As every start-up and business entrepreneur knows through their own experiences and business is that in order to grow there will be failures along the way. Peta Shulman, founder of GoodnessMe Box shares what she has learnt from her business venture.
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In the past 4 years, I’ve launched a start-up, turned that start-up into a fully-fledged operation overnight, grown it to Australia’s largest health food sampling business, worked with over 600 companies, sampled over 1.5 million products and fostered a community of hundreds of thousands of health food lovers who have provided us with over 80,000 reviews. It’s been exciting, exhausting, challenging and incredibly satisfying, and I’ve learnt a lot along the way. I’ve also failed at times, too, and those failures have taught me just as much as my successes.
These are five failures – or lessons, as I like to think of them! – that may help your business to grow and move forward. They did for me.
1. Targeting an audience that’s too broad
If you’ve failed to capture audience attention, it could be that you cast too wide a net. As a business selling a specialised product, I discovered that there’s value in niche marketing. Often, it’s more effective to focus on finding your evangelists: those people who are going to sample, review and most importantly, promote your product. Those who are going to wax lyrical about it to anyone who will listen (the dream!). Passionate customers are the best kind of customers. They’ll end up doing the bulk of the marketing for your business. Pour most of your time and resources into them, rather than trying to please the masses, and it’ll pay off in sales.
2. Closing yourself off
It isn’t easy to run a business. Far from it. It’s even harder when you’re the owner and manager rolled into one: you’re the decision-maker, the person everyone else turns to with their questions. It can be tempting to pretend that everything’s perfect, from your business to how you’re handling it. But vulnerability is liberating. When you’re faced with hurdles, when you’ve passed those hurdles, or whenever the time is right for you, share your story. Share your business highs and lows, and strengthen that connection with your audience – and maybe even help another business owner in your position! Transparency creates credibility, and the story behind your business is not only valuable, but it’s key in today’s landscape.
3. Hiring the wrong person for the team
As your team grows, this is bound to happen. Like any relationship, you realise what you need when you figure out what you don’t need. Know your strengths and weaknesses, along with the other people in your team, so you can hire accordingly. I always say this: surround yourself with experts. For your business to succeed, for your idea to turn into reality, you have to be around people who have expertise you don’t have. Hire people who are the best at what they do, and your business will thrive tenfold. Remember, you don’t need to be the smartest person in the room.
4. Not trusting your gut
Let me explain. Have you ever kicked yourself because you should have listened to that little voice in your head? Or because you should have paid attention to the red flags that popped up in your mind? The more that happens, the more you’ll realise the value in trusting your gut. Tuning into your intuition will lead to some of the best decisions you’ll make for your business. You can trust me on that!
5. Knowing when to stop
A huge part of business is experimenting. What works? Its best to review your initiatives into three categories: stop, start and keep going. While it’s important to know when to launch something, and when to continue with it, in my opinion it’s even more important to know when to stop. We assess this monthly, and it’s worth doing the same for your business – whatever it may be. What isn’t cost-effective? What’s draining resources? What isn’t working as well as it should? What are you wasting time on? What is not helping the business reach its short- and long-term goals? Sometimes, when you think about the big picture, you realise that you’re better off stopping and cutting your losses. Calling quits may be perceived as a failure, but it’s not. Really, it can propel your business in a better direction.
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