All posts tagged “failing”

6 reasons design education is failing the creative industry

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Is design education failing its students? How big is the gulf between education and industry – and are graduates equipped to hit the real world running? These are just three of many huge questions marks hanging over design education in the UK. Here, six leading creative professionals debate what’s wrong with higher education – and suggest what they would do to fix it…

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How to Deal With Failing In Your First Startup Business

So you’ve decided to finally apply the advice you keep hearing and reading about. You’re determined to build your own business. No more freelancing for you from now on! Good-bye hard-work, cranky clients and days of constant uncertainty about whether or not you’ll win that $ 3000 dollar project!

Welcome to that "12:00 o’clock going-to-the-office-never-have-to-answer-to-nobody" dream life! You’ll finally have the time and resources to do all the stuff you wish you’d done. Trips, vacations, freedom and prestige!

Well, you’ll first need to start your business. And guess what? You’ll very likely to end up closing it or selling its assets! And that’s a good thing. Let me explain.

Entrepreneurs Fail Constantly

That’s right. You could say it’s a never-ending, always-fashionable trend. Entrepreneurs, whether they’re dirt poor, millionaires or even billionaires, just keep on losing. Don’t believe the hype. That’s the real state of entrepreneurship. If you want to go into business for yourself, get ready for feeling failure and pressure about 90% of the time. But don’t worry. You’ll at least be in good company.

Did you know about Steve Jobs’s or Bill Gates failures? How about Walt Disney’s or Richard Branson’s? Did you know the average millionaire goes bankrupt at least 3.5 times or that 3 out of 4 start-ups funded by Venture Capital fail? If you were to generalize, by the 5th year, regardless of the industry, over half of all startups shut their doors.

That’s just facts.

But Why?

And the reasons why this is happening are even more ludicrous. According to StatisticBrain, the #1 reason all businesses fail is emotional pricing. That’s to say, entrepreneurs usually overprice their products or services and are too stubborn to adjust to the market. They fail and give up. It’s not the economic climate, the industry or management.

The list of bankruptcy reasons goes on, with increasing audacity and disregard for common sense:

  • Living too high for the business
  • Nonpayment of taxes
  • No knowledge of pricing
  • Lack of planning
  • No knowledge of financing
  • No experience in record-keeping

Why These Numbers Are Good News!

These high failure rates and stupendous reasons for failure are actually really encouraging for any budding entrepreneur. What they mean is:

  • Competition is really low.
  • You’re bound to succeed if you keep at it.

These reasons paint the picture of failure as being the most common element in business today. That’s normal. Because of this, the only winners in business are the ones who:

  • Apply common sense (no emotional pricing, paying your taxes, planning and adapting, etc.)
  • Continue practicing business after failure

That’s the big secret you don’t hear in the interviews: being an entrepreneur isn’t really so hard. Just keep at it and apply common sense. You only need one win and bam: you’re a hero. Even billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban admitted this in his book:

"It doesn’t matter how many times you fail. You only have to be right once and then everyone can tell you that you are an overnight success."

Your Business Will Fail

I can predict with great certainty that your first business will be a disaster. I’m happy to be the first to let you in on this secret. Wisdom comes from practice, so it really doesn’t matter how much you’ve read or been taught, how many PhDs you have or how much encouragement you get from family and friends.

You won’t have that common sense. You’ll reach too far. You’ll overexpand, overprice and treat clients and employees wrong. I know I’ve said it’s easy, but most of us aren’t born with that much needed common sense.

You’ll fail miserably. Almost nobody makes a million dollars with their first business. Almost nobody makes that first jump. Not even superheroes. Neo from The Matrix Series can fly and dodge bullets but even him didn’t make that first jump in the movie.

Here’s Neo looking smug and confident.

Here’s Neo doing/failing his first jump

The sooner you are OK with failing, the sooner you’ll be successful.

And don’t think for a second that just because you’ve failed, you won’t be able to get investors or hire people again. That’s because real investors and smart people aren’t surprised by failure. They already know these hard facts of the business world.

Charles Holloway, director of Stanford University’s Center for Entrepreneurial Studies summed it up beautifully:

“How well a failed entrepreneur has managed his company, and how well he worked with his previous investors, makes a difference in his ability to persuade U.S. venture capitalists to back his future start-ups.”

