How To Fail Your Way To Success with Steph Taylor

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You know how the online world is full of people teaching you the latest business tactics and telling you all the things you should be doing? What if instead, business owners should prioritize strategy over tactics and value over the hard sell?

This is what Steph Taylor believes. Taylor is an online business strategist who helps people build profitable, sustainable online businesses that continue to grow even when they’re not at their desks. As the host of the Imperfect Action podcast, she has clocked over two million listens to date.

“I believe that building a successful online business shouldn’t feel like you’re pushing an elephant up a hill, but instead should feel fun, flowy, and fulfilling,” she says.

Taylor practices what she preaches. In the space of 12 months, she grew an online business from $100K to $1 million, without more hustle or more time. By creating a solid online business and sales engine, she has been able to have fun offline, doing things like taking two weeks to hike the Australian outback with a tent on her back and spending a month completely offline in a camper van with her furry best pal, Archie.

Based on her personal experiences failing at several businesses before launching this successful one, Taylor believes that failure is critical to success.

After working hard through her years of schooling, Taylor moved from New Zealand to Australia where she landed her corporate dream job. But a few weeks in, she knew something wasn’t right. So, she started listening to business podcasts and dreaming of one day starting her own business.

Around the same time, Taylor quit sugar but discovered that she couldn’t find exciting, sugar-free snacks. She therefore launched a subscription box delivering sugar-free snacks every month – while keeping her full-time corporate job. She spent the next few months waking up at 4am and working all weekend long to do all the things to launch her company: Sourcing suppliers, building the website, marketing the business, balancing the books. All the while, Taylor wasn’t sleeping or eating well or exercising.

Two weeks out from the official launch of the business, she had a panic attack. By that evening, she was in the hospital with a severe kidney infection. This inspired her to hand in her resignation at work and go all-in on the subscription box business.

Although Taylor met with success, she discovered she wasn’t happy spending her days packing and shipping orders for $2 profit each. Her back ached constantly from ferrying orders to the post office. Eventually, she had to admit it was time to close the doors.

“I could’ve taken this failure to mean that I wasn’t cut out for entrepreneurship,” Taylor said in an exclusive interview with me. “Instead, I conducted a full autopsy on my failure. I had realized that the business model wasn’t viable, as it had small profit margins and high shipping costs. I had discovered what I did and didn’t enjoy. And I had learned what I needed to implement into my next business to make it a profitable and create the freedom I craved in my life.”

Twelve months later, Taylor thought she had achieved her vision for an online business that gave her the freedom to travel. She was a working with clients as a marketing consultant, had launched her first online course, and could work from anywhere. But when she set off to Europe for a few months, she found that she couldn’t focus on the present moment. “I had less freedom than I had had in my corporate job, where I could at least take annual leave and turn my out-of-office on!” she says.

She realized that she had failed again. She had to break her “corporate employee mentality” in order to create actual entrepreneurial freedom. When Taylor returned from that trip, she started letting go of clients and rebuilding her business from the ground up, implementing automated systems and the right support.

The business grew quickly. It went from a $10k month in February 2020 to a $58k month in March, to a $357k month in April.

Taylor put her new, sustainable business model to the test by taking a month off to travel. She didn’t touch her laptop the whole time. Nothing fell apart. The business had passed the “off-grid test.” Four years after quitting her corporate job, Taylor finally had financial freedom and time freedom.

“I wouldn’t have built the business I have today if not for the previous failures and pivots along the way,” Taylor says.

To other people looking to achieve financial and time freedom by pursuing their own business, Taylor has this advice:

· Be open to failure. I wouldn’t have been equipped for the quick growth my business had in 2020 if it weren’t for the failures that happened in the 4 years before it. Although these failures felt awful at the time, I now understand why they had to happen to get me to where I am today.

· Enjoy the process. When I first started out in business, I thought it had to be a hard slog until I was “successful”, and then magically things would become enjoyable. It wasn’t until I consciously decided I wanted my business to feel fun and easy that I started to enjoy myself. Business doesn’t have to feel hard for you to be successful; struggling doesn’t make you more worthy of success.

· Do things before you’re ready. Nobody is ever going to hand you a certificate declaring you qualified to take action. You’re not going to wake up one morning, suddenly free of all fear and self-doubt. You wanna know a secret? Nobody knows what they’re doing, even the ones who pretend they do. In reality, we’re all just figuring it out, one day at a time, one challenge at a time. And you will too.

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