But it hasn’t always been easy, in fact I can think of several occasions and opportunities that fell short, including the development project in California. And, now looking back at my last 7 years I see the lessons I have learned when it comes to running and growing a business. I better understand why some of my businesses have failed or fallen short of the success I felt could have been there. The good news is that in each case, the reason I failed was because of me.
You might be asking why this is good news, well the way I look at it is if it was because of me, then I can change it in future opportunities. The only thing I really have control over is me and what I do. So what have I learned about building businesses, below are the lessons I had to learn the hard way.
1. Wanting Success Isn’t Enough.
As a Junior in High School I had grown up learning about real estate and how you can make it big from it. As soon as I purchased my first car, a 1996 Mitsubishi Eclipse, I knew wanted to live a luxurious lifestyle. So I started listening to what my father was talking about a little closer. I got the desire for success and got the opportunity to partner with a established real estate investor, but without the right systems in place we never saw the huge success I had been told about or read about. At the end of the day, just wanting to be successful wasn’t enough.
2. Just Because You Build It Doesn’t Mean They’ll Come.
My second business, a company called Store No More focused on helping consumers sell their unwanted items on online classified sites, such as Craigslist. I created a service that my friends and family loved, but I never did anything other than that. Being only 19, I had the feeling that if my family and friends loved the service, they’d tell enough people that I wouldn’t have to do anything else, I was wrong and the company eventually got put on the back burner. By the way, I just registered this company as an LLC and am working on developing a solid foundation for the company, implementing many of the items mentioned here in this article.
3. Researching and Understanding Your Customers.
One of the biggest mistakes I made in my early years of investing in real estate was not understanding who our customer was. We made several offers a week through the company and at one point had over 300 outstanding offers. Because we didn’t clearly understand who our target market was, we were throwing darts in the dark at a target that didn’t exist. We closed some deals and made a little money, but had to put way more energy into it then we would have if we understood our target market.
4. Not Creating and Implementing a Plan.
Similar to not understanding my customers, my first couple attempts at business ownership failed largely because I skipped the step of creating a plan. I thought I could learn as I go or create my path as I grew, but there was a problem. Without a clear direction I had no way of growing, instead I was making decisions without a goal and at the end of the day just spinning my wheels, until finally I had dug myself in so deep I had to do something else. Don’t get so excited about your business that you don’t make a plan, your paths will still change as you go, but at least you’ll have direction from the very beginning.
5. Not Developing and Putting in Writing Policies and Procedures.
When starting Social Brothers with my brother Nicholas in 2011 we took the time to understand our target market and developed a clear plan for us to follow. Because of this we started attracting and helping businesses not only in Colorado but across the nation. We experienced major growth from the first month of opening Social Brothers. But, because Social Brothers grew so quickly we never generated Policies or Procedures, not until we needed additional help and started working with Contractors. Once we got to this step we had to take a step back and generate all of the Policies and Procedures, which was way more overwhelming then if we would have done them as we created them in the first place. As I write this, I am currently working on generating every Policy and Procedure Store No More currently as, in writing so that when I am ready to hire help they will be there. If you need help with producing Policies and Procedures, we highly recommend you reach out to Barbara Goldberg with Back On Track Solutions.
These are just a small handful of the lessons I learned from past business “failures” and truth be told I do not consider any of my past endeavors to be failures but experiences I needed in order to be successful today and tomorrow.
What have you learned since starting and growing your first business? Share your lessons learned in the comments field!