I thought I’d share some of my biggest mistakes so far in launching my travel business. Why? Nobody wants to play the role of the fool, right? But I also think mistakes are part of the success process. And after all…sharing is caring, right?
Mind you, like Arianna Huffington, I don’t believe in the concept of mistakes. You either win or you learn is how the saying goes. So while I’ll refer to missteps as mistakes below, they aren’t, really. And no matter what advice I give, you are going to make your own set of missteps. Hopefully, you won’t make these, but if not these…I’m sure you’ll make new ones. That’s how things go. How ‘bout a game of “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours?”
1. Don’t Waste time on a fancy travel website
Listen, it’s not that I have a fancy website. I don’t. But what I have is a functional website. It’s a long way from perfect and every day I think I should move a button here or replace an image there. But then I stop myself and give my head a shake.
The mistake I made when I was at the beginning of this journey is thinking I couldn’t launch my business without a perfect website. I agonized over it. The fear of launching a less than amazing website right off the runway had me stuck taxiing around the tarmac and getting nothing done.
We are so spoiled with technology today that we can have a website up and running within a few hours – yet it took me months. If I were to do it all over again, I would have chosen an off the shelf website builder – think Squarespace, Wix or Weebly, to get me going. The thing is, you are always going to be improving your site. Once you get your feet wet, you’ll have a better idea of what your site needs to become. Not to mention, you’ll have a ton of support at your fingertips.
The crucial point being, don’t get hung up on this. I wish I hadn’t. Done is better than perfect every time.
2. Don’t Waste money on a logo
I get it. Almost nothing makes one feel more legit and worthy of wearing the “I’m a small business owner” badge more than a fancy logo. I’m betting that’s exactly what Phil Knight said as he tossed and turned in his small Oregon apartment back in 1964 when he launched Nike.
KIDDING – I would never make that bet. I know it wasn’t until 1971 that Phil contracted one of his graphic design students to create his infamous swoosh. $35 for 17 hours of work. That’s what it took to come up with a bunch of logos that would evoke the concept of motion. Legend has it that Knight didn’t even love what Carolyn Davidson came up with, but meh…it was good enough.
The important point in all this is that Nike went without a logo for seven years. No logo! Can you imagine it?
Today, you can create a logo easy-peasy using design platforms like canva.com or picmonkey.com. Don’t overthink it and don’t do what I did, and that was to pay a fancy designer to come up with a branded logo that I ultimately trashed. Not her fault, of course. I had no business designing a logo when I didn’t even have my business idea fully fleshed out yet.
3. Don’t Waste time on building the wrong social media following
I cringe when I consider all the time I wasted in building a social media following..
All the social media mavens say…don’t worry about the number of followers you have. But then you look at their accounts and they have 100K+ so you just wonder if they aren’t secretly trying to sabotage your efforts.
And hear me out. If my goal was to meet new friends from around the globe who share my love of travel, then that goal was accomplished tenfold. However very few people in my circle of Instagram friends are in my target market. They’ve been super supportive, but the chances of them ever wanting to start a career selling travel…
Let’s just say they are as slim as a stick with the wood chipped off.
My efforts would have been much better spent creating content that my target market would have found useful, even if that market was a small subset of my larger audience. Meh…live and learn.
4. Don’t waste both time and money on buying too many courses
Let me preface this by saying I agree wholeheartedly with Warren Buffett’s advice :
So to be clear, you need to up-level your skills when the opportunity presents itself. My advice, however, from a course-taking junkie, is to only purchase courses that can help you move through whatever you are working on at the moment.
Me – I went out and bought courses on how to master Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Web design and needle-point. If there was a course that I thought I might need somewhere down the line, I bought it.
Now, I have a hard drive full of courses – some that I may never open if I’m being completely honest with myself.
What I should have done instead, regardless of the bulk buying discount offers, was to stick with one course, master it and then move to the next.
Sometimes we fall victim to getting ourselves stuck in the “learning” phase. We talk ourselves into believing that we are accomplishing things because we are “learning.” But the reality is, it’s just another form of procrastination in disguise. We already know what to do…we just need to do it.
5. Don’t delay starting an email list
In my defence, this is one mistake I didn’t make. I didn’t make it because I have an amazing team of mentors. And they all said, “Start an email list today.” But I’m still listing it as a mistake because I don’t think I took their advice strongly enough.
For months, I simply had…” Join my email list” as a drop-down on my “coming soon” website. And not surprising, only my besties left their deets.
What I should have done was to craft an irresistible offer – a free giveaway. Something that was just so good that people would not only hand over their “real” email address, but they’d also tell me their blood type if I asked. I’ll go more into the concept of lead magnets later down the line. Even if you are just in the “thinking about it” stage, it never hurts to start collecting an audience.
And best news of all, you don’t need a website. You just need a landing page, which most email service providers offer.
6. Don’t suffer from shiny ball syndrome
Along the same lines as Mistake #5, I suffered from too many irons in the fire. (I still do, to some extent). You’ve probably heard the analogy…you can kick one soccer ball many times and score the winning goal. Or you can kick several soccer balls just once and you’ll just be out on the field, surrounded by soccer balls. 😞
I wish I had focussed my energies on one thing at a time, and finished it before starting the next.
If you are anything like me, you probably have multiple browsers open this very second.
I now give myself chunks of time – I set alarms on my phone – and I’m not allowed to move from one task to the next until I’ve heard that all too familiar iPhone chime signalling to me it’s okay to do so.
This mistake is also procrastination sneakily disguised as yet another great idea. Well, everyone has great ideas, but ideas are nothing unless we put them into action strategically.
7. Getting confused by listening to too many teachers.
The last misstep I made was bringing on too many mentors in the early stages. Ugh…I wince when I think back on it now. It’s not that I didn’t learn something valuable from each of them, but you know what they say about opinions. 😳
The problem was that often, their opinions contradicted each other. I became so confused that I was paralyzed to make the right decisions about what was best for my business.
If I were to go back in time, I would have chosen one or two experts in each field that had achieved amazing success and stuck with those, adding a set of blinders to my fashionable attire.
As my farm granny used to always say…” There are more ways than one to skin a cow.” Truth is, all the advice I was getting would have probably got me to the finish line eventually, but taking bits from one guru and bobs from another, just stifled my growth.
I’ll admit, writing this article required me to be vulnerable. I fear it might sound like I have next to nothing figured out. And I will say, sometimes it feels that way. But these past eighteen months have been a lesson in hard knocks that I am grateful for.
And now that I’ve shown you mine…
What was the one mistake you made in your career that you learned something from? Leave a comment below.