First, the backstory:
While I have a habit of buying business books, I also have a habit of not finishing them. They just don’t speak my language. My language is more the language of doing things myself. I’ve been a partner in businesses before Flint and Tinder, but that partnership always involved someone else running the books, looking at spreadsheets, running the show, etc. One day I’ll learn. Until then though, I’ll do.
My partnership with my last partner – the guy who ultimately gave me the best business advice I’d ever gotten – has always been rocky. He was the “business guy”, I was the “marketing guy” and more often then not, we each probably failed to respect what the other did enough to keep the ship sailing smoothly. It’s part of the reason I left the day to day operations of that company to start Flint and Tinder and is undoubtedly why I have “something to prove” by captaining my own ship.
Finally, at about the same time that the business we owned together came under attack politically for safety issues in a way that no other business had been in more than a decade, and that could, possibly put it out of business completely, my outlook on Flint and Tinder began to get bleak as well:
- I’d sold close to $300,000 worth of underwear, but suddenly, having seen that number, every vendor I had partnered with was upping their fees knowing that, with no time to spare I would have to pay it.
- This meant filling the Kickstarter order was likely going to lose money – lots – in addition to being late.
- And, at the time, I wasn’t even that thrilled with the product. I couldn’t see how this was ever going to work. 5,578 people wanted to know where their stuff was, and I wasn’t even sure when it would be made or at what cost. I had over promised, and it looked like under-delivering was inevitable.
Going to work, pretending I had answers and confidence enough for others to follow me, was getting hard. And most of all, all I could think of was giving the money back. It would mean wiping my savings out by taking a 10% loss on the processing fees Kickstarter and Amazon charge. But by having refunded everyone who pre-ordered underwear through Kickstarter, I could start over with a clean slate once I had it all better figured out.
And so it came to be that, as my former partner and I were sitting side by side drinking our sorrows away, I told him everything that was going on hoping he would say that I should throw in the towel. Instead, he told me to “Just keep fighting.”
I didn’t want to fight. I didn’t think I had it in me anymore. I felt defeated and wanted to hear that it was OK to walk away. But, wanting to save face, I committed to giving it just one more day.
At the end of that day, I gave it one more day beyond that. And, at the end of that day, another beyond that too.
I fought with vendors. I fought with partners. I fought with designers. I fought with the postal service and with insurance companies.
The fights went on and on. And, while I know there are still many fights to be had, somewhere along the line the underwear started shipping to the people that supported the project. And in their responses, all of that fighting started to look worth the effort.
What I’m trying to say is this:
No matter what you’re up against, just keep fighting.
Even when the odds are against you, or the task too big, just keep fighting.
Even as the earth shifts beneath your feet, the playing field changes, and you worry you’ve lost your way, just keep fighting.
Mountains can be moved one shovel at a time, but only if you fight for it.
The outcome might not always be what you’d hoped at the start, but fighting is a muscle just like anything else, and the more you fight the better a fighter you’ll be. The more you fight, the more the battles you fight will look less like a wars than problems you can fight your way through. Ultimately, you’ll be better for it. We all will.
PS: If you fought your way to the end of this post, I thank you. I’ll never write this many words in a row again. I promise.