Business lesson: less research, launch small

Note: this is the second post in my series on business lessons I learned while running a small retail business shortly after graduating from university.  Click here to go to the first post.

Mistake: too much planning

When I did my research, everything looked "fine" on paper.  My area had more than enough target market; they had the money and the demand for the goods.  I interviewed potential customers, all excited about a local skateboard and snowboard shop.  I built my cash flow based on other shops in similar markets.

But none of that planning worked because all the facts, business theory, and analysis went out the window when I started selling real products.

What I should have done: smaller experiments

Instead of planning for over a year and launching a big store, I should have planned for a month and launched multiple test runs.  I could have tried selling skateboards out of my truck at the skatepark.  I could have rented a temporary space in the mall over Christmas.  I could have tried home delivery.

This could have been accomplished with less time, less money, and less planning. I should have moved from the theoretical to selling the product. This would have given me the data I couldn't accomplish doing other types of research: will this work?  Is it worth doing?

Until you produce and sell something real, you can't forecast the response. Start small: build it and sell it as quickly as you can.

Published on October 17th, 2010
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