What is the worst idea you’ve ever had, that you actually tried to pursue in an entrepreneurial endeavor? What made the idea so bad in hindsight?
To help you learn from the mistakes of successful entrepreneurs, we asked experienced entrepreneurs this question about their worst experiences. From offering promotions and freebies too quickly to trying to market through a startup incubator, there are several ideas that may not be good to try when starting or running your business venture.
Here Are Six Ideas To Avoid As An Entrepreneur:
- Offering Promotions and Freebies Too Quickly
- Starting Too Quickly Without Proper Knowledge of Local Market
- Not Asking for Help
- Working With an Improved Idea for an Existing Product
- Starting Wrong Business in Wrong Location for Wrong Customers
- Trying To Market Through a Startup Incubator
Offering Promotions and Freebies Too Quickly
When our business was just starting out, I think we made the poor decision to offer too many free products and promotions too quickly. We should have probably waited slightly to get some more initial momentum with our business.
As of 2022, we are at a place where we can give a little extra back to our customers, but it has been a long road to get to this point.
Jorge Vivar, Mode
Starting Too Quickly Without Proper Knowledge of Local Market
A decade ago, I had a dream about opening my own language school. And I was ready to do whatever it takes to make this dream come true. As a skilled English teacher, with a head full of ideas, some money for the start, and the office belonging to my family member as a perfect location for the school, I felt that nothing could stop me.
But it did, actually. The greatest weakness of the plan was the lack of knowledge of the local market. I came back to my hometown after 5 years spent in a big city, where I gained teaching experience. All the plans regarding the language school opening I made were based on the wrong assumptions. Wrong in that sense that they didn’t apply to the area where I moved.
Agata Szczepanek, MyPerfectResume
Not Asking for Help
The worst idea I’ve ever had in my journey as an entrepreneur was thinking that I didn’t need help. Even with a successful solo operation, there were valuable skills and perspectives from others that I needed. Though I wasn’t stubborn in my insistence that I could go it alone, I was foolish in thinking that I could sustain growth and progress without assistance.
Strengthen yourself as an individual, yes, but remember that everyone will need help at some point. Stay humble and connected as you recognize your weaknesses and the fact that everybody needs some type of team for support.
Thomas Yuan, Sanebox
Working With an Improved Idea of an Existing Product
I spent the better half of a year creating a habit tracker for the iPhone since I couldn’t find one that I liked, only to find that when I was ready to release, my competitors had caught up and my app had become redundant.
The moral of the story is that if your idea is nothing more than an improved version of an already existing product, then you better make sure that your product will be 10 times better and not just a version of an existing product with extra features added.
Holger Sindbaek, Online Solitaire
Starting Wrong Business in Wrong Location for Wrong Customers
As a naïve young man passionate about owning a food truck, borrow money and bought a truck to sell sandwiches. In my small town with a predominantly older population, it was a bad idea to expect that I will have high sales. People barely came out of their houses and traveling to the city every day to get customers seemed very expensive.
If by chance, I had customers, they would mostly want items I did not have. I should have had a more diverse menu, which I did not know then. The food would go to waste on most days. The location was not suitable for a food truck business too.
The location of your business and the right products targeted at the right customers are two very essential aspects of starting product-sales businesses. I could not continue for too long and used the truck for my later businesses.
Anthony King, Transport Executive
Trying To Market Through a Startup Incubator
The worst idea I ever had was a company (called PixShare) that would allow people to share and display their photos on the web by making it possible for anyone to easily create “guestbooks” or, in my case, business cards. I decided to market through a startup incubator instead of trying to build something myself.
I knew too little about marketing and design at the time, which seemed like another disadvantage compared to other people starting businesses in this space. This is probably one of the worst ideas I have ever had, but it taught me what works and what doesn’t. It also taught me how better new businesses should be built from scratch versus bootstrapping an existing website.
Gisera Matanda, WeLoans