Life after

Babel-University was my first serious attempt at online business. It was a Joomla extension business that provided e-learning solutions for Joomla powered sites.

Honestly, it didn’t start out as a business. In 2010, I was an English Teacher in Japan and the project started while I was looking for a way to help my students study English online.

I couldn’t find a solution that fit my needs, so I built my first Joomla extension called Babel-U-Exams. In 2011, I decided to post it in the Joomla extensions directory and all of a sudden I was in business.

For awhile, things were going really good. After six months the site was generating few hundred dollars every month. Then in August of 2012, the site made $2000 in less than a week.

After that I was convinced. So I saved up for a year, resigned from the Board of Education and from April of 2014 focused full time on the project. Unfortunately soon after going full time, I made a lot of bad decisions and in May of 2015, I had to shut it down.

If you’ve every had to close up shop, then you probably know how difficult it was to pull the plug. After finally working up the courage to chase the dream, falling flat on my face really hurt.

For the last five years, my life has been centered on building Babel-University. So once it was all over, I didn’t really know what to do with myself.

At first I thought “Why me!”, “Life is so unfair!” and all the other things people tell themselves when their wallowing in self-pity.

Fortunately last week after talking with my good friend Trevor, I was able to get over my pity party and start thinking about where I went wrong and how to get back on my feet.

He was also kind enough to give me some space on his server, so I could create this blog and start moving forward. He has helped me learn from this experience and I’m very grateful for his support.

Thinking about where I went wrong, I realized that I spent too much time on the product and not enough time on the problem.

I should’ve asked my supporters how I could help them instead of assuming I had the answer. I had the “build it and they will come” mentality and didn’t ask for guidance when I should have.

Although this still doesn’t answer the question of what I’m going to do now, at least I have a better idea of what I’m not going to do next time.

I now know why successful entrepreneurs say that failure is a prerequisite to success. There are some lessons that can only be learned when you hit rock bottom.

Had I not spent everything trying postpone failure, I might have been able to learn this lesson sooner and be in a better position to accept the next challenge. But of course that too is a lesson in and of itself.

Now its your turn. If you’ve dealt with a business failure, I would love to hear how you did it. Leave a comment below and share your experience.

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Born in the Rocky mountains of western Montana, Mathew now lives in Japan where he is the active "Crazy Foreign Guy" of a small town in the Tohoku region on the main island of Honshu. He is a father, a husband and a hopeless dreamer who believes that it is better to fail at life than to never try to live.

10 thoughts on “Life after”

  1. I knew a business guy once and he said the best advice he ever got was ” you need a good accountant and a great lawyer” . Love you bro

    1. Thanks for the advice and for the comment Eddy! I have Yuki looking for an accountant here that understands international tax law, but it is a low priority until I’m actually making some money again.=^P
      You should hit me up in Skype and we can catch up.

  2. Hi Mathew, Thanks for your kind words. I have to tell you I have had a long career and it has had many ups and downs.

    The biggest shock for me was trying to understand why I was sacked from a role that I was doing very well at. That was the opinion of many, not just mine.

    After the embarrassment and sheer agonizing over why ….. I stopped, snapped out of it and now only 8 years later to I really understand it was about failure to communicate with executives in their language. I didn’t really do anything wrong, I just didn’t communicate the way they expected.

    So, it was actually the best lesson of my life. It told me that ultimately, I should find a way out of the highly political, corporate treadmill and be true to myself.

    Doing that has taken me several years of self study and a strong constitution to take the stuff I did not like.

    The reward, every time I create something original I get a buzz, and every day I don’t create, I feel it was wasted. The process of creation, no matter how small, is a genuine source of spiritual enlightenment.

    Another lesson, is try to learn something new every day of your life … even if sometimes you re-learn something that slipped your mind due to irrelevance.

    Don’t waste your talents and skills. My father always said, “if you don’t use it you lose it!”

    So, Mathew take some time and then get on with it. Fail fast, learn and go to the next thing.

    “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
    ― Thomas A. Edison

  3. Hi,

    I purchased your Babel-U in 2013. It was the best quiz extension that I could find for joomla at that time.

    I only know the program has been discontinued while looking for it for my website.

    Hopefully you can recover from your bad experience.

    1. Thanks for the kind words. I’m glad I could help your project in 2013 and I hope in the future I’ll be able to help again. They say every experience is an opportunity to learn. Recovery might takes some time, but I’ll get there =^D

  4. I just received your email this morning. Sad news indeed s yours was THE BEST extension in the genre – hands down. I was going to renew for the newest version which had changes that fit perfectly for my school. Very sad to hear of your experience Matthew.

    As an ‘older guy’ with 25 years in IT all I have really learned is that who you are is far more important than what you can do. I can tell that you already know that. Good employers know that too.

    I may hit you up for that source code if I can’t find an adequate replacement for your amazing work sir!

    1. Thanks for the kind words Steve!

      Babel-U was a hard lesson, but I just keep telling myself that some lessons have to hurt. =^D Whatever happens I know I’ll be a lot more resilient after this one.

  5. Matthew,

    What is lacking in most business adventure is good marketing…..”Marketing is everything”
    Tough times is part of life last but strong people outlast tough times.
    No matter how bright the sun and sky is ; there will still be some cloud”
    Where there is the will; there is always a way”
    Keep pushing and never give up.

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