Thursday, October 21, 2010

Breaking through the Platitudes

Even the SBA likes to spread the rumor: Most startup businesses "fail" within the first five years. You've heard that, right? From the web, from your well-meaning friends, from your family.

This oft-repeated platitude has no doubt discouraged 1,000's of hopeful entreprenuers from making the leap towards self-employment and for this reason I consider it a bit evil.

The nay-sayers tell you that it is a lack of experience, money or sales that shut down 50% off all start-ups in the first five years. Umm. Yeah. That's kind of like advising a new bike-rider to stay in their seat and keep their feet on the pedals. We all kind of know that, don't we? No experience, no money, no sales = poor likelihood of success.

I haven't seen a lot of failures in my 15 years of entrepreneurship. What I have seen is my competitiors and business asssociates closing shop (not "failing"), and mostly due to personal reasons. Typically health (a sudden illness in the family or an inability to sustain the energy level it takes to run a business) or a family crisis (a divorce or a need to focus on the children).

This year I mourn/celebrate the loss of several well-established and successful businesses: Mineral Basics (finished mineral makeup) Aromaleigh (finished mineral makeup) and Southern Soapers (soapmaking supplies). Mourn because I know these women worked hard to build their companies and closing is bound to feel a bit like falling, celebrate because I know once they hit the ground they will pick the pebbles from their knees and get back up.

When you are young and dating, five years is a long time to be in a relationship that doesn't work.

When you are in college, five years is plenty of time to go from innocence to education.

When you work at a company, five years is a long time to be in one job, no question.

So here is my point: who cares if most businesses change (close) within five years. So do most relationships, schooling and jobs.

If you are thinking about starting a business and get stuck on the fear that your business will become a statistic, get over it. Starting a business, building a business and closing that business within five years is not a failure, it is an adventure, one that you will learn from and build on. Go for it!

Sunday, October 03, 2010

TKB's Big Pour, the quick recap

I'm not going to say our "Big Pour" event was particularly easy to host -- it was a huge distraction from our usual daily routine and I've got lots of catching up to do.

I'm also not going to boast that it was a lucrative & smart business move -- prices were pretty low and in some cases flat out loss leaders. Next time around I'll need to shop smarter.

What I am going to say is that after 12 years of standing toe-to-toe 50 hours a week pulling, packing, and generally running an online business with no public face, Van and I got to see 100 folks walk into our warehouse with smiles on their faces and stories to tell. It was a juicy, most welcome buzz.

We're doing it again, for sure. First Saturday in November.

I'll blog more on what we learned from this event. I've got lots of thoughts about how we can continue to connect with local people in a way which energizes all of us to be more successful and creative.

For now, I get an afternoon of relaxing. Maybe a hot chocolate in my future?