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3 Lessons I Learned From the Failure of My First Startup

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startup failure

You’re exhausted. You’ve put countless of hours into an idea that you believed in so much. Literally almost blood, sweat and tears were sacrificed for this vision to be accomplished. You had hoped and expected for a lot of things, and was excited to have plans for the future.

A few months ago, I wrote an article here titled, “What I Learned After Opening My First Business at 21.” My restaurant was doing well that time, and writing that article made me feel on top of the world. I thought that it was going to be that way for a long time, yet not so long after that, sales started to become stagnant and then declined.

As I write this today, my restaurant has already stopped operations. It stopped a few days ago, but a couple months back, I knew it was bound to happen. We couldn’t keep up with the bills we needed to pay, and they kept accumulating day by day. With a heavy heart and chaotic mind, we knew we had to close it down.

I couldn’t believe this was happening barely one year after starting operations. But if you were to ask me that if I had the chance to start over, would I do it again? I would still say yes. Despite its failure, there were still very important (also expensive) lessons that I learned that I would never have acquired otherwise if I didn’t start the business.

Here are a few lessons I learned after failing my first startup:

1. Entrepreneurship requires resilience

You cannot ever be successful if you haven’t developed resilience. Whether you like it or not, something will turn out wrong in your business. Maybe sometimes not to the point that it needs to be shut down, but something that could make your decisions critical to your organization goals.

You could give yourself time to grieve, but it shouldn’t stop there. Life goes on. And you need to get back on your feet if you still want to make a difference. The biggest companies that are successful right now all experienced a massive amount of failure.

But they never stopped trying. Because with every failure comes a lesson. Anyone with common sense would learn from that failure, and start again with more knowledge on what to do and what not to do.

Whenever I thought about the accumulated debts of my restaurant, I would have this sinking feeling in my chest and stomach. I knew that I would have to liquidate the assets. So I continued to search for buyers of the assets.

Instead of grieving for a much longer period, I knew I’d have to pick myself back up again so I could pay the debt. It might be hard at first, but if you call yourself an entrepreneur, quitting is not an option. We fail, we learn, then get back up.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill

2. Learn to listen

Being a first-time founder, I had a very idealistic attitude. I had no experience in the food industry and established the business with only the belief that my partners and I would make it. I was wrong.

Aside from not being able to make it with that business, I realized what the naysayers had been telling me all along. But you have to be careful here. There are naysayers who have no credibility to back up what they say and want to bring you down. But there are also ones who speak from experience and are genuinely concerned for you. You must learn to discern the right voices to listen to if you want to succeed.

Taking risks is good, but make sure those risks are calculated and not reckless. We took a risk that wasn’t entirely reckless, but not all aspects of them were calculated. We were unsure of some parts of the business, and just “winged” it. Look at what happened to winging it!

Know when you need to jump with both feet or just one, but also listen to the voices who tell you when to put your feet in the water. Trust me, you never know when you will value their input.

3. Your failures do not define you

I never thought this would take a toll on my self-esteem, even when I knew I had to get back up. On the outside I looked normal. Going to school, work, and social settings looking like nothing had happened. But inside I was a wreck and didn’t want to admit it.

I would feel guilty whenever people would praise me about how “successful” I was at such a young age but that wasn’t true. For a while I thought that I was the failure. My insecurities started haunting me again and my browser history was filled with questions on what to do.

That was when I discovered that successful people failed more often than they succeeded. Even the ones with smaller businesses had their fair share of failures before finding an idea that worked for them.

But their failures never got to their heart. They weren’t the failures. The business failed, not them. So they tried again until they got it right. Maybe this business didn’t work out for me, but that doesn’t mean I’ll never be successful. The sooner you believe your failures don’t define you, the more the weight will be lifted off your shoulders.

People fail every single day. The difference between the ones who succeed and those who don’t is persistence and the drive to continue even after failing. It’s much better to try and fail than never having to start and learn nothing.

“Success is not a good teacher, failure makes you humble.” – Shah Rukh Khan

Have you ever started a business that eventually failed? What did you learn from it? Please leave your experiences below!

Nicah Caramba is an entrepreneur who is passionate about public speaking and travel. Aside from chasing the next adventure, she is constantly looking for ways to help people communicate their ideas better in her blog todayimchanging.com! Sign up for her FREE Minimal Fear Course!

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9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Mel Taylor

    Oct 3, 2017 at 10:21 pm

    Thanks for a great article coming from one entrepreneur to the next, a lot comes from failure, like you said failer is really a teacher for success, nothing comes easy, embrace failure and keep pushing to the top.

  2. Ask Writing UK

    Jul 26, 2017 at 12:25 am

    I want to do a startup of my business in field of IT, because I am doing job in related field almost five years. That’s why I am deciding to startup my own business someone tell me or give me best suggestion related to my startup?

  3. Nicah Caramba

    Jul 7, 2017 at 5:01 am

    You’re very welcome, Kamau! 🙂

  4. James Elliot

    Jun 30, 2017 at 5:44 am

    I have been there too. It is true that failure teaches one very valuable lessons in life. It develops a natural urge to self help. It humbles one and shows the world in a light which you might have missed if you were ever successful. It is very important to not just try but retry every time.

