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Seven incredible business mistakes that nearly meant shutting up shop

They say business mistakes are a big part of the entrepreneurial journey, but how do you recover from spectacular ones that threaten all of your hard work?
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Guy Mucklow

Guy Mucklow took on the US market, but had to retreat and think differently

PCA Predict provides address validation technology used to fill address details when shopping online. The firm’s CEO, Guy Mucklow, goes into detail about its business mistakes.

Business mistakes example

Our mistake was to not properly consider the most effective way of launching our service in the US. We made the very basic assumption that all we needed was an office a few sales people and then away we’d go when, however, the reality was quite different as we ended up with an expensive team of people who did not fully understand our service and who operated in a very disjointed way from the rest of our company.

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Impact it had

Thankfully it didn’t cost us too much as we made a fairly quick decision to change course and to try a different approach. Aside from the setback in time to market, there are other potential impacts on the business including damage to reputation, we had a poor review on Glassdoor from hastily shutting down the office, as you might expect.

In retrospect

Arguably yes, we should have seen it coming, as we have been selling remotely into the US market now for a number of years. However, this may have made us overconfident with our direct approach to selling through a new local office, than our other available options of concentrating on learning more about the market and building our brand.

Avoidance technique

We went about a radical shut down and restart. I also moved one of my sons over to do the early business development work on the basis that we needed to have what I have heard described as “DNA fit” in the office. That is someone who is very close to the company and that can provide the very regular feedback on the small changes that need to be made.

Resolution effort

In entering into any new overseas market the most important first step is to learn how your product or service needs adapt to suit the local conditions. It is therefore better to start with a good business development person, who knows your product very well and can feed back on the changes to the relevant teams in your local market.

Mistake learnings

The other key learning is that the selling style in large cities is very different to that of a small provincial town like Worcester. It needs people to be regularly networking, attending events, listening to others, building up trust and developing opportunities.

Next steps

On the positive side, there are things that I believe we have got right about our US market entry. We will not make the mistake of spreading ourselves too thinly by focusing our efforts on making New York our only hub until we can justify moving beyond.

Read on to discover how spending too much on advertising and marketing caused big problems.

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About Author

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter Ruthven is the editor of Real Business. He is also the editor of Business Advice, a title focused solely on a section of the business community currently underserved – micro companies. Alongside this, he is part of the team that hosts the Growing Business Awards, First Women Awards and Future 50 initiative.

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