Being the CEO of a successful, 6-figure company is not a fact most 20 year olds carry in their portfolio of achievements.
While there are many at that age who are already multi-millionaires, most of them have started 5-9 years earlier than their early 20’s.
Unlike me, who failed at my first business endeavor as a teen, lost my course and compromised with less than living at my full potential.
While I am not proud to admit this, my first entrepreneurial endeavor was a massive business failure. I was just 16, back in high school and had no direction whatsoever.
In contrast, I now have several great people helping me out such as Victor Pride, Mike Cernovich, and last but not least, the controversial Tai Lopez.
By the way, when people help you, who have more experience than you do, it accelerates your success dramatically.
That’s a secret of success most people ignore, as they try to do everything on their own.
The team with the best players usually wins. Thus, pick your company wisely.
— Damian Pros (@dareandconquer) June 26, 2016
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Why fail massively when you can take the advice of those who have failed massively in business, and use it to prevent you from facing a business failure yourself?
And even though no one will hold your hand on your path to success and riches, just one piece of advice could be life-changing.
For instance, Mike Cernovich only gave me one tip, but it was pure gold.
(So, that was a parenthesis I found worth mentioning. Get advice from those who have more life experience, knowledge, success or money than you do. But let’s get back to the topic.)
How I Lost It All In My 1st Entrepreneurial Venture & What YOU Can Learn From It
Here is your chance to learn from my mistakes and accelerate your success.
To an ignorant person, these mistakes I made might seem something normal or seemingly unimportant. Especially considering that I was just 16 back then.
To a seasoned entrepreneur, it’s clear how these mistakes cost me 4-5 years of success.
I could be exactly where I am now, when I was 17 and something.
And while there is no reason for regretting what happened in the past, there IS a reason for not letting that happen to YOU in the FUTURE!
Past mistakes tend to be the best teachers. Had I known what you learn now when I was 16, I would have become a millionaire much faster.
The first “business” I started was such a failure that I never again thought of trying something similar. It scared the shit out of me. And for no valid reason.
Here is what happened:
Because I didn’t have money, I would search online for wholesale suppliers of famous clothes.
Franklin & Marshall Sweaters and Nike Air Max shoes were big among kids in my high school. If you wanted to be considered “cool” and “in style” – then you had to wear these two things.
As a savvy and resourceful young lad, I always had to discover smarter and more efficient ways to get what I wanted, because: no money = no honey.
So, I discovered a way to purchase these garments online at a much cheaper price (that my peers didn’t know about).
Original F&M sweaters would be priced around 120E, but I would get them for just 50E including shipping expenses.
On the other side, original Air Max shoes would cost between 80-150E and I could get them for 35-65E.
I quickly spotted that this could probably be a very lucrative opportunity. Not only did I start selling them to my close circle, but I quickly understood I could scale it.
At that time in Greece, there was a very popular auction site called Ricardo.
That was a big site at the time, and was used to be called “The Greek eBay”.
Anybody could go there and sell either used items or new items. Thus, I opened an account and started to run some ads about selling Nike Air Max shoes.
I was selling them for 70E including shipping which was much cheaper than buying them at a store.
And I would buy these specific models, for only 40-50E. So, I would make around 20-30E net profit for every pair I sold!
Just by selling an average of one pair of shoes a day, I thought I would make 600-900E which would be absolutely fantastic and impressive for a 16 year old kid.
And what if I could eventually sell more than that? I would soon be rich – I thought!
I quickly received my 1st order and I was so happy about it.
I made 30E without putting any effort. It was magical. Everything seemed like going as planned.
However, every business is at some point(s) confronted by problems.
So, in the beginning my little “entrepreneurial attempt” – I can’t really call it a business – I stumbled upon a shipping time issue with my supplier.
In my Ricardo advertisement, I had set the expected shipping rate in one week and customers would expect to receive their items in that time frame.
Yet, my supplier would need 20 days, only to send the items to my address. From there it would take 1-3 more days to ship them to the buyer.
My initial plan would be to buy the shoes in advance (stock inventory) and ship them immediately, but this would require capital I didn’t have.
So, my only solution would be to receive the orders from my customers, place an order to my supplier, get the item and ship it to the buyer.
A simple but effective process. I was sure that tons of people would wait 20-25 days if that meant they would get a high-end item for a much lower price than the one in the marketplace (and then brag about owning it!).
How did I know that?
I did it several times, and I even persuaded my friends to do it.
Unfortunately, That 1st Order Was Meant To Be The Last Before My Business’s Failure…
I couldn’t possibly deliver the item on time.
Had I contacted the customer on time, that alone would have fixed the issue. Or it would at least prevent what was going to happen.
For whatever reason, I decided to keep the money stored in the bank and not pay much attention to the customer. 😅
I thought it would be too much trouble to contact the customer, ask them to wait two weeks more than promised and then place the order and deal with all that hassle! 🤔
I wanted it to be super easy. I wanted to make money without putting any serious work in (like I do now).
And I completely ignored the problem. I was also busy with school and thought I should deal with it later. I was afraid of increasing the expected delivery time, as I thought this would mean losing lots of orders. I would say that I would come up with a solution, but always procrastinated.
