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I wish I can say I am one of those lucky people, whose business ventures are all successful and everything just seems to work out in their favor. Unfortunately, I cannot.
From my experience, failure is part of the entrepreneurial journey. It is just part of the process.
As much due diligence and preparation work that I try to put in, sometimes things just don’t work out as planned.
Fortunately, it has not been all failures for me and I have had some success along the way. There have been times that things work out exactly as I had expected and once in awhile, things have gone even better than I could have hoped.
Let’s take a look at some of my past business ventures and see how things turned out for me. There were others, but these were the ones that I spent the most time, energy, and money on.
Awhile back, I had this idea that I can sell customized t-shirts with funny sayings.
I got the idea when I was working out at the gym and had pulled a muscle while I was lifting. Since I was a bit overweight and nowhere as muscular as some of my friends, I was a little embarrassed to say I had pulled a muscle. For whatever reason, I ended up yelling out “I think I pulled a fat” instead and everyone around me started laughing hysterically.
Since customized t-shirts were really popular at that time, I figured all I had to do was come up with some more funny sayings, have the t-shirts printed, and that would be my business.
So I set up an online store on CafePress.com, a website that provided the t-shirts (along with other apparels and customizable accessories), the printing services, and the store hosting services on their domain. After a couple of months of marketing and competing with others on the site with similar ideas and phrases, I had zero sales and decided to move onto other ideas.
When my financial situation was at its worst, I decided to sell some of my things on eBay in order to put some money in my pocket. I sold my GPS navigation system, video game consoles, and video games on eBay. It was a sad time for me as those were my most treasured possessions at the time. What made it worse was I sold them all for a loss.
From my newfound knowledge on how to sell things on eBay, I wanted to see if I would be able to make money off of it. And so, I started going to local flea markets, garage sales, and liquidation stores to look for products to buy for cheap and sell on eBay for a profit.
It didn’t take too long for me to be successful and I was able to make a few thousand dollars in profit in just a couple of months. However, I decided to call it quits after a year even though I was still making money.
My main issue was the inconsistency in products. Since I was dealing with close-out items (which allowed me to get the products cheap enough to make a profit), it was difficult to find things that would sell on eBay on a regular basis. My other issue was the significant amount of time it took to complete the whole process – looking for the products, the prep work to list the items on eBay, and fulfilling and shipping out the orders.
Before I got into the business, I had no idea what was retail packaging or that it even existed .
What is retail packaging?
Retail packaging is the material by which a product or item is wrapped in or packaged in for it to be sold in a retail environment. Some examples of retail packaging are product boxes, tissue paper, ribbons, and shopping bags.
So how did I get into that business?
I was looking for my next business venture and could not figure out what kind of business I wanted to get into.
My then girlfriend (now wife) was working for a boutique designer jewelry company and had mentioned to me that the company was overpaying for their retail packaging materials from local retail stores.
From my past experience dealing with wholesalers and distributors, I knew that I might be able to get that cost down for her employer as long they had enough volume in a year for me to buy the inventory upfront. It turned out they did and so I got into the retail packaging business with two of my buddies.
Because of the opportunity, we were successful and profitable from the start. As we started to learn more about the industry, we started to expand our product line and services, obtain new clients, and grow our business.
Unfortunately, we only lasted for 3 years since our infighting ultimately led to our company’s demise. My partners and I were just too different when it came to business styles and personalities. We also had vastly different opinions on the direction for the company. As an attempt to save our friendship, we agreed it would be better to dissolve the company and walk away with the profits split evenly.
Party Favors and Accessories
After the retail packaging business, I was once again looking for my next business venture. And once again, it was my then girlfriend (now wife) to the rescue. This time, it was a business that she wanted to get into.
We partnered up and started an online business selling party favors and accessories such as personalized coasters, picture frames, place card holders, and table centerpieces – mainly for bridal showers, weddings, and baby showers.
It was slow going at the beginning and we were operating at a loss for a period of time but business finally started to pick up once we implemented a good marketing strategy, SEO practices, and improved on our customer service and support.
This business proved to be my online business boot camp. It taught me so much – how to grow a site’s online traffic, how to start and maintain a company’s blog, how to calculate and factor in shipping costs, how to best incorporate dropshipping into our business model, and many many more lessons.
Although our business was successful and profitable, we decided to close after 4 and a half years of being in operation. We noticed the gradual decline in sales and realized the industry was starting to shift. People were moving away from the traditional party favors and accessories and going for a more DIY (Do It Yourself) approach instead. We decided to get out while we were still profitable and when we were not holding too much inventory.
Onto the Next
Regardless of how badly you failed, it is important to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, learn from what you did wrong, and keep moving forward.
We cannot really fail unless we give up completely. As long as we keep trying, we are still in the game and still have a chance to succeed.
Just need to take one step at a time and move onto the next thing.