  5. Kamau

    Jun 29, 2017 at 6:49 am

    Thanks. Very Informative and inspiring

  6. Sija Mafu

    Jun 23, 2017 at 6:47 am

    Thank you, Nica. Some valuable lessons there. I’ve been working on a building a network marketing business for almost 5 years now and it hasn’t taken off. I realize my own mistakes and now doing things a little differently having learned from them.

    • Nicah Caramba

      Jun 28, 2017 at 4:40 pm

      Hi, Sija!
      Don’t give up! But do consider being more open to other strategies so you can figure out what works and what doesn’t.
      I’m glad you realized your mistakes and doing things differently now.
      What’s important is that we make mistakes and learn from them, then apply it on our business.
      Wishing you all the best! 🙂

  7. Andrea Torti

    Jun 19, 2017 at 12:40 pm

    These are great lessons for everyone, indeed.

    Yes, our failures don’t define us – the way we react to them can, though 🙂

    • Nicah Caramba

      Jun 28, 2017 at 4:41 pm

      Your insight is on point, Andrea!
      Our failures shouldn’t get to our hearts.

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Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Startups

4 Simple Ways to Transform Your Startup Into a Success

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Who said for a startup to become a success it must struggle for years? If planned and executed smartly, any startup can sail on the ship of success without any hurdles.

There are many myths associated with startups like ‘It has to be small because it is a startup,’ or ‘You just need an idea and the rest will follow,’ or even, ‘Investing in marketing or advertising for a startup is a waste”. Just because a startup is something new for you, doesn’t mean it’s new for people too.

There are thousands of others with your same idea already out there in the market. Hence, for your startup to climb the ladder of success as soon as you roll the dice, you better get the right figures i.e you better do what you need to do in the right manner and proportion. Confused? Let us make it more clear to you.

One of the most often quoted statistics is that 50% of all startups fail to survive even five years. And the reasons for their downfalls are so silly that later they repent only if they had taken care of it at the beginning itself, the startup could have survived. A post-mortem of 287 Startups was carried out by CBInsights among which, the common reasons of startup failure that emerged out were:

  • Lack of focus, motivation, commitment and passion
  • The eagerness of scaling too fast
  • Floating with pride and spending a lot
  • Ignoring good pieces of advice and falling into the wrong company
  • Lack of general and domain-specific business knowledge: finance, operations, and marketing and experience
  • Investing blunders and running out of cash
  • Improper budgeting
  • No getting market exposure
  • Poor product/service
  • No business plan/strategy
  • No/Poor marketing
  • Focusing only on profit and not on customers

For a startup to succeed, money and ideas are not enough, it needs a lot of input from your side as well to grow and survive, like your passion, commitment, willingness to adjust, patience and persistence, observation, relationship with all and basic knowledge and skill. But above all, professionalism is the most important factor. Starting small and new is nothing to be taken lightly. How you interact with your investors, clients or customers, matters, after all, they are the one who will make or break your startup.

Here are the 4 simple ways that will reflect your professionalism as well as turn your startup into a success:

1. Two heads are better than one

Go get a co-founder. Studies show that a startup with two founders significantly increases the odds of success. How? Because two balanced and fully invested partners can keep the startup going on their shoulders equally well. A co-founder means you will have someone to rely on, share the load, chip in during critical times, handle responsibilities, motivate each other and so on. In the end, so what you will have to share the fruit of success, at least your startup will have a balanced support which will prevent it from drowning in the future.

Take for example the Mistay Founder Pranav Prabhakar who believes that, “Multiple founders with complementary skills bring in wider perspective to the team. While taking key decisions and at high-pressure situations, it’s always preferable to have someone who can provide support and an alternative perspective,” and hence has Sandeep Jaiswal as the co-founder of Mistay.

According to Sandeep, ‘A co-founder makes it easy to navigate through tough times. A partner with complimenting skill-sets and different style of thinking is important to help avoid mistakes one would otherwise make, he stressed. So having a co-founder is like an extra support for your startup.

“The value of an idea lies in the using of it.” – Thomas Edison, General Electric Co-founder

2. Get a website/app or both

If you are thinking an investment into web/app is a big waste of money, then hello, it’s 2018 and today from kids to oldies, everyone is constantly browsing either on a desktop/laptop or on mobile. Your potential customers, clients and investors are out there on all platforms and to make them learn about your startup, you must have a website or app of yours ready.

If you are still worried about the budget, for starters, host your site on WordPress which is the most popular CMS of the planet. Its versatility and possibilities are endless which you can take benefit of or go for professional pre-made website templates that easily available at affordable prices.

3. Let people know

Branding and marketing both are lifelines for a business and just because you are a startup doesn’t mean you can survive without them. Branding means establishing a professional presence in both online and offline medium. Make your company logo, colour and other identities visible everywhere as much as possible. Give your clients pens, diaries or other stationary items with your company logo, this will remind them of your great service.

Also, spend rightly on marketing even if you are running a single campaign, make it an effective one that creates an impact on the people. Don’t forget to check whether the market is right for your product/service. Marketing at the right time only will prove beneficial. For eg., marketing your summer clothes brand during winter is useless.

4. Deliver what you promised

Sticking with your word creates your professional image and even a slight slip in it will bring down your startup empire. Nothing is more irritating than a business failing to deliver what it promised. Don’t brag about anything it will only lose your potential customers, stain your reputation and in a worse scenario, get you in legal troubles. First, deliver what you told them you can gradually add and inform them if you wish to serve more. Until and unless, as a startup, don’t try to go overboard and create a mess of everything.

