Robert Kiyosaki once said “9 out of 10 businesses fail” – most people would look at that and think “well that’s terrible!” … but I didn’t. I thought “great! I only need to create 10 businesses then, and I’ll be done!” … and that’s what I did. (My number was a bit bigger than 10 though but let’s leave that story for another day).
The thing with this is …. You will learn A LOT along the way, and what you learn you can implement as you go.
With each business I improved.
I had a children’s shoe store. It was a start up. We started out too big too fast. I did not manage the costs well. It was painful and I learned A LOT!
The next time I thought I would buy an existing business. It was a lot smaller. I spent more time focussing on the costs, really understanding how much every individual item cost and how much profit I made. That went well but I soon got pregnant with my second child and couldn’t manage the physical side of the business. (It was a mobile juice bar and I couldn’t handle lugging crates of oranges and apples around with a big belly so that was the end of that).
Then I went into online businesses. With the previous two we lacked customers, so my partner Paul and I thought an Amazon FBA store would be perfect. I wouldn’t have to struggle to get customers because Amazon was amazing right?! Who didn’t love Amazon? Oh how wrong I was … one had to pay to be seen and the competition was high. Selling party supply kits was not our passion and so we got out of that one 6 months after we started it. Lesson learned: Don’t get into a product because it looks good on paper – you really need to LOVE it to make it successful.
We loved online businesses so thought we would get into Dropshipping. Again, using numbers to determine our products was a mistake. We had supplier delivery issues and struggled to meet the high expectations of our customers. Soon after we started that one, we decided it wasn’t for us.
My family comes from the Pacific Islands. To be specific – Tonga. Tongans are HUGELY passionate about sport. I have never been a big sports fan but I knew enough to understand that when Tonga’s rugby team plays the ENTIRE COUNTRY gets behind them to support them. I mean, the stadium will be packed with a sea of red and white flags. Seeing my family gear up and get ready for these games was unreal. I mean, they went ALL OUT! Red wigs, red & white clothes, the face paint, you name it. Everyone would either be waving a flag or wearing one tied around their necks. Being one for innovation I did some research and found a place overseas that made “cape flags” – flags with arms sewn into them so people could wear them and have their hands free for beer drinking and hand held flag waving.
What could be more perfect?! So Paul and I set out to design and manufacture hundreds of cape flags. We sold them too, but not the way we thought.
You see … we had been used to selling online. We knew it well and could stand up a website in a day, fully functional to take payment.
What we didn’t bank on was the way Tongans do business. They do not trust buying online. Oh no… that is NOT the way forward. Everything is managed by the all might dollar. Hard cold cash. From hand to hand. Old school. There would be no online transactions, no deliveries. Only hand to hand sales.
But it gets worse … these customers would expect you to meet them for delivery. Or want to come to your house! Uh oh … that was never part of the fulfilment plan!
We found ourselves going to meet people in malls, in car parks, at the local grocery store … my poor mother would meet relatives of relatives at their houses. It was absolute madness.
As time went on we got closer and closer to a big game that was coming up. I knew there was not going to be another one for 6 months and I didn’t want to hold onto my cape flags any longer…. So we bit the bullet and booked a stall at the most frequented flea market in the city.
We had to change our model. We now needed cash (for a change), signage, and a table to distribute our cape flags. Oh boy did we pivot fast. I quickly made up a banner and had it printed and laminated. We bought two fold up tables and a gazebo, got a bunch of cash from the bank for change and headed out early to start selling.
Our first week was ok, but not great. I started to wonder if this really was a good idea or not, but we went back the next week and sold more.
The third week was the day of the game. Paul and I had agreed to take shifts so one of us could sleep in. That day he went and set up. We sold out so fast I received a call from him at 8 am saying “hurry up, we need more supplies now, can you bring some more from home – like NOW?!” So I raced out and took everything we had. It was stressful finding a park because the place was so packed.
We ended up selling the display flag on the table and the ones on our backs by 11am. It was crazy. It was very cool going to the game that night seeing people with our cape flags on.
By the time we got into our current business we had learned how to:
- Manage costs
- Understand distribution
- Understand how to select a product
- Learn more about your ideal customer, how they think and want to do business
- Understand pricing and how to package products to sell
All of these lessons were learned along the way. So when Robert Kiyosaki says 9 out of 10 businesses fail, he is right. It’s the learning along the way that is important.
If I hadn’t done all of those previous businesses, I would not know the things I do today. Now I teach others how to have a profitable business.
Colleen is a Funnel Strategist & Business Mentor helping driven coaches wanting to create a freedom business with uncapped revenue and massive impact without having to work more.
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