When my first business sank I was 22, it had been a Limited company for just 18 months. On paper, the business should have been successful – we had a good product, good investors, plenty of experienced persons to make use of, cash in the bank and a solid business plan to profit from an up and coming market. It should have been successful but it sank and I was forced to make the cold swim back to the shore I thought I had escaped from.
Why Read? (1000 Words)
I have another company these days and this one is afloat and in good profit but I think back regularly to that first business, now rusting on the ocean bed, and try to learn from the mistakes I made. If you have a business or are self employed or wish to be in either of these two fields in the future that this post is worth reading as it might just prevent you from having to pull out your favorite pair of swim shorts, strap on a pair of goggles and take a plunge into the sea from your own sinking vessel.
I thought I Knew It All
Biggest problem of all when you are young. You think you know it all and that somehow the world owes you a favor. Reality check – you don’t and it doesn’t. Looking back on my 21 year old self when I founded the company I thought I had what it takes because I aced university and won lots of competitions. Unfortunately I came to realize that winning competitions and doing well in exams is very different from winning at the game of business. Just because you are good at something doesn’t mean you will be good at everything. It takes time, commitment and a willingness to learn to become good at something and business is no different.
I Thought I Knew What Cash Flow Was
I knew what the basis of cash flow was, I had memorized the definition and got close to full marks in my business exam paper. No problem I thought and ticked the box of things completed. That was my biggest mistake, it was cash flow that eventually encouraged my boat to give up its God given ability to float. Cash really is king in a business and unless you know exactly where it is, when its coming in and when it’s going out you are really just riding your business on a knife edge. My advice is to check your balances daily, even if nothing has changed, and keep and eye on where money is coming and going on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis. If you don’t, you will be going for a swim. Trust me on that one.
I Thought A Great Idea Would Always Be Successful
Everyone knows that it is a great idea that makes money. Right? Wrong. The idea is only the tip of the iceburg. In fact it is only the penguin ON the tip of the iceburg. The idea, in my opinion, and this is coming from a designer and innovator is only the first 1% of success. It is the systems and processes built around to the idea in order to realise it that is really the key to success. You need a good idea, true, but this is only the start.
I Loved The Freedom Of A Flexible Work Day And Abused It
Working late and sleeping in is an entrepreneurs dream. Having the freedom to work when I want and do what I want was awesome. I abused it, my business suffered. Simple.
Working for yourself takes self discipline, even more than if you have a job. Turning up at 9 for a job is easy, making yourself get up for work at 9 with no boss over you is hard. If you can’t structure your own time effectively, your business will suffer too.
I Didn’t Take Things Seriously Enough
I loved being in business for myself. It was a rush, it usually worked well with the ladies and my mates respected me just that little bit more, mainly because they didn’t understand it. Unfortunately I was loving what it meant to own my own business and not loving being in business enough. Businesses fail 9 times out of ten and the ones that make it past 5 years don’t survive the next 5 years 90% of the time. Business is a tough, it can be fun but you have to take it seriously.
I Didn’t Take The Time To Patch The Holes That Was Causing My Business To Sink
The 5 points above were all holes that were letting water in and because I didn’t fix them, my boat ultimate sank. I still have holes in my current business but they are small and more manageable now because I took the time to work out how to patch them. There is a lot to learn in business and it takes time.
The best way to patch holes is to get someone to show you, a mentor or friend who has experience in business. This is not always possible though so the first step is always to read, read and read some more. There are more business books out there then there are potential holes in your boat and it just takes a small investment of time and effort to find the best ones. Constantly strive to learn and develop your business skills and soon you will be building Titanics. (Think about that last sentence).