What I Learned from Failing My First Company (Part 1)

Running a company is an experience that is unlike any other.  There are so many things to consider, and so many new things to learn that it can be a bit overwhelming.  Okay, maybe a lot overwhelming. Depending on who you are, and how much experience you have, running a business can be one of the most difficult jobs in the world. It can also be one of the most rewarding.  

I loved running my first business–it was an incense business.  I sold small sticks of incense and cornered a market, with high-end products.  My family laughed at me, until I began laughing as I cashed checks at the bank. It was fun, challenging, and exactly what I needed at the time.  And while I wasn’t able to sell it for 7-figures and move to the Bahamas, I was able to learn a lot about marketing, e-commerce, and digital strategy.  

Even though my business failed, I ultimately won, and that’s an important fact to remember for most business owners.  Even if your company doesn’t work, you know what you did wrong and can learn to improve it next time.

This post will share the five biggest lessons that I learned after running my first business. There were some blunders, some victories, and even a few tears–but the lessons I learned have helped me immensely in my recent ventures, and I will never forget those days.

Team Dynamic is Vital

Running a company by yourself is incredibly challenging.  You have to manage your time, figure out setbacks, and be planning ahead all at the same time, and all the time.  You can’t really afford to take days off, otherwise, your business gets hungry and demands attention.  

In order to make the most of your company, you need to have the right team in place. This is insanely important, and I really didn’t even understand it at the time.  I thought that hiring a team would cost too much, but boy was I wrong.

In fact, most business owners who are just starting are afraid that they will have to hire full-time employees.  However, with the gig economy hiring private contractors, remote employees, and single-project freelancers is increasingly common and cost-efficient.  

This allows you to take the pressure off of yourself and put your time back into the most important money-making activities on your to-do list.

However, you don’t want to just hire anybody.  I found this out the hard way, and it ends up costing you way more than you get back.

You really have to have the right team, and equally important is having the right structure for your team.  If you don’t communicate well, or know how to manage people, you will be throwing your money away.

Create a structure that is easy to follow, with clear specific directions, and the people you hire will be able to not only implement it, but improve it!

Patience

Ah, the joys of youth!  After my first company, I finally had to adapt and learn to be patient.  Before that point, I was a risk-taker, and I was prone to getting upset when things didn’t work out the way that I thought they should.  Instead, it’s important that you are able to gain perspective in your business.

Sometimes, you are so engrossed in working on the problem, that you don’t really see the big picture.  

When you can take a step back and breathe, you won’t overreact about things that happen in your business.

Also, your own expectations can be pretty outrageous.  Instead of thinking that you will be able to do things that are impossible, be patient and let things come to you.  Allow yourself the experience of reaching your business goals.

Being innovative

One of the biggest mistakes that I have made in my career is not really prioritizing my role.  You have to realize that you are the visionary, as an entrepreneur. It’s not about fulfilling client or customer expectations, it’s about figuring out a way to create an entirely new playing field and training and prepping your audience to learn how to use it.  

When you are ready to step out and do something daring, something different in the world you have to be the one calling the shots.  You can’t rely on your team, or other people to give you the green light.

You just have to jump.  

Planning

This is one of the hardest aspects of working for yourself, and the first time around it was really difficult.  Planning out exactly what you need to do takes time, and this is time that you aren’t necessarily getting paid for your efforts.  Instead, you are working on your dreams, on your vision, and on creating a business.

This is time well spent, but you really need to be thinking ahead about how you can not only sustain the business, but how you can grow it.  That’s incredibly important. The more that you can adjust your game plan to prepare for growth in the next quarter, the better and more efficient your business will be.

Accounting and finance

My first business felt amazing. I was able to just make money and I didn’t really consider the risks involved in how much I was spending.  Some months my cashflow was great, other months I was spending way more than I made. This was a rookie mistake, but one that effects every business.  It’s important to hire good people who can help you to stay on track, stay focused, and to create a solid plan.

Rember that failure is the best teacher, part 2 coming out tomorrow.

Stay Uncomfortable,

Kaivan

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