TEXT ME FOR FREE BUSINESS ADVICE
I love business, it’s a fun game and if you choose a product or service you love as your business it never feels like work. I founded a hair extension company with $1000 and grew it to an 8 figure brand without any cofounders or investors within 6 years. Although I always thought I did everything right because the sales kept coign in..looking back now, after my company was acquired, I realized I made a lot of mistakes too that would have helped my business grow bigger and faster.
Here are the top 5 mistakes I made in business along the way of growing my business Glam Seamless.
1. Grew too fast (without the support)
Not one VC or business advisor would say slow your company’s growth, but my problem? I didn’t have funding. My business took off unexpectedly due to SEO and a huge shift in consumer behavior. The more money that came in, I poured in back in to the business. I thought it was fun to have the funds to expand the business, expand our product lines, and the more I poured in to the business the bigger return we go. Until we passed the 10 million dollar mark per year in revenue, this is where the trouble began. Scaling fast takes a huge infrastructure. Lots of planning, people running with ball but also someone else to catch the ball. The wheels start to fall off a truck that cannot carry its load. Mistakes started happening and next you know there are more fires to put out. Business is about making a difference, having a great product people love, and of course making a profit. When you grow too fast, you lose a lot of money. I made costly mistakes such as major errors in a $10,000 print project to taking out expensive loans because I did not take the time to seek funds before I needed them, to not having enough inventory to support my customers needs (still trying to solve this problem- 8 years in – still working on it!). I am thankful that we grew fast, but the pressure, stress, and loss of profit that we experienced at the crossing of the 8 figure level really was a tough time. You can grow fast, once you have extra cash, extra team members, and enough product in stock. If I could do it again I would say: slow down, plan, get what you need and then scale.
2. Did not start my business with a co-founder
Business is hard. I am not sure what they tell you, or what story you may have told yourself but it is not the pretty grand opening parties of a retail store or pretty package. Running a business is hard. There are so many times when you have to step back, reassess and make plans. I started Glam Seamless alone with the notion that, I will get 100% profit. Looking back, it was not worth it. I would have loved to have a partner run it with me that had opposite skillsets and could go through all the ups and downs. Trust me, there are tough moments, and having someone with you does help. You cannot go to your investors, employees and vent about how hard it is..You have to be a leader and have it under control. To deal with the tough journey I got mentors along the way to support the business where it was at the time. This did help a lot but looking back, a co-founder would have been great. Also, do not rush with just any co-founder – I know that would have not been the right answer. But it goes back to planning, something I did not have available while calling the company.
3. Hired too fast and the wrong people
Hiring people has to be the most important but also the most challenging part of any business. All businesses need people, not the other way around. But it needs the right people. Culture (a buzz worthy word I cannot stand) is still very much is so important and varies at each company. What I did so wrong is hire the wrong people, too fast, along the way. I hired based on education, company history first and foremost. If the resume looked top notch, I would do a brief interview and hire them. Resumes are great, but the character, the culture fit are so important. I am in the beauty industry, I would always love and hire someone from a larger beauty brand such as a L’Oreal…Yet, it took me years to learn…My culture and company are nothing like L’Oreal..We are (were?) a fast growing start up. L’Oreal is a large conglomerate with lots of resources. Night and day. Someone at L’Oreal for 10 years with huge budgets and huge resources was not going to help me. I failed for the first 3 years of running my business. It took too many misfits for me to go back to the drawing board and redo how and who we hired.
4. Failed to raise capital
You know what they say in business? Cash is king. I had too much pride to give away equity or ask for help so I never raised any outside money. I could have slowed down, taken the time to raise money, and have support and funds to keep growing faster. I did not. I could have also gotten other mentors who happened to be investors invest in my business. I never did. I did not want to “owe” any one or share equity. This was such a small minded think as I reflect on it today. The more people that are in invested in to your company the better. More minds, more connections, more resources. I thought loans were better – cheaper – and a better way for me to have 100% control…I could have raised money but I did not… Looking back this was a huge mistake. I needed the cash, but again. I needed the support. This is what investors, even if family /friends/ angel investors can provide. Funds and an outside take on your business that you cannot see. It’s worth taking the time to tell people about your business and see how believes in you to put in their own money. Loans are expensive. They will hurt your financial results in the long run. It’s all about profits, and loans take away from profits. With more cash and support you will make money money in the long run even if you do not have 100% equity.
5. Failure to plan
You might have already sensed it, but this is the theme of this blog. Lack of planning was a huge mistake on my journey of scaling my business. In the beginning stages of my business, after I had a few employees, I would think- what should I do with my time? I did what most entrepreneurs do, focused on what I loved which is making product and selling it. I did not love planning. However, the truth is, every business owner / entrepreneur has to do planning to some extent. Blocked off time planning goes a long way. You cannot hire a strategist or another person to plan your entire business. You started it, it’s your vision, your passion (hopefully you chose a passion- this makes it feel like not work). Planning is not fun for some, especially the doers and dreamers like me. But to have a successful business that thrives we have to slow down and stop- and sit and think of the figure. I started planning more but still struggle with this one. I love to move fast, but this is when mistakes happen. I have learned that planning is worth more than rushing and potentially making mistakes. The planning will also allow you do have a more balanced life.