- Startup Diary: How to Not F* Up Your Business
As the CEO of glamLIFE Brands for the past nine years I’ve gotten lots of start-up questions. While the details differ, it’s always the same question:
How do I not F* it up???
At the end of the day, that’s really what it all boils down to. How do we succeed in business?
Since we’re keeping things simple here, I have a very simple answer: Trust your instincts.
I can honestly tell you, the only times I’ve made a true screw-up with my business has been when I didn’t trust my instincts.
Case & Point: Fall 2007, our sales were skyrocketing and I needed to scale quickly. I was overwhelmed and unsure how to handle it all. In desperation, I opted to take in the advice of seasoned “experts” in my field. Their advice?
Build your operations for where your company will be five years from now, not where it is today.
The “you’ll grow into it” approach. In particular, this meant investing in a costly enterprise management system designed for complex transactions and much larger corporations. My instincts begged to differ. I felt I should focus on building operational stepping stones to handle the potential growth, not just assume it as a given. However, the fancy new system was deliciously tempting. It had all the bells and whistles I needed, a flashy dashboard that reminded me of a stealth bomber cockpit, and I certainly felt like one of the “big boys” when I mentioned my new set-up. I could be BIG TIME! “This” could SOLVE all my problems, right???
I was officially $25K lighter.
As the ink dried my stomach turned. That sinking feeling quickly stung as I was slapped up side the head with buyer’s remorse. Sigh. I forced myself to “give it a chance” and tried to embrace the change with an open mind. I convinced myself it was for the best and that I would “make sure I got my money’s worth.”
That optimism soon faded as the recession engulfed the economy and my sales plummeted. By the time I had even figured out how to use the new software, I had already lost half of my customers to bankruptcy. I was forced to acknowledge what I knew all along, the system was a naive and knee-jerk reaction to normal business growing pains.
Fast forward: I managed to survive the blunder by liquidating excess inventory, scaling back overhead, and creating a lower priced offering to reach new customers. While I survived the year, I certainly didn’t thrive and my profit margins took the hit.
All in all, it was a valuable lesson learned. Never again would I ignore my instincts.
Bottom line: You know your business and yourself better than any “expert”.
Have a story to share? Question for Heather? Drop a line in the comments below!