What I Learned from Having a Failed Small Business

What I Learned from Having a Failed Small Business

Who reading this right now is trying to launch a small business? It can be an exciting adventure to take but one that comes with a lot of risks. No matter how much planning goes into it, the future remains unclear. One day there could be tons of customers and the next… Nothing. No sales, nada. And it’s like that for months.

You wonder what you else you could’ve done to drive sales and traffic before you closed shop. To help set your mind at ease and to help you avoid the mistakes I’ve made, I’ll go over what I did wrong and what I could’ve improved on. Take a look!

Be Passionate

This may seem like a silly subject to go over but it’s one that plays a big part in the success of any business. And from my experience, I realized I wasn’t as passionate for jewelry making as I thought I was. I never considered myself to be good with my hands. I wasn’t the “crafty” type. Instead, I wanted to be a writer. But I was told multiple times by a family member that it was unrealistic.

So, I decided to take my newfound jewelry making skills (thanks to a kit my mom got me for Christmas when I was around 15) and run with it. Around 18 or so, I decided to open my own small business. Let’s just say it lasted a few years with little results but we’ll touch more on that later. Compared to writing, I was more passionate about that than jewelry making.

The takeaway from this?

Do what you truly want to do and are passionate about. And please don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You’ll have a better chance of succeeding if you go with your gut.

Marketing Matters

Little did I know that marketing was a crucial part of a successful small business. Before you laugh at me, I had no knowledge of running a business. So I learned everything as I went. While that may not seem like a bad thing, it did stunt the business’ growth. Every other jewelry business on Etsy was growing at lightning speed while mine was at the speed of a turtle.

I did eventually drop some cash into Facebook and Instagram ads. But again, I didn’t know what I was doing. I just thought if I ran a couple of campaigns, the traffic would start to flow. Boy, was I wrong. I didn’t understand that were different marketing campaigns I could create. And not to mention I treated my business like everyone knew about it already.

With that said, brand awareness is vital. Forget that old saying, “if you build it, they will come” as it doesn’t work for businesses. In a world where there’s plenty of businesses now, it’s more important than ever that you stand out. I wish I would’ve gathered the funds to hire a professional to make my vision come alive in terms of branding.

Initial Capital is Needed

Speaking of funds, I failed to mention that I started this business with zero dollars. And while you may think that’ll make for a great success story, it doesn’t work that way all the time. I honestly respect those who started their thriving businesses with nothing because that’s something I couldn’t do.

I spent money on supplies but the budget wasn’t large. I had enough for beads, wire, and extra tools. With that said, that left nothing for marketing, packaging nor a brand. My bad planning skills left me in a hole since the start. Because I didn’t have enough for marketing, I couldn’t reach potential customers. And without a brand, I was uninteresting compared to other businesses in my field.

If this teaches you anything, it’s that having money at the start will pay off in the long-run. Now I’m not saying you need to have thousands. But accounting for materials, marketing, packaging and developing a brand, it’s best to estimate these costs so you know how much is needed.

Eagerness Can be a Downfall

I don’t know where I get it from but once I get an idea in my head, I want to execute it right away. That could be anything from a blog post or with my jewelry business, a design. While it’s great to have that kind of drive, if you can relate, it can also cause problems. And for me, it caused a huge one.

Remember how I said I didn’t develop a brand? Well, I didn’t know my aesthetic either. I just knocked out designs that were trending at the moment. That left me with a lot of unused materials and an aesthetic that changed monthly. Consistency is key and will always be for any type of business. Don’t let your eagerness or excitement get the best of you. Jot down your idea(s) first then map out a plan on how to achieve it. No matter what stage your business is in, make sure it’s going to be an asset to your products and/or services, not a loss.

Don’t Rely on Friends to Share Your Stuff

This probably sounds harsh but it was true for me. I’m an introvert so obviously I don’t have a lot of friends. Most of the people on my Facebook are friends from high school that I barely keep contact with. Unfortunately, I’ve seen it too many times where I’ve asked and encouraged them to share my stuff and they didn’t. But then days later I’ve seen them promoting another person’s stuff. It hurts but that’s why I couldn’t rely on them sharing my products. And it’s sad when I see other advice articles telling future business owners to encourage their friends to share their products/services because that’s not always the case for everybody.

The Takeaway

Having a small business is an exciting venture. It could mean success or failure. And for me, it was the latter. After almost four years in business, it was time to shut it all down. No rebrand or relaunch was going to save it. And frankly, I was okay with it.

I moved into writing and landed a job doing what I love. Do I have plans to create another business in the future? Oh heck yeah.

But am I planning for it and taking my time developing it? You best believe it.

Do you have questions about starting or running a small business? Is there mistakes you’ve made with yours that you’d like to share? Let me know!

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By Kayla Peart

Kayla Peart is a storyteller and poet wandering through life and wondering about it. She shares her findings through stories and poetry on Moonflwr, her newsletter.


  1. Good advice! I’m a full-time marketer and couldn’t agree more about how important marketing is. I think it takes so much courage to start a small business (I’m still trying to work my way up to that one). There’s some oft-cited statistic out there that entrepreneurs start and fail at many businesses before the find “the successful one,” so failure should never be seen as something final.


    1. Thanks so much, Heidi! I couldn’t have said it better myself. Failure is nothing to be ashamed of. If anything, it’s encouraging. Failure and making mistakes means that you’re one step closer to achieving what you really want. And in the end, you’ve already went through the obstacles so starting over is no big deal.

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