How to Avoid the Cycle of Failure

Success is about mindset first, strategy second, and then implementation third.

The final step is accountability.

Accountability to yourself, and accountability to those who depend on you.

I've been running training programmes for the last eight years around the filmmaking space. Firstly, in technique, around specific camera use, and then I evolved to coaching on lighting technique, filming technique drawing on 25 years of experience to help others overcome some other hurdles to creating great looking content.  Every year the business has evolved based on industry trends, technology shifts and market demand.

As with all business, the only real constant is change.

This is something I've come to realise is completely normal in business. If you embrace it, can actually be your friend. 

First of all, you have to become comfortable with this discomfort that, when running a business, nothing is ever constant. What worked last year may not work this year. In fact, what worked last week, may not work this week.

There are so many market forces at play that if not managed correctly can completely derail you; exchange rate, competition, technology, Brexit!.

Take mobile phones for example. Consumers are so distracted now, by what's on a mobile phone, that they simply don't consume content, as much and as the same way as they used to, even six months, or a year ago.

If you want a shock at how much time you are robbing yourself of productivity I have a challenge for you...?

An App I recommend you trial is called  Rescue Time. This is an app that tracks how productive you are being on your phone and computer. Install it on your machine for free and it will track your web activity.

However much time you think you are spending on social media, on non-productive tasks, the chances are, you're deluding yourself.

Rescue Time is a free app, that charts all activity on your mobile phone and your desktop, and gives you a daily and weekly report, as to how productive you are and how much time you're spending on actual business productive tasks that are pushing you closer to your end goal.

Like I said, I've been working with filmmakers for the last eight years. The last three years, specifically around business coaching primarily for creative people. One of the advantages of being able to coach business owners for the last 36b months is, I've worked with hundreds of different business owners.

You start to see patterns of behaviour.

What comes back, again and again, are belief systems, or should I say lack of belief (in) systems.

Many filmmakers and creative people specifically are especially susceptible to shiny object syndrome.  That's to say when the going gets tough they either

a) buy something new to distract them or

b) try something new

When something isn't working, or something gets hard, they're easily distracted by shiny object, the latest technology a new concept or down a rabbit warren of YouTube videos.

Off they go to try something else. 

Its the same in business.

BUSINESS IS REALLY HARD and relentless and 80% of what you try doesn't work as well as you thought it would.

You have a choice when things get tough:

1) Push on, learn from the mistakes and keep going

2) Give up and try something new, e.g. Shooting weddings was not working so now try business videos..  when they get hard to try something else...

This is known as the cycle of failure, where, as soon as something gets difficult in business, rather than work through it and accept that this is a reality and this is normal, and if you want to sustain your business over the next 7 to 10 years, (which incidentally how long it takes, based on western economic data, to build a successful business) Then you have to keep going.

If you're giving up six months,  a year, 18 months into it, then what's happening, is that you are deciding that "Oh, it's maybe the market I'm in, or maybe it's the segment of the market, or maybe it's the customers I'm working with." It's all external. By looking externally, there's no, or little personal responsibility for just pushing through the tough times.

It seems to me that this is a specific trait in creative business owners.

What's interesting is, those that push through are those that are supported by a community, those that are actively asking the right questions, asking and reaching out for support, and that are willing to accept that the journey is going to be full of ups and downs.

Here's what typically happens:


This is the first 3-12 months of a startup phase, you have lots of energy and enthusiasm for your new venture. It’s all gonna be great, you’ve told lots of people and they have said that if they need some video shooting they’ll be sure to call you. You are pumped. You convince yourself you NEED a load of gear to be prepared for when they call, (best get 4k to be future proof eh?)

And you spend time, effort and energy on your logo, your website and business cards and getting excited about the possibilities..

Then ……..

Shit, they haven’t called and if they do they say “we don’t have much budget for this can you do us mates rates on this first one, we’ve got a load more potentially coming up”


You get totally deflated, hmmm? Maybe this entrepreneur thing is not so easy after all.

That means….

You’ve reached the next stop on the journey, which is the

Informed sceptic.



The reality has set in and you’re likely staring at some expensive gear in the corner that is depreciating and not being used to generate you profit. (and I speak from personal experience so please don’t think I’m saying this from an ivory tower)

This stage is when the full force of your decision dawns on you and you question why it’s not going as you had hoped. You begin to question whether you made the right decision and you begin to ask yourself soul-searching questions about your choices.

Maybe you chose the wrong niche, maybe the wrong genre, it’s the camera you bought or the slider… whatever that story is the fact remains, you will be conjuring a number of stories to justify your failures at this stage.

At this point, it’s not uncommon for people to change direction blaming a bad decision and so off they go again starting out fresh with a new plan.

And so round they go again with renewed enthusiasm for a change of direction. This is known as the cycle of failure.


As an informed skeptic you now have the value of perspective and

It’s decision time...

Do you continue with the short term mindset and keep reinventing yourself and direction or do you stop, and make a commitment to the long-term responsibility required to create a great business? And I’m talking about investing in the next 7-10 year and most likely longer.

The money is in the discipline.

Most of us wildly overestimate what can be achieved in 12 months but vastly underestimate what can be achieved in 5 -10 years.

Discipline is the hardest skill to master as a creative I know because I work hard at it every day and in some areas of my life I am nailing it and in others not so much. This is a journey that needs constant attention.

I've worked with hundreds of filmmakers over the last three years helping them with business, and there are certain characteristics that keep popping up, especially when someone exits a programme.

We are very fortunate that our retention rate in our 6-Figure Filmmakers Inner Circle programme is on average 18 months to two years. We do not lock people in either they can leave at any time.

We also don't profess to take everyone from zero to the end of the journey.

We work in a very specific part of the market, helping small to medium creative business owners, who are struggling with strategy, organisation and process.   We help to take them from a point of being a one man band freelancer to creating a business that is sustainable, has a process, has a sales funnel, and way to generate leads.  PLUS we have an amazing support community of creative business owners looking for help to grow their businesses faster.

What's interesting is, when people leave the programme there are two types:

Type 1 say, "Hey. You know, I've had an amazing experience. I feel I've reached a point now, where I need to go and extend challenges elsewhere."

They'll write a nice email, and say, "I'd like to cancel,"

Versus type 2  who literally let their credit card slide,  my team has to contact them three or four times, and then they come up with some short and sweet message about how, it's been great value, but "I'm not getting any value anymore and am gonna try something else".

That's completely fine. Each to each their own.

What I find fascinating is, that those people who depart in that (type 2) manner, are the ones that aren't actually succeeding to any great degree.

They're looking externally as to the reasons why the business isn't being better than it should be.

They're searching for the next shiny object.

One thing I've discovered in the last year working, a lot on myself, is that all the answers are internal. If you accept that your success and failure is 100% down to you its confronting but powerful.

When you accept that every decision in your life, every success and minor failure has been impacted by a decision that you have made.

The fact is, if you want to succeed in business, you have to be connected. You have to own the fact that every decision you make impacts the outcome.

If your business is not more successful if it's just something you're doing or not doing.

Think about that the next time you question how well your business is doing.

If you'd like to consider an alternative to figuring it out on your own, then click below and check out the Six Figure Filmmaker Inner Circle and see if that's a good fit for helping you achieve more successful business.


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