“Failure is not fatal.”
Three years ago, I received this invaluable advice from a mentor. I was about to embark on a new professional journey in November 2013 and write the business plan for Landmark 12. I had no clue how to start a business, but this advice gave me the courage to at least try.
By realizing that starting the business plan wasn’t the “end-all be-all,” I had the freedom to really craft Landmark 12 into my dream. And now here I am celebrating the three years that have gone by since I first sat down to turn Landmark 12 into more than just an idea. That day, it became an actual project. And then it became a passion. And now, it’s my purpose.
Anniversaries are exciting for any company. I am especially grateful, though, because I feel like I had a few extra cards stacked against me. While I completely agree that failure is not fatal and am thankful this advice gave me the kick-in-the-pants I needed to start Landmark 12, just a month after embarking on this journey, I found out I was pregnant with my first child. And then life got a little more urgent. True, failure still wouldn’t be fatal, but failure became less of an option with a growing family.
That first year as a new business owner and a new mom was filled with a lot of uncertainty, a lack of confidence and a healthy dose of dirty diapers (and equally crappy marketing ideas). When I think back on that time, of course happy feelings of excitement and awe come to mind, but so does the concept of what it truly means to live on faith.
As I watched my son Smith grow, I couldn’t help but to also think of Landmark 12, too. I remember, strangely enough, how milestones for both Smith and Landmark 12 seemed to coincide. Smith rolled over for the first time weeks before Landmark 12’s official ribbon cutting. Then, he started crawling later that spring during a period of enormous growth for Landmark 12 and during a time when our first clients graduated from high school. Smith celebrated his first birthday in August as those students went off to college.
I remember making a joke to my husband that I could imagine what the growth of a business looked like by watching my son develop. The early days of Landmark 12 included a lot of crawling, but as we celebrate our third year, Landmark 12 is at a full-paced sprint, much like Smith. And it’s a really cool thing to experience.
The biggest milestone for Landmark 12 this year came just a few weeks before Smith’s first day of preschool—We opened an office in Hutchinson Square in Summerville, South Carolina. Talk about an exciting accomplishment! Landmark 12 had previously been a home-based business as I juggled my roles as both a mom and a “mompreneur.” But as soon as Smith flew the coop, so did Landmark 12.
During that time, I had to remind myself that failure is not fatal. Moving into commercial space seemed like a risk, and I found myself feeling afraid, much like I did before I wrote my business plan.
Then, as fate would have it, I found out I was pregnant with my second child, a daughter. I can’t make this stuff up, folks! My babies and my business will always be intertwined, I guess. And I realized I had to take this leap of faith for her, just as I took the original leap for Smith. After all, I believe fear is the enemy of faith, and throughout this amazing journey, I have continually reminded myself to not be afraid. I guess my new office will soon have a new office assistant.
In addition to the new office, other projects have also kept us busy at Landmark 12. We had a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate Landmark 12’s new digs hosted by the Greater Summerville/Dorchester County Chamber of Commerce; we were featured in an alumni interview series at Marshall University in Huntington, WV, recognizing successful former students and their companies; we were featured in both the Summerville Journal Scene and the Charleston Regional Business Journal; we served as guest speaker for Berkeley County’s Teen Expo; we served on a panel for Career Day and participated in college fairs for Dorchester County schools; we met with students regularly in all local school districts to help with college and scholarship applications; we sponsored booths at the Summerville Farmer’s Market to educate our community on ever-changing college admission trends; we have continued our education by taking training classes pertaining to the college planning industry; we’re active, involved members of the Summerville Chamber, attending events monthly.
As busy as we’ve been, and as excited as I am about the new office, I’m most proud of the number of students we’ve been able to help, and we have plans to add staff in 2017 to increase our ability to serve. We have also increased our service offerings. In addition to assisting high school students and undergraduates with their college planning and scholarship needs, we’re now helping post-graduate students by finding scholarships for those who are attending law school, chiropractic school and graduate school just to name a few.
I’m also proud of say our service area continues to expand. We have clients in almost every school in the Lowcountry’s three districts, and the number of out-of-state clients continues to grow with students as far away as California.
And this is just the beginning—We’re just getting started. As I watch Smith accomplish new things on a daily basis, it also makes me think the sky is the limit for Landmark 12, too. A company that was once in its infancy is now toddling along, and as I add my daughter to this crazy mix, I think it’ll only breathe new life into the company. My advice for others who may find themselves teetering on the edge of chasing a dream or cowering in fear? FAILURE IS NOT FATAL. You only have this one life. Go for it. Say your prayers, be prepared to hustle, buckle up (because the road will undoubtedly be bumpy), and put the pedal down. What you stand to lose through failure is often far less than what you’ll gain if you succeed. And keep in mind… There’s also an element of success in failure. Trying something new can’t kill you. In fact, it may just end up being what saves you.