I have learned a lot of things through starting my own business. Here are five lessons I have learned through experience:
- Write a comprehensive business plan. We started with an idea which we set out in a business plan competition named Venture Cup, but we didn’t complete the competition since we started the company. Our idea was developed by some kind of iterative and incremental process. We should have paused and reconsidered the plan and then continued to develop the business concept. Imagine if we had had Tim Berry’s book, The Plan as You Go Business Plan, at hand! We should have included an “if, so” scenario in the plan, and tried to understand when you should bail and when you should continue and stay the course.
- Marketing takes time and costs much money. We should have done more research when we picked the place for our establishment and activities. It took a long time before people came to our place. But after some time, the good word was spread through word of mouth marketing. But by then, we had already invested a great deal of time and money and had not so many resources left. Imagine if we have had John Jantsch’s book, Duct Tape Marketing, at hand!
- You should be able to sell your business proposition and get paid. It took long time to find potential customers, and then it was hard to give arguments for why they should pay for this or that. We met Ulla-Lisa Thorden, sales coach, speaker and small business owner, a couple of times. Imagine if we have had her book, How to Sell Yourself and Make Them Pay, at hand!
- There are many external barriers. For example, we faced bureaucracy, rules, the jante law and fraudsters who seek to cheat you. I have been a bit naive, but personally I think that in the long run it is still a good idea to give people the “benefit of the doubt.”
- It takes time to set up a team of employees and be coherent. We should have studied more in-depth business theories by Belbin, Adizes and William Schutz.
So, why would I like to do my own startup again after all that has happened? I have got a taste of the free enterprise conditions. To be able to be your own boss. Avoid the so-called “treadmill” with fixed working hours between 9 AM – 5 PM.
We will continue with the business idea of creating the third place” for people to work at. During these two years we have established plenty of good relationships for the future. We are looking into the possibility to set up a virtual community online so we could keep in touch with our old customers and business contacts and create a new type of network.
When I read about other businesspeople and their exploits, I get inspired to continue. The most recent example is Jonathan Fields and the stories in his book, Career Renegade.
I want to conclude with Thomas Edison’s quote: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
* * * * *
About the Author: Martin Lindeskog is a “trader in matter & spirit” and a small business entrepreneur in Gothenburg, Sweden. He is a board member of the Swedish National Association of Purchasing and Logistics (Silf, Western Region). Martin also writes a long-standing blog called Ego and will soon start a new series of interviews for his podcasting show on the Solid Vox network.