The Two Biggest Business Mistakes I’ve Made

by | Mar 20, 2022 | Business Building Musts, Small Business Help

This blog post is about my failings.  I really wanted to write this as I feel the messages in it are SO important.

I’ve talked a little bit lately about what mistakes I have made in business so far.  And although there’s plenty, there’s two in particular that I thought you might see yourself in.


The first big mistake I made, which looking back was HUGE, was about brand building.

As you may or may not know, before founding Social Media and Marketing Australia, I worked in a partnership with another marketer in Melbourne.

He taught marketing, I taught social media.

I also did our social media marketing for that business.

It was a very successful business at the time.

The social media consisted of LinkedIn, Facebook and Facebook group mostly.

We also wrote blogs every week.

Now – the mistake I made was that while I built that business brand, and I built my business partner’s personal brand, I did NOT build my own brand.

I know why – I know exactly why.  Because I was little Jenn Donovan who lived on a farm and felt that she didn’t have the knowledge or power for anyone to listen to.

I didn’t like videos or showing up for my audience.  I did show up a lot for my inner circle members, they knew me well and I had started doing speaking as well.

But I felt small and that I had nothing to offer.

My fellow marketing partner tried to nudge me several times, saying I need to build my personal brand too – especially on LinkedIn.

But I resisted.

So, what happened is when that partnership came to a grinding halt in mid-November 2018, I found myself without a business and without a brand.

I literally had to start again from ZERO!

I know we all start from zero at some stage.  No followers, no one on our email list, no one in our Facebook group.

But having worked so hard to build the business branding in the partnership, I’ve learned that if I had my time again, I would have 130% built a brand around Jenn Donovan, as well as developing the other entities.

Looking back I definitely would have focused on giving MYSELF the opportunity to build rather than hide in the corner or hide behind the brand.

And given that hindsight can be very eye opening in where I went wrong, I very much notice when see that so many small business owners are doing what I did – intentionally or not.

They are hiding behind their logo, their products, rather than showing up for their audience.

I think this is why I’m so passionate about human-to-human marketing because I’ve seen how much easier business is if you have a brand, if you have a community rather than just an audience if you show up for those who want to know like and trust you.


Review how you show up in your marketing – and if you’re NOT building your brand around you – but simply around your products or that logo you have, then please, take it from someone who knows, who’s been there, done that, you will regret only focusing on that.  At some stage, you will look back and realise that leveraging yourself in your marketing is a thing you should have done.

Promise me that going forward you will brand you in your business.

Pinky swear?  You’ll love me for the lesson when you see the results!


The second big mistake I’ve made is trusting people rather than trusting my gut.

Now, hand on heart honesty here, I actually don’t think I have conquered this one, I am pretty sure I still ignore that gut feeling sometimes (and probably always will).

So, here is my story of when I went against my gut instinct regarding my amazing Buy From a Bush Business community, my Facebook group with 357,000 members (and still growing!).

I actually almost gave up early in 2020. Yep, shocking.

I almost gave up because I didn’t listen to my gut.  I was tired, exhausted, out of my depth, perhaps somewhat desperate, which played into my IGNORING ALL THE SIGNS.

This is probably just one example of being “too trusting” there’s plenty more, but this one stung.  Stung enough to still have an impact on my business decisions today.

I’m not going to give all the details, but here’s the basics.  In October 2019 I created a Facebook group that quickly went viral and grow beyond anything I could have imagined when I first started.

And in all honesty, it quickly became overwhelming. I had a lot happening at the time it went viral – I was dealing with kids, farms, harvest, school, my paying job (because the Facebook group is free marketing!). It was intense. So when ladies popped out of the woodwork and asked if I needed help being admins in the group, I went a bit against what I would normally do in this situation with advertising for professional help, and took them up on their offer.

Around the time of January 2020, I paid them to help me monitor my free Facebook group, and they were so helpful.  Their assistance enabled me to contain the number of hours I was spending and allowed me to concentrate a little more on my paying business.