“Always deliver more than expected.” – Larry Page, Google Co-Founder

Turning an idea from concept to production is no cakewalk. The eagerness to establish into a giant is understandable, but, why take unnecessary big risks and crash in the end? Better study the market first, define what new you are giving, plan at its best, execute smartly and enjoy the rewards.

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Startups

Don’t Let The New Person Have Lunch By Themselves.

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I joined a new company two weeks ago. I’ve been the new person at work many times before — I know what it feels like. A new workplace is scary, overwhelming and challenging.

What I’m about to share with you makes me incredibly emotional and it’s very close to my heart.

During the week I saw someone else, who was also new, having lunch by themselves.

They walked through the big grey door by themselves, took one look over at all the tables, and then headed towards a table in the corner away from everybody. My heart sunk.

I knew what he was going through and it wasn’t easy. Right as he walked through the door, I was in the middle of a conversation.

Mid-sentence, I said:
“Excuse me for just a second. I’ll be right back.”

People sitting on my table looked at me funny. They knew I was odd and did weird stuff. They were trying to figure out what I was about to do in their own minds.

I’ve always been told that leadership is not about being the boss but setting the right example

I walked over to the other side of the lunchroom. I said:

“Would you like to come over and have lunch with us?”

I wanted him to feel part of the team. The first couple of weeks in any career are make or break — I should know given my recent exit from finance after seven years.


I know what it’s like to be the new person.

I was the new person in insurance.
Then I was the new person in business banking.
Then I was the new person in eCommerce.

Each time I was the new person I felt scared, incredibly fearful, overwhelmed, anxious and self-conscious. Not much has changed really. I still feel like that which is why I’m obsessed with being part of the solution.

The solution is this:

“Don’t let the new person have lunch by themselves.”

Taking the time to make people feel included and like they matter makes a difference. You could be the difference between a new person staying and having an epic time at work, or giving up in the first few months.


The difference is even bigger than you think.

What do I mean? If being the new person doesn’t go well, it can lead to many issues that you may not have realized. The new person could become lonely; the new person could underachieve and be fired; the new person could struggle to make friends.

These issues could lead to a failed career or not being able to pay bills or even mental illness.

As a worst case scenario, these issues could even lead to suicide. The difference of helping that one person to have lunch with the team could be far greater than you realize.


Inclusion is how we cure loneliness.

Loneliness is why we have social media, dating apps and cafes.

No one wants to be that person having lunch by themselves because they feel like they’re not enough or can’t fit in.

The cure to loneliness is inclusion”

You can be the difference by encouraging inclusion.

Be the leader and set the example of inclusion.

Embrace differences in culture, gender, sexual orientation and race.

Stopping someone from having lunch by themselves will teach you far more about life that you might think. Bottom line is this: we’re all the answer. Be inclusive.


One sentence can change everything.

That one sentence “Hey would you like to join us for lunch?” means more than you think. You were the new person once. I was the new person too.

That one sentence can change someone’s perspective.

It’s not about lunch buddies; it’s about leading with heart and being a good human being.

It’s what you must do. Next time you see someone having lunch by themselves, invite them over. If they are too shy to come over, sit down with them and have lunch together.

It’s the simple hacks like this that will change your reality.

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Startups

6 Important Strategies That Will Help You Grow a Successful Startup

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Congratulations – you’re here because you have a bright idea. The kind that prompts you to, pause in amazement to ask yourself why nobody ever thought of this before, tidy your desk, and start searching for advice on how to turn your brainwave into a profitable business. But where should you really begin?

Building a business is one of the greatest journeys you can embark upon. You can’t expect success overnight. Behind the meteoric rise of each ‘Uber for this’ and ‘Airbnb for that’, there are rivers of sweat, oceans of tears and months of lost sleep.

The foundation of a viable business is to identify a problem and provide a good solution – or a better one than your would-be customers can currently find. You should begin by thinking through your business plan and doing your market research. Be prepared to make changes to the product and to redefine your target market in response to your findings.

Your next step is to get the infrastructure of success in place. Become an expert by studying up on specialist sector information. Get get a professional-looking website, clean up your social media, contribute to relevant discussions online and in person: you should be seen as an authority.

Select the platforms you’ll use to market your product – does it need a video demonstration, or are you the author and sage behind the next hit eBook? Then, get to grips with Google. You’ll need to produce regular, relevant content for your site to rank highly, and understand how paid ads work in order to run campaigns or instruct an agency.

Think this summary sounds simple enough? You already know the roadmap to business stardom will be peppered with potholes. Here are six tips to prepare:

1. Get to work

Success is directly proportional to the effort you put in. You’ll be competing for funding and customers with many other companies. Most will have more capital and manpower than your business might see for another decade. If you want to get on level footing, the only way is to grind. Use size to your advantage.

There’s no middle-management or bureaucracy to prevent you from experimenting with new tactics or tailoring services to a particular client’s requirements. Bonus tip? Don’t quit your day job right away. It’s incredible how much time you can free up on evenings and weekends by reducing your Netflix consumption.

“A business has to be involving, it has to be fun, and it has to exercise your creative instincts.” – Richard Branson

2. Network, network, network

Mingling, schmoozing, hobnobbing – it doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Maybe it seems pointless, or pushes you out of your comfort zone at first, but networking is an extremely  valuable use of your time. Polish your LinkedIn presence, go to business networking events, reach out to people you could learn from. Join discussion forums and contribute to them.

