Lessons Learned In Business

Where Did It Go Wrong?


As I sit back and watch workers tearing down warehouse shelving that was bought only a year ago, I think to myself “where did it go wrong?”

Only a year ago, we were a prospering company coming off the heels of a $3.5 million sales fiscal year with a ranking in the INC 5000 list as the 722nd fastest growing company in the U.S.  Employees were busily working putting together that same shelving in a nice fresh 25,000 square foot warehouse.  On Friday mornings, employees would walk into work with the fresh smell of pancakes.  It was Flapjack Friday of course – and it allowed me to get to know my employees better as I slaved over the griddle.  There were plans to build our company into a driving force on Amazon, eBay, Rakuten, and on Google.  Life was good.

“Where did it go wrong?”

Flash forward to today, where the sound of metal hitting the concrete floor reminds me of much better times.  The company I built from scratch almost nine years ago is shutting its doors.  Everything is being sold off, and I’ll be “out of a job”.  A job I created myself.

Many, many hard lessons have been learned over those nine years.  Taking a business from nothing and building it to something that many employees called home takes a lot of hard work.  There were MANY late nights and many weekends worked.  Sometimes to the detriment of my family.  At times, my wife had to almost slap me on the head as a reminder to not work so much.

Why the story?  It gives you a glimpse into what my life was as a CEO of an e-commerce company that mainly sold wares on Amazon.com.  I thought I was putting in those hours for a specific reason – to build my e-commerce company into an Internet Retailer 500 company.  Now, I know better.  I now believe the reason I put those long hours in wasn’t to build a large company.  It was to gain the knowledge I needed to be able to make myself a better life.

During the past nine years, I’ve played nearly every role you can think of – purchaser, customer service manager, human resources, hiring manager, policy writer, warehouse designer, warehouse manager, accounting…etc.  You get the idea.  Out of all the things I did during this time, there are two things I enjoyed the most – doing research / trying new things out, and teaching people.  I love watching the light bulb goes off when someone learns something new.  I also get a high when I try something new out.  Sometimes they bomb, and sometimes they skyrocket.  My thinking is – at least I try it.  Hopefully there will be more studs than duds.  I would use the line “crash test dummy”, but Pat Flynn already has that tag line on lock down.  I’ll have to think of something else.

Remember, mistakes are not failures – they are just lessons learned!
Knowing those are the things that make me tick, Lessons Learned in Business was born.  On this website I plan on bringing you on a journey with the many lessons I’ve learned in business.  I also plan on bringing on the lessons learned by many entrepreneurs, with the hope that you can learn from those lessons.  Remember, mistakes are not failures – they are just lessons learned!

Let’s start on this journey together, sharing those tough lessons learned in business.

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Chris Potter

Chris Potter is an internet entrepreneur that loves working on businesses and helping others with their businesses. He has operated businesses that have sold over $25 million in retail sales, bought and sold a blog design business, and started websites from scratch. Skyrocket your business by joining his Mentoring Program!

4 CommentsLeave a comment

  • You clearly have a lot of courage in order to talk about what must have been a very painful time in your life – thank you for doing this. I’m sure hearing about your experiences will be helpful to many people. You said that the business model was flawed. Can you elaborate on this? In hindsight, what would you have done differently?

    • Thanks for the comment Josie! The biggest part of the business model that was flawed was being so highly seasonal, relying on one sales channel (Amazon), running on thin margins, and being highly leveraged with that sort of product. The end result was needing to support a large amount of overhead during ‘off months’.

      As far as what I would do differently – well, that’s what I’m doing now :)

      I decided to work with higher margins. In addition, I no longer deal with purely seasonal product, unless it’s a really small portion of my overall inventory. Also, I don’t heavily leverage (credit) inventory anymore like I used to. I still use credit for sure, but not as heavily as I used to.

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