Monday Marketing Mash-up: Learning from Business Failures

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Failure’s been on my mind lately. It started a while back, with this startup founder writing about the inevitable end of the business.

And of course, last week I wrote about another startup failure, inspired by the TechCrunch article reporting it.

So today I share some more stories of failure with you, hoping we can avoid their mistakes and their fate. The next three links are from this Business Insider article.

This entrepreneur started his business of selling condom key chains: he failed, but it’s a great story.

This blog post has some interesting insights, including this:

Unfortunately, we again made the mistake of focusing on engineering first and customer development second. We released our first version to some moderate success and then proceeded to continue to churn out features without really understanding customer needs. Only later on, after finally engaging potential customers did we realize that market was too small and price point was too low to have Caliper sustain our company by itself.

This founder says their biggest mistake was not focusing on sales:

We didn’t sell something because customers wouldn’t buy. The product was great, the customers favorable, but they took too long to decide. We wanted to sell a knowledge management tool bottom up to project managers and through them to companies. But everytime a superior heard of knowledge management he decided it should be on his agenda. So the topic of knowledge management moved up the chain of command and we had no real decision maker. We talked to irrelevant people (because the topic became strategic fast for our customers) and lost lots of time.

The Buffer blog shares the thoughts of 13 successful entrepreneurs on what they learned from failure. My favorite quote from the article:

I could never become the product expert, which is what every founder/CEO needs to be.

– Sandi MacPherson, Editor-in-Chief of Quibb

And this post explains how to take control of a failing business, even if that means looking for an exit.

What have you learned from failure: yours or someone else’s?

Go on, tell us what you're thinking.