In 2007, I started an online fitness business. I produced a Christian CD for group fitness instructors and personal trainers to use with their clients. That venture was the start of my entrepreneurship—unless you count the time, at 12 years old, when I sold baked goods to my neighbors and surrounding businesses. I have always been a bit adventurous and seem to constantly have big ideas (still do!). In 2008, I managed the group fitness instructors and program for a local fitness chain. I did the basic work of a manager but saw more potential and began to implement programs, fundraisers, and marketing strategies. A few years passed and I realized that I had been putting a lot of time and energy into another company and it dawned on me, I can do this on my own.
So I did.
I started seeking advice from a business consulting firm and a fitness business consultant and set out on a new adventure. My online fitness production company had evolved into a fitness consulting business where I provided online personal training to anyone around the world. I took my online concept to a bricks and mortar model too. My business was very unique for my area and unique in the fitness industry at the time (I opened a fitness studio!). It was a huge success at the beginning. I had a marketing plan that was working well and a support system that was incredible. What I didn’t account for was the impending failing economy and my family’s need for me to contribute to our budget quicker than a small business would allow.
The Tides Changed
During that time, when I’d tell people my husband’s profession there would be a general gasp and then a follow up question: “How are you all doing?” I’m sure you could guess—he worked in real estate. We all know that the real estate market tanked during the recession and that the effects were far reaching. As I got further into my fitness studio it was apparent that I would not be able to make it, not because we couldn’t financially or the model wasn’t right, it was because I couldn’t wait to make money. If you know one thing about a small business it’s that it can take a while (maybe even years) before you begin to see the fruits of your labor. I knew I needed to shut it down and so I began to slowly dissolve the fitness studio. In the business world, a business lasting a short time would be considered a failure.
As much as shutting down my business venture was humbling, it was also a relief. Running a business was a lot of hard work! Anything you do well takes work and I don’t typically do things halfway so I was giving much of my time to it. The closure was a good change of pace for our family. But my husband and I would not trade that experience for anything. I learned a lot, I grew a lot and frankly it opened many doors. My marriage grew during that time of leaning on the Lord for wisdom and guidance. There’s much I am thankful for. I thank God for my fitness studio closing—God doesn’t waste anything, even our perceived failures.
Failing to the Glory of God
Yes, God doesn’t waste anything. He doesn’t waste our experiences, he doesn’t waste our pain or trials; even our joys are for a purpose. During that period, I had the opportunity to learn how to budget, do payroll (as an owner not as a manager), market, hire (as an owner not as a manager), partner with companies, fundraise and give (as an owner), campaign, and manage. It is significantly different, more at stake you could say, when you are doing these tasks as an owner and not a manager. That list only scratches the surface but those experiences allowed me to grow personally and today the skills I learned continues to help me serve the Lord and others, even in my home as I care for my husband and children.
But those various skills aren’t the greatest lessons and benefits. Perhaps one of the greatest lessons I have learned from failing, as the world sees it, is to try and entrust the results to the Lord. I learned to take steps of faith and trust God. And that is where I believe God got the glory—he was teaching me that in my weakness and insecurity about the future, he was still God. I learned to rest in him. I learned to lean on him. I learned that failure was an option rather than something that needed to be avoided at all costs because it brought me to my God.
It’s the end of the year and I imagine some of you entering in with a bit of fear. You have ideas, goals, and plans but you are afraid to try. I get it. In the past I have been hesitant to set goals or resolutions because of the fear of failure. Why bother? you tell yourself, I’m not going to complete my goals or keep my resolutions anyway. And perhaps that’s true. But I’d like to also encourage you that trying isn’t failing and that failing doesn’t mean trying isn’t worthwhile.
Let’s remember that every good and perfect gift comes from the Father. Every task we complete is because of him. Anything we do that requires strength is only accomplished because our Lord has strengthened us for the task; that’s true whether we acknowledge it or not. And every failure is covered by grace and has a good purpose. Should you start a task in January and realize come March that it’s been abandoned, you can pick up and start again or reevaluate and adjust your goals.
I’m starting the year knowing that I might not accomplish all that I hope for in 2019—and that’s okay. I’m confident that I will do everything God desires and designs for me to do this year. That I can know for certain. And the process of setting goals and making a plan might be what he uses to help me see that. However you approach the new year, don’t allow the fear of failure to hold you back. Entrust all your plans to our sovereign and good God.