Lesson #1 I Wish I Knew Before I Started My First Business

I spent almost a year organizing my first business. I devoted all of my spare time and energy to important things like securing the product I’d be selling, and learning about who I was going to be selling it to. I invested an embarrassing amount of money. And then…

I discovered what I had to sell would not sell.

This is a hard learned lesson for many entrepreneurs who believe the important part of their business is the idea. The idea is important, to be certain. But there IS NO BUSINESS until you have a customer.

In most cases, priority number one should be to get the first sale as quickly as possible to prove the business concept you have has legs. If it doesn’t, all the planning and strategizing in the world won’t do you a bit of good.

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lee Crossley October 17, 2011 at 1:35 pm

This is sound advise, tricky when it comes to music though. I had a successful first single (which sold) and it’s difficult to follow that up!

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2 Nahum67 November 6, 2010 at 6:17 am

Avoid Analysis paralysis !!! … thanks 4 the tip.

Starting a business, for many entrepeneurs (like my btw), is like doing a jigsaw. But 1 thing is to plan what do you think they may want and other is what they want objectively.

I agree with this article. Anxiety is the result from “analysis paralysis”.. so you better watch out.

Is good to go fast forward to predict success but not so deeper to expect behaviors and reactions from your possible clients.

Thanks

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3 sonia August 20, 2009 at 4:37 am

I couldnt agree more. I have also been a victom of setting up a busniess without doing proepr market research. It frustrates you.

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4 Anonymous July 8, 2009 at 5:40 am

Terrific article, but the comments here suck!!

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5 Outdoor Display February 1, 2009 at 1:12 pm

Valuable information and excellent design you got here! I would like to thank you for sharing your thoughts and time into the stuff you post!! Thumbs upexhibeoutdoordisplays.com/”>Outdoor Display</a>

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6 Omar Kettani January 25, 2009 at 9:34 am

The problem is that planning and strategizing is built on a large number of assumptions, most of which are bad assumptions. As a result the expected outcome rarely materialize. It is very smart ,as the author of this post suggests, to mix planning with action simultaneously. The assumptions are tested and validated from the beginning. By getting the first customers before investing heavily, entrepreneurs can make sure that there is a real need for their products and that customers are willing to pay for the products. Entrepreneurship is more about taking calculated risks rather than about gambling.

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7 Leather Chesterfield January 3, 2009 at 4:50 pm

This is true that without customer there is no business. For this you need to attract people and also give them good service.

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8 Anonymous December 17, 2008 at 7:06 pm

I agree there is no business if there is no customer. That is why a business plan is a good idea, where you are forced to define your target market and establish market requirements upfront.

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9 Anonymous December 18, 2008 at 12:06 am

I agree there is no business if there is no customer. That is why a business plan is a good idea, where you are forced to define your target market and establish market requirements upfront.

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10 Anonymous December 12, 2008 at 11:51 pm

I work for a mortgage brokers, are biggest problem is the banks dont want to sell what they have. So now we have no lending and no borrowing.

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11 Anonymous December 13, 2008 at 4:51 am

I work for a mortgage brokers, are biggest problem is the banks dont want to sell what they have. So now we have no lending and no borrowing.

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12 Anonymous November 26, 2008 at 10:53 am

You do the cerebral work! Really admirable. Thanks for sharing with us.

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13 Anonymous November 26, 2008 at 3:53 pm

You do the cerebral work! Really admirable. Thanks for sharing with us.

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14 Anonymous July 30, 2008 at 12:54 pm

i’m agree. thanks!

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15 Anonymous July 30, 2008 at 5:54 pm

i’m agree. thanks!

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16 Anonymous July 28, 2008 at 8:12 pm

Really great blog with alot of good information!! Keep up the good work.

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17 Anonymous July 29, 2008 at 1:12 am

Really great blog with alot of good information!! Keep up the good work.

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18 Anonymous September 29, 2005 at 11:09 am

True, true…….a little marketing before launch is a great idea.
——-

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19 Anonymous September 29, 2005 at 4:09 pm

True, true…….a little marketing before launch is a great idea.——-

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20 Anonymous November 27, 2004 at 3:11 pm

Mind sharing what you first sold?
What if my first biz I want to offer a service?

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21 Anonymous November 24, 2004 at 5:11 pm

It is a Catch-22 situation. Your first Customer/Sale are extremely important and so are the preparations before the first sale. You have to be sufficiently prepared to serve the customer and execute the sale. If you include “how-to-sell” along with “what-to-sell” in your initial preparations, then your initial efforts are worth it.

I agree there is no business if there is no customer. That is why a business plan is a good idea, where you are forced to define your target market and establish market requirements upfront.

In spite of all the precautions, things can turn out to be different, but hey! isn’t business an opportunity to try out your risk-handling capabilities? smile

You are absolutely right about the fact, most entrepreneurs focus too much on the IDEA. Instead, they should keep idea in view while concentrating on other practical aspects of doing the business.

Oh by the way, I write a blog about running a “virtual” dotcom business, which does all the preparations that a real business would do, before selling the product/service. Currently I am writing about Business Plans. Check it out: http://businessworks.blogspot.com

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22 Anonymous November 24, 2004 at 10:11 pm

It is a Catch-22 situation. Your first Customer/Sale are extremely important and so are the preparations before the first sale. You have to be sufficiently prepared to serve the customer and execute the sale. If you include “how-to-sell” along with “what-to-sell” in your initial preparations, then your initial efforts are worth it.
I agree there is no business if there is no customer. That is why a business plan is a good idea, where you are forced to define your target market and establish market requirements upfront.
In spite of all the precautions, things can turn out to be different, but hey! isn’t business an opportunity to try out your risk-handling capabilities?
You are absolutely right about the fact, most entrepreneurs focus too much on the IDEA. Instead, they should keep idea in view while concentrating on other practical aspects of doing the business.
Oh by the way, I write a blog about running a “virtual” dotcom business, which does all the preparations that a real business would do, before selling the product/service. Currently I am writing about Business Plans. Check it out: http://businessworks.blogspot.com

Reply

23 Anonymous November 23, 2004 at 5:11 pm

Until You Get A Sale, Nothing Else Matters
Michael Cage: “This is a hard learned lesson for many entrepreneurs who believe the important part of their business is the idea. The idea is important, to be certain. But there IS NO BUSINESS until you have a customer. In…

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24 Anonymous November 23, 2004 at 10:11 pm

Until You Get A Sale, Nothing Else Matters
Michael Cage: “This is a hard learned lesson for many entrepreneurs who believe the important part of their business is the idea. The idea is important, to be certain. But there IS NO BUSINESS until you have a customer. In…

Reply

25 Anonymous November 23, 2004 at 1:11 pm

Michael—

You are so right! And you’re not alone. Way too many small business owners (or wannabes) come up with a fantastic idea that they spend hours and money on to get ready to sell and once they take it to market, it’s a flop.

Most of them miss the all important step of market research. And many ignore the advice that we should listen to our market crying out for a product and then provide that product rather than the other way around.

Best of success!

Denise O’Berry

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26 Anonymous November 23, 2004 at 6:11 pm

Michael—
You are so right! And you’re not alone. Way too many small business owners (or wannabes) come up with a fantastic idea that they spend hours and money on to get ready to sell and once they take it to market, it’s a flop.
Most of them miss the all important step of market research. And many ignore the advice that we should listen to our market crying out for a product and then provide that product rather than the other way around.
Best of success!
Denise O’Berry

Reply

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