What All This Means For You

So the conclusion is you should start your first business as soon as possible, so that you’ll be able to fail as soon as possible. The sooner you fail, the better. You want to have a startup mind. One awesome idea to apply comes from Start-Up Nation, a book covering the impressive financial success of Israel:

If an entrepreneur has a business idea, he should start it that week.

Stop preparing. Stop building features for your clients who aren’t even there yet. Just stick a Beta Version next to the brand’s name and go to market. Good enough is good enough. If given the choice, take speed over quality. Nothing worse than an uncertain, perfectionist Captain fighting the storm.

What To Do When Failure Comes Knocking

After your business fails, here’s what you need to do:

Find comfort in the facts and figures given in this article. Re-read them. Internalize them. You are not special. You didn’t make the first jump. You’re normal and that’s OK.

Evaluate asssets. Every business, no matter how bad, has some sort of assets. Cars, equipment, office space or maybe intellectual property, employees or client base. Even if the business is making no money, you still had to have some clients or maybe you’ve worked and had ongoing relationships with different companies. Those are still valuable assets. Maybe you have an nice commercial lease worked out. That’s a plus in any buyer’s eyes.

If you have a brand name, that’s awesome. Brands carry a lot of value for investors. I’ve seen business saved just because they had mass appeal thanks to their brands. Open up a spreadsheet and list all your assets. If you aren’t happy with what you have, add another column. Call it "Experience" and in the corresponding cell write "Invaluable". You’ll feel better and it’s absolutely true.

Sell the assets individually or collectively as a business. Another scenario would be to give it away and keep a certain percentage if you think the business still has potential. If you have trouble finding a willing buyer or person to take over, consider these routes:

  • Contacting the competition
  • Contacting business partners
  • Asking your accountant or lawyer. They’re usually well connected.
  • Being honest and asking your employees.
  • Being honest and asking your employees if they know somebody.
  • Ads, forums, blogs, newspapers
  • Universities. Find a young, hungry wannabe entrepreneur. Give it away for free and keep a percentage.
  • Try gatherings or conferences from your industry. Don’t be shy.

The Last Step

Now you’ve sold it or gave it away and kept an interest, sit down. Relax. Detach. Open the spreadsheet. Write the top 3 mistakes you’ve done while owning the business. Write the corresponding 3 lessons you’ve learned. Once you’ve done this, it’s time to restart.

Restart as soon as possible. You’re now closer than ever to being a successful entrepreneur.

Are You Failing at Social Media?

You may be on social media and still see no benefits for your web design business. How could this be true, you might wonder.

To answer the question, let me share a childhood memory from my school days. Many of my teachers started each class period by taking roll, calling out the names of the students who were registered for the class. If you were there, you simply answered “present” or raised your hand when your name was called. Of course, nobody answered for the students who were absent that day.


Being marked “present” was important because it meant you would receive credit for the day’s activities in class. If you were simply enrolled in the class, but never showed up, your chances of passing were slim.

When it comes to social media, some web designers are like those students who were enrolled, but never showed up. They may have a social media profile out there, but when it comes to social media participation they’re failing. To make effective use of social media for your web design business, you have to take part.

In this post, we’ll take a look at five steps to help you use social media to build your web design business.

Step #1: Define Your Social Media Plan

As with any other business venture, it’s important to have a plan for using social media. Your plan doesn’t necessarily have to be in writing, but you should have some basic strategies and goals. Don’t expect to get results if your social media usage is haphazard.

Here are some questions to help you develop an effective social media plan for your business:

  • Who are my clients and prospects?
  • Where do my clients and prospects interact online?
  • Who are the online influencers in my field?
  • How do I want prospects, clients, and other web design professionals to perceive me?

As you discover answers to these questions, the direction your social media plan should talk will start to become obvious.

Step #2: Build Your Social Media Presence


Where should you build a social media presence? If you asked the questions I suggested in Step #1, you have a pretty good idea where your clients and prospects interact online. You definitely need to be where your clients and prospects are.

