Currently in the process of developing the first black-owned cryptocurrency exchange platform, self-made millionaire Mpho Dagada talks about how his failures in business helped him to navigate his way towards success in this edited extract from his memoir, Mr Bitcoin: How I became a millionaire at 21.
Chapter 5: Fail, learn-continue!
After closing my cleaning service, I began a quest for optimal profits with minimal efforts. I met a lady named Awe who sold Herbalife products, for managing weight loss and nutrition.
I became interested in joining Awe on this venture because she was making a lot of money.
With network marketing, people focus narrowly on selling the prospect of success. I was good at this, so I was confident that I would certainly make money selling Herbalife.
Within no time I realised that selling these products was very difficult! People didn’t easily buy into what I was selling, so I decided to sell the benefits of the products.
In those years I was chubby, so I gave the products a test run and marketed the benefits using myself as an example. I lost the weight, but despite this effort, I still struggled to lock down clients and this was a source of great frustration.
Awe was successful in her marketing strategy as it was social at heart. She was active on Facebook and would lure clients by selling the benefits on her social media profiles. Then she would invite people to “shake parties” to taste and buy the products.
Awe’s strategy worked for her because she’s an extrovert. But I’m an introvert, so I soon lost interest in Herbalife.
My quest for passive income continued, and I came across another network marketing group, Amway. This was another international company which uses multi-level marketing to sell health, beauty, and home care products. Again, I was sold on the dream and I joined them.
We would create events around the products selling the benefits of Amway.
These events attracted people, but I still struggled to make recruits. I even tried to recruit my parents, who declined with the utmost respect.
Amway showed me that within a network marketing scheme, one can remain at the bottom of the food chain for a long time.
That is why I left Amway. I needed something new, and I needed something different. I couldn’t let my failure with Amway determine my next move.
I had to carry on and take the failure as another opportunity to learn and grow.
Having an idea for a new business venture is one thing, but having the guts and the time to implement your idea is another.
As I interacted with the business world and business people, I spotted a mistake that’s often made.
And that is to quit your current job or studies to pursue a business idea. In business, passion and bravery go hand-in-hand, but sensibility and time management are the keys to success.
I started my business while I was still a student because I wanted to have an option once I completed my studies. I wanted to ensure that I had something to fall back on, should I not find a job in my field of study.
My parents were very clear that they would only support me to a certain point – because I was expected to complete my studies, find a job and support myself.
So I didn’t tell them about the business I was running while simultaneously applying myself to my studies.
I could not tell the people who inspired me the most in the first place about how I was following in their footsteps.
These small failures were moulding me into the person that I am today. When you think about your business, what runs through your mind?
Don’t just think of the end result but about the building blocks as well: your business plan, your team, your strategies. Break down your thoughts into building blocks that will lead to your end result.
When you look at what you’re trying to build, look at it from the end but always start from the beginning. Envision what you want to achieve, then figure out ways to get to it.
In the building process you’ll come across unforeseen changes and you just have to accept them as they come.
If you stick to a static and rigid mentality, chances are you won’t go far because the business world is ever evolving and things change every day.
It’s important to adopt a flexible mindset if you’re going to make it, because certain things will force you to change your route, and if you’re not flexible enough you just might give up.
Step into your business with a flexible mentality and be ready to solve whatever challenge comes your way. Be a problem solver who always thinks of new ways of tackling challenges.
And most importantly – be innovative. You also need to adopt a mentality that doesn’t give up because you are sure to encounter serious hurdles. Instead of being overwhelmed by problems you must always think like a winner.
Seeking advice and reading books helps shape your mentality. You become a resourceful thinker and with time your mentality broadens and doesn’t limit you.
Get into the habit of reading, and don’t seek validation from opinions – but rather from research.
One person’s opinion cannot be your deciding vote. You also need to broaden your perspective and rely on factual information instead of opinions and anecdotes.
Businesses encounter various challenges in the initial growth stages which often lead to financial constraints. If you have a business idea, go out and implement it.
If you fail, fail quickly, learn from it and improve. Instead of sitting idly waiting for funding, rather take the initiative and fail if you are going to fail. This concept will eliminate any fears that the business might not work.
Start and fail. And then in that failure, learn why it did not work out, find a solution, integrate it and continue with your business.
- Published by Jacana Media, Mr Bitcoin: How I became a millionaire at 21 is available at major book stores for the recommended retail price of R195.