You could even consider applying to startup incubator programs such as TechStars, which offer a curated programme of introductions to both mentors and investors. You can’t predict when one of these contacts will offer a helping hand, but relationship building is key to securing support in your hour of need.

3. Tighten the purse strings

Startups don’t secure their founders a steady stream of income. There will be weeks when you’re flush, and months when your dreams of entrepreneurial success are eclipsed by dreams of a dinner that isn’t ramen. Without the privilege of a reliable income, life is easier to navigate when you’re equipped with budgeting smarts and a steely will. Get used to living within your means. Your salary cut will ultimately translate into a runway extension for your startup.

4. The customer is (still) king

Your brilliance and expertise can’t fund your startup by themselves! Customers put food on your table and sustain the viability of your business. Listen to what they want from you. Be prepared to tailor your offering to their needs. If you get an opportunity to deliver results for someone – seize it. You can offer them a perk no big business can match: flexibility.

5. Shortcuts leave you short-changed

If a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing right first time. Don’t give investors a chance to pick holes in your business proposition by spending time and money on work that needs to be re-done. Website bugs or a ‘content farm’ blog can damage the functionality of your business as well as your reputation.

Sure, you’ll get to the stage where your business is ready for a re-brand or an experienced hire brings in the knowledge to optimise your content, but there’s a difference between being keen to improve versus tolerating shoddy work. Get the best you can buy at every stage of growth.

“Don’t start a company unless it’s an obsession and something you love. If you have an exit strategy, it’s not an obsession.” – Mark Cuban

6. Know your ‘why’

When the going gets tough, the tough get going. But how can you cultivate this toughness? In the early stages, you may not have a co-founder or employee to share the struggle. There will be no team to carry you through phases of crippling doubt. Whether you need to adjust the feng shui of your home office, admit that breaks are crucial to your wellbeing or build opportunities to socialise with likeminded individuals into your schedule, take time to work out the foundations of your mental fortitude.

Understand your ‘why’ – the reason behind your passion that gives you a true sense of purpose. Then, work to cultivate a balance. You can’t do everything, but you can make time for family, exercise, and the little things that save your sanity. The ability to self-motivate will serve you in every area of life, whether business is your vocation or not.

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Startups

No One Would Hire Me — Nothing Lasts Forever, Though.

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In 2011, I was down and out. I was defeated and felt like I’d never amount to anything.

This story is going to inspire you if you’ve ever faced a similar situation or felt defeated.

I’d finished working at the startup I founded with my brother and things didn’t look good. I had a dream at that time to utilize my digital marketing skills and work for an advertising agency where I could grow my skills.

Every job I applied for I was turned down.

Even though I’d had digital marketing experience and built a multi-million dollar business using that talent, it wasn’t formal learning or advertising agency experience.

So, I ended up taking a job in finance which I also knew nothing about. I took a junior role and a large pay cut and started my career at a bank. For seven years, on the side, I worked on my passion for social media and online marketing.

Two days ago, I was hired to run the digital marketing team for a well-known tech company with 900 staff. Against all the odds, I won the long game.

Here’s what you can learn:


No one can stop you.

Even with all the no’s and people that laughed at me in 2011, I didn’t stop.

I went into hiding for a while and built my skills. I started with blogging, then SEO, then pay per click and eventually landed in social media.

Just because someone won’t hire you today based on your skills, attitude and experience, doesn’t mean they won’t tomorrow.

In fact, without sounding cocky, people now have been bending over backwards to hire me as a consultant to help them with social media and digital marketing.

“The same people that said no to me now want to work with me”

You decide whether you stop based on rejection — nobody else. Keep going no matter the odds.


Be prepared to wait a few years.

Patience was what made the last two days feel incredible. It took seven years to get what I wanted and I had to be damn patient.

The mistake many of you make who are reading this is that you’re not prepared to wait years to get what you want.

When you accept that it takes years to achieve your goals, you work differently. You prepare yourself in a totally different way.

Wanting things too quickly forces you to sacrifice for the short-term and mess up the long-term. Slow down. Relax. You’ve got time.


It’s your attitude that counts.

When no one will hire you, it’s your attitude that counts.

If you walk into an interview or coffee catchup with an attitude problem, then your career dream is going to continue to be a problem.

You see it on those TV talent shows when a guy/girl walks out onto the stage and has been trying for a long time to make it as a musician. They have this sense of entitlement and their bad attitude is written all over their face.

Don’t be one of these people. Fix your attitude.

You’re only entitled to what you earn. Walk into interviews and face opportunities with a sense of humbleness.

Let humbleness be your dominant attitude and eventually you’ll have more opportunities than you could ever hope for.


Nothing lasts forever.

The no’s I got in 2011 lasted a few years.

The point is they didn’t last forever.
Just because you’re getting no’s today and being laughed at, doesn’t mean that will last forever. Nothing lasts forever including you.

“Keep going until the people that said no to you come around and are half-way towards a yes”

No one can deny you forever. People will admire you if you keep going and learn along the way.

Sometimes we can feel like we’ll always be rejected. That’s how I felt in 2011. I thought to myself “I’ve worked five years in digital marketing and built up a pretty successful business and people are still saying no to me. If not now, when?”