For U.S.-based web designers, I always recommend the big four social media platforms as a bare minimum. Here’s a brief description of each:

  • Facebook. This social platform ranks #1 in most lists of social media site popularity. The most recent statistics are from eMarketer, as quoted in Shea Bennett’s recent post on social media statistics, published on the AllTwitter blog. Facebook’s own statistics put the number of users at over one billion.
  • Google+ . Recent studies show that Google+ is now more popular than the older social networks of Twitter and LinkedIn. While Google+ is relatively new to the social media, it has been growing quickly and offers many benefits (such as hangouts and connectivity to Google Drive) to small businesses and freelancers.
  • Twitter. This is a unique social media tool built around micro blog posts of 140 characters. Despite the character limitation, the social platform has been extremely popular with celebrities, writers and journalists, and many others.
  • LinkedIn. This platform is significant for web designers (or anyone looking for work), not only because of its size, but because of who is on it. LinkedIn was designed to appeal to professionals. Nearly every Fortune 500 company is represented here as well as the CEOs and key decision-makers for many smaller companies.

You shouldn’t necessarily limit yourself to just the most popular social networks, however. There are a number of smaller communities that are very active. If you find a forum or site where your prospects interact with each other, that is a good place to be.

Step #3: Complete Your Social Media Profiles

Who are you, according to your social media profiles?

Guess what? For many prospects, what appears in your social media profile is exactly how they’ll perceive you. Your social media profile is the very first impression that they’ll have of you–and you can’t make a first impression twice.

Examine each of your social media profiles carefully to make sure that it is complete and reflects your business goals.

Here are some things to look for:

  • Image. First of all, your profile should have one. Lack of an image is a sure sign of a fake account or a spammer. Your profile image should be professional. It’s okay to use a logo, but people respond better to a face.
  • Description. Your profile should describe your business. Tip: If you have an about page on your website, try condensing it to the most important points to come up with a powerful social media user description.
  • Contact information. Even if you have a professional image and a good description of your business in your social media profile, prospects need a way to contact you directly.
  • Links. Include links to your website, blog, and portfolio. Linking to blogs where you’ve written authoritative posts in your specialty is especially important on Google+.
  • Participation. Last, but not least, your social media profile should reflect some recent activity. We’ll discuss this more in Steps #4 and #5.

Step #4: Examine Your Social Media Shares


Social media sharing as a freelance web designer or small business owner is not the same as the way you probably shared on social media in college. Avoid posting about wild parties, your latest escapade, or even mundane details such as where you ate lunch. Your prospects aren’t really interested in those things, and in some cases sharing them could actually harm your business.

One strategy that many freelancers and small businesses use is to regularly share information that you know will be useful to your target market. Naturally, this would include information from your own blog, but don’t simply broadcast your blog posts and press releases. Include information from other leading sources of information. You’ll know you’re doing it right when someone thanks you for your helpful shares.

Also, be on the look out for prospects who ask simple questions that you can easily help them with. Naturally, you don’t want to provide extensive free consulting through social media (at least not on a regular basis), but you’d be surprised at the number of simple questions that are asked that would only take a few minutes of your time to answer.

When it comes to building an online presence for your web design business, you are what you share.

Step #5: Control Your Social Media Interactions

Are you enrolled in social media, but fail to show up?

A surprising number of web designers are. Like my childhood teacher who didn’t give participation grades to kids who were absent, you can’t expect to benefit from social media unless you actually take part. It’s not enough to simply have a bunch of inactive profiles.

By take part, I don’t mean that you have to live on social media 24/7. There are many large and even medium-sized companies that can afford a full-time social media specialist, but odds are that your design business isn’t one of them. Don’t even begin to compare yourself to those who are on social media full-time–you’ll only get frustrated.

Fortunately, by interacting intelligently with others on social media you can still reap benefits in just a few hours a week. Sure, you may not rake in thousands of leads like a major brand would, but you can connect in a meaningful way with a handful of targeted prospects every week.

How Do You Participate?

What is your best social media tip? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Vandelay Design Blog

UK music store HMV forced into administration after failing to overcome online competitors

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HMV, a 91-year-old retailer of music, film and games on the UK high street, is set to fade into financial oblivion, having failed to counter the rise of online shopping. The 239-store chain has confirmed it will appoint accountancy firm Deloitte as its financial administrator, to determine how best to dispose of its assets. The company’s stores won’t be closed up until a determination of their future is made, but HMV has said it will not be accepting any gift cards as payment, nor will it be using new ones.

The demise of HMV, a longtime mainstay on UK high streets that started its life with a store on the world famous Oxford Street back in 1921, is the latest in a string of big-name collapses in recent times. From Best Buy’s costly…

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