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Dot What Now?

August 3, 2013

5_LessonsThere’s a cyclic nature to things that hits you now and then…I guess because that’s what cyclic things do…no and then, depending upon their frequency…

I mentioned the other day that I’d just created a bunch of additional work for myself, and rather than spend my weekend kicking back and eating pizza, it’s this additional work that’s been occupying at least some of my time. Another feasibility study is needed and a plan to roll out a new part of the business – one that falls (for now, at least) entirely under my sphere of influence, and hence needs me to get the thing started. That’s not a problem. I’m fairly excited about it really, and this blob of the business could end up becoming my long term home (although I will continue to camp out in most of the other parts of the business too for the foreseeable future).

What’s caught my attention though is that I’m back writing business plans with a view to attracting investment, which is something I haven’t had to do since around the turn of the millennium…coincidentally, the time of the dot-com boom/bust.

I remember back at that time I got the opportunity to participate in a business development programme which provided some training, office space and mentoring, with assistance on how to get yourself funded up. There were fifteen companies accepted into the programme – mine being one – and we spent a whole year going through the process. Of the fifteen companies who ran the programme at the same time as me, all but about four where directly internet related, based directly on the idea of providing a specific service via the web.

Only two of us were in the manufacturing business.

By about six months in, at least 50% had dropped out and gone out of business. Only about 5 of the businesses actually came out of the other end of the programme intact, pursuing the same idea they’d begum with. As of today I only know of three of those original businesses that are still going, and one of those is doing something completely different than they started out with.

Interesting.

But that’s not my point today. When I began the programme I wasn’t actually looking specifically for large scale investment, I just wanted to get my business up a running. I was profitable anyway, and had revenue even before I began on the programme. Of course, additional money would have been useful, but my plans were pragmatic and involved predominantly organic growth (oh the folly of youth…). Most of the others had no revenue at all and were attempting to raise very large sums of cash, with business plans that showed break even in year 3+ in some cases. People would laugh at me when I said I really only needed a couple of hundred thousand Euro. Most of the others were looking for millions…and yet they had no actual businesses, and although I didn’t really receive any of the investment that would have been useful, my little business outlasted nearly all of the others.

I learned some immensely useful lessons during that period, lessons that changed me as a person and probably made me able to do what I do now. One of those lessons was that if you don’t ask you won’t get. Another was that if you’re going to ask, ask for plenty.

 

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