Coping with Entrepreneurial Failure | Affliate Marketing

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My name is Shawn Collins and I am a member of Business Failures Anonymous.

Shawn Collins at Affiliate Summit East 2018

I’ve failed more than I have succeeded in business if you look at the sheer number of companies formed and ideas implemented. Sometimes, I put the businesses down quietly and others were more noticed when they were gone.


There is some amount of grief involved each time, but I’ve always managed to push through to the other side and find my next victory.

I have found it helpful to apply the Kübler-Ross model, better known as the five stages of grief when I’ve failed. The stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

A side note to this: the five stages of grief are often thought of as transitions for grieving people who have lost loved ones, but they are actually a progression of emotional states experienced by terminally ill patients after diagnosis.

Anyhow, I’ve used it incorrectly to apply to myself and my failings, and being aware of the stages has made it easier to process things.

I have worked through the stages in a sort of unconventional way… with music.

I suppose I could keep a journal or something to chronicle things, but that’s too new age for me, and even in elementary school I was getting C’s in penmanship. It’s only gotten worse.

So anyhow, I make playlists for each stage. It sounds hokey, I know. But it’s really been therapeutic for me over the years. Those early-stage playlists are heavy on stuff like NIN and Eminem.

Moving on it’s some Smiths and other mopey 80s stuff. Finally, I get to some chilled out music from artists such as Kenny Chesney and Jimmy Buffett for the point of acceptance.

It’s not that easy for everybody, though.

An article was published by Inc. in 2014 titled “The Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship,” and it was about the demons and darkness that often accompany entrepreneurship.

The piece was shared frequently on social media among affiliate marketers because it struck a chord with so many. Additionally, research from the UC Berkeley Institutional Review Board that was published in the journal Small Business Economics painted a dire picture for entrepreneurs.

According to the report, entrepreneurs are significantly more likely than the general population to experience depression, ADHD, addiction, and a bipolar diagnosis.

Earlier this year people were shocked to hear of the suicides of high profile entrepreneurs Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. But they were just the latest.

In the past seven years, there have been lots of other well-known entrepreneurs who took their lives, including Faigy Mayer (CEO of Appton), Aaron Schwartz (Co-Founder of Reddit), and Ilya Zhitomirskiy (CEO of Diaspora).

No doubt there are people in our industry suffering every day. Know that you are loved by those of us in the industry and outside of it.

If you are in danger of acting on suicidal thoughts or are in any other life-threatening crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the U.S. at 800–273-TALK (8255), or visit suicide.org/international-suicide-hotlines.html for other country-specific hotlines.

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