5 Lessons Learned Starting a Business
May 3, 2010
My friend and his wife started their own consignment sale business this year and held their first sale this spring. We caught up with them last weekend for the first time since the sale and as we talked about what they’d learned from starting a business I asked if they could share some of thier lessons learned.
Of course, when you start a business there are many things you learn about as you go, but these are some of the ones that stuck out in their minds.
Don’t Underestimate Start Up Costs & Time Required
I was thinking early on that a consignment sale business was the perfect way to make extra money. No inventory to keep a hold of, only work a couple weeks out of the year.
Unfortunately, the start up costs were double what I thought they would be. We made about as much as I thought we would for our first sale but not enough to cover up the start up costs.
Also, the time it took to get it up and running was incredible. There were so many things that kept popping up that made it impossible to get good rest and the lack of sleep really took it’s toll.
Study Small Business Marketing
I don’t have a background in marketing and could have done more to attract customers. I thought I would be fending people off to come shop our sale so I focused soley on getting consignors to list items for sale up until the final week.
We did a decent job attracting customers via word of mouth through our personal network but we were still left wondering “Where are the shoppers? Who wouldn’t want a good deal?”
Our location probably had something to do with it but the lack of marketing to shoppers was definitely a big part of it.
Beware Burn Out
You can only work 16 hours a day for so long. Even since the sale has been over, I’m having some major motivation problems to focus in on the next sale. The parts of the business are all in place now. The web site is built, the point of sale system is in place, etc but I’m having a hard time gearing up for the next one.
Hopefully I’ll be over this hurdle soon. Also, maybe the year we had twins wasn’t the best time to start a business venture like this. (Editor’s Note, I imagine doing anything with twin babies would be exhausting, let alone starting a business!)
Location, Location, Location
We picked an older building for the cheaper rate. In hindsight it was a bad decision and we had many, many complaints. Next time we’ll find a better location to hold the sale.
The Value of a Dollar
When you’re an employee you don’t always appreciate what it takes to earn a dollar. As long as you go to work each week your paycheck shows up in your bank account.
When you start your own business you have to earn every penny. At one point in the sale I took money for 3 hours straight, I thought for sure we were making money enough that day to cover start up costs. Unfortunately, it wasn’t close but it did make me appreciate how long it can take those dollar to add up.
We hit some roadblocks along the way but we certainly learned a lot. Although starting our own businesss was exhausting, I’d do it again but this time learn from these lessons and make better decisions.
All posts by Ben Edwards