Most Essential Step to Starting a Small Business is Failure

In the Steps to Starting a Small Business series, I’ve covered a lot of information you need to know if you’re planning to start a small business.  However in my enthusiasm, I left out the most IMPORTANT step in starting a small business.

Sometimes – the path to creating a successful business is paved with past failures!

Allow me to share a real life success story.  The story begins with the familiar tale of a prospective business owner who is waiting for his/her idea to be honed to “perfection” before taking the giant leap of starting a business..

Cath Lawson is a serial entrepreneur who shares her “been there, done that” wisdom on her blog and in the recent  post 10 Life and Business Lessons she advises that you act upon your great ideas immediately – don’t wait for them to become “perfect” in theory!

In what has to be one of the best posts of 2008, Jason Cohen shares what has to be the wisdom of the ages in Your idea sucks, now go do it anyway, with the following line:

Here’s a newsflash: Your idea probably sucks, and it doesn’t matter because your business will probably be about something completely different

I understand that telling someone that their business idea sucks is along the lines of telling a new mother that her baby is ugly.  However,  if you’re wanting to start your own small business you will save yourself a lot of time, effort and frustration if you embrace this truthas you begin your journey to starting a business:


Chances are – if this is your first attempt at starting a business -you’re going to fail.  Even if it’s it’s not your first attempt – you still may fail.  It’s OK.  Embrace it.  Because in the course of your failure- you’re going to learn A LOT about what to do – and not to do- as you start a business.

If you don’t like failure (and who does?) you can pick up some advice from others who have been there done that – like Naomi Dunford in her Online Business School course.  See that’s the “magic” in the whole e-learning arena.  Someone falls down, gets his or her proverbial nose bloodied a few times and lives to share what he or she has learned.  You can learn from their experience by paying a few shekels and picking up a copy of the shared wisdom.

Can you learn to create a successful blog without my 8 Week Power Blog Launch course?  Of COURSE you can!  However, picking up a copy of the course is probably the quickest and easiest way to come up to speed on learning the basics of blogging.

However, there comes a point where you have to put down the books and start taking the steps to start your small business.  A great place to begin is to embrace the fact that your original business idea will probably bear little resemblance to the final form your business will eventually take.

When you launch your product or service, the market is going to respond.  Your reaction to that response is going to determine the next step in the evolution of your business.

I’ve written before about my original “vision” for supporting my blog clients.  My original “vision” was creating online videos.  Know what I quickly discovered?  My clients want written words that they can print out – set on their laps and read as they go along.  Believe me, online video tutorials are a LOT easier to create than ebooks -but my clients hate them.  Come to think of it – so do I.

Jason Falls writes about a successful product launch in “Is The Future Of Advertising Public Relations?”  Notice, the product was sent to bloggers without an “stipulations”.  One thing about bloggers – they don’t respond well to ‘manipulation techniques’.  Web 2.0 is all about authenticity and had the product been a dud – the bloggers would have let Jason’s client know it with scathing reviews.

Which is probably why you should “wait” to solicit reviews from bloggers and other social media outlets until you’ve done quite a bit of beta testing.

Beta testing – where you test your product or service out on REAL people and find out EXACTLY what they think of your business idea.

See, one of the best kept small business success secrets is to defeat doubt.  Doubt can be a good thing.  It can keep you from submitting a flawed product to powerful bloggers who reduce your fledgling business to dust.

The greatest business idea in the world can be reduced to dust if self doubt is allowed to run rampant but on the other hand, that doubt can be a driving force towards business evolution.

One way to inflate self doubt is to begin “shopping” your idea to family and friends for their advice. If your family and friends are your greatest cheerleaders and/or potential customers for your new product then seeking their input is a GREAT idea. Unfortunately, if your family and friends aren’t part of your ultimate target audience, their opinion may be entirely irrelevant.

Remember that some of the most successful businesses around today began as an idea that bears little resemblance to the final (successful) version of that business.  That’s because great businesses evolve  as the result of lateral thinkingMarelisa writes on her blog:

Edward de Bono … coined the phrase “lateral thinking” which involves approaching problems from diverse, unexpected angles and from different perspectives. Dr. de Bono meant to differentiate lateral thinking–in which you nudge the mind to make sudden turns– from vertical thinking, which is logical and sequential thinking.

See, lateral thinking doesn’t just happen at the outset of your business idea.  The best business ideas usually have several “incarnations” before they achieve their final state of being.

If, in the immortal words of Tom Volkar,  you want to kick some marketplace ass (read the whole post – it’s inspiring!)- get ready to take a few punches to the face when you step into the ring

Finally- it’s ultimately important to recognize that business success doesn’t lie in product development – it lies in marketing of that product or service.

Lynn Terry has a great blog post “Content vs Marketing” with some outstanding examples of crappy content that has succeeded thanks to great marketing.  She offers some great examples of where great marketing made average or even inferior products run away successes!!!

It’s so common to get caught up in the pursuit of the “perfect” business idea.  As if somehow, business success lies in the idea instead of the execution of the idea.

If you’ve already taken the leap, how closely does your current business mirror the original “business idea”?

If you haven’t, are you waiting for the perfect business idea to start your business?