Lessons Learned from a Failed Business Venture


A small investment of time and money is where hope begins.

Recent months have seen a winding down, if not an endpoint, of an entrepreneurial venture with which I’ve been involved. It began a little less than three years ago, and went through varying phases of (im)probability of success. At worst, it was an interesting pipe dream. At others, the equivalent of a lottery ticket. Still others, a real prospect.

There are more than a couple of “how I did it” write-ups out there from folks who have actually seen such projects through to phenomenal success. The audience for such stuff hopes to glean some hints as to how similar success might be achieved, or simply wants to be inspired. (I actually believe it’s a lot of Monday-morning quarterbacking, and that many of these successes hinged on being in the right place at the right time…to put it simply, luck. That’s another topic.)

“How I almost did it” isn’t quite as big a deal, and thus gets treated here in a blog, rather than a New York Times bestseller. This is still possibly worth your while, since A) you can read it in minutes instead of hours, and B) it costs you nothing and won’t occupy space on your shelves, be they wooden or digital.

One thing I didn’t do was invest large sums of money, in part because I didn’t have such resources. Nor did I go looking for deep-pocketed backers. The problem with getting outside financial boosts is that you become answerable to people who don’t necessarily share your vision, and/or you relinquish control of it (either immediately, or down the pike).

It’s surely the case that some types of venture can’t be launched without a serious up-front investment. Part of the inspiration for mine, at least, was that it wouldn’t require much until we had a good sense of whether or not the idea had legs. If we reached a “put up or shut up” moment, it would pretty much mean that we had as close to a sure thing as we were going to get.

Another thing I didn’t do was quit my day job. As noted above, I didn’t have a hoard of riches stashed away, and needed to make ends meet. With only so many hours in the day and days in the week, there’s plenty of potential for a time-crunch if you need to maintain your current livelihood while setting about creating a new one. If I worked a Monday-Friday 9-5 type of job, that would have left me with evenings and weekends to work on my project. As it stands, my telerad gig of seven days on, seven off gave me a week at a time to do whatever needed doing. It’s also not unheard of for folks to scale back their working hours to make room for other things.

So, what did I do that made this thing almost fly? Check back next week.

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