The Chocolate Life

Discover Chocolate and Live La Vida Cocoa!

I don’t like the term failure, shutting down a business is not failure, so long as you learn, it is a natural part of a business life cycle.

The lessons that can be learned from people who have shut down businesses; such as what they would do differently and tips for people still in or getting into the game, are very valuable.

My business was not successful and I am in the process of shutting it down but the lessons I learned while running it were invaluable. Although not in the chocolate business (skimboard importing and distribution) some of the lessons are translatable to any business.

Here is a list of parameters that I have set for my new idea based on the un-successes of the past:

1. The business must involve full time employment for myself.
2. The business must allow me freedom to create.
3. The business must be able to expand and grow.

These are quite general and how you achieve them is quite complex, but in essence they are very simple. Try keeping things like this in mind as you construct your business idea and you will see that they do have quite an impact on what business models and ideas you select. My last business did not have these properties and caused me to be very bitter about it in the end, destroying for me something I used to really love – the sport of skimboarding.

I love business and what it offers, idealistically, the three things I listed above, so consider what you really want from business.

If anyone has other things to add to the list go right ahead, it is probably going to be different for everyone depending on what they want from business. Any lessons from those in the chocolate industry or who have recently shut down their business (I know Tracy mentioned closing her doors) would be extremely valuable to those of us looking forward to business prospects in the area.

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Replies to This Discussion

Hi Tom, here's an addition for you:

4. The business must have either time or money dedicated to keeping accounts in order

This is something that I have always found hard. I actually enjoy doing the accounts, but making the time to keep on top of it can be very difficult, especially in a small business. Falling behind can be (at the very least) stressful.
It's also important to market your product correctly, whatever it may be. That's the mistake I made in my last business, 18 years ago. I assumed my product was so wonderful that I just had to offer it to the world and they would buy it. There is so much more to it than that, as I discovered. As I start my new business, I'm very much aware of that aspect. Not that I'm good at marketing, but, I definitely need to learn how to be good at it.
Very wise words Debby. I went through the same problem with a software product some years ago. The original problem that the product solved still exists to this day, but people just "didn't get it" when we presented the product to them. There is a lot to be said for selling well known products and relying on things like better service, quality, small improvement, or prices to differentiate yourself.
I totally agree, my busniess went through several generations before becoming an import/distribution business. One was for a novel product the other was for clothing and in both cases we seriously underestimated consumer interest. Even now when I think I have a little experience in the industry I am continually surprised at the lack of consumer interest - unless of course your really hammer your product and are very good at marketing.

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