Why My First Business Failed and What You can Learn From it

 

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Please permit me to clear your doubt. I know you have some having read the topic of this blog post.

I have not failed as a passionate writer. I have not failed as one who believes people should start building their careers early in life. I have not failed as a book lover and of course, I have not failed as a wife. In fact, I have not failed at anything, I have just failed at being perfect.

Vladimir Horowitz once said: “Perfection itself is imperfection”. Yes, hardly would anyone readily say to you, ‘I am perfect’. But have you noticed how hard it is to come across people who easily own up to their mistakes and imperfections, small or big? Very scarce.

Little wonder, people keep repeating same mistakes over and over in our societies – their predecessors never painted the exact picture of failure and success.

We cannot continue to do things the same way and expect a different result. So let me in my little space make a difference.

But hey, it’s my life not yours so you had better not criticized me. Matter of fact, you should be grateful I am willing to share a part of my life with you. And who knows if you are about to make a similar mistake… this confession may just be your saving grace.

I’ve always loved to write. But I would say I discovered my love and maybe talent for writing when I was in secondary school. After I graduated from secondary school, as it was the norm, I had in my hands a few months from after WAEC exams till when the universities opened for a new session. So during that long nostalgic period, I wrote many short stories, poems and all you can think of – except maybe for love letters. I kept writings until we resumed school when my academic clouded everything, including my love writing.

Then in three 300 level we took a course in Creative Writing and I had a B in it. I guess that was how my love for writing was rejuvenated.

In those days, I had a very good friend and course mate who always took his time to read all of my writings. He is now a published poet, with whom I am well pleased. Tosin would read my jargons, and criticize them and would make me believe I would become a good writer if I wanted. So, somewhere in my mind, I was already seeing myself as an author of a colorful back covered novel.  Trust you can relate.

If you are getting bored at this juncture, so be it.

But hey, aren’t you reading this post in the first place to see how I failed. So be patient while I spill it.

My Magazine Experience.

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In 2013, I spoke to my dear friend Bunmni who had just returned from a Master’s Degree program in the UK. We wanted to start publishing a magazine for teenagers.

With a perfect combination of a talented writer and a foreign trained communication expert, we soon started publishing the College People Magazine and we were just sure we were ready to paint the universe red.

In case you are wondering why my interest in teenagers and what the crime was in publishing a magazine for teenagers, read this.

At some point during my Master’s Degree program, I became very obsessed with young people. I was concerned about the dwindling ethics, morality and self-worth among young people. I was also angry at how parents don’t allow young people the freedom to find purpose – passion, talents and skills – until they are out of school and unemployed – although with good intentions.

So I ask in hindsight, how was I supposed to solve that problem? Is it supposed to be my business?

I wanted to provide contents that would address these issues. I was driven by the desire to see young people armed with what it takes to be successful in their chosen careers. And how would I achieve all of these? Through a monthly magazine targeted at teenagers and secondary school students. The magazine would contain contents and information for young people. It  will help them develop their talents and help them start pursuing their passions. It will help them grow into focused and driven adults. The magazine would be so attractive and entertaining while achieving all of these goals.

So, was that a crime? Yes, in fact, capital YES.

The Unforgettable Mistake

Sometimes when I look back, I can’t help but ask myself what planet I was operating from in those days. And I am talking about just five years ago.

C’mon, I was going into a business of magazine (hard copies), when publishers where at that time closing their businesses because of the disruption the website had brought. I mean, what was I thinking?

In 2013, only a handful of magazines had started doing online and it would have made sense for me to provide such laudable contents for teenagers online.

And that aside, what happened to asking questions, questions like:  who would buy a magazine with a fancy cover about teenagers and career? why  would buy such a magazine? what channel of distribution would I use, what would be the cost of production?etc.

I guess I was just too excited about the prospect of being called a Publisher-in-chief.

My parents who believed so much in me, supported me with their savings, and we finally published the magazine. Everyone who saw it loved it. Glossy, colorful and fancy looking. But guess how many copies of the magazine we sold? It is better guessed than said.

For many months, the bundles were constituting so much nuisance in my room that I had to share them among my family members so they could give to their visitors – if they cared to read.

Have you had a great laugh now? O.K., except you are just being kind. But trust me, you should laugh at me, in synopsis even. It is well deserved.

Needless to say I learnt from my mistakes. You should too. So here are specific lessons for you.

Lessons for you from my Mistakes

  1. Never be too excited at the prospect of being called an impressive title. Do your homework, make your research, know the trends, get marketing right, etc.
  2. Before you start any business, make sure you ask all the important questions. Who will buy these products or services? Why would they buy? How much will they be willing to pay? Would I make profit if they buy at that price, how many people would buy? How often would they buy? How do I sell to them (what channel)? Who are my competition? How profitable is the business? And many others.
  3. Don’t solve yesterday’s problems today, instead, focus on tomorrow problems today and stay ahead of time. Always be at per with new trends and technologies.

Courtesy demands that at this point, haven heard my secret story, you should contribute to this post. I have shard my experience, how about you tell me what lessons you have learnt?

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Meanwhile, I haven’t given up on my passion for young people or my writing interest, I don’t ever want to. I use my writing skills, talent and my precious time to help student entrepreneurs in Africa tell their stories through www.ideaslane.com

If you are student entrepreneur and would like share your story, CLICK HERE.

2 comments

  1. Great post! It resonates, as I plan to start a small business within a year. Thank you for sharing your insights

    Like

    • Wow! Am happy you found it useful. And I am really excited about your new business, I don’t know why but I just love people shooting their shots and trying out new waters . I wish you the very best in all your endeavors. Cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

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