Launch stories: What happens when things don’t go your way?

“Call our guy if necessary, we have to fix this fast.”

This was me on a Monday morning — the day we were set to launch our new e-book: Your Move: The Underdog’s Guide to Building Your Business.

Imagine you’d just spent a month preparing for a big launch. Weeks planning out the campaign, writing your marketing emails, writing guest posts, and talking to your customers by email and 1-on-1 to get them excited.

That was our situation.

We were excited. We knew the e-book was good. There was just one more step: Getting it live on Amazon and sharing it with the world.

But we had a problem.

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The night before, we’d gotten a ton of messages — on email, Facebook, and Twitter — from early readers letting us know they’d left a glowing review. These would be critical in our launch campaign. (Think about it — who wants to buy a book with zero reviews?) When we finally launched the book, these reviews would give people PROOF the book was a no-brainer.

But Monday morning rolled around and there we were: The e-book was live but Amazon was showing 0 reviews.

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Where are the reviews?


WTF?!?!

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In the past, this would’ve sent me scrambling. It would’ve caused a huge fire and I — plus the rest of my team — would’ve spent the next few days running around like chickens with our heads cut off.

  • “What’s going on??”
  • “Is this going to ruin the launch?”
  • “Maybe we should do X, or Y, and we should definitely do Z. Wait, did you already do Z? Let me open the wiki…”

But after being in business for 12+ years, I’ve realized problems like these are routine. Dozens of employees. Multiple teams. Handfuls of projects going on at once. Complicated systems and loads of technical debt. You learn to expect things like this.

No, you can’t always plan for it — but you can be prepared to handle it when it pops up.

So we jumped into action:

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In less than 3 hours, we’d discovered the problem.

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The plan was to send an announcement email to our 800,000+ person list early that Monday. But since there were no reviews on the page, we thought it might be better to wait until they showed up. Or to change our copy to add a different form of social proof instead.

After a quick discussion, my team made a call. We weighed our options and decided to run with the launch as planned.

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We were emailing a link to our new e-book, which appeared to have ZERO reviews. (Lack of reviews = lower sales.)

We knew there were reviews…but Amazon wasn’t displaying them yet.

So we sent the email.

Finally 24 hours later, Amazon resolved the problem — and a torrent of reviews came flooding in.

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In the past, a fire like this would’ve grown way out of proportion.

What was different this time?

It’s not the size of my team (even though we’ve grown). It’s not our systems and processes (even though we’re more systematic than ever). And it’s not because we secretly knew it would work itself out.

Sure, experience plays a part. But mostly it’s because we’ve learned two things:

1. You have to find a way to laugh at your failures.

It would’ve been easy to get angry, point fingers, and pound our fists about the problem. “Damn you Amazon, you screwed up our launch!”

Instead, look how my team approached the situation:

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And how I handled it:

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Being able to laugh away your failures is critical if you run a business. If you can’t laugh at problems that hit you every day, you’ll end up like this guy:

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2. Things won’t always go your way — but winners grow anyway.

What’s the standard response people have when they don’t win? Do they find a way to get what they want anyway? Or do they throw up their hands and say “Damn, would’ve been nice…”

One thing I love to do is follow up with our readers months — sometimes years — after they reach out to me for advice. These people are struggling when they first email me. When I write them to see how they’re doing, there’s a pattern.

Some people give me the same excuses time after time. They couldn’t get a raise because their boss was unreasonable? A year later, they’re still earning the same salary. Why? Same reason. Nothing’s changed.

But the others — the winners — have great news for me.

For example, I was running a $1,000 giveaway contest. One reader wanted it to start building his side business.

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He didn’t win. But when I followed up a few years later, here’s what he said:

My photo business has seen tremendous growth since that post. Wow, that seems so long ago. I have expanded my client roster to nearly 30 agents spanning 4 separate real estate agencies here in Green Bay. I have since left my job in marketing to go full time with my photography business, Green Bay Home Tours (gbhometours.com). Last year, in my first full year doing photography full time, I averaged 20 homes per month. This year looks even more promising…”

In other words, he didn’t win. But he did it anyway. He grew even though things didn’t go perfectly his way.

This is the difference between people who start — and grow — a business… and people who dream about it. Because in business (and in life) it’s not a question of IF things will go wrong… but WHEN. And you need to be mentally prepared for when that happens.

What do you think? What’s a time things didn’t go your way, but you laughed and kept going forward anyway?