Now let me be honest for a second. I didn’t have the intelligence in 2011 to keep going. I was too dumb and too obsessed with myself. It was basically blind faith that kept me going. I wish I’d known back then that nothing lasts forever and believed it.

There were no mentors, advisors or as much self-help advice as there is now to tell me that the way I was thinking was madness.

You have the opportunity to learn from this lesson. Nothing. Lasts. Forever.


Push through.

When every obstacle there is, is standing in your way, sometimes all you need to do is keep pushing.

The way I did this was to keep writing. No one was paying attention to my advice, but that didn’t matter.

The only strategy I had at the time was to keep doing what felt fun to me and I believed I’d figure out the detail later or just never get paid to do what I liked doing.

Pushing through is about continuing to do the work even when the results don’t show.


Eventually, the odds will change if you change.

So what was missing in 2011? Why was I getting rejected even though I had the skills and experience?

I needed to change.

I was an arrogant, selfish, entitled son of a bitch who wouldn’t give a dime out of a dollar to anyone. I had to change myself.

I had to:

  1. Develop empowering beliefs
  2. Change my attitude
  3. Adopt a never say die mindset
  4. Learn abundance
  5. Give more to strangers
  6. Create value for people first via the internet
  7. Be grateful for what I have instead of always wanting more

Your odds of success won’t change until you change.

“You’re the problem and that’s the hardest advice to swallow”


Final thought.

It’s been a big few days. I’ve waited seven years to get what I want. The hardest thing about getting what you want is that it will feel good for a few weeks, and then you’ll want more.

That’s the crack addiction that comes with personal development.

I’m trying to detox from this addiction and be happy with what I’ve achieved to date.

Maybe no one will hire you today.

Maybe your life sucks right now.

Maybe you’ve dealt with a lot this year.

It’s all okay. Your odds of success will change when you change.

<<<>>>

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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Entrepreneurs

5 Tips for Young People Starting a Business or Side-Hustle

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starting a business at a young age
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The decision to start a business or any sort of “side-hustle” takes a lot of nerve, especially when you’re only in your 20s. Yet, the ability to power on and keep going – through all the ups and downs of business is a feat to be truly admired. (more…)

With the desire to go "digital nomad" and help businesses with their social media, Chelsea Tobin founded her boutique social media agency, Queen of Swords Media, in 2018. She attended Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Business (Marketing major) and a Bachelor of Communication Studies (PR major). She enjoys speaking and writing about her journey so far in the world of business, self-development and mindfulness as a young millennial woman navigating her way through life, and of course social media. You can follow her on Instagram here.

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9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Mel Taylor

    Oct 3, 2017 at 10:21 pm

    Thanks for a great article coming from one entrepreneur to the next, a lot comes from failure, like you said failer is really a teacher for success, nothing comes easy, embrace failure and keep pushing to the top.

  2. Ask Writing UK

    Jul 26, 2017 at 12:25 am

    I want to do a startup of my business in field of IT, because I am doing job in related field almost five years. That’s why I am deciding to startup my own business someone tell me or give me best suggestion related to my startup?

  3. Nicah Caramba

    Jul 7, 2017 at 5:01 am

    You’re very welcome, Kamau! 🙂

  4. James Elliot

    Jun 30, 2017 at 5:44 am

    I have been there too. It is true that failure teaches one very valuable lessons in life. It develops a natural urge to self help. It humbles one and shows the world in a light which you might have missed if you were ever successful. It is very important to not just try but retry every time.

  5. Kamau

    Jun 29, 2017 at 6:49 am

    Thanks. Very Informative and inspiring

  6. Sija Mafu

    Jun 23, 2017 at 6:47 am

    Thank you, Nica. Some valuable lessons there. I’ve been working on a building a network marketing business for almost 5 years now and it hasn’t taken off. I realize my own mistakes and now doing things a little differently having learned from them.

    • Nicah Caramba

      Jun 28, 2017 at 4:40 pm

      Hi, Sija!
      Don’t give up! But do consider being more open to other strategies so you can figure out what works and what doesn’t.
      I’m glad you realized your mistakes and doing things differently now.
      What’s important is that we make mistakes and learn from them, then apply it on our business.
      Wishing you all the best! 🙂

  7. Andrea Torti

    Jun 19, 2017 at 12:40 pm

    These are great lessons for everyone, indeed.

    Yes, our failures don’t define us – the way we react to them can, though 🙂

    • Nicah Caramba

      Jun 28, 2017 at 4:41 pm

      Your insight is on point, Andrea!
      Our failures shouldn’t get to our hearts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Startups

4 Simple Ways to Transform Your Startup Into a Success

Published

on

startup success
Image Credit: Unsplash

Who said for a startup to become a success it must struggle for years? If planned and executed smartly, any startup can sail on the ship of success without any hurdles.

There are many myths associated with startups like ‘It has to be small because it is a startup,’ or ‘You just need an idea and the rest will follow,’ or even, ‘Investing in marketing or advertising for a startup is a waste”. Just because a startup is something new for you, doesn’t mean it’s new for people too.

There are thousands of others with your same idea already out there in the market. Hence, for your startup to climb the ladder of success as soon as you roll the dice, you better get the right figures i.e you better do what you need to do in the right manner and proportion. Confused? Let us make it more clear to you.

