My first business failed... and that's okay
My first online business failed - here are my reflections as to why, and how those failures helped me reach my first $10K month in my business now
This year, I forecast I will make at least $120K profit.
Even though my current business went through the first 9 months without having product market fit, my first business was even uglier…
I had an ecommerce brand selling on Amazon (office footrest and armrests), that all in all, ended up as nearly $30K in the drain. I call it my entrepreneur university as I laugh, yet at the same time, shed a tear inside. I let ads get out of control, and quit before I gave growth a chance to even begin. I still have over 300 boxes in my Dad’s garage today…
In this post, I want to share the biggest things that I know led to my failure. However, I also want to share the changes I’ve made (mindset and strategy wise) which has helped me reach my first $10K month in my current business.
So, thinking back to the entire year of my old business existence, here’s what I did:
-I built a website.
-Built tons of Facebook messenger automations without any traffic
-Didn’t take enough time to research my product market fit and establish demand
-Took too much time (once I decided on a product) ordering samples and being slow to respond to suppliers
-Not monitoring advertising daily (at least to start) and turning off campaigns that were not a fit/draining money.
-3 months in, I started work to launch a second product…took 9 months to do so.
-Started to bring in some revenue…then neglected the business.
You know the one thing I didn’t do?
Make profit. In fact it was quite the opposite.
Big yikes.
Ultimately, I went into the business with overinflated expectations of what it took to run a profitable business, and gave up/ran out of capital far before what it took to succeed.
You know what I learned?
To build anything worth building, it takes time and consistent dedication.
Here are the top TWO things that carry into my business today.
Number #1: Market Research and Product Market Fit
I need to have a product that people actually want.
It sounds simple, but it took me so long to figure it out, even in my current business.
I wasn’t even really sure who my audience was for my first business.
I only got far enough to label my audience, “people working from home during covid”.
That didn’t give me nearly enough information to understand all of their problems and needs.
And if I didn’t fully understand their problems, I couldn’t create a solution they needed.
I might have created a “solution”, but it doesn’t mean anyone would want it.
And if no one wants it, I make no money, and have no business.
Number #2: Consistent Effort and Never Quitting
If I had continued to show up and tweak ads, respond quickly to suppliers and customers, and optimize my products with feedback…I may not be running my current business today.
All too often, people give up as soon as things get uncomfortable, and move to another business that will make them feel good and like things are easy… until things get hard again.
Staying consistent with high impact tasks (tasks that actually drive revenue, outreach, content, etc) EVEN WHEN THINGS SUCK is the key to success.
Learning to enjoy doing the work rather than relying on the outcome to make you happy.
Who knows, I could have been 3 feet from gold. Instead, I decided to quit and go do something else that made me feel like I was successful.
It’s been a long road on this current path, and has definitely sucked at times, and it still will in the future, but getting through that suck is how you start to see the light of success.
If I was to give advice to my younger self, I would say these things to him:
1. When it comes to market research (target audience and product market fit) don’t rush this process just to get to selling. When given 1 hour to chop down a tree, spend the first 45 minutes sharpening your axe. Actually getting feedback from your audience on messaging or live calls is a fantastic way to get your first few clients. You are showing that you actually understand and care about their problems and are developing a solution custom to them.
2. Now when I say take your time, don’t write off taking forever as perfectionism, when in reality, it is procrastination. Remember (speaking to younger me), "You went through 9 samples of your arm rest over 9 months and missed the market window all together." In some scenarios, 70% of “perfect” is good enough and you are able to put things out in the market, get feedback, and then continue to improve.
3. Stop neglecting the things you know you need to do because you are afraid. Checking the ads, reading customer reviews, and in the present, doing outreach, selling, asking for referrals. Avoiding these tasks is a great way to make $0 dollars. Set your eyes on the bigger goal, for example financial freedom, and walk past your doubts. Being afraid of seeing a negative balance or someone criticizing you is no excuse. It is what is required to succeed.
4. Don’t try to do many things at the same time. More often than not, if you try to simultaneously work a website, look into new products or services, run ads, do outreach, and run 7 social media channels, you’ll do none of these things well. Truth is, most of your results will come from just a small set of actions (it’s the 80/20 rule). Once you find the BEST channels, just focus on those things, and do them well. Don’t try to get too complex, especially in the beginning when you’re super limited in terms of bandwidth.
5. Execute. You can’t expect to just start a business and just rake in recurring revenue. To get output (revenue, traffic) you have to do input (messaging, closing clients). You severely underestimate how much time and focus you need to put toward something to create anything worth having. Turn the 2-4 hours days into 10-12 hour days of working on a project or executing your high impact tasks. Do that for a year then come back to me and we’ll take a look at your results. You must execute and be patient.
Those lessons have served me well in my new business, and are definitely a big part of how I’ve been able to reach my first $10K month.
Most successful entrepreneurs have a few big failure stories! If you've got em, I’d love to hear them in the comments below!
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Garrett Miller
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My first business failed... and that's okay
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