Over the course of my career, I’ve started 15-20 entrepreneurial businesses (most of which failed). Fortunately, I’ve never made the same mistake twice. So, on a surface level, it would therefore seem that each business failed for a different reason. In hindsight, I’ve learned they all failed for the same reason. The universal cause for my early entrepreneurial failures were from a lack of execution. The symptoms of those causes were some form of a lack of resources (whether it was financial, human, technology, etc.). Working with dozens of entrepreneurs over the years has also shown me that there is nothing unique about my experiences. Every business idea I’ve heard could have worked, but most didn’t. Lack of execution is what they all had in common. This is why I now tell every entrepreneur I meet the following: “There are no bad business ideas, just badly executed businesses”.
Let me tell you about one of my earliest entrepreneurial failures. Anyone who knows me, knows I’m an audiophile. Music has been an integral part of my life for as long as I can remember. At one point in my life, I would buy so much music on a regular basis, that employees in record stores that I frequented just assumed I was in the recording industry. Traveling the world as a military brat exposed me to all types of cultures and music, so I grew up listening to a little bit of everything (but I’ve always had a fond affection for jazz music). At the age of 25, I came up with what I thought was a brilliant idea to promote jazz music. So, with a business partner, I formed a company that would promote upscale jazz music events in the New York City metropolitan area. On Friday evenings, we would host our events at local private country clubs (with valet parking included), hire our jazz music idols to perform 2-3 sets, serve dinner (catered by my mother; thanks Mom!), provide an open bar, and hire a disc jockey (so attendees could dance the night away, after the jazz musicians had finished their final set). Our events were very well received, and attendance grew from week to week. Unfortunately, we didn’t anticipate how long it would take to reach our business break-even point, and ultimately ran out of money (Cause = Poor Execution of Financial Planning). The good news is that this venture led to my second music related entrepreneurial venture, which ended up being a success!
Now that I’ve opened up and shared one of my personal failures, I don’t feel so bad sharing similar experiences of other entrepreneurs. Following is a link to a great article, called “Entrepreneurs first failed business ideas”: https://www.businessideainsight.com/blog/entrepreneurs-first-failed-business-ideas/. In this article, Mike Nesselbeck provides 30 examples of business fails (all due to poor execution of some sort). Okay, I feel better now!
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