My first entrepreneurial disappointment: Starting a mini-news feed before the internet was even born.
Circa 1988 I had the idea to launch a placemat format mini-news feed that would allow people to read short news while having a coffee. It was the prehistoric version of Twitter ;) . Was this idea avant-garde? I don't know, because no one else has. But in 1988, the Internet didn't exist yet, and the only way to pass the time alone at the restaurant was to read the newspaper. So bingo! An entrepreneurial idea had just been born. We will print short stories on a placemat and distribute them each evening. . Elementary my dear Watson! Not quite
The disposable placemat market in the middle of the restaurant
I didn't need to do much research to realize there was a potential market, because just about every restaurant has disposable placemats. As a somewhat naïve student, I told myself that my idea was so brilliant that they were all going to say yes to me. Besides, I had met a few restaurants and they had all told me that it was a good idea. My entrepreneurial ego was pumped up then, but it's dangerous. It's not because they thought it was a good idea that they were going to abandon their usual suppliers to come to me. But that is a detail that I refused to assimilate.
From university work to potential business
This idea came from a university assignment that involved creating a business plan with a fictional but potentially real company.
On paper, it was easy: we were going to hire journalists, buy a printing press and trucks for distribution. We had all this recorded in a nice file. Ah yes, there were of course small additional details to take into account, in particular for the expenses.
As for revenue, it was simple: we would sell the placemats for pennies and include news and advertising. But, oops! If we were selling advertising, we still had to find people to solicit companies.
Believing that others will embark on our project
It was supposed to be just a college assignment. But I'm not an academic, and even though I'm not yet an entrepreneur, that's what I want to become. So, the project MUST see the light of day. Since when does an entrepreneur work just for fun?
As long as the project was just a college project, it was pretty fun. Then we started going around the banks. In reality, we only visited a bank, and when I asked for a loan of $200,000, they asked me how much I was putting down. My answer ? Come on, ZERO ! That's why I'm here. I have the idea, YOU have the money, I think that's enough!
What I quickly learned from this experience was daydreaming . An entrepreneur cannot afford to dream in color, he must dream because it is the very essence of entrepreneurship.
Failure in entrepreneurship is important to learn as early as possible. Being told no to my GENIUS idea (I'll never know if it really was), was a failure for me. For any entrepreneur, his idea must be brilliant. Yes, we must dream BIG , but we must also remain realistic according to our financial situation. Dreams can be a source of motivation and inspiration, but they must also be achievable.
As an entrepreneur, it is important to know the costs and expenses related to our business, so that we can plan effectively and make informed decisions. If we have a dream, but we don't have the financial resources to realize it, it can turn into a color dream, an idea that has no real foundation. It is therefore important to keep a balance between our dreams and our financial reality. If we have a dream, but don't yet have the resources to make it happen, we can work toward that long-term goal. We may seek investors, business partners or loans to help finance our business.
In the end, my dream of launching a mini news feed on a restaurant placemat never materialized. But this experience was a valuable learning that shaped my professional life. Today, I only launch projects or products that I am able to finance. This failure early in my career taught me that we must dream to the extent of our financial capacities. Banks are there to remind us that there is a difference between REASON and PASSION.
And let's be honest, it's never a failure if it costs nothing!
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Bon reportage, j,ai aimé.