A Look Back On My Failed Businesses

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failed businessI used to work as a truck driver for a large excavating company. The job offer came my way shortly before our wedding in 2009 and since the pay and benefits were good – I jumped on it.

For the first few months I was there, things were pretty good. I was excited about making more money than I ever had in my life, had lots of responsibility and was generally happy.

After about two years at the company, my job changed from Crane/Lowbed operator, to dump truck driver.

Now if you’ve never had the pleasure of driving a dump truck, here’s what it’s like. Get up and walk to your mailbox, turn around and come back into your house. Do that for eight straight hours and that’s more or less what it’s like driving a dump truck.

Some people love it of course, there’s consistency and stability there. Not this guy – I can’t stand knowing exactly what every day of my life will look like for months in advance.

Now to be fair, there were some redeeming qualities to the job. For one, I had a lot of great co-workers that I got along well with. My boss treated me well and of course, there was the good pay and benefits.

Even still, it wasn’t long before boredom started to eat away at my soul and I woke up on weekdays super stressed about going to work.

This is just what a good husband and provider does right?

That’s what I told myself over and over during the longest seven years of my life.

Maybe you know the feeling. Even when you’re super unhappy you just keep on going because this is what responsible adults do. Why would anybody give up a good job with good pay just because they’re unhappy?

Of course, some of the older fellows who had been there for decades were super helpful…

“Back in my day, the truck didn’t even have a seat, I sat on a bucket!”

“You don’t know how good you’ve got it kid.”

“Don’t be such a bitch – when I was your age, I was making half what you make!”

“I used to walk to school both ways uphill in the snow!” – Ok, I made that one up.

The point was, I felt stuck. I hated what I was doing but when you’re a sole-provider without much savings, it’s easy to feel like you can’t ever change jobs.

Related Post: How To Make $500 Fast – 15 Ways To Make Extra Cash This Week

Trying to escape

I tried everything I could think of to get out of that job. I’ve never shared this stuff before, probably because some of it’s super embarrassing, but I’m sure some of you will be able to relate.

Here are a few of the things that I tried to get out of my job:

Drop shipping

Way back, before I knew anything about online business, I bought a drop-shipping ‘start-up’ package for $200. I don’t know how they did it through a computer but they saw me coming MILES away haha. As you’ve probably guessed, I never saw a dime of that money back.

Multi-level marketing

I know at least a few of you have done this. Got involved with a multi-level marketing business selling weight loss shakes. I hate that I did this but it was an important part of my journey. This taught me that no matter how well an opportunity is marketed, there is NEVER an easy way out. Fortunately I gave up on this one before too long.

I went back and forth on naming the company…but what the heck – it was these guys. The shakes were pretty good, the company however, leaves a terrible taste in your mouth.

Brief stint as the world’s least successful affiliate marketer

Started several affiliate sites. I did make a small amount of money from this, but at the time, Google was throwing all of the cute, furry animals (Pandas, Penguins etc.) at us and I didn’t want to be investing my time into something that I was sure wouldn’t last. Hindsight being what it is, I wish I’d kept them. I actually tried to re-purchase one of my old urls this year and found out that some clever son-of-a-gun is bought it and is benefitting from my hard-earned backlinks.

Started a travel blog…I don’t travel much

Started a travel blog. Now, I do love to travel, but compared to the likes of Chris Guillebeau or Nomadic Matt, I don’t exactly get out much. Thankfully, I was talked out of this genius plan during a chance encounter with the side hustle king, Nick Loper.

Started an appliance repair business

I started an appliance repair business. This was actually pretty fun and really profitable. I had a good time with this. The only reason I’m not still buying and selling appliances is that I no longer have access to a garage and pickup truck. I recommend this business to anybody who needs to make some money fast.

Want to learn how to start a profitable appliance business today? Check out Tradeskills, run by Ryan Finlay. He’s the guy I learned from.

There were more, but I’ll cut my embarrassing story short here. The point is, I was trying to run away from my job.

There was no direction, no greater plan, no ambition for the future, just an all-consuming need to get away from where I was.

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Find something to run towards

It took me a long time, but I finally realized that you can’t get anywhere by running away from something. You have to run towards something.

It’s important to have a vision, a dream – something important that you want to achieve. If you’re trying to work your way away from something you might as well go take a walk on a treadmill – it will get you about as far.

Best case scenario, it’s the fast-track to another soul-sucking form of mediocrity. Worst case, you’ll end up right back where you started.

When Things Started To Look Up

I learned something else during that time. My most important asset isn’t my job. It’s not my money, my home, my car or anything else that I might have guessed then.

The most important and valuable asset that I have is time.

We only get a little bit of time in the grand scheme of things. I decided that I didn’t want to use mine at a crap job.

I ended up leaving that job during the last of many layoffs and got a position doing work I liked much better at a smaller company. They treated me like gold and I genuinely enjoyed working there.

I ended up staying with that company for just under two years before I got into digital marketing. I truly enjoyed it there, I might even go back someday…

It’s time to get started

I know that some of you can relate to my story. Some of you have tried selling shakes or spent money on some smoke-and-mirrors online scheme that got you absolutely nowhere.

You may have even felt desperate or trapped as I did. I want to let you know that I feel you, I know exactly what that’s like.

I’m no longer trying to run away from my current situation. I have found a passion through this site to serve my readers and hopefully help others avoid wasting 5+ years trying to escape as I did.

If you’re feeling stuck in life, I just want to encourage you to start taking steps toward something that you’re passionate about. Maybe it’s an online business…maybe it’s learning how to fly an airplane, build a race car or something else.

Whatever it is, you can succeed at it if you put in the time and keep moving forward.

Do you have an embarrassing business story? Please make me feel a little better and share it with the rest of us in the comments haha!

Care to share?

7 thoughts on “A Look Back On My Failed Businesses”

  1. Thanks for sharing. It takes guts to open up and put our failures or embarrassing moments out there for all to see ( and, unfortunately, to judge). You are the better man !

  2. I really appreciate posts like this. So relatable! I love what you said about running towards, not away from, something. That’s a great rule of thumb. I don’t always love my current job – in fact I often feel pretty meh about it – but it is allowing me to run towards debt freedom, so it’s worth it!

    (And I sold shakes, too, so I can totally relate.)

  3. Oh man, I’ve had more failures than I can count. I actually did a post about all my online misadventures (I was inspired by a DYEB episode). Let’s see…I had a bunch of affiliate sites that did well for a short time until the Penguin/Panda days, some blogging and freelance writing, and even created a few digital products of my own to sell. My biggest problem was lack of focus and shiny object syndrome. That’s why I cut everything down to just one project…though I too wish I had held onto some of those old domains!

    • I did the same. I only write here now, though I have had another niche site idea on the back burner for a few years and I might start it up soon. Thanks for reading Mike!

      P.S. Ever tried selling shakes? *facepalm*

  4. Thanks for sharing! So similar to my experiences. I think my worst, was one of the MLM companies I tried. Embarrassingly, I tried more than one (face palm). I remember needing to get “licensed” in order to participate. It was actually just a class they required one to take, and pay for, in order to fund the commission of your “friend” who brought you onboard. Live and learn I suppose. As long as I learn from each experience I just add it to my life education box. Keep swinging until you hit that homerun!

    • Thanks for sharing Jerry. I used to find it embarrassing but as years have passed, it’s more amusing to me now 🙂

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