Innovation and the Importance of Failure #30 #cong17

By Ginger Aarons.

Ginger Aarons #30 Innovation and failure

Photo by Markus Spiske

You don’t learn to walk by following the rules. 

You learn by doing, and by falling over

Richard Branson

When I first started the tour business in 1998, after the fall of commissions on airline business I innovated and pivoted to touring.  It was the only thing I could see working to save my career and offer a way to stay home with two young boys and still have a decent income and me time.  Fast forward through kids growing up and then a divorce, I found myself looking for that way to innovate once again, having to come up with enough income to overcome the devastation of our lives financially and emotionally,  I picked myself up, dusted myself off and with the money I had opened a retail, brick and mortar travel office again after working from home with little overhead for 15 years. I was mad crazy to think it would work, but I had to try.  I had long-standing friends, colleagues from the industry that started checking in … ‘Are you crazy?’ was the most frequent thing I heard …immediately followed by ‘let me know how I can help’.

Long story short? I failed. I failed miserably. I had lost my house, my office and with the little money I had left, I opened a retail store, investing heavily in Irish products to offer along with the travel office specializing in tours to Ireland.  Still, at the end of the recession, I tried and I did the best I could to keep myself and kids in a house and a place to work.  But it was the wrong move. A costly move financially.

So what went wrong?

  • I was emotionally tied to my home, my home business and my possessions
  • I was overextended, not on credit, but on what resources I had to spend
  • I was overextended emotionally
  • I was over my depth in retail – no knowledge or experience in running a retail store
  • I had no budget left for advertising.  (Not that it would have helped because … )
  • Location * Location * Location

As I look back now, a mere 4 years on, it astounds me that I actually survived. But what happened to me in the meantime? I innovated. Myself and my business.  I grew as a person because I was forced out of my comfort zone and you know what? All those sleepless nights, you just put one foot in front of the other and you get there. And when you come to the point where you can honestly look at what you’ve been through, through clear eyes and honesty, you see the mistakes and you think,  ‘Wow! I tried that and I failed, but I’m still standing and now I’m to the next chapter and Hey! It’s really where I wanted to be all along.’

In business and in your personal life innovation comes from failures.

Some examples in failures:

  • Failure to launch a new product at the right time, missing an opportunity
  • Failure in a marriage or partnership, personal or business
  • Failure with money or overextension in credit or emotions
  • Being emotionally tied to your business

Some examples of innovation:

  • Emotional intelligence – an entirely other topic! But worth the investment in time with a business coach, counselor  - You’ll excel if you can master your emotions!
  • Missed opportunity or another silver lining?  Retail store but more knowledge of Irish products and what I offer on tour with my clients to see the real backroads of Ireland
  • Living and working on credit or within your means? Innovate to run a lean organization either at work or home.  You can get by on less!  And it helps you innovate when you don’t have the resources readily at hand.  Don’t get me wrong, you need to have money to make money, but sometimes it’s not a lot of money! And necessity is the mother of all invention! And innovation!
  • Emotionally untying yourself from your business will help you innovate it and move it to the next level. This means admitting when a product isn’t working, no matter how good of an idea you thought it might be or how much emotional time you have invested into it.  It also allows you to be able to cut ties with things or people that are not working for you or for your business.   We all know how scary it can be to lose a partner, even when you know it’s not the right fit, but when you can look at it objectively, it is liberating and innovating!

Leaving you with these thoughts from the urban dictionary.

Innovation: ‘Innovation is crucial to the continuing success of any organization (or person)’

Synonyms: change, alteration, revolution, upheaval, transformation, metamorphosis, reorganization, restructuring, rearrangement, recasting, remodeling, renovation, restyling, variation; new measures, new methods, new devices, novelty, newness, unconventionality, modernization, modernism, a break with tradition, a shift of emphasis, a departure, a change of direction; informal shake-up; informal shakedowns; humorous transmogrification, ‘they favoured the traditional approach and resisted innovation’

Wishing all of you continued success and innovations in this life’s journey! Remember, it’s not a failure, its an opportunity to reinvent and grow and to innovate!

CongRegation © Eoin Kennedy 2017 eoin at congregation dot ie