Nalisha Patel shares her story in our series on how entrepreneurs had to fail before they could soar.
Failure is feedback
Success isn’t always a linear path. In this series, entrepreneurs share how they dusted themselves off after their first business went south to then strike a chord with a completely different concept.
In 2004 I started a mobile personal training company for females, which grew to the point where four years later I had a team of trainers working for me training clients around New Zealand. I uncovered a flaw in my business model when I realised some of our employees were regularly stealing clients and our intellectual property. We went from having a great business to nearly no income in a matter of months.
The business turned out to be an uphill battle. I realised early on my income was limited by the number of clients my trainers and I could physically take on. If I wasn’t available when a client wanted to train, I wouldn’t get paid. Similarly, if I didn’t have a personal trainer in a specific part of the country, I couldn’t take on the work. This caused massive frustrations as I couldn’t see an opportunity to scale the business up.
After reading The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss, my husband and I completely changed the way we thought about working.
We were particularly inspired by a chapter called ‘The New Rich’. It explained how to use the internet to create an online business which allows you the freedom to live your life now as opposed to waiting until your 60s. We spent the next year letting our trainers go, letting the lease run out on our office space and working from home again.
We figured out a way we could service more people without relying on anyone else, and ended up turning the programs we had created for physically teaching our clients how to lose weight into a digital format which could be sold to anyone in the world.
We were able to create a more automated and systemised business model through inventing products that would keep on paying us long after we’d finished the initial work.
Due to the media attention we’ve received we also teach other health and wellness professionals how to monetise their knowledge online and create a profitable business. We’ve been able to strike a chord around the world, with our programs being particularly popular in South Africa and Singapore.
Today we travel constantly and refuse to wake up to the same view for longer than a few weeks! We have no staff and a higher income than ever before. We basically went on holiday in 2011 and are still travelling. We’ve visited 22 countries and 57 cities and we’re not done yet! We make decisions as we go and rent out short-term, furnished apartments with Wi-Fi. The nature of our online business allows us to work from anywhere.
We’ve also changed the way we live – we threw out our TV five years ago and we now read more than ever to keep educating ourselves and to give us an edge in the industry.
Our initial failure turned out to be a blessing in disguise as our second business is much more successful and suited to our goals.
Nalisha Patel is an award winning entrepreneur, author of several books, including How to Escape the Photocopy Life, and co-founder of The Escape the Photocopy Life 12 week online program.
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