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5 Lessons from a Failed Business

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Vitra Singh – Enjoy!

I started a small business. And I failed. Not exactly the ideal outcome for an aspiring entrepreneur.

Looking back, there are things I should have done differently. Here are 5 pitfalls to avoid, based on my own experiences:

1. Avoid jumping in too quickly: I came up with my business idea while in grad school for my MBA. The inspirational case studies of individuals who took their companies from zero to millions motivated me – and that’s a great thing. I was so enthusiastic about the idea and eager to serve a demographic I could closely relate to, so I invested my savings into the idea without much structure or detailed knowledge of the industry. Before putting many eggs in one basket, be sure to actually know about the industry inside and out (back, front, and sideways too.) Start by asking yourself these questions: Is there room in the market for one more business and if so, does the market want specifically what you are offering? Is there competition and how are they doing it? How do reach your target audience?

2. Avoid proceeding without a business plan. A business plans provides the structure and data you need to present your idea and strategies to potential investors, employees, and of course, yourself. Because I used my own, I did not see the need to create a plan, but I was completely wrong. Taking the time to write down your mission, competitive analysis of the marketplace, marketing plans, budgets, forecast revenue, etc really is worth your while. On those days you feel you are not getting enough done, or are lacking in motivation, looking to your business plan to show you have the solid foundation of how to proceed will be key. Sure, you will tweak and change things – that’s a part of business, but having it all in one document will be a positive step in your success.

3. Avoid feeling shy about being “salesy.” I was excited about my business idea and having the courage to get it up and running. However, I was always shy and scared when it came to selling – selling myself, selling my business, selling my products. I didn’t even know how to approach the idea of selling—those subtle, but genuine tactics and strategies that show you are truly passionate about your product. So I just didn’t do it at all. Looking back, I attribute my lack of skill here as the #1 reason for the failure of my business. Now I know better! I have seen people with not-so-original business ideas go very far because they knew how to put themselves out there, get the word out about their product, and really become a force to reckon with. Talk to your sales friends, read tips online, practice on your mom – this should be a priority. Your business will likely not succeed if no one knows about it.

4. Avoid Ignorance, which is just another way to say Ask The Right Questions! For example, if you are in the process of having a website built and do not know the difference between HTML and Flash –that’s okay the first time around. However, the next time you interview a potential web developer, you better be sure to ask how deep their knowledge of both is and be able to ask follow-up questions once they give you an answer.Almost daily in building up a business, you will hear or come across ideas that you know nothing about. It is your job to research and learn what these things mean and how they affect you and your business. Asking vendors and contractors the right questions is crucial. Much of the time, “experts” of a field can tell in the matter of seconds if you know what you are talking about. If it appears you do not, you may be charged more or be mislead. Avoid being that person.

5. Avoid doing something just to make money, without feeling passion for it. I’m speaking generally here because sure, people can have a phenomenal idea that will make them loads of money and not have a passion for it. But those cases are probably rare. When times are challenging and you want to give up, the one thing that gets you though all your doubts is passion – in your product or service and how you think it will be useful to your ideal client. I interviewed many entrepreneurs in my book, who share why working towards a passion is important for the overall happiness of their lives.

vitra imageVitra Singh is the author of Living Life For Yourself, Not Your Job, a book featuring the personal stories of a group of professionals who left their jobs to find or pursue their career passion. Vitra studied Journalism at New York University, earned an MBA, started up an e-commerce business, and in following her passion for interviewing others, wrote her first book to inspire people to love what they do for a living. She lives in San Francisco and continues to pursue her love of travel and writing. Twitter: @VitraSin Website: LaDolceVitra.com

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