I have tried many online businesses that failed. I learned a lot from them. Here are 9 things I learned from my failed business attempts of the past.
There are many businesses and websites I tried and failed.
- An outsourcing company focused on serving clients in the very early days of my freelancing career which didn’t work out the way I wanted it to be.
- Some partnerships didn’t see the sunlight of success either.
- Sites like GlobalDevelopers.net which was supposed to be clone of RentACoder a freelancing site in my college days failed.
- Thought building forum was my expertise and I can make any forum in any niche an instant success but failed. Some of the forums I launched and failed are MBAGuys.net, Club-Google.com, OperaOfLife.com etc and some forums failed and were merged with the Go4Expert.com like CFanatic.com.
- Not to mention some domains where I had plans and were never launched like ESEO.co, BlogItWell.com
- Technical coaching class taught college students programming languages like PHP, Java, Swift was a complete failure on my part.
There are quite a few failures I have the pleasure of learning from. I am glad I had tried those and it is what makes me what I am now. So what are the things I learned from my failed attempts?
1. Learn from your mistakes
Few things will work out the way you plan to but many other things won’t. You will have to keep trying things that work for you and build on the line of things that are working for you.
As an example, hiring an employee may work for someone whereas for others outsourcing. I prefer outsourcing and I realized this very early in my freelancing career. So I have always refrained from hiring a team and prefer the outsourcing model.
2. Learn from other people’s mistakes
There is a limited amount of time you have on this planet and you can’t afford to learn everything with mistakes. You have to learn from other people who have made those mistakes in the past.
I am into stock market investments and some of the mistakes can be too costly if you have to be doing them yourself. You have to learn from mistakes others have committed in the past. As an example, I don’t trade in commodities because my dad lost money trading in it. I learned overleverage was the root cause of the losses and so I avoid it at all cost.
3. Perseverance is the Key
You may not have a fair share of success in the first thing you try. The emphasize is on the fair share. It can have a mild success or a struggle but it may not be as successful as you may have hoped for when you started it. There is no harm in moving on but try to apply what you learned from what hasn’t worked.
No one has ever succeeded at everything they have tried. There will be successes and failures along and one has to keep learning from the failures and take a leaf out of the success of what is working and keep doing things that are working better. Often we take failure for a total failure of a project but a mini attempt on something can be a failure as well.
Facebook email service is a failure but Facebook isn’t. Similarly, for Google, there were many services that haven’t worked as they may have hoped for and are now closed. Neither Facebook nor Google has stopped trying new things. Perseverance is the key.
4. Do the Time Analysis
I always wanted to be in technical education niche. So when I had an opportunity to acquire a profit-making coaching class which had more than 80 students and was teaching C, C++, Java, PHP, I latched over it without doing any analysis.
Once I was committed, I realized it needed lot more of my time than I can afford. I wasn’t too committed to it and slowly the business turned into loss-making. Was planning to shutdown but managed to sell it off to a person who is doing quite good with it now.
Businesses do not run on its own and it needs your time and energy to take it to the next level. If you are already involved in a business, it will be tough on your part to commit to an extra business. If you can’t commit your sweat and blood to it, it is better to let the opportunity pass.
5. Build a Team
You can’t-do it all alone and you don’t need to be doing it all on your own. As an entrepreneur, a good team is the biggest asset.
The primary reason of a failure of my outsourcing company was, unable to build a good team. At that time, employees were fascinated to working in big companies over startups at least in Kolkata. Engineers from IITs Kharagpur did take final year training with us but weren’t keen to work with us.
This is when I moved from hiring people to outsourcing and it has worked well for me since then but still, I like to keep my expectations low.
6. Have a Business Model
Advertising can’t be a business model for every website. If you plan to monetize a website only with ads, make sure you have explored every other option.
From my experience, if your website audience is very broad and generic in nature, Google Adsense can be a good choice but if your website is for specific audiences, you may not be able to generate the kind of traffic may be needed to generate significant amount in ad revenue.
Similarly if you are considering to start a outsourcing company, just trying to get projects from freelancing sites and delivering them by hiring few people may not work out. Building a business model to focus on the right freelancing niche and building more source of clients is important.
In short, whatever you do, have a business plan for it and break the plan into short-term (monthly, quarterly) and long-term (half-yearly, yearly) targets.
7. Rise above the Competition
If you do the same thing as your competition does, don’t expect the same results as your competition. You read it right – you can’t expect the same result. If you can’t think beyond doing what they are doing, you are bound to underperform by a considerable margin.
One of the primary reason for the failure of MBAGuys was I was trying to compete with my competitors doing things they were doing without even thinking to do anything different. My competition outperformed and outclassed me.
8. Quality of product / service
Quality ultimately will prevail the test of time. If you are to make quick money, entrepreneurship isn’t for you. Try something else.
The success and failure are determined by the balance in your bank account. But the focus shouldn’t be to increase the bank balance in a very short span of time.
Building the right product with the passion to make it more useful to your customers is the most important aspect. The product addresses your customers need and prefers you over your competition can make any business thrive. A wrong product to a wrong set of an audience will not make a mark.
9. Marketing Plan
A good product build by an awesome team with a good business plan isn’t the mantra for success. One need to market as well.
Many online bloggers and entrepreneurs (me included) think a good product will market itself without any efforts from the owner. The myth among online entrepreneurs has originated by reading the success stories of Facebook and Google where they did very little to no marketing when they started. It can be true but is the wrong leaf we take it from the overly successful business.
If your product is good enough, why not market it to reach a larger audience and make a much bigger impact. Marketing doesn’t mean the product will stop growing itself.
Entrepreneurship should be by choice and not by compulsion. One needs a passion to perform, deal with the failures and accept them to make a move.
Further Reading …