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The Entrepreneur's Brain: Learning from Failure

I won't embellish it, it was a failure.

A few weeks back, I attempted to make the leap from selling guitars personally to selling over eBay. I was in no way prepared for the negative response. Coming from the safe bubble of my friends and family's support, I already envisioned all the "Great Bass!" remarks and, even more, the profits rolling in. I completed a full time-study on the bass, tracked every expense and ran profit projections.

Mmm... feels good to lounge in dream-land, doesn't it? Nothing but feel-good nacho cheese waterfalls and day long naps.

Actual responses:
"Is this a joke?"
"Great job on the 'custom' bass?"

Owch. What happened? I had yet to ever hear any comment about my work other than a "That's awesome!" so I was a little unsure of what to think.

The issue was this; I made this bass by hot-rodding an entry-level SX Jazz Bass a set of awesome pickups, a custom paint job, and a tune up correcting simple manufacturer issues that happen on low-end basses (Such as fret leveling & crowning). (Protip, the two most important things for a guitar's sound are wood an electronics.) I'm proud of this bass for sound, looks, and playability.

So naturally, I wrote a powerfully written ad.

However, I decided to get all MBA fancy and call it a DM Custom Bass instead of what I should have called it, SX Bass - Upgrade or HOT-ROD SX Bass.

Bad move.

People read the ad about a custom bass guitar and expected everything to be hand-crafted. The market thought different things when it saw my ad than I expected. When the customer saw the dissonance between what was an upgraded bass and the custom bass they expected, they lashed out with full-on internet-hate.

Lesson 1: Improper or inaccurate marketing is a searing insult to potential customers.

So it's back to the drawing board on developing the right sales environment for my guitars. Lesson learned.

This event brought to mind a fascinating article from INC that made the rounds on the blogs recently about the difference between how successful entrepreneurs and successful corporate businessmen think. 

The study essentially took in entrepreneurs and corporate folk, and had them make a business plan and deal with "problems" as they arose. Through the whole process, everyone thought out loud and recorded their thought processes.

The big takeaway from this study: Entrepreneurs had fluid goals and eschewed "fancy modeling" in favor of trying to sell the product first to get market information directly from the customers. The corporate businessmen used models, created hard goals, and created "structured plans to success." Both are very effective strategies. Like penguins and ostriches, each individual developed strategies that was effective in its own environment but would be useless in any other climate.

If you're a corporate musician, you don't need this blog because someone is paid to do all this for you. For the rest of us, we need to think like entrepreneurs.

Lesson 2: Musicians are entrepreneurs selling an unproven product. To be successful, they must maintain flexible goals and adapt to the marketplace to survive.

There's many ways to the top if you wanna rock and roll. Remember that.

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