Lessons I Learnt From My Business Failures

Gwen Catherine

Here are some business failures which I have experienced in my time from running my businesses which have served as great lessons for myself which I believe will benefit you.

I have lost a quarter million dollars in one year that was invested in an Interior Design Company. The whole business went bankrupt. One of the lessons learnt from this failure was in the choice of my partner. I chose the wrong partner.

Here’s a small pointer about finding partners. People always ask me this question, is it good to work with friends? The answer is Yes and No.

In fact, I would say it’s better to work with people whom you are not friends with in the beginning, but you become friends in the process. When you work with friends, you tend to be very similar. You tend to have similar interests, passions and hobbies.

In addition, there are a lot of expectations already preset, assumptions and so on.

In this way, you don’t make it a professional business. It’s the same with family. I don’t know about you, but I would never ever allow anyone in my family to work in my business. Reason being that feelings always get in the way. How are you going to fire your cousin? Or how are you going to fire your friend?

Here’s another lesson learnt. I went into a business that I didn’t have knowledge about and it wasn’t within my circle of competence. I knew nothing about interior design. I had no passion for interior design. I just went in because I was greedy. And that’s what killed me.

So the lesson is to not go into something you have no passion and interest for.

Greed was also one of the lessons I learnt that resulted in me failing. What happened was that when I started, I was given a lot of nice projections from my partner. 1, 2, 3 million dollars in a year, these sort of projections.

I got so excited by the numbers, that there were dollar signs in my head. And the moment there were dollar signs, you get so greedy, and logic goes out of the window leading you in making all the stupid mistakes.

So right now, I always say that when you start a business, expect the best but plan for the worst. Whatever projections people give you, take 50% off. And if after you take 50% off, you can still make money, go for it. So be really conservative in your planning but at the same time, set high goals for it.

Presence in the business is also very important. Focus and Presence.

Someone must be able to be the leader and be able to be in the business 150% of the time and be really focused in that business.

One of the problems with my previous interior design company was this. My partner was not a businessman, he was a designer. He was a great designer but he couldn’t run a business.

And he expected me to be that businessman to drive that business which I couldn’t fulfill because I was running 4 other companies at that point of time.

So that’s why the company collapsed. So you need a key driver, you need someone who is business-focused, who knows marketing very well, who knows accounting very well, who’s very good at leading the team.

These are some of the lessons that I have learnt from running my business. Hopefully it will give you the reader some insights that you will be able to apply in running your own successful business.

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