I Made These Mistakes With My Business So You Don’t Have To: Part 2

make mistakesIn my last post, I dove deep into the number one mistake I have made in business, leaving four more to cover in this article.

Here are the five business mistakes I’ve already made, to remind us about not making them:

Mistake #1: The one where I do a bunch of stuff I’m not good at
Mistake #2: The one where I have a great product but it never reaches its big market
Mistake #3: The one where I’m feeling desperate and exhausted so I bail too soon
Mistake #4: The one where I start a blog, not a business
Mistake #5: The one where I keep thinking my writing/knowledge/skill is enough

If you haven’t read about Mistake #1 yet, you might want to. The drama dates back to about 25 years ago, when I partnered in a business with my husband and a friend, who had invented a safety baseball, on which we went all in, and that business ended up failing causing us to go personally bankrupt.

Even if you don’t like sad stories like that, it’s a worthwhile read. I’m kind of a role model for what can go wrong when we small business people and entrepreneurs try to do everything ourselves. And how even if we’re quite talented with stellar ideas and the skills to do it all, we wouldn’t be able to do it all very well.

Like I always say, there’s only 100% of you. So you can’t be 50% R&D, 50% designer, 50% writer, 50% accountant and expect to stay 50% healthy. Cuz that’s 250% of you and you haven’t even walked the dog or called your mom yet.

So let’s get on with the rest of the list, shall we?

Mistake #2: The one where I have a great product but it never reaches its big market

Handily, my Mistake #2 is also revealed in my story for Mistake #1. So again, I’d say freshen your memory on that one if you haven’t done so yet. That our safety baseball never reached its big market (the worldwide youth baseball market) feels like a pretty tragic miss. Not only is baseball America’s pastime, it’s also pretty big in South America and Asia, too.

On top of that, the ball’s limited flight characteristics made it a viable piece of equipment, PLUS a fun neighborhood game, just about anywhere: indeed, it was invented in an industrial area parking lot filled with cars and windows. So, where land is at a premium, baseball diamonds are harder to accommodate.

At first it seemed the world was our diamond.

But we hardly reached any of those many, many people. It’s a complex story of distributorships and manufacturer’s reps, packaging and shelf space, baseball traditionalists and cronyism… oh yeah, and our lack of sales support. Make that sales people. Ok. Sales. In general.

If only there had been a world wide web* on which to show pictures of the ball, talk about its unique features and benefits, or show videos of happy kids playing in sandlots and backyards, as well as practicing indoors year-round, with our awesome baseballs.

I know I’m not alone on this one, though. So many of us entrepreneurs have much more potential than we ever tap.

*That one’s not my fault. :-)
We have much greater opportunities with our business websites now. Even little ones.
Take-away from this mistake: talk to as big of an audience as you can about why they want your thing. Alternate analogy: Your lemonade stand needs more than your little brother as customers. Put up signs. And place yourself on a well-travelled street.

Mistake #3: The one where I’m feeling desperate and exhausted so I bail too soon

Several years ago, when blogging became kind of a big deal, I started a blog on which I hoped to give away all my ideas for businesses that I could not bring to market, let alone success. It was called something like Big Ideas for Free or Free Ideas for whatnot.

See, I can’t even remember, because that, too, didn’t amount to much. I had a fitness studio and two novels in the works at the time, plus I knew so little about blogging or how to market a small website. Plus my mom got sick. Oh gosh, that’s right, I forgot. I then started another blog called F%&# You, Cancer.

I think I have files on three or four businesses that I barely got off the ground, which had a lot of promise, but I couldn’t find the time, energy, know-how, capital, etc., to make them work. It’s too bad. Because I’m good at thinking up stuff.

Take-away: Got something good, and you know it? Then pick one thing that will get you the farthest and give it your all. Never mind that I also started a blog called Project Pick One Thing.

Mistake #4: The one where I start a blog, not a business

Ugh, these are all really tying together now, aren’t they? I’ve had quite the learning curve.

About this mistake. I’m okay with it, when we do it on purpose. It’s not the end of the world to write on a blog for fun and expression, not money. In fact, the blogosphere is your oyster. Go ahead and enjoy. If you can, serve somebody while you’re at it.

But if you want to make money, you typically can’t do it through a blog alone. There are umpteen hundred million of the things. Those that generate revenue are more than blogs, they are businesses. They have readers who buy things (also known as customers) or companies who pay for advertising, or links to products that generate commissions, or something.

So, yeah, I’ve had a lot of blogs. And a lot of businesses. The cool thing is you can combine the two and voila, each can make the other one bigger, better, more worthwhile.

Take-away: I wrote The Top 3 Reasons Why Your Blog is not a Business Yet a while back, on this very topic. Check it out you are wondering whether your blog can become a business or whether your business should have a blog.

Mistake #5: The one where I keep thinking my writing/knowledge/skill is enough

Ouch. Going for complete honesty here. In case you ever wonder, get confused, or feel down about this one, like I have. You have permission to question, “Why, Faith, would you say it’s a mistake to keep thinking what you have is enough?”

We are hard workers, aren’t we? We are intelligent people, right?

We read, explore, communicate, investigate, invest, don’t we? Why shouldn’t we believe what we know or do is enough?

We go deep into our audience’s mindset, the market landscape, the past history of the people who are in real need of what we have to offer.

We try so hard. We produce excellence!

And still, it’s not enough to make us good at building a successful business?

What then, is missing?

Well…I dunno!
It could be something as simple as time or fate, or as mysterious as luck or economics.

Heck, in my little safety baseball story we might say it could have been the political coup in Haiti or the Gulf War in Kuwait. there were surely detrimental effect. Who really knows what and where any tipping point will be?

Takeaway: No one, not even the so-called 1%, is enough, knows enough, or has enough to build success on their own without other factors and other people to figure in. We can all stop thinking that’s a thing, once and for all. There is no 1% without the other 99%, anyway.

Conclusion: Always Make New Mistakes

Never stop learning.
Make friends in business.
Find people who do good work for a fair price.
BE good people who do good work for a fair price.
Develop relationships with peers where you all pitch in extra because you believe. And care.
Create something special, provide something essential, or deliver something that is just right. Overdeliver.

Find a well-travelled street and put up signs – clear readable signs – especially on the internet, where you might be able to help someone just around the corner or on a tiny island nation far away.

Think happy thoughts.  Pick one thing. Believe in yourself.
Minimize your time spent on doing unimportant things. Plato said: “Practice dying.”
Be willing to be complex and vulnerable, or simple and bold. Be authentic
Teach others what you’ve learned. Do whatever works.

Oh, and walk the dog and call your mom. Because NONE of that will be a mistake….

Thank you for your companionship on this little website. I so appreciate your time and attention. Please write me anytime, with any question you might have: faithw[at]pentozen[dot]com

And check out my latest proud products, where I’m trying not to make old mistakes:

Make a Tiny Website (Get a nice little site up on Squarespace with this step-by-step guidebook)
52 Permission Slips (Calm down, free up & live happy—helpful Permission Slips free to your Inbox each week)

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