My Failures For The Last 9 Months and Why I’m Sharing Them

When we fail at something, our natural tendency as human beings is to hide it.

We fear of losing credibility or being looked down upon by others when sharing our own failures.

But who doesn’t have any failure at all in his/her entire life?

It’s just an inevitable part of our journey to success.

And yes, even the billionaires fail often too.

Instead of hiding and shying away from failures, we should embrace them, learn from them and quickly move on because they’re just things of the past.

In this article, I will be sharing with you my failures over the last 9 months and some of the lessons learned.

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Failure #1 - The Authority Blogging Business Case Study

It was around September last year that I had an idea for another case study which I set out to build an authority website and document my progress publicly on the blog.

My excitement for the project was very high in the first few weeks but it quickly died off.

I did choose a niche I was interested in.

I did set up a nice branded website.

I did hire some quality writers and create a few pieces of content.

But I was spending too much time trying to make everything perfect that I never launched the website.

Eventually, I lost my motivation and decided to stop working on it completely.

The cost of this failure: $3,000+

Lesson Learned

Having a business plan before launching any new project. Create a minimum viable product and launch it. Don’t fail for perfectionism.​

Failure #2 – Trying to Automate Teespring With a New Team

After stopping the authority project, I honestly didn’t know what to do next at the time.

My Amazon sites were either getting penalized after the PBN update or earning very little income.

Cloud Living wasn’t making much money and I never wanted to push products and turn myself into a make money online guru.

Fortunately, I had a healthy amount of savings from old successful ventures so I didn’t have to worry about making enough income to pay the bills while trying to build up a new business.

At the time, some of the friends that I regularly talked to were still killing it with Teespring bringing in mid five or six figures every month and one of them asked me to join the team.

I had no clear direction at the time so I decided to say yes thinking I would get back for a while, make some money and then stop because I never enjoyed doing Teespring even though a few months ago I made closely to six figure with it.

In December, I launched 30 campaigns and got a little bit of profit.

In January, I bought a Teespring training course for $6k and 100% committed to succeed.

And I did. In the following 45 days, I profited over $4k5 from my campaigns and decided to hire help to scale it big time.

Things started to go wrong from here.

Too excited about the quick wins, I invested a lot of time and money into hiring people and building out processes with the ultimate goal of letting my team run the business completely by themselves.

My burn-rate was around $2k a month. I stopped launching new campaigns to focus on training people and hoped that we could ramp up faster when they’re ready.

Boys was I wrong. It wasn’t as easy as it might sound.

I did hire very good people and they got the business very fast. But they just couldn’t replace myself completely. Not just yet.

We had tons of new ideas to launch from the weekly plans, but 80% of them never got launched due to the fact that I kept pushing off my responsibility to do the targeting and the ads.

Days and weeks got wasted because of my inability to get important things done.

Eventually, I decided to quit Teespring and this time I’m completely done with it.

The cost of this failure: $10,000+

Lessons Learned

Don’t get into a business just for the money, especially something that you knew before hand that you didn’t like doing.

Premature hiring is costly. Hire whenever your business can afford it or at least have proven to be profitable consistently.

Failure #3 – Not Learning to Manage My Financials Well

Because I never kept track of income or expenses, I didn’t know that I was making or burning a lot of money until I actually paid attention to those numbers.

As long as I stopped overspending on Teespring and other stuff, I’m immediately profitable again. No I’m not bringing in a lot of dollars per month yet, but at least my cashflow is positive now.

Cost: I don’t even know. Probably a lot.

Lesson Learned

“Know your numbers. All businesses run on money. If you don't understand money, you don't understand business – Brendan Tully"

Why Am I Sharing These Failures?

It’s really hard to talk about failures publicly, especially to those who trusted you and followed you.

But I really wanted to do this post. Why?

Because I want to show you the reality and don’t want you to idealize me.

Yes, I did have past successes but they didn’t make me a foolproof person.

And I’m far from a successful entrepreneur. I’m more like a 21 year old guy with big dreams and ambitions for success.

I will sure make mistakes again but every mistake and how I deal with it will shape who I’m becoming 5 – 10 years from now.

It’s also the same for other bloggers and people around you. You never know what they’re struggling with in their lives.