One of the most often quoted statistics is that 50% of all startups fail to survive even five years. And the reasons for their downfalls are so silly that later they repent only if they had taken care of it at the beginning itself, the startup could have survived. A post-mortem of 287 Startups was carried out by CBInsights among which, the common reasons of startup failure that emerged out were:

  • Lack of focus, motivation, commitment and passion
  • The eagerness of scaling too fast
  • Floating with pride and spending a lot
  • Ignoring good pieces of advice and falling into the wrong company
  • Lack of general and domain-specific business knowledge: finance, operations, and marketing and experience
  • Investing blunders and running out of cash
  • Improper budgeting
  • No getting market exposure
  • Poor product/service
  • No business plan/strategy
  • No/Poor marketing
  • Focusing only on profit and not on customers

For a startup to succeed, money and ideas are not enough, it needs a lot of input from your side as well to grow and survive, like your passion, commitment, willingness to adjust, patience and persistence, observation, relationship with all and basic knowledge and skill. But above all, professionalism is the most important factor. Starting small and new is nothing to be taken lightly. How you interact with your investors, clients or customers, matters, after all, they are the one who will make or break your startup.

Here are the 4 simple ways that will reflect your professionalism as well as turn your startup into a success:

1. Two heads are better than one

Go get a co-founder. Studies show that a startup with two founders significantly increases the odds of success. How? Because two balanced and fully invested partners can keep the startup going on their shoulders equally well. A co-founder means you will have someone to rely on, share the load, chip in during critical times, handle responsibilities, motivate each other and so on. In the end, so what you will have to share the fruit of success, at least your startup will have a balanced support which will prevent it from drowning in the future.

Take for example the Mistay Founder Pranav Prabhakar who believes that, “Multiple founders with complementary skills bring in wider perspective to the team. While taking key decisions and at high-pressure situations, it’s always preferable to have someone who can provide support and an alternative perspective,” and hence has Sandeep Jaiswal as the co-founder of Mistay.

According to Sandeep, ‘A co-founder makes it easy to navigate through tough times. A partner with complimenting skill-sets and different style of thinking is important to help avoid mistakes one would otherwise make, he stressed. So having a co-founder is like an extra support for your startup.

“The value of an idea lies in the using of it.” – Thomas Edison, General Electric Co-founder

2. Get a website/app or both

If you are thinking an investment into web/app is a big waste of money, then hello, it’s 2018 and today from kids to oldies, everyone is constantly browsing either on a desktop/laptop or on mobile. Your potential customers, clients and investors are out there on all platforms and to make them learn about your startup, you must have a website or app of yours ready.

If you are still worried about the budget, for starters, host your site on WordPress which is the most popular CMS of the planet. Its versatility and possibilities are endless which you can take benefit of or go for professional pre-made website templates that easily available at affordable prices.

3. Let people know

Branding and marketing both are lifelines for a business and just because you are a startup doesn’t mean you can survive without them. Branding means establishing a professional presence in both online and offline medium. Make your company logo, colour and other identities visible everywhere as much as possible. Give your clients pens, diaries or other stationary items with your company logo, this will remind them of your great service.

Also, spend rightly on marketing even if you are running a single campaign, make it an effective one that creates an impact on the people. Don’t forget to check whether the market is right for your product/service. Marketing at the right time only will prove beneficial. For eg., marketing your summer clothes brand during winter is useless.

4. Deliver what you promised

Sticking with your word creates your professional image and even a slight slip in it will bring down your startup empire. Nothing is more irritating than a business failing to deliver what it promised. Don’t brag about anything it will only lose your potential customers, stain your reputation and in a worse scenario, get you in legal troubles. First, deliver what you told them you can gradually add and inform them if you wish to serve more. Until and unless, as a startup, don’t try to go overboard and create a mess of everything.

“Always deliver more than expected.” – Larry Page, Google Co-Founder

Turning an idea from concept to production is no cakewalk. The eagerness to establish into a giant is understandable, but, why take unnecessary big risks and crash in the end? Better study the market first, define what new you are giving, plan at its best, execute smartly and enjoy the rewards.

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Don’t Let The New Person Have Lunch By Themselves.

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I joined a new company two weeks ago. I’ve been the new person at work many times before — I know what it feels like. A new workplace is scary, overwhelming and challenging.

What I’m about to share with you makes me incredibly emotional and it’s very close to my heart.

During the week I saw someone else, who was also new, having lunch by themselves.

They walked through the big grey door by themselves, took one look over at all the tables, and then headed towards a table in the corner away from everybody. My heart sunk.

I knew what he was going through and it wasn’t easy. Right as he walked through the door, I was in the middle of a conversation.

Mid-sentence, I said:
“Excuse me for just a second. I’ll be right back.”

People sitting on my table looked at me funny. They knew I was odd and did weird stuff. They were trying to figure out what I was about to do in their own minds.

I’ve always been told that leadership is not about being the boss but setting the right example

I walked over to the other side of the lunchroom. I said:

“Would you like to come over and have lunch with us?”

I wanted him to feel part of the team. The first couple of weeks in any career are make or break — I should know given my recent exit from finance after seven years.


I know what it’s like to be the new person.

I was the new person in insurance.
Then I was the new person in business banking.
Then I was the new person in eCommerce.

Each time I was the new person I felt scared, incredibly fearful, overwhelmed, anxious and self-conscious. Not much has changed really. I still feel like that which is why I’m obsessed with being part of the solution.

The solution is this:

“Don’t let the new person have lunch by themselves.”

