Not every bat is a hit

Trying new stuff is part of the fun of running a business. During the past ten years or so we’ve tried five new business ideas: one was a flat out failure, one is slightly better than a financial wash and three have worked quite well. (That’s a pretty good success rate considering the old baseball adage: you must bat 10 times to get three hits!) And while the wins are the most fun and profitable, I don’t regret the things we tried that didn’t work out either. As my father used to tell me, “If you do nothing, you’ll make no mistakes.”

The failed venture involved licensing a specific software application we developed. Similar to the findings described in the new book Just Start: Take Action, Embrace Uncertainty, Create the Future, our new venture was a modest undertaking. It involved only myself and one employee and a limited test with one client. When it didn’t work as planned due to technology limitations, we simply abandoned the effort with very little lost revenue.

Determined to continue exploring new revenue streams, however, we decided to try selling our courseware directly to other training firms. As the authors of Just Start report, successful serial entrepreneurs “use the means at hand” when embarking on a new venture. That was the principle at work in this example from Intertech. Our investment in developing software training courseware is already built into our business model since that is what we use in our existing classroom and virtual training classes.

We also employed another Just Start principle: “stay within your acceptable loss.” To sell our courseware directly we used Yahoo ( to create a storefront, which limited our upfront investment.

And we’re also embracing the final Just Start adage to “manage expectations.” While relatively small given our overall sales, we are doing better than just breaking even. Not bad for a venture with little upfront cost or risk!

Next post:  Winning big by starting small.