True confession: I still cringe when I think how I failed at this one business

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(Copyright © 2015 by Chesney Bradshaw, all rights reserved)
(Copyright © 2015 by Chesney Bradshaw, all rights reserved)

I had a bright idea to start a new business. This was some years back when I knew next to nothing. I got the business registered. I bought an email address. A shipping agent helped me obtain an import licence. I got hold of a supplier in Europe who was only too happy to ship me product.

Everything went wrong. I tried to get distribution for my product range only to have doors shut in my face. After many personal visits and phone calls one retail outlet was prepared to take on my product range.

I knew next to nothing about negotiation and fell for the consignment stock trap. But I was too excited to get listed in a retail store, to get a small display space, that I didn’t realise what a lousy deal that would be.

My products sat in that retail store. The store manager did nothing to promote my product. How could he be expected to do that when he had so many other brands? I was living on hope.

Next I tried to sell into another niche segment. My problem was that I needed a sales rep to call on potential customers. I must have interviewed about 18 sales reps when I simply gave up. These people were a mixed bag and wanted a big basic, company car and petrol. The smarter ones were suspicious about my track record in business. Rightly so. Perhaps they could smell that I wasn’t going anywhere.

At the time I didn’t realise how little I knew about starting and running a small business. Dangerous. Hopeless. I had attended a small business course run out off a dilapidated building in a tiny industrial area where the lecturers were trainers but not successful small business owners. The books I read on small business were more interested in telling you how to legally register your small business than how to get it off the ground and make a success of it. I shudder to think how easily I could be misled.

It still hurts me to remember how I failed miserably. The retail store that stocked my product didn’t make one sale and eventually closed down. I was unable to recover the stock that I had provided them with. Telephones went unanswered.

Right there and then even though it was a hard decision to make, I shut down the business and wanted nothing more to do with it. But this failure did not kill all my drive to start something new.

Yet it took several years before I could pick up my shattered ego and start all over again. This time round I had done my homework. No matter how painful it was for me I went over each and every mistake I had made in that previous business and identified each painful lesson.

Do you want to know how I turned things around?

What I learnt and have shared with others?

It’s all here while it’s still publicly available.

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