Fail So You Succeed

Nov 16 2015

by Tabitha Ong Tune

4ac0c01f7ef22c7861a09ab0f5b828b2The phrase “learn from your mistakes” has not hit home as often or been as meaningful till I started my own business. Over the years, I’ve hit bumps that at first were hard to swallow but, after brushing myself off and going over what went wrong, they have helped me grow as a business owner.

Today I’d like to share with you three mistakes I’ve made, how I learned from them and how you can avoid or learn from them too.

I am not everything to everybody.

And I/you really shouldn’t try to be though it can tend to happen without you even realizing. I’m usually part of a new business process from inception to fruition and because it’s typically just me, the business owner and maybe a partner, we all end up wearing various hats. There’s nothing wrong with that especially if you share my “let’s just get it all done and squared away” mentality. It’s very advantageous to your client but I learned the hard way that it will wear on you!

By the end of the few years I’d been with a client, the sole purpose of my job (marketing) had taken a back seat (like, the last row on a huge bus back seat!) and I spent more time than I was being compensated for on administrative tasks. The failure here was that while I knew it was happening, I didn’t speak up.

Lesson: Set boundaries and be very clear on what you can and will do. If you are stepping outside of your zone of expertise to lend a hand in getting things going, be just as clear, if not more, that those tasks will end at a certain point.

Discounting your rate = discounting your value

If someone is bold enough to nickel and dime you before they even hire you, they don’t value what you do. If you drop your rate anyway just to work with them, you have just confirmed their suspicions. Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t give a bit of a break if someone is honest and says they can’t afford it, or if they are willing to pay you a fair amount but in my case, I wanted so badly to be hired by a local restaurant that I ended up being talked into managing the content for all three of their restaurants for the price of one.

The relationship didn’t last long because of this and because of other reasons but it really didn’t start off on ideal footing anyway.

Lesson: Our rates are set based on a level of expertise. High end brands don’t discount their prices just to increase sales because of the value behind their craftsmanship. Their brands are therefore desirable and of better quality so don’t ever lower your worth!

Don’t Compare

This last trap I constantly fall into is where I compare myself to others and it is, by far, the most debilitating trap ever. Nothing stops you in your tracks more than when you’re either thinking “I could do that so much better than that person” or “Wow, that person’s written the same article I wanted to write, how am I going to post mine now?”


You are who you are. I am who I am. And that person? Well, they’re who they are too and for all we know it took them moments of insecurity before they did their thing. They might have sat there comparing themselves to other people too, but I realized the only difference between them and me is that they hit “publish” and they took a step forward. Whereas I just sat here wallowing in whatever lame self pity party I was throwing.

Other people weren’t the reason why I didn’t have as many clients as I wanted, nor were they the reason why I didn’t get any traffic to my blog – I wasn’t doing, I was just talking a good game. As the saying goes, “put up or shut up” and as soon as I made the decision to DO, I breathed new life into my own confidence and into my business. I learned that even though what I was teaching or discussing was not new, it was new to other people because I shared it in my voice and from my perspective. I saw that what I knew of certain topics was different from what someone else in my field knows, and how I articulate things is also unique to me and that uniqueness is what people end up relating to.

Lesson: We all have something to offer, and if you know that it’s going to benefit someone else out there, share it and don’t hold back and most of all, just don’t compare!

What “failures” or mistakes have you encountered and learned from in starting or running your business? I would love to read about your experiences too so please feel free to leave them in comments!


Tabitha Ong Tune View More Blog Posts from this Author

Tabitha Ong Tune, the natural connector and native Singaporean, saw social media as a great marketing tool for small businesses. Tabitha desired to help them flourish by facilitating a relationship between customer and proprietor, and so she started À la Mode as a catalyst for launching companies into the digital sphere. Clients like restaurateur and Top Chef alum Arnold Myint quickly took note of her knack for 140 (now 280) -character storytelling and hired Tabitha to invent original, online presences that would stand out in a sea of hashtags and newsfeeds. Nowadays, she strategically tailors each company’s messaging to its respective industry and individual needs.

But most of all, she loves new beginnings and watching mom-and-pop shops grow from the ground up. Her greatest thrill comes from witnessing the concept of an idea become a company’s first dollar bill. To her, the human connection is most important—whether it’s with clients, customers or new followers. “It’s always someone’s first day somewhere,” she says. “And I love being part of that.”

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