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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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Neil Hughston is doing it all again after failing before

Neil Hughston is doing it all again after failing before

DUKE launched in January 2015 under the banner of Fortuna Audentes Iuvat, or Fortune Favours The Bold. The founders see it as their duty to ensure bold, brilliant and effective creative work makes it to the “streets”. Neil Hughston tells us more about his catalogue of business mistakes. 

Business mistakes example

I made some fundamental mistakes when I launched a different agency a few years ago, which has since shut its doors. The people I started the business with, although all talented and great in their right, weren’t the right team for me to launch a business with.

The other big mistake I made first time around was thinking that brands would jump at the chance to work with a startup. Even with all of our individual experience at bigger agencies, we found that many weren’t willing to take the risk with a startup.

Impact it had

At the time, the impact was such that I decided to close the business, so I’d say it was fairly substantial. It was deeply saddening for me personally, as well as for everyone who had worked so hard to try and make the agency a success. However, I’ve taken the knocks and learnings on board and can very happily say I’ve applied them a second time around.

In retrospect

Should I have seen it coming? Arguably yes. Allowing the passion and the determination to consume you often has the opposite effect.

Avoidance technique

Looking back I’m not sure it could have been avoided, or if I’d really want to change it. There’s much to be made of the clichéd, “people learn from their mistakes”, but it rings true. Now I always trust my gut as it’s the most true indicator of what is right for you, particularly when it comes to working with and hiring the people who make your business run.

Resolution effort

I took time to reflect. It sounds odd but you go through a grieving period when you close a business. I sought counsel from people I trusted and respected, and importantly they had either been in similar situations themselves, or were close to people who had been. After some time, they gave me the confidence to get going again.

Mistake learnings

You can be too trusting when you’re staring down the barrel of business closure but you really have no-one else to blame but yourself. All that said, learning to be able to forgive yourself is critical.

Next steps

You have to take a leap and jump back in. DUKE has been going for just over a year and so far, so very good. I took the time to reflect on my mistakes and rebuilt my confidence with them in mind. This time around, there is 100 per cent alignment between the partners, there is camaraderie, direct and focussed passion, energy and critically it’s a lot of fun.

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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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