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The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Dealing with Failure

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This is a long post, and I make no apologies. This is one of my most important posts about persisting, experimenting and taking risks in life to get what you want.

You are free to live your life how you wish. You can be whatever you want to be as long as you are motivated and willing to pursue your dreams for as long as it takes to succeed and beyond.

Here is a song to listen to while you read, go and get a coffee too…!

I have failed at 90% of things I have ever tried. About the only thing that isn’t a failure in my life at the moment is my marriage. That is still new though, there is time for me to ruin that yet…


I have started so many side hustle ‘businesses’ that I forget them all. They have all failed. I still need to have a job to pay the bills. I hate having a job. I have to rely on someone else to give me money. I have to make somebody else rich. That is what failure is to me and why I am always trying to create my own thing.

Maybe this blog will be a failure too, but I hope not. It is going well so far and I have high hopes.

Failure is an interesting subject. Some people believe that no one ever gets anywhere unless they have failed many times – persistence wins in the end. Others believe that there is nothing to learn from failure and no good can come of glorifying one’s failures…

I am somewhere in the middle…

Failure can be valuable, but only if you learn from it and most importantly recognise that it was your fault that you failed! It isn’t someone else’s fault, it isn’t down to circumstances, it isn’t because you have no money, it isn’t because you don’t have the right contacts. It is down to you, and only you.

It has taken me years to appreciate this. I was always angry at everything when something went to shit. Stupid house market going down at the wrong time. What do you mean you don’t like my refurbishment and want to change the bathroom again?! Idiots. Stupid customers. They know nothing!

Every failure I’ve had was down to me. Now that I know this and I’ve learnt all the lessons associated with each failure, I know that I am less likely to fail next time; at anything that I do. This gives me the courage to keep going. I will never give up.

Here are a few of the side hustles I have failed at, in order of how they’ve been and gone…

Sunflower Seed Salesman

My first ever venture! I must have been about 8 years old. I set up a decorators table on the street outside my house, made signs with the prices on, wrapped seeds up in food bags from the kitchen and waited for passers-by.

I remember loving the buzz of selling something even if it was just the neighbours taking pity on me. I don’t think it went global because there was no internet back then and no one really walked down that street past my ‘shop’ 🙂

I knew at that age how great it was to create something. Something that was my idea, and it happened because I executed my plans.

The Steakaway

A billion dollar idea I am sure you will agree! Shortly after becoming a chef and taking an interest in food I knew that all takeaways were bad for you and the food can be terrible. What about people who want an awesome meal, of restaurant quality that’s relatively healthy delivered to their door?

I had started designing a van and had 2 other chefs interested in partnering up. We had regular meetups. Once we had proved the concept we were going to get more vans and bring steak dinners to doors all over the country!

There was the obvious logistical issue of getting the steaks to people’s doors before they resembled leather boots and the issue of scalability that put this idea to bed.

I still love the name though!


I’ve always loved the idea of being a singer and performing on stage all over the world in front of millions of people. I can’t sing though, so what’s the next best thing…

Write songs for better singers than me.

Christmas songs are rubbish, surely I could write one? Don’t most songs just repeat themselves over and over anyway? Easy.

I still want to write a Christmas number one, maybe I will one day. After all I do write a lot more now, I get practice at putting words together writing the blog and elsewhere, how much harder can it be?!

Next job – write 10 ideas for Christmas number one 2017.

Ticket Salesman in Ibiza

In 2008 I was on holiday and I wanted to try an experiment to see if I could make enough money somehow on the street in one day to fund the night out that evening. It was a Saturday I think. For some reason club entry that night was free so I got loads of free tickets for a certain party, but they didn’t have a price on them…

I sold them for 20€ on the street, way less than the 50€ the club charged most nights.

I did it. But the empire ended shortly after when I was almost arrested…

I love a good hustle but it should always be an honest one.

Ultim8 Fashion Accessories

My gonnabe fashion empire! I started an eBay shop selling winter hats and gloves. I thought this would be a great business because it gets cold in winter! That was as far as the planning went…

I bought them in bulk from China using Alibaba and made a good profit on each one I sold. I also got my step brother to model them because he is better looking than me. It worked…!

