How entrepreneurs can recover after failing spectacularly

February 4th, 2010

In 2002, Marty Metro ditched corporate America to sell used moving boxes. Customers flooded his eco-friendly Los Angeles store, and Metro rushed to open three more locations, hopeful he’d soon be franchising the business throughout the country.

Only thing was, Metro couldn’t figure out how to turn a profit.

“The sales weren’t the problem,” he explains. “It was the operational costs. We couldn’t get the boxes, inventory them, store them and sell them in a way that actually made money.”

Three years later, Metro’s green business was still in the red and he was forced to shutter it. Saddled with $300,000 of personal debt, he found himself selling his office furniture on the sidewalk and back on the market for a day job.

While some would be discouraged, Metro doesn’t consider his failed business a waste of time or money. The lessons learned, skills acquired and contacts made have since served him well. So well, in fact, that he raised enough venture capital to re-launch in 2006 asĀ UsedCardboardBoxes.com–a web-based version of his original business.

Like Metro, you may not walk away from a venture with any cash in pocket. But that doesn’t mean you’ll leave empty-handed.

[Read the rest of this article on Entrepreneur.com.]

Entry Filed under: This freelance life,Toolbox

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Kristen Leigh  |  February 4th, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    Absolutely right. 2009 was a pretty icky year for a lot of us, but I feel like the lessons I’ve learned will only serve to make 2010 better. Thanks for sharing! (PS: I heart your book. I just recommended it to a brand new freelancer yesterday.)

  • 2. Michelle Goodman  |  February 4th, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    Kristen, thank you so much. I heart comments like yours. ;)

  • 3. Yst  |  February 15th, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    Hi Michelle,
    This is an encouraging story to anyone who is thinking “oh what would happen if my business failed, will no one want to hire me again”.
    Probably not, worst comes to worst, you develop new skills that you can sell an employer and now you have tons of proof that you work hard. How bad a deal is that?
    (especially for young people: starting your own business gives you a nice shortcut to management rank).

    Best wishes Michelle!

  • 4. NoahC  |  February 22nd, 2010 at 7:51 pm

    One game you can play is “What is the worst…”

    You the imagine the worse thing that could happen to you as an Entrepreneur. Typically you’d say, “never get hired after getting $300,000 in debt.” But this makes the worst thing that could happen to you is selling your $2500 ergo chair for $100 to some kid out the back of your business…

    The more we hear about stories like this, the more courage we have to do the one thing that our DNA mandates we do to be happy.

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Who I am

Hi, my name's Michelle Goodman and I've been freelancing since 1992. I'm author of My So-Called Freelance Life and The Anti 9-to-5 Guide. Read my full bio here.

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