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Pat FAIL: My Past Business Ideas That Didn’t Work out so Well

Pat FAIL: My Past Business Ideas That Didn’t Work out so Well

By Pat Flynn on


I’ve had a lot of success online, but I’ve probably had even more failures – and I’m very thankful for each and every one of them.

Without my failures, I would not be where I’m at today.

As Winston Churchill once said, “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”

It’s a lot like dating actually.

We date people we like and are interested in, and sometimes it just doesn’t work out. We take those experiences, what we liked and disliked about our previous relationship, and that shapes who we are in the next.

Things That Just Didn’t Work Out For Me

No – I won’t be talking about my ex-girlfriends today, but I will be talking about some of my past business ideas and ventures that just didn’t pan out the way I had hoped.


To show you that sometimes your business ideas will fail, but that doesn’t mean you should give up – it just means you have to try something different and keep going.

To disclose, I know that some of these ideas were just not that good or even profitable. Something made me decide to give these a shot and just see what happens, and that’s the beauty of doing business online – it’s relatively inexpensive and low-risk to just try something out.

I’d happily try 9 stupid ideas if that meant the 10th one is a homerun.

Here are a bunch of ideas that just didn’t pan out:

A Couple of Thoughts

When took off and I started to realize the power behind publishing content online, I thought it would be interesting for my fiancee (now wife) and I to do a relationship blog together where we’d talk about the things leading up to our wedding and beyond.

The idea behind the blog was to pick a debatable and interesting topic each week and we’d both write an article about it. They would show side by side on the homepage and it would provide an interesting male vs. female perspective on things. We’d each have a chance to respond to each other’s articles too and people could comment, respond and pick sides (maybe vote) and that sort of thing.

I purchased, got a customized “side-by-side” theme from Elance and we wrote a couple of articles.

After a few drafts we decided that it just wasn’t going to be as much fun as we had thought. Plus, we hadn’t set any goals or envisioned really what the purpose of this project was.

From this experience I learned that there needs to be some kind of goal and vision for what you want a site to become. Even though things may change, having a vision and goals definitely helps (and may even help you decide something is not a good idea in the first place).

Brain Tees

This was the name of a store I setup on, a website where you can create unique t-shirts (among other things) and sell them for a profit. They handle the delivery and customer service for you, and all you have to do is come up with ideas that will sell.

The idea behind Brain Tees was that it was going to sell nerdy and geeky apparel, like T-shirts that say “I love pi” and other things that made you think.

Like a brain tease. (Get it?)

Anyways, I setup as the storefront,  designed a couple of t-shirts and started to “market” by showing family and friends my creations. After a month or so I had no sales, was not feeling inspired to create more designs, and I just let the domain and store expire.

From this experience I learned that I enjoyed blogging and providing information online more so than e-commerce and retail.

How to Memorize Anything

This was my first attempt at a niche site, although I didn’t even know it at the time. It wasn’t based off of keyword research though (like in my niche site duel), it was based on the request of several of my existing customers who were studying to pass the LEED exam:

How can I train myself to learn and memorize all of this information?!

To help, I built a website ( that included training and exercises to help one be able to memorize things like facts, lines (like in acting) and names.

The unfortunate thing was…I’m not that good at memorizing things!

I really had no business being in the space and no real training and knowledge to share with others.

Knowing the LEED material and presenting that information in a way that can be easily consumed and memorized is what I was good at, but as far as the actual mechanics of memorization and tapping into the potential of one’s brain…yeah – not so much.

From this experience, I learned that even though there may be good ideas for sites out there, sites that would actually help people, that I don’t have to always be the one to create them. I learned to focus on what I’m good at and stick with that.

Review Websites

For a while, I was really excited about creating niche user rating and review websites, sort of like Angie’s List but for things related to what I knew about – like architectural firms, architecture schools, design software, and green building materials. I had this whole master plan of creating one of the sites and using that same exact structure or template for the others.

It was a great idea, and I still think it is, however once I got going I just wasn’t into it. Those types of sites really take the “me” out of things, and I think the reason why I love working on sites like and SPI, and even to an extent, is that they are blogs and I can put my personality into it, if not through sharing stuff about who I am, then at least in my writing style.

From this experience, I learned really what kinds of sites I enjoy working on this most, and so this is where most of my attention and focus is now given.

WordPress Plugins

Old-school SPI fans will know that for a while I was talking (a lot) about a couple of WordPress plugins that I was having developed. They were plugins that were going to fulfill a need that I had and I was going to either give them away or sell them for a small price to create a new income stream.

One of them is on hold now just simply because it’s a huge undertaking and I’m still in need of someone to design the user-interface.

The other one was completed, but not to my liking so it was never released. This is my fault because I didn’t do a good job of explaining exactly what I wanted and exactly how I wanted it to work, and even though it’s done and it works I’m not going to put anything out there under my name and brand that is subpar.

When you’re working with developers you really have to give them as much detailed information as possible.

The sad thing is that I already knew this. My iPhone application company hires people to develop our apps all of the time, but the “I need to get this out as soon as possible” mentality actually set me back and made for a less than stellar product.

From this experience, I learned that if I do anymore software development, to make sure that I give the developer exactly what I want, and to make sure I know what I want in the first place too so I don’t make it up along the way.

I’m Proud of My Failures

I don’t feel any shame in sharing what I’ve tried and failed at because they all made me stronger as an entrepreneur.

I hope this encourages you as you work on your own businesses and helps you realize that you just have to keep trying. If something doesn’t work out, that doesn’t mean you’re not destined to succeed, especially if it’s your first go at it.

Every failure is one step closer to success – as long as you learn from your experiences.

Oh, and I almost forgot! If you have 20 seconds to spare I would love to know how you found out about me and SPI. I’m conducting a quick one question survey that will be used in my presentation at Blog World Expo on November 4th.

Please Click Here to Help Me Out

Also, if you will be attending Blog World Expo I was able to get an SPI 20% off discount code. You can sign up through this link here [Full Disclosure: As an affiliate, I receive compensation if you purchase through this link.] and use the discount code BWESPI20 to receive the discount.

Thanks again! Cheers, and all the best to you!

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