Then things started to go wrong.  A bad attitude here, a snide comment there, a few things that weren’t me, and that did not fit into my values.

Some people reached out and told me of their history with my admins, none of which were very good, but I initially disregarded these warning signs – because, one of my personal values is to never judge someone by someone else’s judgement.  You do something to me, I’ll judge you based on that, not what someone else has said.

To cut a long story short, I became exhausted and overwhelmed – I had been providing a free service to so many small business owners in my Facebook group, not charging them for using the platform I had set up (and paid for business name registration, domain name and the like). It became all quite overwhelming with the pull on my time away from my paying business, so I decided that I would give the group to my admins who I had been paying to help me.

I had transferred the business name and the domain names to them and was waiting on a few loose ends before exiting forever out of the group. I trusted these ladies would carry on this legacy of supporting rural and regional small business.

At the 11th hour, I was thrown into a messenger chat by mistake by the admins who let’s just say weren’t pleasant – and I’ll just leave it at that.

All those things people had warned me about, that I had ignored, could no longer be ignored, it was all written there in black and white – these humans were NOT good humans and they were NOT the kind of people I thought they were.

They were actually quite vile.

So, at 5 minutes past the 11th hour, I sent them packing, revoking their access to the group, I retrieved the domain and business registration, and then continued on with the Facebook group.

I am enormously thankful for that error at the 11th hour on their behalf.

Because I soon worked out in the following 10 or so days, it wasn’t the group that was overwhelming me or exhausting me, it was them.  It was the misalignment of our personal and business values that was stressing me to the point I’d never been stressed before.

So the mistake was I was too trusting, ignored what my gut was telling me and basically couldn’t see the forest for the trees.


Do your due diligence.  Sometimes a lifesaver appearing isn’t what it seems, sometimes your absolute desperateness clouds your judgement. So know your business values and stick to them.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, stressed and like you can’t handle things in your business, then take a step back and really assess what’s making you feel that way.  Perhaps it’s not what you think that’s stressing you – it could be something completely different.

But you need to give yourself that space to know the difference.

As I said, I’ve learnt many lessons in business and have made hundreds of mistakes I’m sure.  These are just two big ones that impacted my business enormously.

Without them I would be in a different place, maybe not even the same person I am today because failing doesn’t make us bad at what we do, it’s giving us lessons to ensure we keep moving towards those goals we have.

So I would love to hear from you in my Like Minded Business Owners Facebook group what you think of this blog – and if you have had any similar experiences!


Marketing and social media are my jam – and if you are struggling in either area at the moment I would love for you to reach out and book a call with me at:

And please do go over and join my Like Minded Business Owners Facebook group. This fantastic community of small business owners is so supportive and welcoming, and so willing to share their experiences. It really does make all the group members feel like they have a cheer squad on their side!

Or you can DM me on Instagram or send me an email

I wish to acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land, the Yorta Yorta People, on which I conduct my business today and pay my respects to their Elders past and present. I extend that respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples reading this blog post today.

About the Author:

Jenn Donovan of Social Media & Marketing Australia.  Jenn’s a coach and mentor from rural NSW and is all about empowering business owners to earn what they’re worth so they can make a bigger difference in the world.  The Founder of Buy From a Bush Business, Co-Founder of Spend With Us – Buy From a Bush Business Marketplace and host of the very popular podcast Small Business Made Simple, Jenn is all about community and humans interacting with humans!  H2H Marketing – human to human marketing. Jenn talks the talk but importantly walks the walk! Jenn’s online community is over 320,000 with her famous Facebook Group currently at almost 351,000 members and still growing every day.  She’s the major of her own little online city!

Get in touch –

On Instagram – @jenndonovan_

On Facebook – Jenn Donovan

Or on LinkedIn as Jenn Donovan


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Brilliant – it’s on its way – thanks!


Brilliant – it’s on its way – thanks!


Brilliant – it’s on its way – thanks!


Brilliant – it’s on its way – thanks!

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