Bold Voyager

How My Business Failed

October 24th, 2020

I am starting a new business, this is the second one after I moved to LA after the first turned out being a huge failure.

A few days after giving up this idea of exotic meditation music, I had a conversation with one of my neighbors. She runs a skin products store and she told me something very simple and obvious. I didn't think about it at that time because I was just upset about the results.

What she said was "This failure it's totally okay, I'm pretty sure you learned a lot and this will help in your the next idea".
That optimism was pretty helpful and made me decide to do this review before starting my new idea about selling apparel online.

That said, I would like to share my previous experience with you, so maybe you can learn with my mistakes too.

1 - Too Much Competition

Mistakes: I was too optimistic about people buying my music through my website with all the major music streaming services right there, with easy access for everyone. All of them included meditation music. I was an ant fighting against a giant.

Countermeasures: If you can't create a new and appealing way to distribute your product, you need to become part of the existing ones. In the case of the shirt, there are a LOT of distributors online, so the best option would be to become part of them. When you can't defeat your enemy, join him.

Learn how e-commerce works, study, and stay updated about how your competitors sell their products technically speaking.

2 - Low-quality product

Mistakes: I thought that meditation music was something easy to produce, but there are a lot of technical and theoretical things I had to learn that made the process pretty time-consuming. I didn't made enough research on how to make good meditation music because I was focusing too much on marketing and forgot about the product itself.

Countermeasures: If you are going to sell shirts, create high-quality shirts, being in the material, or the design. It has to be something that can be sold by itself without advertising.

Cool phrases, cool images, something funny that changes people's current state. Something catchy. Something that you see from the distance and smile because it's freaking cool, or something that when you hang out with your friends all of them will be asking you where did you get that.

3 - Not something that I liked doing

Mistakes: Okay, I practice meditation but even I don't use music as a way to meditate. So if even I don't like the product, how can I create something expecting people to like it? Doesn't make any sense.

I was totally profit-driven and that's one of the reasons that everything became so boring in a way that made me forget about the product during the project.

Countermeasures: You need to have fun doing this business. It's pretty interesting to learn about e-commerce and the technology behind it.

If you don't feel excited by thinking about doing the designs yourself, outsource it. What I would like to do is to create some sketches just drawing by hand and asking some artists to go ahead with his or her art.

4 - Not outsourcing

Mistakes: I was trying to do everything by myself and I took a lot of time to get things acceptably good. Maybe If I had asked for help earlier I could have had a better business model, but this didn't happen. Again, that was one of the reasons that I ended up bored and the business died.

Countermeasures: Have a parallel source of income now, and outsource everything that you don't have an interest in doing. This will save your time and will make things more interesting.

5 - I didn't legitimately wanted to help or change people

Mistakes: I wasn't trying to make a change with my product. The main and only goal was to make money.

Of course, money is very important to keep your business running, but seems like the lack of passion or fun creating the product directly affects its quality. People also aren't stupid. It's pretty easy to notice if someone is legitimately trying to help or if they just want your money. You can notice these businesses just by the way they design their website or how they write about their product, mission, etc...

Countermeasures: Just keep in mind that the main reason for this business is to have fun and make people enjoy your product. The money will be a consequence of your legit desire to impact positively on people's lives.

6 - Bad website

Mistakes: I forgot to understand that the website shouldn't look the I way I think is cool, but the way my customers would appreciate in terms of quality, straightforwardness, information, design, and clarity.

I could have used my competitors' templates as a reference but I barely did that. I was trying to create something new, but It was too much out of the curve.

The online store wasn't good too. It hasn't PayPal integration or any other know sales channel, this might have created distrust when people thought about buying my product.

Countermeasures: Be humble enough to understand that a website design is not about what you think is cool and would work. Always see it through your customer lenses.

Check similar business websites, Identify things that would make you buy their products, and apply these things to yours too. If you have problems with the technical stuff, don't hesitate to get help from a specialist. Also, make sure that you will use the common payment methods and sales tools used by the other stores.

7 - Bad marketing stratregy

Mistakes: This is somewhat related to product quality. I was running an advertising campaign without a good website and a good product, so I was throwing money into the trash. I also did not use social media to my advantage, which could have been useful to check the quality of the product before paying for ads.

Before running the new marketing campaign, make some tests, run the ads for, let's say 3 days, and see the results.

Countermeasures: Make sure the product and the website are engaging and interesting before putting any money in advertising. Create social media ads by yourself, without paying first, and see how people react to it. After that, go to the next step and Do a quick test for a few days using google ads or paid ads from Facebook and Instagram.

If it works and you got a significant quantity of sales, slowly increase your ad quantity but make sure you can afford it. Study SEO and understand how to make your website easier to be found too.

8 - Starting with no money to invest

Mistakes: I started without enough money to pay for many necessary things such as people to do the work that I didn't like, good website hosting, and some technical services necessary to keep things running.

Countermeasures: Keep in mind that it's never 100% sure that any business will work, so, like any other investment in life, you need to be prepared to lose money, and if you gonna use it, use it with caution, develop a good understanding of what is necessary and what isn't.

Do your homework, research, study more, and have a job on the side before doing anything like this.

And that's it!

I am not a business specialist, but I have to say that I learned a lot from these mistakes and noticing how some of them are mentioned in some business books I have been reading. The ones that are helping me a lot are "The 4-hour Workweek" by Tim Ferriss and "This is Marketing" by Seth Godin.