3 ways to fail in business

Here’s a peak behind the curtain.

It’s a slight detour from the normal positive psychology and human connection vibe you may be used to.

Now then, if you have ever thought about starting a business, here are some things I learned the hard way so that you don’t have to.

#1 A plan is necessary but not sufficient

As Mike Tyson said “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.”

When I took a 6 month career break in late 2022, I didn’t think I’d be starting a business.

It just happened.

Which is a poor way to be doing business (apologies to my first few clients!).

I don’t think I need to be a business expert to write a business plan.

I just need to think through what happens when the offering gets into the hands of my customer, what exchange of value happens and how much does that exchange cost?

But thinking of those numbers can be confronting because I may end up with $0 or less!

However, it’s better to find that out in the beginning when my financial and emotional investment is lower than after a year’s worth of grinding and frustration.

A plan won’t assure profitability or via viability, but trying to get there without a plan is playing on hard mode.

Which I did many times before I learned (see lesson #3)

#2 Build it and they will…shrug

This is somewhat related to above.

Early on in my journey, I was advised “Build it and they will come” by many people I highly respect.

And I backed myself, because I figured I would build a kick-ass offering.

I quickly learned, that being kick-ass isn’t enough (also, I probably wasn’t as kick-ass as I thought).

Find the Pain

In order to be successful, I needed to find a problem that caused enough pain that people would be willing to pay money for that pain to go away.

And I needed to solve that problem in kick-ass fashion.

Building a something without testing that it solves a painful problem is much like setting time and money on fire.

Flammably Fun

The dangerous thing is that I find building so much more fun and tangible than this research and testing.

And the fire shows up only at the end of the build when I work out no one really cares because it doesn’t solve a problem they care about.

Rationally, I could grasp this.

Emotionally, it was as slippery as the time and money rapidly departing my bank account.

Unfortunately, I did this many times before I learned.

Which brings us to…

#3 Every lesson is repeated until learned

Unfortunately, most of these mistakes have bitten me many times.

Intellectually, these lessons are simple and easy to comprehend.

However, I found the challenge was to try and understand them emotionally.

If I could do that, I could overcome the compulsion to want to build something even though I knew, intellectually, the best thing to do would be more customer interviews until I really understood who I was building for.

A four year old learns to not touch the hot stove after a single trial.

Me, I had to get burned a few times!

You’re Not Alone

So, if you find yourself in a similar situation, I hope you realise that you’re not broken.

While these are simple lessons, they are complex emotionally.

And, you might be a slow learner like me.

Which is good company, right?