Taking the time to make people feel included and like they matter makes a difference. You could be the difference between a new person staying and having an epic time at work, or giving up in the first few months.


The difference is even bigger than you think.

What do I mean? If being the new person doesn’t go well, it can lead to many issues that you may not have realized. The new person could become lonely; the new person could underachieve and be fired; the new person could struggle to make friends.

These issues could lead to a failed career or not being able to pay bills or even mental illness.

As a worst case scenario, these issues could even lead to suicide. The difference of helping that one person to have lunch with the team could be far greater than you realize.


Inclusion is how we cure loneliness.

Loneliness is why we have social media, dating apps and cafes.

No one wants to be that person having lunch by themselves because they feel like they’re not enough or can’t fit in.

The cure to loneliness is inclusion”

You can be the difference by encouraging inclusion.

Be the leader and set the example of inclusion.

Embrace differences in culture, gender, sexual orientation and race.

Stopping someone from having lunch by themselves will teach you far more about life that you might think. Bottom line is this: we’re all the answer. Be inclusive.


One sentence can change everything.

That one sentence “Hey would you like to join us for lunch?” means more than you think. You were the new person once. I was the new person too.

That one sentence can change someone’s perspective.

It’s not about lunch buddies; it’s about leading with heart and being a good human being.

It’s what you must do. Next time you see someone having lunch by themselves, invite them over. If they are too shy to come over, sit down with them and have lunch together.

It’s the simple hacks like this that will change your reality.

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6 Important Strategies That Will Help You Grow a Successful Startup

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Congratulations – you’re here because you have a bright idea. The kind that prompts you to, pause in amazement to ask yourself why nobody ever thought of this before, tidy your desk, and start searching for advice on how to turn your brainwave into a profitable business. But where should you really begin?

Building a business is one of the greatest journeys you can embark upon. You can’t expect success overnight. Behind the meteoric rise of each ‘Uber for this’ and ‘Airbnb for that’, there are rivers of sweat, oceans of tears and months of lost sleep.

The foundation of a viable business is to identify a problem and provide a good solution – or a better one than your would-be customers can currently find. You should begin by thinking through your business plan and doing your market research. Be prepared to make changes to the product and to redefine your target market in response to your findings.

Your next step is to get the infrastructure of success in place. Become an expert by studying up on specialist sector information. Get get a professional-looking website, clean up your social media, contribute to relevant discussions online and in person: you should be seen as an authority.

Select the platforms you’ll use to market your product – does it need a video demonstration, or are you the author and sage behind the next hit eBook? Then, get to grips with Google. You’ll need to produce regular, relevant content for your site to rank highly, and understand how paid ads work in order to run campaigns or instruct an agency.

Think this summary sounds simple enough? You already know the roadmap to business stardom will be peppered with potholes. Here are six tips to prepare:

1. Get to work

Success is directly proportional to the effort you put in. You’ll be competing for funding and customers with many other companies. Most will have more capital and manpower than your business might see for another decade. If you want to get on level footing, the only way is to grind. Use size to your advantage.

There’s no middle-management or bureaucracy to prevent you from experimenting with new tactics or tailoring services to a particular client’s requirements. Bonus tip? Don’t quit your day job right away. It’s incredible how much time you can free up on evenings and weekends by reducing your Netflix consumption.

“A business has to be involving, it has to be fun, and it has to exercise your creative instincts.” – Richard Branson

2. Network, network, network

Mingling, schmoozing, hobnobbing – it doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Maybe it seems pointless, or pushes you out of your comfort zone at first, but networking is an extremely  valuable use of your time. Polish your LinkedIn presence, go to business networking events, reach out to people you could learn from. Join discussion forums and contribute to them.

You could even consider applying to startup incubator programs such as TechStars, which offer a curated programme of introductions to both mentors and investors. You can’t predict when one of these contacts will offer a helping hand, but relationship building is key to securing support in your hour of need.

3. Tighten the purse strings

Startups don’t secure their founders a steady stream of income. There will be weeks when you’re flush, and months when your dreams of entrepreneurial success are eclipsed by dreams of a dinner that isn’t ramen. Without the privilege of a reliable income, life is easier to navigate when you’re equipped with budgeting smarts and a steely will. Get used to living within your means. Your salary cut will ultimately translate into a runway extension for your startup.

4. The customer is (still) king

Your brilliance and expertise can’t fund your startup by themselves! Customers put food on your table and sustain the viability of your business. Listen to what they want from you. Be prepared to tailor your offering to their needs. If you get an opportunity to deliver results for someone – seize it. You can offer them a perk no big business can match: flexibility.

5. Shortcuts leave you short-changed

If a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing right first time. Don’t give investors a chance to pick holes in your business proposition by spending time and money on work that needs to be re-done. Website bugs or a ‘content farm’ blog can damage the functionality of your business as well as your reputation.

Sure, you’ll get to the stage where your business is ready for a re-brand or an experienced hire brings in the knowledge to optimise your content, but there’s a difference between being keen to improve versus tolerating shoddy work. Get the best you can buy at every stage of growth.

“Don’t start a company unless it’s an obsession and something you love. If you have an exit strategy, it’s not an obsession.” – Mark Cuban

6. Know your ‘why’

When the going gets tough, the tough get going. But how can you cultivate this toughness? In the early stages, you may not have a co-founder or employee to share the struggle. There will be no team to carry you through phases of crippling doubt. Whether you need to adjust the feng shui of your home office, admit that breaks are crucial to your wellbeing or build opportunities to socialise with likeminded individuals into your schedule, take time to work out the foundations of your mental fortitude.