Don’t compare yourself with other people. Just try to become better than you were everyday.

Conclusion

I’m writing the last few sentences for this article. And I feel relieved.

Having time to review and talk about my failures to you actually helped me to feel better and get ready to start fresh again.

On the bright side, my last 9 months weren’t only consisted of failures, here are some good news:

  • I’m still able to maintain an active healthy lifestyle which is my #1 priority.
  • I turned 21 while going on a 3-day vacation with my family last month. It was great to celebrate birthday with people who care about me the most.
  • My amazon affiliate theme Authority Azon is making good passive income every month despite me not spending any effort on promotion.
  • My girl friend’s local skincare e-commerce store is growing significantly. Sales have been great and we’re excited to grow this into a six-figure business very soon.
  • Cloud Living’s traffic is still staying stable without me posting much. I’m still thinking about the future of the blog . Should I focus more and grow this into something big?

It’s been an exciting journey for me so far. Thanks for your following and I will be sure to keep you posted.

I want to hear from you too.

What were some of the mistakes that you’ve made and how did you deal with them?

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 44 comments
Mitko - July 6, 2015

This is an instant motivation for me to do the same and write a blog post for my failures of 2015.

How we get up after failures makes the difference between a winner and a looser.

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    Tung Tran - July 6, 2015

    Could you briefly share it here?

    I’m sure other readers would love to read your stories too.

    And feel free to include the link here when you’ve written the post 🙂

    Reply
Sophy - July 6, 2015

Thank you share your best experiences!

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Sandra - July 6, 2015

How refreshing! Transparency is a bonding agent. Indeed we all have cycles in life…I’ve been follwoing your blog for a couple of years. Found you through Spencer Haws blog and admire your track record. Thanks for sharing!

This has also been a challenging year for my ecommerce store. When FB changed the algorithm on boosted posts this spring, it all but cut off my traffic. Sales went from an avg. of 12 to 16K per month to 3K like overnight! Yikes….lol

So for the past four months, I too have been living off of savings (thank goodness for those healthy months) and am having to find my way back.

Lesson learned….NEVER look to one source of traffic, no matter how well it does for you!

I’d love to know what you and your GF are doing to grow her ecommerce store….can you tell us why you described it as her “local” ecommerce store?

Sounds like a bit of an oxymoron in that local is usually thought of as brick and mortar…this would make a great case study…just sayin:)

Thank you for your post today!

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    Tung Tran - July 6, 2015

    Hi Sandra,

    Thank you! I really appreciate your comment.

    For the store, we’re only focusing on the Vietnamese market that’s why I call it “local” 😀

    And we have both offline and online stores too. It’s been going well although there’s a lot of work to do.

    Main focus would still be online store but the offline store really helps to increase credibility and average order size.

    Reply
Robert Kirk - July 6, 2015

Hi Tung

Followed the blog and your content for while now.

I found this post really honest and it must have took a-lot on your self pride to post it Im sure. No one likes to advertise that they have failed at something. But I think it shows that you have succeeded, and that you have failed but you will succeed again because you have it in you to find the next venture that will work.

I always believe its best trying something and it then not working, than just talking about something but doing nothing about it.

Ive had some success (nothing huge), and had some losses, especially in last few years. But like you Im always on the go for the next idea, the next plan of action to make the profit again. The hard part is picking the right idea to throw money at.

Wish you all the best with your future plans.

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    Tung Tran - July 6, 2015

    Thanks Robert! I did take some serious consideration to publish this 😛

    But from the responses so far, I’m glad I did.

    Reply
nissa - July 6, 2015

Hi Tung, I love when you say ‘Know your Number’. It makes me realize,I never do that. From now on, I’ll do that. Thanks

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Anthony - July 6, 2015

I have to say I love the post!

You are a big success, than people the same age as you, even more …
I believe that the failure will make you big!

Just keep going…

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Ha Bui - July 6, 2015

I don’t think there’s a kind of people for freelancing t-shirt field, because it needs a lot of customer insight, which only the man who is incharge can understand.

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Tom - July 6, 2015

Thanks Tung for sharing your ‘failures’. I do think it’s very easy to let things slide and not notice what’s going on, for instance I noticed that my website was parked as I hadn’t paid my hosting. I’ve paid my hosting now and it’s back up but it looks crappy so I need to do some work on it and get an amazon affiliate site up so I can start seeing a return on the money I’m spending.

