Lessons Learnt From My Failed Startups

Published: Tuesday October 13, 2020

I launched my first startup when I was still an undergraduate in my early 20s. It failed. Went on to start a couple of more. Still failed. Here are some of my lessons learnt.

1# Acquire Skills

Although I studied business, most of my business and personal knowledge comes from being on the ground and learning the hard way. Picked up programming, telesales, SEO, marketing and many other useful skillsets. These are not the traditional skills you see on the summary of a degree course in business. Focus on practical skills that are needed to make money.

2# Cash Is King

I was cash strapped most of the time as my startup was bootstrapped. Although I did not lose much, I burnt thousands of dollars in the process. You should find sources of capital first. Like incubators, government grants and such. Cash is king.

3# Be Ready To Fail

I wasn’t ready. I thought I was but I wasn’t. I have invested quite a lot in this endeavour and seeing how your ship sinks sucks. 9 out of 10 startups fail. Do not test the depths of the sea with 2 feet.

4# Sell All The Time

Time spent in my first startup was mostly spent on research and development. Did not make a single sale. In my later startups, I was selling more and traction was better. You need to sell your products and services all the time.

5# You Need Partners & An A-Team

I started my startups solo as I could not afford to pay people and my business circle was small. I did everything from sales, administrative work to research. You will get drained. Having different viewpoints, opinion, diversity, work processes I think also matters. More work is done with a team also.

Partners also give an advantage in your products and services offerings as you can only do so much solo.

6# Your Startup Idea Can Wait

If you see entrepreneurship as a language, it is more common than English. You might be tempted to start something and I feel you should – BUT it depends on the phase in life your at. If you are still studying, you should focus on it. Your academic qualification will later help you out in your life. I flunked out of university as I did not focus on my studies. One of my many regrets.