Connect with us

Startups

3 Lessons I Learned From the Failure of My First Startup

Published

on

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!
Advertisement
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

The Problem Is Not Your Website Or Your Product.

Published

on

spend a lot of my time talking to business owners. They focus on their product, their marketing channels and trying to make more profit.

I met one such business owner who was in the plastic surgery business. Their product (boob jobs and nose jobs) was not working. Their website sucked and people clicked off as soon as they visited it.

People would call their office, get put on hold, listen to the on hold message and hang up.

This business didn’t seem all that special. I’ve talked to many businesses and didn’t think for a microsecond that a plastic surgery clinic could ever teach me anything valuable.

I’ve been to Hollywood on holidays and the issues of body image are all too apparent to me. Anyway, this post is not about body image.

I ended up losing this business as a customer — not that I would ever have sold anything to them if it were up to me. I sat down one afternoon and thought about why we no longer did business with them.

That’s when I realized it’s not about your product or your website. All the issues with this plastic surgery clinic and a lot of other businesses I’ve dealt with stem from one thing. Let me explain in more detail.


Your Google Reviews say you’re an piece of work.

I looked up their Google Reviews and their customers said they were assholes.

They spoke down to clients, they didn’t deliver their clients what they wanted, they argued with their staff in front of customers and they treated people like they were nothing more than a dollar sign.

All I had to do was read their Google reviews to see that the problem wasn’t their product or their website.


Your clients tell you every day that you suck.

I asked the plastic surgery what their clients said.

Many of their clients told them that their services sucked and they would prefer to go to places like Thailand where they could get a better product at a much lower price.

The business owner made the mistake of thinking it was their product that was the problem and that a new website will tell clients a different message.

That wasn’t it.


You abuse your staff and they consistently leave.

I spoke with many staff that worked for this business.

Every single one of them hated the company and were not afraid to say what they thought of the business owner.

The business owner would sit outside on a nice sunny day and look across the street at all the yachts and the people boarding them.

They’d sit there and think that every lead they got was going to take them one step closer to owning their very own yacht.

“If only I could deliver more boob jobs, maybe I could have one of those,” they thought quietly to themselves hoping that no one else could hear how ridiculous this sounded.

I can remember multiple times being on the phone to the business owner and having one of their staff burst into tears halfway through the call.

The first time it happened I didn’t think much. After the third time, I got the message. During the short time I dealt with this business, people consistently left. If you made it to the six-month mark, you were some sort of hero and would probably be given a free surgery to say thank you for your work and make you feel worse about your own body at the same time.

It was free noses and boobs in return for daily abuse.

The problem still wasn’t the website all the product.


You don’t solve real problems; you solve your own problem.

A good business solves a problem.

That problem typically affects human beings and solving it is how you make money in business. Solving problems can start out with a problem that affects you, but at some point, you’ve got to start solving that same problem for other people/businesses.

This owner of this plastic surgery clinic was only trying to solve their own problem which was making more money to buy fancy items like yachts.

Only solving your own problem is not just selfish but bad business.

Good business is solving a big problem or lots of small problems for entire strangers who you don’t know thus doing something valuable for the human race.

Solving only your problem will make you poor.

The problem still wasn’t their website or product.


Creating more problems.

Everything this business owner sold created more problems.

They’d film videos to purposely make people feel like their body wasn’t perfect.

They’d write articles suggesting that everyone needs botox to feel young.

They’d take photos of men and women who were supposed to be perfect so that young people would dream of looking like them.

Not only was their business not solving a real problem; it was also creating more problems every day that it existed.

If your business creates more problems than it solves, you’re in real trouble.You need to take a long hard look at the business and become obsessed with doing everything you can to change it — and do so damn fast to limit the whirlwind of problems you’re creating behind you.


The heart of the problem.

It’s the business owner.

The business I mentioned will fail. That part is certain. The problem with the business is not the website or the product.

The problem is the business has no heart because the business owner has no heart.

You cannot focus on your own selfish desires, create really bad problems in the world, treat other human beings like garbage and expect to go buy a yacht and live happily ever after. It just doesn’t happen like that.

Whether you are a plastic surgery clinic like the one I described or a solo entrepreneur, the problem with your business is you.

Fix the problem of YOU. You can’t get away with being horrible forever.
Being horrible is bad business.

Being respectful, kind and valuable is the final answer to the problem with your business.

<<<>>>

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

Continue Reading

Entrepreneurs

18 Must Read Business Books for Emerging Entrepreneurs and Startups

Published

on

business books

Reading is both relaxation and training for the mind. Who reads, dives into another world. Learning, entertaining and breaking out of everyday life for a short moment. One could go even so far as to say reading is the second most beautiful thing in the world! Whether it is non-fiction or a novel of all the world’s man has created, the book is the most powerful tool. That is also, why we wanted to find out which business book you should undertake in the new year. (more…)

Continue Reading

Startups

Everyone Wants Sales Leads But No One Wants To Sell

Published

on

Sales leads are the lifeblood of any business.

Without leads, your business doesn’t make money. That’s why many businesses treat leads like the most valuable resource in existence. Leads are a topic that never goes away and you can never have enough.

Sales leads are the cause of so many disputes in business.

We have it all wrong, though.

Having something to sell is the real answer.