One week later, the customer had not yet received the item and I haven’t even submitted the order due to the shipping time issue.
As you can guess, they contacted me to request a reason why they haven’t yet received the item as promised.
I finally told them I had an issue with the supplier and couldn’t deliver it at the promised time! 😵
Obviously, the buyer thought I was a scammer, reported me to Ricardo and even took legal action against me!!
I will never forget the moment I was going back home from school, and received a call from a female lawyer, telling me that I was about to be sued!
I became SO FRIGHTENED that I would think about it the entire day and make scenarios about me going to jail. 👮
Irrational way to think, I know. And an unprofessional behaviour all around. But as I said, I had no one to give me any direction. And I wasn’t really fond of reading books back then.
I also felt so embarrassed and afraid to tell anybody about it. My friends would probably make fun of the issue, and I also thought my parents would get mad at me.
Eventually I just refunded the money to the buyer’s bank account and nothing bad ever happened. Except for the fact that I trashed my entrepreneurship dream…
So, that’s how my “Shoe Business” went out of business.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t over!
I had just avoided the legal issues and thought I would be okay now. So, I forgot the entire thing and went on with my daily life.
A few weeks later, the past came back to haunt me… 👹
To promote my business, I have set some paid ads on Ricardo.
And when I did that, I didn’t even notice the small letters which said that each of these ads would charge me by the day.
The truth is, I can’t remember if I just didn’t pay attention to this fact, or if I was so happy because I received a payment that I thought I could afford the ads.
Thus, I ended up owing 256E to Ricardo for all the days my ads had been running!
As a broke 16 year old kid, I didn’t even have that much money.
DEBT – ALERT!
And while 256E might not be a serious debt, you bet it was for me at the time.
If I could compare it to my financial situation today, it would translate to over 40.000 in debt. That’s how much was that 256E for me back then.
I started visiting a couple of relatives I haven’t seen for a while. I must have been very seducing, because they all gave me pocket money even though I didn’t ask for it.
(Yet, I am not that proud of admitting, that this was one of the reasons I visited them…😇)
Anyway, with the pocket money I was given by my relatives’ – that was meant to be used for clothes or days out – I paid for my debt.
The whole situation was more than hilarious, if not moronic – however, I eventually learned a lot.
And it might seem like a silly business failure I faced in 16, but it ended up costing me lots of money and time.
You can truly appreciate the beauty life has to offer when you have the freedom to experience it.
You can’t do it when you work for others.
— Damian Pros (@dareandconquer) July 6, 2016
Furthermore, I see lots of commonalities with the attitude of most unsuccessful entrepreneurs. An attitude that if not changed, will create myriads of problems and deprive you of financial freedom.
Learn From My Mistakes – Because They Might Become Yours
Here is a list of the mistakes I did:
1. Not taking the endeavor seriously
If you don’t start something and take it seriously, you might as well not have started it at all.
I should have adopted a more serious and professional attitude, instead of being completely careless.
2. Opening myself and investing in the ads with credit I didn’t have, as soon as I encountered the first signs of success.
Most entrepreneurs think they are rolling in dough when they see the first signs of success.
Thus, they either invest more in a risky endeavor, or they start spending their money on materialistic things, thinking that they will make it back.
Or worse, they go into debt, thinking that they will make it back. Unfortunately, this never happens. This mentality is poisonous and will backfire on you.
Never open yourself as soon as your business starts becoming successful, just like I did with setting up the Ads, as soon as I got my first order.
3. Not contacting the customer immediately
How many times have you had a bad experience with a business?
You are calling and they don’t answer. They are not reliable in regards to their delivery time. You receive the wrong order and it slows your entire schedule down. Wasting hours in back and forth communication.
Jeff Bezos of Amazon commands for unexpected meetings and cancels mailing campaigns which bring in hundreds of millions of dollars, if only a customer e-mails his public mail address ([email protected]) with a legit complaint.
If Amazon’s CEO goes to that extent to secure his business’s relationship with its customers, why is not the average entrepreneur doing the same?
The answer is because this unreliability and indifference is what makes entrepreneurs average in the first place, but separates magnates like Bezos.
4. Not solving a problem that would make me thousands of $$$
Solving problems is what makes you more money.
Each problem you encounter, is an opportunity for you to take your business to the next level and rapidly boost your income.
You should be welcoming such issues, not avoiding them.
Had I solved the shipping time issue (and there were several ways), I would have made thousands upon thousands of dollars at 16 years old.
5. Quitting completely and not trying again
Colonel Sanders who founded KFC at 60+ has been rejected over 1000 TIMES before he persuaded someone that KFC could be a profitable idea.
The history speaks for itself, both in the case of Colonel Sanders as well as in my case.
I could have kept trying – and had I done that – then I would have reached the point I am right now years earlier.
But, better now than never, right?
Until Next Time,
Keep Daring And Conquering,
PS: What are the most fatal mistakes you’ve done that stopped you from getting where you should be?
Let me know in the comments and then SHARE this post with your friends on social media to help them become better entrepreneurs!