Learn From Failures

I was just cleaning up my website and found something I had written a long time back and stored in the drafts section. Although things have changed a lot for me, the points below seemed very relevant. Points are kind of myth-busters.

  1. An idea is the most important part while starting a business – A completely wrong notion. In fact, anything you start can be a good business provided you are really good at the execution level. Suppose you still want to spend time finding an idea, go ahead but simultaneously start a very small business probably with one customer at a time and you will learn a lot of things that will be useful later.
  2. Equities and shares for investors decided at the beginning – One of the most tiresome and time consuming activities which can be completely avoided at the start. When you are starting a business for the first time, nothing is really clear about the cashflow, return on investment or breakeven period. Being first-timers, you tend to over-estimate your capabilities and under-estimate resource requirements. At this stage, it is always better to live with either your own cash or with debt from friends and family. Keep the equities for later.
  3. We’ll get 100 raw materials of item ‘x’ from company ‘a’ to start with and then ramp up our production as we add more customers – Suppliers do not work that way in most of the cases. They usually have minimum order requirements. i.e company ‘a’ will not be willing to supply you anything less than 500 items. The result is that the cash you have will not be enough now or you will have to hunt for a supplier who meets your needs. Either your working capital is depleted or your time is depleted. So, think whether manufacturing is really possible at the place where you live.
  4. Exterior design of the product is very important to attract customers – This may not be true for all products. Design may be important for apple products but may not really be necessary for a power adapter. Size may be the only criteria for customers in this case. So, don’t think too much on the design part. Focus on may be sales strategies and customer service instead. Design can be improved later on.
  5. Demand for this product is very high and there are no good quality products in the market, so we must get into this business – Big mistake. Sometimes people are happy with the kind of products available in the market, even if they are bad. Even if you provide a better product, people wouldn’t be very sure of its quality as the bad products have already installed a level of skepticism in them. Of course, better products will stand out and slowly change customer mindset. However, a startup’s first requirement is cashflow and not ‘bringing about change’. So, understand your customer and what he wants before you think of providing him with a high quality product.

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