Business lessons from epic fail LinkedIn Membership launch.

TL;DR; The 5 main business lessons I learned from the epic fail launch last week:

  1. Free workshops have a low show up rate, promote in time to get at least 100 sign ups.
  2. Less is more. If you want to sell, you need to leave people wanting more.
  3. Fail fast, a start-up principle is also applied by The Coca-Cola Company. Learn and move on.
  4. When a launch fails, it doesn’t mean there is no market for the product.
  5. Those who attended the workshop loved it, they’ll become ambassadors for my work.



Have you ever made what felt like a major stuff up and then it turns out that it’s not a bad thing at all? So I got this feeling at the moment, because I just did 3 things that I would always prevent others from doing. Three major stuff-ups. Which is not the best thing to do when you’re doing a launch.

When you’re launching your new membership program and you want all these people to sign up. I’ll tell you what these three things are that I completely stuffed up. But I want to tell you a little bit first why I’m not upset about it. So there’s this thing.

I’m reading this book at the moment by David Butler the vice president of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at The Coca-Cola Company. And there’s two things in there that really, really struck a note with me.

He says to design to grow you need two things which are Scale and Agility. A lot of times in business you don’t see these two. You see a lot of start-ups having agility and big companies having scale. And somehow they seem to be mutually exclusive. While the whole book is going to talk us through how they’re not and how you combine them for your success.

One of the principles there – and this is why I’m not upset at all about this quite epic fail of a launch that I did last week – when you’re about a hundred or so pages into the book, it starts to talk about the fail… fast fail or fail fast. Yeah fail fast and how generally this is something that you see a lot in the entrepreneurial world, in start-ups.

You know when they have all these fancy quotes on the walls and all that. And really it means – you know – you just dive in there you get going. If you fail you’re going to fail. You’re going to learn your lesson, but if you do it fast, at least you haven’t wasted an awful lot of time and effort and other stuff, you know just to fail.

And the book is going to explain to us how even once companies are bigger and have less agility and more scale. How you can still apply the principle to fail fast and how The Coca-Cola Company has been doing this all the time.

So that sort of makes me feel good, because I failed fast and hard.

What are the three things that I completely stuffed up launching this new membership site? Mind you, the membership is already up and running. I’ve been sneaking people in through the backdoor to have, you know, these so-called founding members to play around with it for a while. After six weeks I asked them for feedback and based on their feedback and a sense that I got, I made changes and tweaked and so there’s a really, really good thing there now and you know, I’ll keep at it. It’s not a problem.

So the three things: one is… and this is just a classic kind of launch thing. When you launch with an online workshop or webinar something like that. There’s some statistics of this many sign-ups, you’re lucky if you get a – I think it’s like 30% – show-up and then of these people you do really well if you have a five percent conversion.

I’ve done it in the past and had, I don’t know maybe a hundred and ten signups. It had like a 40% show-up which is quite high. And yeah, had a decent conversion rate. This time I started promoting the workshop way too late.

I only had 38 sign-ups for the workshop. Now given that generally 30% shows up that would have been 13 people and the conversion rates for that is like yeah, that’s pretty sad.

So that was my first big stuff up. And that’s okay. That’s a business owner stuff up you know, I’d only done a few launches before.

The real mega stuff up is in what I put in the workshop.

Before I was an entrepreneur, I worked in an organisation where I was in charge of workshops. Not so much Learning and Development in the company. Although I did do that as well. But my main thing was helping the colleagues with great expert knowledge to translate that into a workshop to deliver to the clients of the organisation.

And without fail, I’d ask them, you know, because they had all the subject knowledge and I just have – well not just. I am the expert on changing that into an interesting engaging workshop.

I’d ask people to just type out for me. Give me in a word doc, the information they wanted to get across in the workshop. And nine times out of ten. If not ten out of ten. I would hand it straight back. I wouldn’t even read it. I could with my eyes closed say OK I want you to reduce this to one-third of what you’ve just given me before I’m even going to talk about this.

Because if you want to convey this much information in a two-hour workshop. You’re better off just printing it and hand it over to them to be able to read. A workshop has to be interactive, has to be engaging, has to be conducive to learning and all that kind of stuff. You can’t stick that much in. I have been telling people this for the past 20 years.

So, what did I do? I put way too much in there!

Way too much. Flipping thing went for two hours. Sure enough, there was still you know, 10 people or so 9, 10 people at the end. And they loved it and they enjoyed it. And well, they should have enjoyed it, because it was the LinkedIn Party Time workshop.

So we had fun games. We had the wheel of names spinning, piñata whacking and all sorts of things. So they got a lot of value out of it, but obviously no need to join the membership. So that was mistake two.

1. I didn’t put enough time in promoting the workshop beforehand.
2. I put way too much content in there.

And ehm, I had a third one which I completely forgot. I knew I was going to talk to you about three things. But anyways, like I said, yeah, I’m not too worried about it.

The principle of fail fast is that you learn from your mistakes. You move on from them and you carry on. So that workshop, yeah. I didn’t post a replay the next day because I had to edit out some anecdotes, some casual ch,t some other bits…

That spinning of the wheel which is great fun when you’re there, when you’re all excited. Whoa is my name going to come up? But which is, you know, it’s a time waster in the replay.

I managed to bring the replay back to an hour and 10 minutes instead of two hours and posted that now. And you know, the deadline is five days away.

The deadline before the price goes up.

Because when I was sneaking people in through the back door, I gave them access to the membership for a €100 less than the actual price. And so the launch was last Thursday. I was going to give people a week where you can still get in at these founding member rates. So I’m just going to carry on this week. You know email people.

Probably come back in a little videos and report to you daily how many people unsubscribe from my list. Either for getting too many mails, no longer interested or – worst case scenario – mark on the spam. But you know, we’ll see what happens.

Anyways, the reason I’m sharing this with you.

Is that a lot of time with entrepreneurs. We only see the successful things. I could have waited and if I managed to sell a decent amount of memberships by Thursday I could be raving about that, you know really humble bragging. When you pretending to talk about something else, but really saying: look I’ve got this when you sign ups.

I think as solo entrepreneurs we all have these moments. When we’re either not prepared enough or stuff up, or try something new too quickly. And that’s another thing.

In the past, if I did something and it didn’t work. I thought: okay that didn’t work and I moved on to something else. Whereas now I keep at it because I know what I’ve got.

The membership is good. I can see it through people that are in there. What they say, how they feel. So it’s not that my product, or my service, is no good. It’s just that. I missed steps in letting the world know about it. So I’m just gonna keep it that. And I’m going to share with you what’s going on.

Because if nothing else it might, you know, help you bit feel more confident in your business. And if that is the only thing I achieve with this video, then that is actually mission accomplished.

So this week there’ll probably be a daily video from me. So look out for those and good luck with you and your business.


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