It’s true what they say “you can’t manage what you can’t measure”

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Tim - July 6, 2015

Tung,

I’ve experienced a lot of issues similar to the things you’ve listed here.

There’s a lot of temptation to try different things, I’m glad your experimenting – the experience is worthwhile.

That being said, I don’t understand why you don’t take the models and systems that have worked for you historically, and reapply those to bigger models that will scale well.

All the best,

Tim

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    Tung Tran - July 6, 2015

    That’s what I’m going to do now Tim. It took me a while to realize this. But now I’m 100% focused now.

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James - July 6, 2015

Thanks Tung! I did not know you have been covered by Entrepreneur.com, what an achievement.
But your honest share here is even better, it encourages people like myself who are “still trying to figure it out” online to realize that the successful ones also make mistakes and have failures, even when they are already successful.
And you are only 21! Congrats man, you have a long bright, successful journey ahead of you!

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    Tung Tran - July 6, 2015

    Haha. The writer is a reader and friend. Thanks James! Success is hard to achieve but it’s not impossible. It takes time but worth pursuing.

    Reply
Josh Shogren - July 7, 2015

I really enjoyed the transparency in this post and not being afraid to own up to your mistakes. Kudos to you.

I think you should try and make this blog big, I really enjoy your content and I’m sure many others do as well. Best of luck on whatever you decide to do and I’m sure it will be successful

-Josh

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derrick - July 7, 2015

Great sharing. Very unselfish of you. Thank you.

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Hung Pham - July 7, 2015

Hi Tung, I am motivated by your writing. Everyone can not be successful at the first time when he/she does something. The most important thing is that he/she overcomes failure.

Wishing you be successful!

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Fred - July 7, 2015

Hi Tung, thanks for sharing this. I too have had some big failures from a monetary standpoint. It helps to know that I am in the same failure boat with some other folks. But, and you are well aware of this I am sure, at the same time we learning and succeeding. As Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed, I just found [another way] that didn’t work”. Keep on truckin’. Fred

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Joe - July 7, 2015

Thanks for sharing this. I tired a few things in the last year which haven’t paid off – including TeeSpring.

The freelancing is still going strong so I’m happy with that. I’ve tried to build a team to take some of my freelancing duties off my hands but that hasn’t really worked out yet either!

What are you working on now? My goal for the rest of the year is to hand off some of my freelance tasks to free up some time, then work on something a bit more passive.

Good luck!

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Thanh - July 7, 2015

Common brother.
I’m glad that you made these mistakes at 21. I have the feeling that you are type of guy who’s trying to make things fast.

Anyway, Keep up good work.

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Daniele - July 7, 2015

Great post Tung,
Sharing the failures makes you a stronger person, I’m sure of it!

“Don’t get into a business just for the money, especially something that you knew before hand that you didn’t like doing.”

SO TRUE. I experienced that two years ago when I did a consultancy related to my previous career. It was the worst moment of my entrepreneurial journey, I was doing something I knew I was done with it, just for the money. My mind and hearth were somewhere else and I did a terrible job 🙂

Ciao

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    Tung Tran - July 7, 2015

    Thanks for your comment Daniele! I really appreciate all the supportive comments so far.

    I agree with you too. When getting into something just for the money, you often image that you could make a ton with it, but in fact you don’t enjoy it so the results suffer and you end up making a lot less than you expected.

    Reply
Joshua P. Cornwell - July 7, 2015

Glad to hear an update from you! Gave me a lot of perspective of my own successes and failures through out the year so far. Hope to see more content from you soon!

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Jamie - July 8, 2015

Hey Tung,

It’s a breath of fresh air someone being so open and honest about their failures. As you mentioned in your post, failure is simply part of the learning process.

You only truly fail if you give up after failing.

I now even think failure is good and I see the benefit in every defeat.

When I had my first Muay Thai fight, I was stopped in the second round by tko (I got kicked in the head in case you’re wondering). For days afterwards I was mopping around and feeling very sorry for myself. However, it turned out to be one of the best things to happen for my training and future fights.

