Don't quit your day job!
And more advice from John Houseal, Founder GIVN Water
GIVN is a social enterprise and B-corporation. Their mission is to turn everyday purchases into meaningful good. GIVN's flagship product is their 'Seriously Good Spring Water.' Their premium alkaline spring water is sourced regionally. Every bottle they sell funds a day of clean drinking water for a person in need. GIVN believes that giving should be easy and the impact of the consumer's choice should be clear and meaningful. Here are John's tips for what NOT to do:
1. Don't invest in PR and Branding too early. There is any number of people standing by willing to take your money for varying levels of commitments from thousands of dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. One of the things that we honed over time is understanding the best use of public relations teams and creative and branding teams. It is very difficult to get a lot of value out of those investments early on. That is an area where we squandered a lot of money. It is a tricky scenario. You have enough money to get their attention, but not enough money to command their attention. For the money that you can pay them early on, it is not enough to demand a high level of commitment from them. However, once you figure out who you are and what you want to do, they can be very powerful.
2. Don't just "fail fast," learn quicker than you fail. How you get caught learning slower than you fail is not being able to walk away from some costs or investments you are not going to be able to get back. We went through the revamp of our website which cost us a large amount of money and the result was just a mess. It was not where it needed to be to get us where we wanted to go. $10,000 went into that. Most people escalate their commitment when they encounter a failure. We have learned to de-escalate our failure and turn away from it as fast as we can. You have to be able to cut your losses. Sometimes it is very personal. We have had business partners be unethical or disingenuous. It has cost us thousands of dollars. It is easier to learn that expensive lesson rather than spending your mental energy to try to fix it. Walking away is key.
3. Don't quit your day job. The biggest set up for failure is just jumping in when you don't really have the business figured out. Wozniak of Apple didn't quit his day job until three years into the company. Phil Knight still worked for Price Waterhouse also for three years into starting Nike. I still work a day job, my co-founder still works a day job. At some point, we will move to a full-time model. You're going to need the runway and the secondary income to figure out the learning moments where you can fail and not be devastated by them.