’m going to do some kind of scary somersault today. Something that scares me. Because growth only happens at the edges.”