I’m a Digital Nomad Failure (Sort Of)

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I’ve previously written about my life as a digital nomad failure and working as little as possible, so some of you may have me pegged as a little bit of a layabout. And until recently, I wouldn’t have argued with you on that. But for the past few months, I have actually been working really hard. I landed an awesome part-time remote job producing short scientific animations and I’m still working as a freelance copywriter for a few of my fave clients. For the first time in a while, I’m actually working full time. And for the first time ever, I actually like it.

However, this new-found adult approach to full-time employment has been problematic, in that it gave me some serious delusions of grandeur. So much so, that when I was invited to partner up with two brilliant digital nomads to start a business, I jumped at the chance. Without a second thought, I immediately started planning how I’d spend the fortune that I had decided I was guaranteed to make (I was going to buy a yacht). But, as you may have guessed, that’s not exactly how things turned out. Here’s the story of my biggest digital nomad failure to date.

Good Girls do it Better?

The business that I was invited to join was called Good Girls Creative Solutions. The plan was to create a digital agency with a focus on feminism, education, and empowerment. Everything about the idea appealed to me: I loved the idea of teaming up with two brilliant women to combine our (well-matched) skills. I loved the idea of building a platform where I could talk about feminist issues in business. And perhaps most of all, I loved the idea of taking control of my income and my career trajectory by building a sustainable business.

My partners and I got off to a great start. Every call we had was full of excitement and enthusiasm for our great idea. We made plans, built spreadsheets, and got busy creating our website. We even landed a couple of clients which gave us a big boost of confidence and convinced us that we were on to a winner. It wasn’t just us that thought our business was the bomb, either – our pals and business contacts also told us how much they loved our idea and what we were building.

…Perhaps Not

But, it wasn’t to be. A few months in, things began to crumble. We came up against a very difficult client that, if we’re being honest, we didn’t handle well. The client was a mean, mean woman and she effectively ruined our lives for the weeks that we worked with her. After the first fortnight of trying to meet her impossible requirements, we decided that we didn’t want to deal with shit people. So, with the full support of our lawyer (yep, we had a lawyer and everything) we promptly cancelled our contract with her. We felt like proper smart businesswomen when we made that decision and we patted ourselves on the back for having really big brains. But I’m not sure we ever really recovered from that incident. It shook our confidence and created doubt among us cofounders. Sadly, we found out that a lack of confidence and rising doubt can really kill a business.

A World Apart

Aside from the shit client with the shitter attitude, there were other roadblocks that we did our best to ignore/rise above. My cofounders and I are based on three different continents which was always going to be a logistical nightmare, but it weighed on us more than we imagined. When one of you is waking up while the other is getting ready to go to bed, it can be really tricky to find time to get shit done. We also had skills gaps that we hadn’t realised/admitted to ourselves which left us with scary weak points. All three of us were first-time entrepreneurs and we tried to go too big, too fast, in areas of digital marketing that we just didn’t know enough about. Optimism and blind faith is a fucker, sometimes.

So yeah, we failed. We decided between us that our business wasn’t making us happy, so we decided to call it a day. It was sad. I cried.

Digital Nomad Failure

Why am I telling you this? Here’s why:

In the days before I officially quit Good Girls I didn’t tell anyone what was happening because I was hugely ashamed. See, for the month before our business went to shit, I told everyone about our great idea. I was so proud and excited to be stepping into my first proper entrepreneurial role and I told people in my coworking space, strangers at networking events, and my 800 beloved Facebook friends that I was on the fast track to yacht ownership. And when everything crumbled just a few months later, it felt really hard to admit to people that I might never own a yacht after all. Feeling like a failure is crap. But, I’m owning it. I failed, and that’s ok. In the short time that Good Girls existed, I learned A LOT. Sometimes it’s actually worth failing simply for the opportunity to grow. When I launch my next business (and there definitely will be a next business) it will be better because I will be better.

The other reason I’m sharing this tale of doomed business ownership is because it’s very easy to think that everyone is succeeding but you. I’m in loads of female entrepreneur groups on Facebook and they’re packed with incredible women earning six figures and living their dream lives. When you compare their success with your failure, it’s easy to feel very shit about yourself. But here’s the thing: loads of people fail at stuff. We just don’t like to talk about it because it’s a bit embarrassing. And if we do talk about it, it’s after we’ve found success doing something else and we’re LOLing on our yacht with nostalgia over how challenging those times were. My point is that shame shouldn’t be yet another bad feeling that you have to feel on top of all that other stuff you feel when you fail at something. Fellow failures: you are not alone. And at least we tried, right?

So yeah, I’m not embarrassed to have made a grand total of $500 from a business that we put months of time and effort into building. I’m not ashamed to tell people that we didn’t succeed in bringing our brilliant idea to life. I’m proud of what me and my beloved partners tried to do and I’m excited to try again soon. But for now, I’m back to enjoying my cushy eight hour days living in freelance bliss.

Are you also a digital nomad failure? Let’s start a club! Or a business (lol).

Wanna read more tales of nomadic shitness?

Here’s a diary of a rubbish digital nomad

Here’s how to have a ten-hour work week

Here’s a silly experiment I did to be more productive

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