Have you ever thought about the process of achieving success?
Sometimes you see successful people, and it just looks like it was so easy.
They invented a product; they found an investor who was wowed with their brilliance. They sold the idea to a big company and now they are millionaires!
Now, they bask in their success.
Is that really how success works? Is it really that easy?
As an entrepreneur, you should know by now that it’s nothing like that. You’re deep in the struggle, and you’re working that 24/7 sales job. You’ve experienced countless NO’s, and you’ve had to get up again every time.
It’s powered by hard work, blood, sweat, tears, determination, and conviction. It’s often accompanied by the pain of some devastating rejections, and some huge personal blows.
When I worked at FITzee Foods, I had to let my operations manager go. He was doing some unethical & immoral activities, and I couldn’t keep him with the company. So I let him go and he then found a new job – working for a direct competitor. To make matters worse, that competitor rented our kitchen in the off hours, and I had to deal with these facts and truths about what just happened!
This was a very difficult time of my business and one that I learned a lot from. My success today is powered by the pain from the past. As you know, business is business, but that lesson is learned through the struggles. Most of us have to learn that lesson by going through those growing pains and experiencing that rejection or those frustrating times.
However, often, when I look back, it is with gratitude. You’ll remember the pain, but you’ll also know that without that pain, you wouldn’t have grown to be the success you are today.
A guest on the Success Unfiltered Podcast, Lisa Q. Fetterman, heard a pretty devastating NO at the beginning of her entrepreneurial career, and it completely shaped the way that she grew her business.
When NO Changes Your Business
Lisa Q. Fetterman loved food – and not just any food. She loved gourmet sous vide (pronounced ‘soo vie’). As a trained chef, Lisa knew what it would take to make an easy meal in every home.
A sous vide device, made in the USA, was the perfect solution!
When she found her angel investor, it seemed like a perfect match: he was a sous vide connoisseur, and she had the business going – it was an investment match made in heaven!
They began planning the business, and moving forward, until one night, over dinner, he gave her a shocking announcement.
He was going to go work with another company – a direct competitor of her product. Not only that, but he had sold the idea to them for $250 million dollars.
Lisa was devastated. He allowed her to buy her shares back, and they parted ways – but she saw him in professional circles all the time.
His company flourished, and Lisa knew that rather than competing with him, she needed to explore a different unique selling proposition.
It was time to lean into what made her special – and Lisa knew how to do that.
Since her childhood, she had always felt a little bit different. She was an immigrant child. She dressed differently and had a different style about her.
When she tried to fit in, everything felt wrong, until one day, she finally chose to embrace what made her unique and special. She began dressing the way she wanted to dress, and acting the way she wanted to act.
Seeing her competition made her look at her business, Nomiku, differently. What if she doubled down on what made her special? Instead of trying to fit in, and trying to compete with their products, and their budgets of millions of dollars, what if she just changed her business?
What if she worked in the food industry to create pre-packed sous vide food? What if people could order the food, and all they had to do was use a digital barcode reader on the sous vide device, and they’d know exactly how long they had to cook the food for?
Gourmet, 5-star restaurant-quality food would then be available to anyone that wanted it!
By creating a business that was difficult to copy, Lisa helped Nomiku stand out as something truly unique in the sous vide industry.
Recovering from Devastation
Lisa found a way to turn around the devastation of that original NO, but it was not easy.
NO is never easy – especially when it feels so personal.
In order to recover from her NO, she had to work through the feelings and the frustrations. She couldn’t move forward until she had worked through it all.
After all, feelings couldn’t just be ignored. They didn’t just go away.
The key was to feel them, feel the clean righteous fury of the anger. Grieve the devastation and betrayal of the NO. And then, come back into the game, if you will.
Success is never “clean” and “pure.”
Success is often survival, Lisa says. Success is surviving to fight another day because you know that you want to do what you’re doing, whether it be to run your business, create your product, or offer a service to people.
When you know, at the core of your being that you want to do this, you have no other choice than to work through the struggles of business. You have to do this, and want to, more than anything else in the world.
That powered Lisa forward. “Sorry, husband and kids,” she jokes. “I do put my family first, but I was made to do this, and I feel passionately about it. I believe with every cell of my body that I was made to do this.”
When the struggles came, she was prepared.
Others may tell you that “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” and at the moment, when you feel like you just might not make it, that feels like the worst advice and encouragement ever.
However, those moments of your greatest frustration can become your greatest triumph: Lisa was forced to become unique and stand out in her business. Without that NO, she wouldn’t have been pushed to become the success that she is today.
Have you heard a particularly devastating NO lately? One that has forced you to evaluate your entire business? How do you relate to Lisa’s story? Are you experiencing a NO that is causing you to pivot your business? Tell me in the comments!