If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

When I’m coaching freelancers and business owners I often see them try something once, not get much response and conclude that the strategy isn’t working and they should give up.

But any kind of change takes time, especially if we’re talking about social media. I recently saw a post from a recent client saying that she’d just got her first client not through word of mouth (because she’s great at what she does), but through social media posting, two months after we finished working together. Imagine if she had just given up?

Banging your head against a brick wall?

That said, it’s not about banging your head against a brick wall, or keeping doing something that is obviously not working.

We often hear about Edison’s quote- I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that did not work.

The point is not that he kept doing the same thing 10,000 times, but that he tried 10,000 different approaches, constantly learning from what did or didn’t work and refining his approach.

This is sometimes referred to as strategic mindset, and it’s probably the number one quality to develop as an entrepreneur- but also really helpful for us all.

With anything we want to achieve, whether that’s learning to market yourself online, or becoming a better teacher, or learning a language, success comes through seeing progress as a series of small experiments.

A series of small experiments

Let’s say that you’re an English speaker who goes to live in Poland and is trying to learn Polish. One day you go to the market and attempt to buy some fruit. The seller misunderstands what you want and gives you the wrong thing, or the wrong amount.

You could conclude that, as our Polish teacher said to me and my colleagues many years ago, ‘you will never learn this language’ and give up, or always get someone else to go to the market for you, or you could try and work out where the miscommunication happened. Maybe you pronounced something wrongly, or got the wrong case ending? If you find out where the problem was you can go and try again, and hopefully succeed this time.

So far this sounds obvious, but very often we are so shaken by the ‘failure’ of a strategy that we don’t want to explore what happened, or do anything about it.

Instead of seeing it as an experiment in which we learnt something useful, we see it as a negative thing about us, ourselves, feel embarrassed or humiliated, and vow to avoid the situation in future. That’s our Inner Troll learning the wrong lesson from what happened.

Not a loss, but an experiment

Nelson Mandela famously said, ‘I never lose. I either win or I learn’

Strategic mindset means seeing everything as a kind of A/B testing. The more you can do this, and the less personally you take the outcome, the faster progress you’ll make- and that goes for life as well as business.


If you’re an ELT freelancer/business owner you may feel a bit overwhelmed by all the business advice out there…

Should you start a podcast or a YouTube channel, a mailing list, a membership? Is it a good idea to keep things as simple as possible, or should you be looking to diversify? What does scaling even mean, anyway?!

Would you like some clear step by step advice tailored to your stage of business? 

Look no further. Click the image to answer six simple questions and I’ll send you a detailed PDF game plan for your next steps.