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Over 10 years ago, as an undergraduate, I decided to start a business while in school. Extremely enthusiastic, I knew exactly how I wanted the brand image, aesthetic, and voice to be. Over the course of a few weeks I managed to receive a $50K investment. I had an initial idea of how I wanted to spend the funds and how I wanted to brand to be perceived. However, I made one critical mistake.

This newly found brand eventually had a custom designed product line available for purchase. Both wholesale and direct-to-consumer sales options where part of the initial plan. The majority of the direct-to-consumer sales, in addition to the central hub of the brand, would happen through our newly and expensively designed website. Spending the $50K was easy. Very quickly the company had spent most of the investment leaving us with a product line (inventory) and a very nice custom (e-commerce) website.

I assumed that when you launched a website, people would just automatically flood it with page visits and purchase orders. The me know would have kicked the me thens ass so such a foolish mistake. Over 10 years ago digital marketing and e-commerce aren’t what they are today (Instagram wouldn’t come out until later and Shopify was in its first year or so), however this assume was at the root of my problems. Because by this point the brand was left with no advertising funds. This forced me to gain the knowledge and skill to execute and play catchup, with no budget, to recoup the loss. Not an ideal situation. I moved forward by putting my focus on running lean and learning digital sales, marketing, and e-com.

Experience can sometimes be priceless, as well as learning from other peoples mistakes. Never assume, and learn as much as possible before you spend your first dollar… on anything. Spending the money was a lot more fun than paying it all back. By the time I had paid the lost money back the following year, I had learned enough to where I could have build and acquired all of the same assets and generate just as much or even more profit with almost no money but with the skills and knowledge I had build up over that time period. Lesson learned, and leaning into the wind I went.