Knowing what you’re selling.

Many companies don’t know what they are selling.

They think they’re selling products or services that magically turn into revenue and light up your accounting software with lots of green, shiny graphs.

Until you know what you’re selling, sales leads won’t help. Getting more sales leads, increasing your Adwords spend, buying more Facebook ads, doing more networking events, printing more t-shirts and producing more ‘content’ for your blog will not help.

You’re not getting enough leads or closing the leads you have because you’re not sure what you’re selling.


Are you selling to humans?

Go and Google ten company websites. Pick any ten.

You’ll notice one thing: more than half the websites don’t sound like they are selling to humans.

There’s no human language, very little content created by the people that work at the company, zero compassion and not a lot of humility.

Most websites are designed to sell to robots that can’t stop looking at their smartphone. That’s not us. We’re human despite our phones changing the way we live.

Humans look for thoughtful businesses.
Humans look for solutions to problems that are not being solved.
Humans like a business to stand for something human.


How you sell matters.

Selling like you’re in the office with The Wolf Of Wall Street Jordan Belfort will not help you sell.

How you sell matters just as much as what you sell.

The process you put a client through has to be simple, thoughtful and in their best interests (not yours).

That last point is crucial. Many businesses exist to serve the board or shareholders, but they do very little to help people like you and I live a better life and do our best work.

The values of your company and what you stand for effect the leads. Before anyone ever becomes a lead in your sales funnel they are a person or a group of persons (a business) with a problem.

Many people never make it into your sales funnel because how you sell what you do is wrong.

Paying for more leads is not nearly as powerful as changing how you sell to the leads you have.


Loving the people who do the selling.

Leads are only half the puzzle.

The bigger question is who is selling to the leads? Does your business treat those people who call your leads well? Do the people who call your leads even care or are they after nothing more than a pay cheque?

These are the unanswered questions that get lost in conversations about why your business needs more leads.

More leads won’t help if your salespeople burn them or don’t know how to convert each lead into a customer that becomes a raving fan and introduces more people (leads) for free.


Treat one lead really well.

I had a sales guy that used to work for me. He treated one lead in Queensland, Australia really well. He spoke to him every day. He knew a lot about the persons family. He even went to the leads barbecue.

That lead was so impressed that he referred several hundred (that we could track) leads to our business. Treating one lead really well is far more powerful than buying more leads who don’t care about what you do.

Digital marketing has become a drug that every business thinks they need.

If only the business world knew the power of one lead.


The good cause factor.

Your business may do something simple like mow lawns.

That may not sound like a life-changing business that can take this lead advice I’m giving onboard. “My business is simple,” you say to me.

Well, I’d challenge that. Any business can have what I call the ‘Good Cause Factor.”

Let be give you an example. The local butcher down the road from me has a BBQ every Saturday afternoon where they invite the community to come and eat some food for free. Everyone is welcome including the few homeless people in the area that never buy any meat from their business.

People stand out the front of that butcher and talk about things that are happening in the community. This Saturday ritual has become a place where business ideas have flourished, homeless issues have been discussed and people who were lonely and possibly suicidal, decided to live for a bit longer.

The last part is the most interesting. In my community here in suburban Melbourne, there is a large group of people that suffer from mental illness. When I went through my own battle with mental illness, I went to the local town hall where people gathered who suffered from the same condition.

It was that event every Wednesday that helped me become a different person.The loneliness and the isolation I felt were cured by the simple act of connecting with other people and having the guts to talk about the demons I was facing.

These same people go to our local butcher on Saturday and eat at the free BBQ. The butcher is thoughtful and they know that they are doing something far more important than selling meat; they’re selling connection to the community, and a possible solution for isolation and loneliness that leads to mental illness.

So back to the point of this post, the community butcher is selling a good cause — an X Factor as some people would call it.

What your business does with its resources to help a worthy cause that affects humans like you and I is just as important as sales funnels, lead generation and your product roadmap.

Link your business to a worthy cause no matter how simple it is.


Lead quality.

I lose my mind when people talk about lead quality.

The quality of leads comes down to the quality of people talking to those leads and what you have to offerEven the coldest lead can buy from you if you know how to find their problem — which they may not know they have — and use your product or service to enhance their life.

Quality of leads is a myth. All leads are equal.

No matter what stage of the sales funnel someone is in, they can be converted by the right business, with the right message and the right intentions to serve rather than take.


More leads are not the answer.

I know you want more leads. We all do.

I’m telling you to think much wider and deeper than that. If all we had to do was get more leads and we’d become the next Bill Gates, we’d be all billionaires.

I could go and set up a business that does nothing more than generate leads and call my business the ‘Billionaire Factory.’ One, two, lead, wham, bam and now you’re rich.

Refine your business down to helping one lead.
Make that lead believe in you.

Rinse, repeat.

<<<>>>

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

Continue Reading

Startups

5 Digital Marketing Habits Geared for Success in 2019

Published

on

digital marketing

The digital marketing landscape is in constant flux. New social platforms are born daily, while others fizzle out, and search engine algorithms are updated hundreds of times a year. What worked last year may not work this year. The reasons you need a digital marketing strategy remain similar each year, but to be successful in 2019, you should practice the 5 digital marketing habits below. (more…)

Continue Reading

Trending