Raw Entrepreneurship: My List of Commercial Failures


I have been in business for myself for a little over seven years. They say that the average entrepreneur fails seven times before they get it right. Here is a list of the times when I did not get it right:

  1. Summer 2010: Skillz Basketball Camp (cost me $1,000)
  2. Winter 2010: CollectiveCreativity show (cost me $5000)
  3. Summer 2011: MTV Movie Awards After party (cost everyone nearly $10K)
  4. Fall 2011: Passion Conference (cost me $3000)
  5. Summer 2012: Evicted from my penthouse in Marina Del Rey ($10K)
  6. Winter 2012: Summer 2014: 2 broken business deals (total cost about $20k)
  7. Summer 2015: The integrated Learning Annex is open but vacant for 10 months (rent $50k)
  8. Summer 2016: The integrated Learning Annex Livestream ($10K)

So, summing the math, my learning curve has cost approximately:$110K

Factoring in my private school undergrad education (which had its fair share of meteoric fails): ~$250K

Why make this post? Because entrepreneurship is dressed up as sexy when it is demeaning. If you just started out as an entrepreneur and you don't feel like your ass is being handed to you every day of the week, you are incredibly dense, incredibly skilled, or incredibly lucky. Either way, kudos to you and I hope you pass on some of that elixir to the rest of us. For us mere mortals, entrepreneurship is grueling. Even when you reach a plateau another summit summons in the distance challenging you to get back on your feet and put everything you've got into scaling it.

I made this post for the entrepreneur that saddled up and fell off. For the woman that tried her hand at her own e-commerce business and sold approximately 2.5 shirts her first week. For the guy frustrated that none of his friends support his new restaurant. 

Life is about 'getting shots up.' In basketball, we "put up shots" when we want to get our jump shot right. In a training session, a player might put up 1,000 shots (or make 400 before they leave). This is because in the fast-paced game like basketball, you gotta come into the game ready to light it up. You gotta take shots... And when that dry streak comes (or to make this metaphor work, you're a rookie entrepreneur trying to find their way) you have to keep shooting. The truth is, you should seek out the no's and get it out the way. 

In short, here's my guide to failing fast and hard and moving on:

  1. Get shots up everyday. Cold call, walk into a new office, find a buyer and just see what happens
  2. As you get more sophisticated, do your homework. Cold call after you've done some digging, get a Hubspot or equivalent inbound marketing tool and get meetings going.
  3. Take nothing personal. If someone ridicules you or your idea, take the parts that improve what you're doing and leave the rest.
  4. Try on the 10/10% rule. When it comes to putting up shots, do 10 more for numbers less than 100 and 10% for numbers over 100. Ex. if you need to make 20 phone calls a day, make 30. If you need to make 200 phone calls, make 240.

Good luck!

Bryce Brown