People learn biz essentials every day through research, seminars, books, etc. We cannot discount the learning that takes place through failures, though. I know, we don’t like to say the “f” word, but some of the most valuable lessons come from it. I consider myself a lifelong entrepreneur, because I have been starting and running businesses since I was very young.
In high school, I started my first business. I had recently enrolled in a graphic art class, and I started designing logos for people at my church. Kids at school would pay me to draw their favorite cartoon characters, and adults at church were interested in my designs for their startups.
New entrepreneurs often believe that because they have a great idea and are excited about it, everything will work out perfectly, and that everyone will rush to their side to help and to cheer them on. As a lifelong entrepreneur, I learned two very valuable lessons that contradicted that belief very early on.
One guy at my church was starting a lawn care business, and I told him about my logo designs. He said that he was interested in seeing what I could do. I got excited about my first customer, and I went home and worked extra hard on his designs. After the next church service, I approached him with several designs that I had hand drawn. He seemed super impressed. Then, he asked me if he could run outside and show his partner to see which design he’d like. I said “sure”, and I stood waiting in expectation, geeked about making my first sale…AND he never came back.
Yup! I got got. I never expected anything like that. I mean, we were members of the same church. We had to see each other again. The next time I saw him, he acted like nothing had ever happened. I was afraid to approach him again, because I was a child and he was a grown man, and because I was afraid of a person who would actually steal from another person in church.
That day was my first entrepreneurial fail, and I learned two, great biz essentials at a young age.
2 Biz Essentials I Learned As A Young Entrepreneur
You should always protect yourself. Get your work copyrighted so that you will have a leg to stand on, if someone steals your work. Typically, designers protect themselves by placing watermarks over their digital designs when they are showing clients their options. Unfortunately, I drew my designs by hand and hadn’t imported them into my computer.
Always, always, always get payment up front. Had I gotten payment before I ever started working on his project, it wouldn’t have mattered what he did with my designs…kind of. See, I gave him a couple of options. I allowed him to either lease the design from me for a fee per year, or he could purchase it out right. He took it upon himself to give himself the five finger discount, though.
To add insult to injury, I later saw a truck driving around town with my hand drawn design on the side. On one hand, it was awesome to see my work blown up and live. On the other, it made me so angry that I had been taken advantage of and had made absolutely no money from it.
I have never made the same mistakes again. In fact, I have been able to weed out the people who weren’t serious about working with me from the beginning, just by mentioning copyrights and contracts. When people say never mind, I say Bye Felicia…in my head, of course. I have learned to be a no nonsense kind of girl, when it comes to my business.
Just by mentioning copyrights and contracts, I have weeded out people who weren't serious. Click To Tweet
Frankly, nobody cares if you succeed and make money in your business, except for you. And if you don’t protect yourself and make things happen, you will be doing a lot of work just for the heck of it. I think they call that a hobby. LOL…no shade!
What biz essentials have you learned from your failures and mishaps?