My Business Should Be Thriving, But Isn’t

I suspect I have many compatriots on this site. In 2011, I started a resume-writing service, after having been employed by my home state as a resume writer. Everyone I told about it said that I had picked a great business, and a great time to provide the service.

Now, as 2014 draws to a close, I’m broke, with no clients (due in no small part to an episode of depression I suffered in May), no phone calls… and no money.

In my more optimistic days, I purchased a ton of supplies and books, joined 3 professional organizations, set up a website, posted on LinkedIn, even (shudder) paid for advertising and SEO assistance. My biggest mistake during my more successful times, was to assume the money would increase, and that the money I spent would come back to me in the form of business. 

Nothing worked.

So if things don’t improve by February or March 2015, I am shutting down and looking for a “real” job, with a real salary and real benefits. Being in business for myself has come to resemble the nursery rhyme about the little girl with the curl: “When she was good, she was very, very good. But when she was bad she was ‘horrid.”

  • I’ve been there before, it’s about pride and money really. First your pride cops a beating… then after that your money disappears and then you pretty much don’t care about pride.

    My suggestion would be to sell off, recycle and make as much use of the asset and things you have for your business and get out of it.

    You’d be surprised how much better you’ll feel when you finally clear yourself of the burden, it’s very, very invigorating being able to just get rid of it.

    Then you’re going to have to get back to getting a real job yes, but you may or may not have a career. Otherwise possibly look for some unskilled work.

    I would give the startup entrepreneur life a break until you’re ready to have another crack at it. Possibly with a better idea and some funding.

  • What have you concluded to be the reasons why you are unable to get customers?

    Is it failure to reach enough potential clients?

    Is it that your service doesn’t obviously compare well with competitors?

    Is it that your value proposition isn’t strong, or isn’t being communicated well to those you are able to reach?

    Or maybe the business model is just poor: a successful resume write presumably means the customer has gotten a job, and thus won’t be on the market for some considerable period of time – which in turn means it is very difficult to spend money reaching new potential clients?

    The purpose of this exercise is to attempt to understand what the problem is – and whether it is fixable or not. “Sit and pray” is a very poor strategy.

    On my side: I’ve been hacking on a service for 5 years. On the plus side – the problem I seek to solve is extremely prevalent with low competition because it is a hard problem with many entry barriers.

    However, monetization was pretty much impossible. The economics of the product creation were also such that it was equally impossible to raise money to scale to new markets.

    I also tried many avenues – and it is from these exercises that the above questions came from.

    Earlier on, I spent money on advertising: SEO, radio, newspaper, internet ads, etc.

    However, these were all failures. Upon closer examination – the problem was that the monetization was poor, thus all marketing spending is a guaranteed money loser. Examining the monetization problem further – what I realized was that my potential customers were being asked to perform hundreds or thousands of repetitive tasks in order to avoid very rare $60 penalties. The sad fact is, most people just aren’t willing to do that.

    Many cascades of analysis later – the business model has changed completely – away from the consumer. The business is now at the point where marketing spending will make sense, funding is achievable (and is almost achieved), and I no longer wonder what’s going on (right or wrong) and why. The previous consumer angle hasn’t disappeared, but has been pushed off to a much later stage where the problems I identified in the user model and the monetization can be realistically solved – whereas the revenue, fundraising, and expansion model now is one that will work, I think.

    10% left to go to hit seed funding, I think I’ll get there this time.

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