A successful entrepreneur shares her thoughts on business success and failure.

The Failure Manifesto

I think some of us want to believe that somewhere out there, someone else has a life that’s “easy”.

She doesn’t have to worry about money.
He has a successful business.
She’s really popular.

If you believe that, this blog post is about to flip that belief on its head.

I spent hours crying today.

My accountant tells me my company–the one that’s receiving the residuals from my former hosting business–owes the IRS another $13,000 for tax year 2009. I’ve already paid something like $70,000 in the last 6 months to various taxing authorities.

I thought I could afford to buy a house. Then I had to pay taxes. And then I found out that most banks won’t accept dividend income as “proof of income” for a mortgage. Poof–the house I saw, and liked, vanished to another bidder.

Sold my company for $1.1 million, and I don’t even have enough money for a house down payment.

I am angry.

I can’t bring myself to total up July’s income for my blog. I know it’s going to be bad. $2,000, maybe $3,000. If this sounds good to you, remember that my employee expenses right now are about that. Employees who are, of course, building the awesomeness that will be my new company, Whoosh! Traffic. I’m looking forward to it. But right now, it’s a lot of work and absolutely no money. I am drained. I think I’ve made something less than minimum wage for all the hours I’ve put in to this blog, my business, these information products I’ve created so far this year.

Remember all that income I showed you from Profit Instruments? The first check arrived. It’s gone. All to business expenses. Didn’t see a dime from it personally. The second check will arrive in a week or two. It will be enough to hold my business over for the next few months. I probably won’t take any money from it, either. I hate that.

I am frustrated.

Supposedly, I am “living the dream.” Got a blog. It’s pretty popular. Not the biggest blog in the world. But big enough that other bloggers think that I earn a fair amount of income from advertising. I don’t.

I wanted to do a sale on Guest Post Secrets this week. But I couldn’t bring myself to send the email. Every time I send a sales-y type of email to my list, I get some crazy angry response. Of course, I get more sales than angry responses. But this week, I couldn’t stomach the angry craziness that lurks out there.

I am a coward.

I don’t think this is the life you imagine I lead. Somewhere out there, there is someone who believes I live in a palace, immune to financial problems. Everything I touch turns to gold, right?


We (my programmer and I) stopped development on Best Blogs last week. I was so excited about that site. Still am, darn it. But it wasn’t going to immediately generate revenue. Whoosh Traffic will. Whoosh Traffic has the potential to be a 7-figure business. Bigger than my hosting company. And it has the potential to grow fast. Not so with Best Blogs. Oh, we had a monetization plan…a damn good one. But it would take 6 months to a year to really come to fruition. With Whoosh, we can be making money in a month or two at most.

So we shelved Best Blogs.

This is where I get real with you.

Blogging isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It’s freaking hard. Whatever you do, you’re going to have some crazy people shouting at you about it. It’s kind of like performing publicly on the street. You’re always going to get someone with their own issues taking them out on you. Only with blogging, the whole Internet gets to see you duke it out. Not so pleasant. If you ever wonder why some fairly high-profile bloggers have stopped blogging, it’s because of this incessant mindf**k of crazy people who live out there on the Internet. The crazy people get in your head. You start second-guessing everything you write. And you have to have a super-strong personality to handle it.

I have a super strong personality. But I am not able to handle it 100% of the time. Today was one of those days where I could not handle it. Could not push Send on the email blast, because I didn’t want the blowback.

Instead, I write this. I break down the walls a little bit between you and me. Underneath the steel armor exterior, I am a person. And the words hurt. The refunds hurt. The refunds are the worst part. I take them very personally. If you’ve ever refunded a product you’ve bought from me for more than $100, I’ve cried about it. About you. I’ve wondered what the heck I ever did to hurt you.

One time last year I threw things against the wall after a couple customers banded together to refund a product I created. I am not sure I have ever been so angry, hurt, and upset all at once.

I am not proud of this. But it’s the way it is.

Do not give up hope. Even from this low point, I will keep going. Day by day, I will continue creating amazing content–and selling some of it to you. That’s all any of us can do. We can take it a day at a time. We can keep going. We can tell the haters to shove it, one blog post at a time, one product at a time. We can fight the only fight we have–to continue just showing up.

And one day, after having been beaten down and having many of these days like today, we will again be on top of the world.

But not right now. Right now, it just hurts.

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I'm Erica Douglass.
After selling my online business at age 26 for over $1 million, I created this blog to help you grow your own business quickly.

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