Why I Failed as an Entrepreneur, and Why You Won’t

Sometimes, success has nothing to do with your ideas.

An entrepreneur can have a great idea and still fail. I did, my first time around. What counts, as you aim towards success, is how you attempt your goals. While my attempt at entrepreneurship ended in the rubble, yours doesn’t have to.

By all means, learn from my mistakes, and don’t end up where I did.

Four years ago, I had an idea. It was for a product line targeted at millennials. The idea was a good one; I even got backup from industry professionals. There was no reason why my idea, in and of itself, shouldn’t have succeeded.

The farther I went with my business, however, the more things went wrong. I started losing money. One of my investors backed out. We failed to trademark our advertising phrase and ran into legal issues. Success wasn’t written in the stars for my idea the way I’d believed it was. My startup eventually crashed and burned, and looking back, I can see exactly why.

Don’t do what I did. Here are all the ways I went wrong. Entrepreneurship is a delicate challenge, and a lot can trip you up if you’re not careful. If you can avoid these same mistakes, then your business will have a greater chance than mine did.

  • I was entitled. I came from a privileged background, and I’ll be the first one to admit it: I expected to get what I wanted. A lot of entrepreneurs are in the same boat: coming from Ivy League schools or wealthy families, not knowing what brutally hard work is really like. If Grant Cardone succeeded because he worked 95 hours a week, then I was nowhere near a realistic work ethic.   
  • I did too much on my own. I was sure I could solve problems on my own, create marketing schemes, and promote myself, by myself. When you start a business, you don’t possess all of the skills necessary to succeed. You need help from colleagues and reliable outside companies, such as Global PEG, to achieve your goal. You need to hire marketers, directors, designers… in other words, every skill you don’t personally excel at.  
  • I was impatient. Real success takes time, and while a constant drive is part of entrepreneurial success, you have to slow down enough to accept life’s timing. The long road is what really gets you there, and sometimes it’s better to wait for results before rushing ahead.
  • I didn’t stick to my strengths. People tend to operate on one of two extremes. They think they know it all, or they think they know nothing. While confidence is prized in the business world, sometimes “knowing it all” is a curse. I didn’t know it all; no one does. But I thought I did, and I wanted a finger in every pie. I wanted to control every direction my idea headed, and that’s part of what doomed it to failure.

You can succeed in your entrepreneurship if you avoid the mistakes I made. I’m now older and wiser and doing well with a new product line. I wish you the best of luck on your journey and look forward to seeing your idea in the market.

Adam Torkildson