Lessons from a failed lounge room startup

A mate of mine living in Amsterdam, was sick of being a highly paid IT contractor so he decided to start a business from his lounge room with his MacBook Air. Despite having no web design or development skills, it would be an online business. Nine months down the track he tells me how he went and what he learnt.

What were you doing before you went off on your own?

Working as a Contractor/Freelancer for IBM inside a Financial Institution working on Large complex transformation programs virtualizing Bank infrastructure. Wow that’s a mouthful. When people ask what I do I normally respond by saying I work in IT. It’s just easier because if I explain peoples eyes glaze over.

How much experience did you have building and running businesses?

Zero. Actually not true, i’d shoveled manure into bags and sold them by the side of the road as a kid. It was a bit shit, boom boom!

What was your motivation?

Working as a contractor has it’s upsides. You get paid more than the normal employee as you can be let go with 4 weeks notice but then today who can’t be? I saw and continue to see in business no real ceiling to your earning potential and have seen people who turnover $100,000 per day in their business. My other motivation was when I looked out the window of the bank into the car parking lot i didn’t ever see one Supercar out there and i wanted one and still do.

What businesses did you start?

I started with an online Glass wholesaling business. I created it because I thought I could do better than the business I bought glass from when I was renovating my house. Then while waiting for customers (mistake #1: build a website and they will come. They WONT. Not without you getting off your butt and getting out there).

I also started an iPhone repair company, got my supplier, vetted them, checked the margins – they were very good. What I didn’t count on was I just had made a job for myself and by any account I am my own worst boss, critical, bossy, driven, contemptuous. I stopped this business quickly when I realized that as soft as I was in my touch it was not soft enough for delicate iPhones and I also really really disliked it. Always good to check that out first about a business.

I also started an online business selling Argan Oil for hair, which is an oil that is outstanding that i import from Morocco. I love the product the most from all of these and everyone else who touches it says the same, how wonderful it is.

How did you go about it?

I taught myself WordPress by watching YouTube videos and following along. I bought a theme and I learned a lot about it, integrating e-commerce shopping carts and payment systems linked to my bank etc….. You think my background in IT would have helped and in some small ways it did but I really learnt a lot more by just doing it, after watching some videos on YouTube.

I learnt so much about importing I wrote an e-book which is for sale on Amazon about how to source suppliers in China, getting Gold verified-factory inspected suppliers with good products, how to negotiate on price, get samples, negotiate freight, returns, warranty, taxes and customs and then selling your products.

What was your greatest challenge?

Honestly, teaching myself how to build a form using Gravity Forms. I ended up knowing more about making online calculation forms than their support people and in the end figured it all out by myself which was agony and ecstasy. I didn’t just want to pay someone to make a website for me because I knew they would be back again and again for more payments as I needed things done. I really worked like 16-18 hours a day figuring things out and it was also fun. I learnt more than i ever did by watching TV. I learnt things about myself I never knew.

What was the greatest success?

Making the websites work. Getting the forms working. Really though the greatest success was in finding parts of myself that had been crushed by watching TV after working all day in the excuse of relaxation. We learn a whole lot more when we follow things that interest us.

What do you learn?

It doesn’t matter to me if I have to go back and take a job because I will always look for my way out of the system and i will never ever give in. For it is my goal to be free from the shackles of the system we are all enslaved into, the Matrix if you will.

The real piece of gold I learnt is that if I want to do something I can and I will find a way.

If there is an obstacle I never think oh I couldn’t do that. I ask instead HOW can I do that? Sometimes I go to sleep at night with a problem and toss and turn however I have learned to let go and during the night my mind works in the background and gives me solutions the next day in the most unexpected ways. You are more powerful than you will ever believe and have been created perfectly as a being, even if you were told you were not.

Do you regret the last nine months?

No. The only thing I would change is I would have got another job straight away and then do this work at night or on the weekend. But I don’t regret anything at all because all of life is perfection even when we think it’s not and it feels horrible, or sad. Remember the sky is always blue above the clouds and after all life is what you make of it.

Life is really what you make of it, mentally first by being and then doing. Design your day, week, month, years, life in your mind or let TV and other people design your life for you.

Ultimately the choice is totally up to you. You see there have been successful people rise from the most poverty stricken conditions to become some of the wealthiest. Uneducated people have become wealthy too just as educated people have and have not.

The only thing really stopping you at any point so get on your own team. Speak nicely about yourself and to yourself and to others because out of your mouth comes your life and your spirit. Be careful what you wish for because dreams with action do come true.

What’s next?

A job as I need like all of us money to live and prosper because that is where we are at this point in time of the human race. Also I have been looking into the payments, POS systems and the cash register systems. Fascinating these days to see iPads doing the job of cash registers however they are not cheaper at present. I’ve also asked Meraki, a company Cisco systems acquired for $1.2 Billion in CASH recently to sell their Networking equipment as they were a few MIT students doing a mesh networking project when they discovered Wifi network dropouts etc….and they made a new protocol and you can configure/manage devices from the dashboard and get BI stuff from their dashboard (Web based) and their AP(Access Points) are HUGE business, they work and they have some global brands using them. When they presented the whitepaper at Google on what they found out about Wifi and they could run it from one circuit board (actually it was a Photoshopped pic, not even real – though they knew it could be done). One of the guys at the Google presentation came up afterwards and ordered 1,000 of them on the spot. They told him the pic was Photoshopped but he knew they could do it and then they did.

I feel like i’m at a party and i just finished talking about what I love.

People, ideas, tech and things that just work…..Like I should be doing now.

Image credit: throughmyeyes

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