THE Most Valuable Lesson that Business Failure Taught Me…It’s Not What You Think


I want you to know something about me: I’ve struggled in business and I’ve failed at business.

I’ve hit rock bottom before so no matter where you are today in your business, I’ve been there. I know how hard it is, how frustrating and overwhelming it can be.

But if you can learn this one, valuable lesson then it will all have been worth it.

You see, I grew up watching my parents fail at business and knew firsthand how that impacted our family. They owned an Italian bakery and people loved the food.

But having an incredible product doesn’t guarantee you success.


That’s one of the first important lessons I learned about business. But it wasn’t the most valuable lesson I learned.

When my parents bakery closed, we lost just about everything, including our home. We had to move into my oldest sister’s basement for a year until my parents could recover.

My whole life, I’ve seen good businesses go under – and so have you! From the Main St. businesses we all grew up with to corporate giants we thought would never fail, like Sears and Toys R Us.

And everytime a business closes, people get hurt. Right? A business closes and people get laid off, families lose income, communities diminish.

Ever drive down a Main St. with half a dozen empty storefronts? Was that community thriving? Probably not.

So I learned my second important lesson about business:

Businesses that grow create a thriving community in which everyone benefits.


But it still wasn’t the most valuable lesson I learned.

After college, I opened my own business, called ImageCake. It was one of the first online bakeries that could ship a cake anywhere in the country and have it arrive perfectly. I even won the Crystal Apple Award at the NY Incentive Show, beating out tech giants like Samsung and Sony.

I shipped customized cakes to some of the biggest companies in the world, like IBM and Microsoft, and to some of the biggest celebrities, like Jennifer Lopez and Jay-Z.

Imagine making the birthday cake for J-Lo!

I had a great product and I had great customers.

But still I failed.

And when my first business failed, I ended up in major debt, homeless, and once again living in my sister’s basement.

But this time I was the adult, newly married and with my first baby on the way. It was so hard to watch my parents fail, but to now be the one who failed and unable to support my family…that was just awful.

But what was even worse, was the depression that followed my collapse because I thought I had hit the big time.

What had I done wrong?

And it was in this moment that I learned the most valuable lesson about business:

If you want a different result than everyone else, you have to do something radically different.


Although I had a different product and a different bakery model, I was still growing my business the same way 99% of businesses try to grow!

If I wanted different results from the 99% of businesses out there who are constantly struggling, then I had to grow my next business in a radically different way.

So I looked at the best businesses, both big and small. I worked for a lot of them. And I began to see how radically different they approached growth.

And it was out of this one valuable lesson that I completely reimagined how to grow a company and this has made all the difference in my life.

It turned my failure into an ultimate success.

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Tony Guarnaccia

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About Me

Tony has grown over 10,000 small businesses and a dozen Fortune 500 companies, including ADP, Ford, and AutoNation and became the Google Partner of the Year. Later, Tony returned to his entrepreneurship roots to bring the strategy, tactics and resources normally reserved for large enterprises to small businesses. Today, he is focused on bringing that same vision to podcast hosts and guests – to make Podcasting profitable.

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