Understand your ‘why’ – the reason behind your passion that gives you a true sense of purpose. Then, work to cultivate a balance. You can’t do everything, but you can make time for family, exercise, and the little things that save your sanity. The ability to self-motivate will serve you in every area of life, whether business is your vocation or not.

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No One Would Hire Me — Nothing Lasts Forever, Though.

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In 2011, I was down and out. I was defeated and felt like I’d never amount to anything.

This story is going to inspire you if you’ve ever faced a similar situation or felt defeated.

I’d finished working at the startup I founded with my brother and things didn’t look good. I had a dream at that time to utilize my digital marketing skills and work for an advertising agency where I could grow my skills.

Every job I applied for I was turned down.

Even though I’d had digital marketing experience and built a multi-million dollar business using that talent, it wasn’t formal learning or advertising agency experience.

So, I ended up taking a job in finance which I also knew nothing about. I took a junior role and a large pay cut and started my career at a bank. For seven years, on the side, I worked on my passion for social media and online marketing.

Two days ago, I was hired to run the digital marketing team for a well-known tech company with 900 staff. Against all the odds, I won the long game.

Here’s what you can learn:


No one can stop you.

Even with all the no’s and people that laughed at me in 2011, I didn’t stop.

I went into hiding for a while and built my skills. I started with blogging, then SEO, then pay per click and eventually landed in social media.

Just because someone won’t hire you today based on your skills, attitude and experience, doesn’t mean they won’t tomorrow.

In fact, without sounding cocky, people now have been bending over backwards to hire me as a consultant to help them with social media and digital marketing.

“The same people that said no to me now want to work with me”

You decide whether you stop based on rejection — nobody else. Keep going no matter the odds.


Be prepared to wait a few years.

Patience was what made the last two days feel incredible. It took seven years to get what I wanted and I had to be damn patient.

The mistake many of you make who are reading this is that you’re not prepared to wait years to get what you want.

When you accept that it takes years to achieve your goals, you work differently. You prepare yourself in a totally different way.

Wanting things too quickly forces you to sacrifice for the short-term and mess up the long-term. Slow down. Relax. You’ve got time.


It’s your attitude that counts.

When no one will hire you, it’s your attitude that counts.

If you walk into an interview or coffee catchup with an attitude problem, then your career dream is going to continue to be a problem.

You see it on those TV talent shows when a guy/girl walks out onto the stage and has been trying for a long time to make it as a musician. They have this sense of entitlement and their bad attitude is written all over their face.

Don’t be one of these people. Fix your attitude.

You’re only entitled to what you earn. Walk into interviews and face opportunities with a sense of humbleness.

Let humbleness be your dominant attitude and eventually you’ll have more opportunities than you could ever hope for.


Nothing lasts forever.

The no’s I got in 2011 lasted a few years.

The point is they didn’t last forever.
Just because you’re getting no’s today and being laughed at, doesn’t mean that will last forever. Nothing lasts forever including you.

“Keep going until the people that said no to you come around and are half-way towards a yes”

No one can deny you forever. People will admire you if you keep going and learn along the way.

Sometimes we can feel like we’ll always be rejected. That’s how I felt in 2011. I thought to myself “I’ve worked five years in digital marketing and built up a pretty successful business and people are still saying no to me. If not now, when?”

Now let me be honest for a second. I didn’t have the intelligence in 2011 to keep going. I was too dumb and too obsessed with myself. It was basically blind faith that kept me going. I wish I’d known back then that nothing lasts forever and believed it.

There were no mentors, advisors or as much self-help advice as there is now to tell me that the way I was thinking was madness.

You have the opportunity to learn from this lesson. Nothing. Lasts. Forever.


Push through.

When every obstacle there is, is standing in your way, sometimes all you need to do is keep pushing.

The way I did this was to keep writing. No one was paying attention to my advice, but that didn’t matter.

The only strategy I had at the time was to keep doing what felt fun to me and I believed I’d figure out the detail later or just never get paid to do what I liked doing.

Pushing through is about continuing to do the work even when the results don’t show.


Eventually, the odds will change if you change.

So what was missing in 2011? Why was I getting rejected even though I had the skills and experience?

I needed to change.

I was an arrogant, selfish, entitled son of a bitch who wouldn’t give a dime out of a dollar to anyone. I had to change myself.

I had to:

  1. Develop empowering beliefs
  2. Change my attitude
  3. Adopt a never say die mindset
  4. Learn abundance
  5. Give more to strangers
  6. Create value for people first via the internet
  7. Be grateful for what I have instead of always wanting more

Your odds of success won’t change until you change.

“You’re the problem and that’s the hardest advice to swallow”


Final thought.

It’s been a big few days. I’ve waited seven years to get what I want. The hardest thing about getting what you want is that it will feel good for a few weeks, and then you’ll want more.

That’s the crack addiction that comes with personal development.

I’m trying to detox from this addiction and be happy with what I’ve achieved to date.

Maybe no one will hire you today.

Maybe your life sucks right now.

Maybe you’ve dealt with a lot this year.

It’s all okay. Your odds of success will change when you change.

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If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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