Until I got bored of wrapping clothes and going to the post office every day to make a few extra quid a week.

Libertine Lounge


My bar. It still exists in my house. It has been through 7 different locations and is still going strong. Ok, this has never been a business venture but I would love to own a bar and restaurant one day.

I wouldn’t want to do this full time but it would be a fun thing to have if I can afford to one day. I would get someone more talented than me to run it and hopefully carry on with my other ventures as I was before.

Becoming a Full Time Property Developer

I’ve refurbished and sold 5 houses over the last 7 years, 2 of them with a good friend of mine. They have all made money and I love it. The problem is I’ve never had enough capital to do it full time.

Similar to selling the sunflower seeds, completing on a house sale, having created a great home for someone and having made good money too is one of the best feelings I’ve had in life. Thankfully I’ve done this a few times.

Becoming a Landlord

The last house I did I wanted to rent out. It was the first house I hadn’t lived in whilst doing the refurb and until the sale so it presented some new challenges. Security being the main one…

It got broken into twice, I had to pay for stolen equipment, stolen materials and to fix any damage. Not only that I had to check on it every day to see if anything had happened the night before. The stress and hassle wasn’t worth any amount of money. It was the first time I’d invested in a ‘bad neighbourhood’ and I wanted out…

I sold it and spent the money on my wedding last October…

The best investment I’ve ever made (in case the wife is reading!) 🙂

Every single failure above has been down to me. I didn’t plan, budget, research or manage as well as I could have. I didn’t have the right attitude most of the time. I thought I knew everything and no one could help me. I wanted to do everything my own way. I ignored expert advice. But…

I learnt so much from all these experiences and I won’t make the same mistakes again. I am grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to do all these things and improve myself as a result.

As well as these business ventures I have also failed at most things in my personal life. I never made it as a footballer or a golfer. I’ve had failed relationships, I’ve lost friends, I worry too much. I’ve never really been great at any one thing…

Most importantly though I am always improving and I dare to dream. I don’t care about failure, not even publicly – look at this post! I know that I have a lot to learn, I know that I might fail again, I am prepared for anything.

I know how to persist and shrug things off, without being blinkered and too arrogant to learn from my own mistakes and that is what my failures have taught me.


I’d rather have a list twice this long of failures to admit to (and I probably do) rather than never having had the balls to try and succeed. This blog is my ultimate weapon to challenge myself and to admit my shortcomings. They can’t be a burden to me if I have no secrets. The past can’t hold me back and the future is a bright staircase ready to welcome me time after time.

The same applies in life…

Admitting that you are at fault is one of the most powerful things you can do. It takes courage and you will be rewarded.

Have you ever been stopped for speeding, argued with the officer and been let off? I doubt it. Why not accept you’re in the wrong, tell them you understand they need to give you a ticket and drag yourself over the coals? They will struggle to attack you then and might let you off with a caution.

When my wife shouts at me for not doing enough around the house, I used to argue with her. ‘I am busier than you!’ ‘You only think about yourself and you have no respect for what I need to do!’ Etc. etc.

Now, whenever an argument is coming, I try and agree with her with the same enthusiasm she has for getting her point across…

No one is going to keep arguing with someone who is agreeing with them!

Tell the other person that they are right. This isn’t soft, it is smart. There aren’t many smart people out there who get what they want but there are a lot of stupid people who don’t understand this principle…

They will argue for hours and get nowhere. They will argue more often. Nobody can win an argument so why not avoid them? Make the other person feel important. Then afterwards you can softly explain why you did what you did. They will listen to you and they will think about your feelings more next time.


The ultimate principle of this post is, if you are wrong or anything goes against you in business or in life, have the courage to admit your failings and seek the improvement that you need to be more successful next time.

I am experimenting with 2 things at the moment:

  1. Avoid arguments at ALL COSTS. Whatever happens I will try not to argue with anyone.
  2. If I am wrong I will admit it with enthusiasm and correct what I have done.

With emotional intelligence being one of my biggest weaknesses I’m sceptical. But hey, I’ve just admitted that I need to work on that so this has been a success so far!

I’ll let you know how it goes…

– Matthew Brown

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