My 3 biggest failures as an Entrepreneur and what you can learn from them

Greg Hung World explorer, film-maker & entrepreneur
Greg Hung World explorer, film-maker & entrepreneur originally from Vancouver, Canada. Currently in Taiwan.

Wasting Time and Money outsourcing my website

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The digital nomad lifestyle is my current path

 

In my 3.5 years since leaving corporate and returning to corporate I’ve made some mighty failures and had some small wins. It was painful to share my 3 biggest failures as an Entrepreneur, but hopefully you can learn from them and gives me a chance to reflect on what I’ve learned.

What can you learn from my experiences? Outsourcing my website to Odesk – I had heard from my colleagues in my MBA class and the Vancouver startup community about sites like O-desk and E-lance. I decided to shell out $2500 CDN to a company in India to do my website using O-desk. I took my time to carefully research the team and everything. I was even pleasantly surprised by the mockups. After that the project just went downhill. I saw the working prototype and even though I had an assigned project manager there were huge miscommunications. After 4-6 months I saw that I was not going to get my site and I was left my some useless code and files. I eventually decided to get it built locally in Vancouver even thought I knew it would be more expensive. I started by the big names and they eventually referred me to a talented local team called IdeaHack that built me this site.

Lesson learned:

  • I could have saved 4-6 months and $2500 CDN by hiring a local team right away. Hire local to where you are.
  • Your website is your foundation and hub on the Internet. Expect to invest some time and money upfront. It will pay off for you in the long term
  • Outsource smaller things like a logo not larger things like a website

Putting all my eggs into a MBA Business Plan

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My Vancouver Taiwanese friend Allen introduced me to Taiwan which was a better environment for my goals

Our final MBA project was a super business plan where me and my partner at the time co-wrote a business plan to start a luxury tour company in Vancouver. I left a good job in Vancouver as an IT manager and sold my apartment that was contingent on it being successful. I spent a lot of money on administration and legal costs incorporating and worrying about logo trademarks. The first tour was failure and I realized while doing the first tour there were a lot of things we overlooked as we weren’t in the industry. First, the travel industry in Vancouver is seasonal. Unless you come here to ski the best time to travel here is in the Summer time. The second is that to tie up hotel rooms from a nice hotel like the Fairmont for a tour on a discount you need to pre-pay them and take responsibility for them if they you can’t sell them. This was high risk and not on the business plan we had worked on almost full-time for 3 months.

On the positive side I hired a video production company that ended up inspiring me to combine by existing passion for Travel, which is a huge part of what I do to this day.

Lessons learned:

  • Don’t rely solely on a business plan and be prepared to make adjustments if things don’t work out
  • Have the mind-set of putting our small experiments and investing more time and money into those that work
  • I would instead try something less risky like try to market and sell and existing tour for another company
  • Don’t worry about administration costs until you prove you’ve got some sales to prove you have an existing business

Patience

I was in a rush to leave the corporate world and start my dream and make big money right away. I was spending lots of money on a website, and camera equipment, rent, and travel. If I could do it again with the wisdom that I have now I would have gone on a working holiday to Taiwan with my camera equipment. Taiwan would give me access to high speed internet and a low cost environment allowing me time to experiment. I would have started listening to podcasts from Internet entrepreneurs like Pat Flynn on smartpassiveincome.com and building up an audience

Lessons learned:

  • Don’t be in a rush to change the world so quickly. I spent too much money too quickly and making costly mistakes before learning from others that had already had success
  • Vancouver wasn’t the right environment for me. It’s expensive, cold, and expensive to travel from. Look at your environment and decide whether it’s right for you. If not access all your options. In my case Taipei, Taiwan is a better environment for me. I’ve got access to low cost living, safe, fast internet, cheap travel, and I can learn Mandarin.

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