I am living up to the expectations of being a “failed” Serial Entrepreneur.
I have failed one startup every year in some form or the other.
By the time I am 50 (if I survive Delhi’s pollution) I should have around 25 failed startups under my belt.
Now, that’s one achievement you would not want to have.
One for every year, since I started my entrepreneurial journey 😊
Again, as usual – our core business helped us survive this stormy year.
Here is what was – good, bad and ugly from the year 2017 for me.
Around mid of this year, I decided to try my hand at teaching. Yeah….i know the same old boring job where you get paid, the least.
A job which is reserved for those who do not get on campus placement.
Well – I would not exactly call my work as a job because I started a venture.
And like every other venture, the venture has evolved over the months.
We started as a Digital Marketing Training Agency which trained students (mainly – entrepreneurs and working professionals) over the weekend. We did a tie-up with a govt organization and become their training partners (they refer us as TPs).
I don’t know why but govt has this obsession with these short names.
They will never call their project or anything with a full name. It’s like MI6, CIA, RAW inspire our govt staff.
And trust me. When I write they keep short names? I mean it.
I have been enslaved as a vendor with them for a good 3 years of my life (good – seriously?). I managed (without sarcasm) to roll out projects. Almost, all of them started with the alphabet “N” where N stood for National and ended with?
Most of them never ended. I had to literally find excuses to jump out of the projects by leaving money on the table or just disappearing into thin air.
Moving ahead with my “TP” story. So, one fine day we get a call from our coördinator (can I call him cord? For the sake of brevity and following the govt trend).
The “cord” tells me. They have a new boss and the boss says, “No more programmes” from TPS.
And, that day onwards we have never had a program with them.
We had rented a training room which costs a bomb. We did well for first 2-3 months by training students who came from the reference of the govt organization.
The only option we were left with was “perform and perish”.
And this is where we decided to move forward and shifted to an eLearning course.
Two reasons. First – what we taught in our classes was never a complete course.
We had a two-day workshop for social media and six-day workshop for digital marketing.
I am not sure if I did justice to the workshop by rushing through my two-day course.
There was so much to cover in such a short time.
And students would not compromise on anything less.
They wanted FB, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Quora – every damn thing to be covered in the limited time duration.
For them, it had to be a “PAISA VASOOL”. Once I decided to cut down on a number of topics and focus on few important topics in the course. A student messaged me on LinkedIn (she didn’t even have an active account on LinkedIn before our workshop) “I am disappointed – you did not teach sound cloud”.
Holy shit! What the hell is sound cloud doing in social media marketing?
Anyways, I am not here to crib.
After getting a feedback from everyone, I thought of taking my course online (completely) and focus on giving workshops with free eLearning content for those who come for our classes and sell the online course as an individual course on Udemy.
The second reason was the time constraint with working professionals.
During our workshops I realized, most of the working professionals I met during workshops were a tired lot.
They had been grilled by their companies for 5 good days and all I got to teach was a tired lot. The enthusiasm was there but working on weekends never made anyone happy.
Also, we did miss out in enrolling a lot of working professionals who did not want to learn during the weekend (can’t blame them. Life is tough on weekdays and it sucks when you are asked to work over the weekend!)
What I figured out was, the working professions (who constitute a large chunk of students we have trained) need a course where they can learn at their own pace.
Here is a recent wordpress tutorial launched by me on Udemy : WordPress Tutorial
And the sharp brain’s journey hasn’t only been restricted to teaching. I have also bagged few digital marketing projects through the reference of students who were trained by me (god bless them for spreading a good name about my knowledge).
This is how businesses are. From starting as a digital marketing agency to a company developing eLearning course to a company which also does digital marketing work. We are doing it all.
As a gentleman told me the other day. “The initial days are all about survival”. We are trying to survive with a venture of mine which is purely based on my passion.
This year was a stormy year for our business. GST wreaked havoc with our payment cycles (I do not blame Modi ji for the mess. He is a visionary and like every obedient business person, I will only write the good stuff. I have promised myself to not write a political blog and by force’s (we the star war fans, refer to god as “force”. Remember – May the Force be with you) grace I have stuck to the promise for good 3 years).
Our good old business did not see any growth this year in terms of revenue and business growth. I don’t know whom to blame (other than me) but the market has been very slow and sluggish.
New orders have not come. Existing clients (using GST as an excuse) have delayed our payment. In fact, they are still delaying them.
Overall, it was a year – we as a company would like to put behind us.
After seeing a good growth of 3 years, we finally have a year where we do not have anything real to show. (good things do not last forever!)
Not that, things have improved. One of our major clients (one, who shalt not be named) still has a pending due of 6 months on them and they are very cool about the same. They expect us to behave like good, obedient vendors and say thank you for getting the business from them.
And that’s what we have done for last 6 months.
Wagging our tail like an obedient dog hoping to get another biscuit from our master.
I have already shared a sob story of how a venture started by me and my wife was finally shut. Lack of time, energy, over expectations from the business were few of the reasons to close the ecommerce business.
Nevertheless, we almost covered all our losses. So, I am not down by a lot of money and as usual, I am a wiser guy waiting to lose more money in few more adventures 😀
If you are interested in knowing what all I learned from my last failure. Here is a blog Lessons Learned from a Failed Ecommerce Venture with a truck full of learnings to help you avoid the mistakes I did in while running my ecommerce business.
The year, in a nutshell, has been decent for me. I have started a new venture. Failed a venture and has survived GST scare to sail through the end of year.
The next quarter which will also get us to the end of the financial year will decide, how well we have performed in the last financial year.
Till then –
Enjoy the new year. Don’t drink and drive and behave in office parties 😊 (liquor does tend to get the real you out of the shell – just kidding!)
Happy New year to you and your family. And I have a prayer for you : “May the next round of funding smile upon you in the coming year”
(note : I am writing from the city which once had land expensive than Delhi/NCR. Do come here to see, how the promised land has turned into no man’s land 😊 )