I can’t remember whether it was something I heard, read or saw, but I changed my attitude to failure and just viewed it as an opportunity to improve. From that point on, I was more focused and dedicated to training than I have ever been. I won my next fight and then went on to win a Scottish title in later fights.

If it was not for that failure in my first fight, I doubt I would have had the same dedication to training and getting that little bit better each day.

Moral of the story: failure is good. It teaches you valuable lessons and presents you with an opportunity to improve.

Cheers,
Jamie

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Dave - July 18, 2015

These are great experiences man. We’ve all lost thousands of dollars at one point so don’t let that bring you down – you’re net positive at the end of the day I’m sure.

I think the biggest thing here is that a lack of motivation killed your desire to see these projects through and not take shortcuts in the middle.

Motivation is a tough one, I struggle with it sometimes, but the easiest way to stay motivated is to work on something you actually enjoy. My two cents.

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    Tung Tran - July 20, 2015

    You are totally right Dave! My problem was low motivation.

    But no matter what failures I had, I will keep grinding and hustling 🙂

    Reply
Amy - July 20, 2015

Hi Tung!
I appreciate your honesty. I have two TeeSpring campaigns that started today. I designed the shirts, I have them linked to blogs I already have, and I’m planning on growing my blogs first-then my income later. We’ll see how the FB ads do in the next day or two. My goal is only $250 per campaign. I’ll do one with FB ads and one with Bing Ads and report back!
My goal is not hire anyone. Thank you for validating my plan. Start small, stay focused and keep driving forward!!

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Jon Haver - July 21, 2015

Great job sharing some of your failures! Failing fast and cheap is the key. All failures look like pretty good failures to get under your belt and learn something… the knowing your numbers one must hurt. I will send you a spreadsheet I use and it may be of interest to you! Good luck with whatever your next big project is!

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Theodore Nwangene - July 22, 2015

What an inspiring post Tung,
This goes to prove that you’re very transparent with everything you’re doing and i applaud you for that.

Its not every blogger that can come out openly like and admit their mistakes and I’m pretty sure that this act have gotten you lots of credits from your readers. Like you, a lot of people including myself have also failed in fact, I’ve not even implemented or achieved any of my 2015 goals which may sound funny but its true.

I’m still struggling to get things going and seriously, this post have really inspired me to get going.

Wishing you more productive and mistake-free days ahead Tung 🙂

Thanks for sharing.

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Frank - July 25, 2015

“Don’t get into a business just for the money”

Then why open a business, to loose money? I don’t understand your logic. If you want to start a blog to help people, and not turn a profit, that’s a hobby. If you want to make money, you open a business or work for a business that makes money.

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    Tung Tran - July 26, 2015

    You didn’t get my point. If you start a business solely for money and it’s not something that you actually enjoy to do, your excitement will wear off soon and that affects your bottomline too.

    Reply
Kent Chow - August 8, 2015

Tung, I’d called them “Learned Lessons”. I don’t call them “failures”. I was curious how you do with Teespring this year. Indeed, this is a great business to be in as you have the experience.

I guess it’s more about how to run it as a business – outsource, manage your costs, and scale those profitable ones.

Again, I love reading your journey and open sharing. I pick up some great “lessons” here too. Thanks!

For my “failure” in 2015, is that I didn’t focus enough to scale my Amazon Affiliate Business fast and big as should be.

I start thinking big and how to scale to $200/Day for 2016. Just working baby steps toward this Shopping Season, then scale forward with a system.

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Chu Đức Hòa - August 9, 2015

Hi Tung, I feel excited for your share. In some cases when we do not take the passion for our business, it would gradually become out of control.

For me, failure is when I do not action.

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Venkatesh - August 10, 2015

“Because I want to show you the reality and don’t want you to idealize me.
Yes, I did have past successes but they didn’t make me a foolproof person.”

I like these sentences whenever I read ,that shows your modesty and ground to earth attitude

Keep it up tung ! Cheers

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Mahbub Osmane - March 13, 2016

Learn a lot from your mistakes, I did same mistakes except tesppering.

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Andrew - June 16, 2016

I really respect people who have the courage to write about their mistakes. Kudos, Tung! I’m devouring your site now – hoping to find you’re kicking ass in mid-2016.

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