Back in 2012, I tried myself in business for the first time - I opened a store for non-formals, who worked offline for less than a month. Credit after this adventure paid another 3 years: (
I made all the mistakes possible. With that approach, the case was doomed to failure, but it still hurts me.
Experienced entrepreneurs, for sure, laugh at my packs. But for beginners who are burning an idea right now and are ready to put everything on it, my story will break rose-colored glasses and help you look at your plans more critically.
A little background
In November 2012, my friend and I were actively looking for an idea. The classic of the genre is microbusiness without big investments. Then I came across the internet to the guys from Kazan, who were selling turnkey crossbow shooting galleries. It was positioned as a franchise, but in reality - a set of equipment with an exemplary business plan and documentation.
We jumped at the idea, opened the IE and tried to break through our shooting gallery in several Moscow parks. The tenders lost, and in one of the cities in the Moscow region we were generally offered to purchase equipment, put it on the balance of the park (donate?), And get paid to them ourselves as hired workers.
I upset the first failure, but we did not give up - we sat and thought, and on the same day we decided to open a rock paraphernalia store. Yes, microbusiness without investments turned into a global project, only then we did not understand it.
It all happened very quickly - after 3 days we chose the premises, and a day later I already took out a loan of 200 thousand rubles - the usual demand with the corresponding interest. The fact that this is not enough for a full-fledged store, we did not think then. Another week went on to create 16 square meters. m. in the shopping center "informal" atmosphere. On March 7, the point opened its doors to first visitors. And in early April, we had already taken out shop windows and goods to a friend’s apartment, and here is why.
Did not count the numbers
Marginality, net profit, financial model, break-even point - we never thought about it at all. We simply knew that there are 200 thousand. Of these, 60 are for rent for 1.5 months; about 100 more - for the purchase of goods; the rest of the little things - repair, signboard, furniture, flyers and hardy rats for the atmosphere. Now I won’t even say exactly how much it took - we didn’t keep records.
What I understood. To avoid failure would help the financial plan in view of money for rent and purchase at least for half a year. He would have shown that, with a capital of 200 thousand rubles, it would not be possible to launch a store in this format. And then the options are to look for a new idea, change the format and try to meet the budget.
Now I understand that it was possible to come to the atmospheric store of your dreams gradually - start small, gather an audience, increase turnover. But then I wanted everything at once :-)
Not planned further than the first month
The main thing is to open up. For a month, we will definitely earn the rent payment for the next one, and there, how to get through ... They didn’t work, they didn’t. After 3 weeks it became obvious that there was nothing to pay the rent - there was something about 20 thousand at the box office, but twice as much. We began to frantically search for new premises, but did not find them.
What I understood. Refusing full premises for 40 thousand per month in favor of the island in 4 square meters. m. for 12 thousand, we could save sales and the whole project. There would not be that atmosphere, but he was on the path of the main traffic. 60 thousand pledged for rent would be enough for 5 months, and even a small assortment would not look as small on 4 squares as it was on 16.
Made hasty decisions
We did everything very quickly. For 3 days, we chose the premises according to the “easy to reach” principle, for a couple of hours we found a supplier with not the most wholesale prices, we issued a loan in an hour. And all this is in euphoria and rose-colored glasses - how great and well everything is going!
What I understood. Do not make compromises and agree on inappropriate conditions to speed up the launch. It was necessary to search for a room for a month, two, three - until something suitable was found in areas with a target audience. Although, in this niche, it is not divided along regional lines, in Moscow there are much more successful places for a rock paraphernalia store than an electronics shopping center on the outskirts. Any option near the concert venue would fit better. Similarly with the supplier - having spent more time searching, you could find a wholesaler, for example, with low prices or deferred payment.
Did not analyze the audience
Why, if we ourselves are informal and, it would seem, we know and feel our client? Therefore, we just arrived at the wholesale warehouse and scored all that we liked. We did not plan the assortment, did not think about which products would attract people, and which products would form the main profit. Yes, we did not have margin products - shoes, leather clothes, leather jackets - our budget would be enough for a maximum of 20-40 leather jackets.
What I understood. Planning purchases on the “I like, take” principle is a bad idea, even if you are Central Asia. It was more reasonable to assemble an assortment matrix from supplier catalogs and scrupulously check demand. At least punch through Vordstat, find out what people are looking for.
Considering that the assortment was based on T-shirts, the demand was strongly linked to the popularity of music groups. Having looked, the attributes of which teams are more searched on the Internet, we would pick up a more demanded product.
Ignored internet marketing
At first, they did not plan to attract customers from the Internet. The only thing that they did was launch the VKontakte group to invite people to the opening. It seemed that this was enough - word of mouth will continue to work. Particular hope was placed on the audience points with musical instruments and anime attributes, next to which they decided to open.
When they realized that the people themselves would not appear, they began to distribute flyers at the metro and at rock concerts. This exhaust gave a weak. The audience is narrow. The likelihood that a metro leaflet would fall into the hands of Central Asia was negligible. And for potential buyers who have a lot at concerts, it’s easier to go to a proven store in the center than to drag on the outskirts.
In the end, they still ordered the site from freelancers on a samopisny engine. About what it is and why it is hell, I told in the book "How to make a website yourself: a step-by-step guide for the humanities."
Even for that time, the site was “wonderful” everything - design, usability, content. Nevertheless, it was, perhaps, the most successful solution for the entire existence of the project. Even six months after the closure of the offline point, orders continued to arrive from it - rare, no more than 10 per month, but they were. Given that we only periodically published interesting news and articles for the audience. No longer did anything. Yes, content marketing was already working ;-)
What I understood. Considering how the Internet was developing in these 7 years, it was necessary to rely on it. It was possible to refuse an offline point at all - the maximum is to open a small showroom with a minimum lease. Half of the budget to invest in the Internet - a normal site, SMM, target, context. And focus on the regions, because it was from there that we received 90% of orders from the site.
What I learned from this story
For these and other mistakes, I paid for a long time with money and nerves. The day when I made the last payment on the loan, became a real holiday, we still celebrate :-)
But the most important thing is the experience that I learned from this failure:
- If it seems to you that business is simple, know that it really seems to you. It is difficult and it is always a risk.
- A business plan and financial model are not just words. It is a necessity and a way to minimize the probability of failure. Often, even at this stage it can be understood that this will not work.
- Marketing is the basis. You need to look at any decision in business through its lens, whether it is the choice of premises or purchases.
- Suddenly - you can do business with friends, but it all depends on people and relationships. My friend and I burned out, lost money and paid for all this for a long time, but this did not affect friendship.
- First, numbers, logic and common sense, then emotions. We had the opposite, nothing good came of it.
I am sure that among you there are people with similar or similar experience. Let's share fakapami in the comments - suddenly it will save someone from mistakes.