Four years ago I began the process of repositioning our agency. I spent nine months and around $12,000 doing research. The result of that was that I decided to reposition to focus on the association industry.

I created a new brand, Resurgent, and built up the marketing for it. After two years of work, we hadn’t landed a single client.

I did a retrospective on all the marketing tactics and channels I had tried. Over two years, I had executed a lot:

  • Paid social campaigns
  • 2 different speeches delivered multiple times across the US and Canada
  • 2 e-books
  • A virtual and physical lead magnet
  • An email list
  • A web app
  • Mulitple times exhibiting
  • Video interviews
  • Strategic partner development.

The most I had achieved was a single proposal that wasn’t accepted.

At a barbecue, I walked through all the things I had tried to one of my entrepreneur friends. After listening to my list, he asked, “How long are you going to keep trying to make this work?”

From his perspective, I had made a good faith effort and I was entering the zone of sunk cost fallacy where I was working on it because I had already invested so much.

After that, I decided to set that effort to the side and work on something else.

Looking back, I often wonder if that was the right decision?

I was making progress, just nothing that had crossed the threshold to client work. Additionally, right when we were started delivering proposals, Covid hit. There is an argument to be made that I had developed a foundation that would have delivered client work in another year or two.

No one knows. My friend is a smart, skilled, entrepreneur- but he’s not a fortune teller.

One of the challenges of trying to grow a business is that you don’t know. There are tactics to deal with uncertainty, but beyond functional techniques you need the emotional strength to live in the fog of not knowing whether you’re making “the right choices.”

You have to be able to act as the Tao Te Ching advises, “…. Do your work, then step back. The only path to serenity.

Featured image of Lao Tsu used as part of the public domain.