If you've never started your own business, you might start thinking "OK, first I need to lose all my money. Maybe I can even develop a drinking problem. And then, when things really look bleak . . . "
Ah, but you'd be wrong. Failure may be a frequent part of business, but you can lessen your risks. "Try to contain your failures," suggests Kevin Donlin, 37, of Minneapolis. "Think of your business as a ship and failure as an ocean. If a fire breaks out, you want a fire door on that ship to contain the flames."
In 1994, the mail-order business Donlin was running made a laughable five bucks. In 1995, his e-publishing business netted $95 in sales. Sure, those two businesses may sound like colossal failures, but they were part-time gigs, amateurish efforts that cost him nothing but time-many weekends over many months.
But you know what? "It's only failure if you haven't learned something from it," says Donlin, and, indeed, he launched a resume-writing company in 1996 and, in 1998, was able to quit his day job. "And I haven't bought a tie since," says Donlin, whose one-man operations, Guaranteed Resumes LLC and Guaranteed Marketing LLC, brought in more than $100,000 in 2001.
However you start your second business-or your 22nd-you can't become a success by moping about your past failures or predicting your future failings. Comedian Jonathan Winters once concluded: "I couldn't wait for success, so I went ahead without it." The future of your business is your call. Do you want to be a Sir Edmund Hillary or an anonymous beekeeper?
After numerous setbacks, Geoff Williams has written for LIFE, Ladies' Home Journal and other publications.
- Conversus Group LLC
(415) 789-0509, www.conversusgroup.com
- Guaranteed Marketing LLC
(877) 702-3487, www.guaranteedmarketing.com
Geoff Williams has written for numerous publications, including Entrepreneur, Consumer Reports, LIFE and Entertainment Weekly. He also is the author of Living Well with Bad Credit.