Accepting failure, and moving on
It’s an entrepreneurs dream — building something amazing, and only going up from there. I started building Terml.io in early May of 2015, this month starting 6 months since its launch, and this is its story.
I think every young entrepreneur is under the impression that it’s easier than it seems. Or at least I was. You read a hundred articles and stories that all say the same thing — “You will fail, and that’s okay.” And now, admitting Terml.io is a failure from a business perspective is hard for me. I’ll admit, many students have benefitted from the service, and I have as well, learning a lot about developing, user research, production-ready deployment, all valuable things to know in the real world, but from a business side, it didn’t work out, and for these reasons.
- I entered in to a very niche market, if you would even call it a market. Premium had limited features, with Quizlet integration and downloading a PDF — not quite as compelling as it needs to be to attract many customers, and it wasn’t a service people would use every day so ad hosting is hard. Terml.io experiences more of a spike around test time rather than a constant flow which causes a lot of downtime in activity.
- Marketing is much harder than it seems. I started out with the mentality of “Alright, I’ll gain a Twitter following, then I’ll run some promotions. New users will come.” No. That’s NOT how it works. Well, I assume in a way it is, but it’s not that easy. There needs to be much more planing in it, you need to have a goal when you’re marketing, and you need to know how to grab their attention. At the initial concept level, I had 200 views on my blog post. This led to a skewed expectation of numbers and led to what seemed like (and was) very slow growth.
- Lastly, the expectation. This is one where I’m not really sure how to explain it. I knew I wanted to grow it into a business, but I had huge expectations and a large imagination of what was to follow. I was definitely over estimating the demand for the product (or user adoption rates at least) and expected to make a lot more money than I did. Although it’s important to focus on building a business, I think a major part is taking a step back and saying “Let’s build a really cool product that people love to use.”
I think that’s a really great quote to leave off on. In fact, I love the idea behind it.
“Let’s build a really cool product that people love to use.”
It is the idea of working really hard for a product you can be proud of, and just building cool stuff. Don’t be afraid to fail as a business, as an entrepreneur, as an investor. Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and start a business, but don’t let that take control. Focus. Stay passionate. Stay committed to what you believe in — the product, the people, the mission. Fail once in a while, and suddenly what I’m telling you, along with the thousands of other posts that say the exact same thing that I never understood will make sense. You’ll learn valuable information. Use that to grow.