All In – What I’ve Learned About Taking a Risk, Losing Money and Gaining Strength

What I’ve Learned About Taking a Risk, Losing Money and Gaining StrengthBy Trish Morrison

It has been almost two weeks since MomCom 2014 weekend and I’ve been sleeping a lot. My bathrobe has become my friend and the stress weight I lost before the event has made it’s way back to my belly and thighs. I’m feeling much more relaxed and my days have been filled with volunteering for my daughter’s school, rearranging schedules, helping with homework, visiting friends, cleaning closets and wrapping up this year’s MomCom. I’ve had time to think, a luxury I haven’t afforded myself for more than two years.

When I started MomCom in 2011, I had a vision that it would be all things to all mothers. We’d have a web site, an online and offline community, I’d start MomCom franchises around the country and we’d become a movement of sorts. All of this would revolve around one-day mini conferences that happened twice a year in each city. We’d be THE resource for passionate, motivated mothers who wanted to be a part of something more, who were ready to take that next step past diapers, feeding schedules and carpools and kids activities, who wanted to reconnect with other women, who wanted a community, who needed a village.

While I’ve managed to create some amazing events, helping hundreds of women connect in person and thousands connect online, along the way I’ve made some changes to my vision.

After two years and four one-day mini conferences in Austin, Texas which kept me breaking even but not going anywhere financially, I decided to dive in and invest in an annual, two day, overnight event. I sold my rent house and used the money to move forward on a much riskier venture. I knew it would be difficult. Traditional conferences have about a 15 month lead time to plan, gain press, and get sponsorship, advertising and exhibitor dollars. Because I didn’t want to wait a full year and a half before launching the new event, I launched MomCom 2014 in just six months. I knew it was a risk going in but I was ready, or so I thought. I’ve learned a lot since forming MomCom Life in 2011 but most of it has hit home in the last six months.

Risk is Uncomfortable and Often Painful

My husband, Homero, always says, “If it was easy then everyone would be doing it.” Taking a risk, selling the rent house, which also happens to be my daughter’s first home and of significant sentimental value, to invest in MomCom, was one of the biggest risks I’ve ever taken. It was difficult and uncomfortable but doable. Knowing months later that due to lower than projected revenue, the money and the house were gone, was a huge blow. It was as if someone punched me in the gut and it was painful. I spent my nights wide awake and my days both heartsick and physically ill, all while moving forward with the conference and doing the best I could. Something I believed in with all of my being was not going to pan out for me. I put my heart and my money and a big part of my life on the line. I took a risk and it didn’t pay off, yet.

You Don’t Always Have to Stay on Course

Since I formed my initial vision, much has changed. To achieve the grand plan of being all things to all mothers, both online and off, I’d need to move beyond bootstrapping and into the world of loans, investors and debt, something I’m not sold on at this point with this particular venture.

Instead, I’ve modified where I think MomCom should go based on many factors. Over the past few years I’ve seen online communities fail. I’ve seen our own demographic get tired with all the noise online, and I’ve learned that most of us don’t have any more time to spread ourselves any thinner. Where I once believed that MomCom would be a resource with a full time blog and online community, I’ve decided to focus on what we do best, face-to-face communication and events. This has freed me up financially, because I don’t have to pay anyone to maintain, manage or write for the site and mentally, because I can focus on improving our core competencies without distraction. The course has changed but the overall vision of connection, support, motivation and community is still there.

Step Back and Remember Why You Put Yourself Here

I started MomCom as a way to be closer to my family and spend more time with my daughter. While I have been able to make my own schedule, pick up Delilah from school and take time off when I want, I haven’t always been present. Everything has revolved around my business. This goes against the core values of MomCom itself. Business should revolve around you and your family. You should create and demand the life that is best for you. By worrying about my business and eating, breathing and living it 24 hours a day, I was not practicing what I was preaching. With risk comes great reward. One of my rewards is that I have been forced to step back and see what hasn’t been working and now I’m able to change it.

Failure is Subjective

One of my mentors once told me, “If you haven’t lost money or gotten sued, then you aren’t a real business.” Losing money is not fun. It’s a horrible feeling. It can make you doubt every decision you’ve ever made. It can make you feel like a complete failure, if you let it. Thankfully, money is not the end all be all measuring tool for success.

For me and MomCom, there have been so many successes. MomCom has changed lives. It has brought people together who normally would not have met. It has helped form partnerships, relationships and friendships. It has been the inspiration behind new businesses. It has made women realize their value and allowed for discussions beyond the mommy wars and “having it all.” MomCom has brought out the “real” in women who may have been hiding behind who they thought they were supposed to be.

Personally, MomCom has shown me who I am and who I want to be. Its “failures” have directed me to evaluate what I need to change, what worked and where I need to cut, what I should expand upon, and who and what I should put my energy into. It has shown me what I don’t want from a business and how I want to live my life. MomCom has given me credibility, a sense of purpose and has reinforced how strong I am as a woman, mother and business person.

I want to make money. I will make money, but I will do it smarter, more efficiently and on a larger scale than what I’ve been aiming for. Losing money has made me realize that I have so much more to gain and so much less to give up. It has humbled me but made my resolve even stronger. I will risk again. I have to. There is a cost to inaction and playing it safe and it’s greater than any risk I’ll ever take.

Trish Morrison, MBA is the founder and CEO of MomCom® Life, an organization dedicated to creating community and encouraging moms to take that next step. Trish is addicted to women’s stories and believes we can change the world through telling ours. She lives in Austin, Texas with her hot firefighter husband, Homero and her brilliant daughter Delilah. Trish is a proud feminist who can be found online at momcomlife.com or on Twitter @atxtrish and @momcomaustin. MomUP!®

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