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    3 Replies Latest reply on Sep 12, 2008 4:16 PM by Troikia

    Business Owners: Biggest Mistake You've Made?

    Milleisen Scout
      Ok Business Owners, I'd like to start a discussion about what mistakes we've all made (and learned from) in our travels. I think this could be a good resource for all the people who visit this site regularly looking for ideas. I'll start:

      When I opened my ice cream shop, I did not scout the location as well as I should have. The location was on a main street across from a train station. I saw lots of cars and traffic, but since it was the winter and my business was an ice cream shop, I did not have the chance to observe the foot traffic. BIG MISTAKE. Once the Spring and Summer came, I made the sickening discovery that the town had no foot traffic despite what everyone thought to be a "great location". Even worse, I came to learn that the town I operated in was not a summer town. It was exactly the opposite! Everyone sent their kids away to summer camp and left town for their favorite summer getaways. Needless to say, the business failed in under 6 months.

      The Lesson: Don't guess whether your store location is good, do your homework and KNOW whether its a good location.
        • Re: Business Owners: Biggest Mistake You've Made?
          Iwrite Pioneer
          Not taking the shot.

          I was a young creative and a client asked me if I had thought about opening my own agency and I said, "yes." Well, the client told me that they really liked my work and were thinking of moving the account from the agency I was working at, and would I be interested in starting my own shop with their account? I thought about it and I just didn't believe I was prepared, although I was. I turned down the offer. I should have taken the shot. It has been years, and I haven't gotten another offer like that since. It would have been a struggle but I know I could have made it work. Now, I am having to work hard to find an opportunity like that again. To know then what I know now.
          • Re: Business Owners: Biggest Mistake You've Made?
            Lighthouse24 Ranger

            Great idea for a thread, Milleisen. Of course, there are many different kinds of "mistakes."

            The mistakes that taught me, personally, the most valuable lessons over the years were all related to negotiating. It's not so much that I did a lot of things "wrong," but rather that other people (landlords, vendors, clients) had a lot more knowledge and experience at it than I did early on.

            The most costly "rookie" mistakes I made when initially starting out all involved spending money without first asking if, how, and how much it would directly impact revenue. For example, if I knew I could sell 40 units, I'd plan to order 50 -- and then the vendor would offer a great discount on 100, so I'd spend money to buy 100 units without having thought through if and how I could sell 100. I made that mistake the first two years on all kinds of things from office space to advertising. Today, we don't spend a dollar without assessing exactly what the projected return on that expenditure will be.

            I think the biggest mistake I still make sometimes is getting so busy and focused on executing the CURRENT thing that I don't put enough thought and effort into how we're going to market the NEXT thing. That tends to create a revenue "roller coaster" -- i.e., we experience a dip between one major project winding down and the next one ramping up. While I can teach a graduate course or something if I need to cover an income gap, that's not the best way to run a business (and that's my biggest self-criticism as an owner and manager).

            • Re: Business Owners: Biggest Mistake You've Made?
              Troikia Wayfarer
              Great idea for a thread! There are so many specifics I can give, but that would take a very long time. However, in general being over confident may be one downfall. Having a positive attitude is one thing, but sometimes we overlook certain obstacles or neglect it untill it becomes a bigger problem because we tell ourselves we can handle it. And in the end it breaks you down. So step back, be honest with yourself and see if you can really run that business, or can reallly handle those longs hours, can you really make rent by selling what you sell, and the list goes on.

              Secondly, in my experience, when you have money respect it. Just because some vendor or contractor or leasing agent says you have to pay xyz amount and just because you have the money dont just pay it. Negotiate! Get a better deal. If you arent good at negotiations, ask someone who is good at it so that you can save some money. Because i guarantee you that you will need that extra money at some point or the other.