May 22, 2022.5 min read.Business
——— By John

Failing is (Part of) Entrepreneurship

Antonelli’s Cheese Kitchen at Fareground Food Hall

We’re lucky to be successful on many accounts. But we’ve also failed. And while I think failure is an important part of the entrepreneurial journey, it hurts while you’re going through it.

In 2018, I failed. Big time. And it almost took our business completely under. We’d opened a spinoff concept in Austin’s first foodhall, located downtown and nestled among award-winning and acclaimed chefs. For numerous reasons (some within our control and some not), it didn’t work out. Kendall had been bedridden for almost three months that summer, and I’d been stretched thin caring for her and our kids. By the time I noticed just how far behind we’d gotten in the business, I was worried it was too late. And not only that it was going under, but that it would drag our entire business into bankruptcy. 

It took all our strength to post this, feeling like a symbol of failure.

I couldn’t face Kendall because I felt like a failure to her. I couldn’t stomach facing our team, knowing I had let them down. I wasn’t present for my kids. Honestly, I didn’t realize how bad it was. Looking back, I can see how much weight I lost and that my regular habits had changed. Instead of jumping out of bed excitedly for my normal Miracle Morning routine at 4am, I’d taken to sleeping in late. That winter of 2018, I told Kendall I needed to talk to someone. I was grateful that she – who has a history of depression in her youth – had created an environment at home where we regularly talked about mental health. So it wasn’t a big deal. I put my name on a couple waitlists. Then, in January 2019, I headed to the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco. Owner after owner, entrepreneur after entrepreneur, friend after friend came up to tell me that they’d had a business that failed too. They too had experienced depression. That I’d get through it. And that I’d made the best decision by throwing the towel in early. After one discussion, I walked straight out the doors, Googled for a therapist, called, and booked an appointment on the spot. 

So much work and design, closed permanently for biz within a year

That was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life, and one of the times I’m most proud of. I’m happy to share more on that mental health journey and my road to recovery at a later time. But for now, as we wind down Mental Health Awareness

Month, I wanted to take the time to say that I’ve been there. I’ve found that, as I share my story, other guys come up to me in hallways and corners to say that they’re in that place. Just sharing it and exposing it and talking about getting extra support has impacted a dozen or so guys I check in with.  And checking in with them is also checking in with myself. If you need someone to talk to about the journey, give me a ring. I’m certainly not a therapist. But I can share how that process helped me, in the hopes that it can help you. 

With that, I’ll leave it with this text I received the other day: “Last night I told my wife that you were the guy who changed everything for me.”


You can read about our closure in Culture Map or Eater Austin.

#emotionalwellness #mentalhealth #entrepreneur #businessowner

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