Learning from business failures and roadblocks with Sunil Godse

In this interview style guest post, I get to speak with Sunil Godse. Sunil is the president of Radical Solutions Group, which offers business mentorship and consultancy to both small and large businesses. He is also the author of Fail Fast Succeed Faster, which is a book that contains interviews with real entrepreneurs who have experienced real business failures. The hope is that reading about their lessons learned will help you move towards business success faster.

Below are a selection of questions Sunil was gracious enough to answer related to growing a business, and what he learned through the various interviews he did, in order to write his book.

1)      You have clearly noticed a theme in your successful clients and how they have learned from their failures. Is there a specific story you can share that you feel is a similar lesson learned amongst those you have talked to?

This is a difficult question to answer as each of the stories was quite unique in nature. However, the common thread amongst those who were fortunate enough to pull through their difficult time was that each one had learned from their mistakes and had put in processes or procedures so that those mistakes would not be repeated. The one story that I believe represents this theme is the interview I had with Bruce Croxon where he decided to temporarily ignore his core set of values in bringing on those who were open to the advice of others and meshing with the existing culture. A number of resources were brought on board because they had excellent technical skills but were poor in being team players. That mistake resulted in a $20 million technical project costing over $42 million and extending the completion time by 2.5 years. He never made that same mistake again and only brought on resources that were open-minded and culturally aligned.

2)      Entrepreneurs are often on a shoestring budget, and wasting money could make or break their small business. If you had a friend starting a small business, what is one piece of advice you would give them to help them make sure they don’t waste money?

The one piece of advice I have given entrepreneurs is to find a qualified mentor – one who has the appropriate background and experience – who would be able to ask some tough questions about the idea to see if there is an actual business. Everyone has ideas, but these ideas may not be great BUSINESS ideas. Often, entrepreneurs will ask friends and family for their opinions, but they generally do not have the proper business background or experience, and if there is some doubt in the idea, they do not want to offend. But this is dangerous as this then gives false hopes to the entrepreneur. In addition, the entrepreneur has to be open to criticism and not run from frank advice. Entrepreneurs often want to only hear from those who agree with their idea. If not careful, that shoestring budget can be blown out of proportion, and soon, the entrepreneur finds himself or herself drowning in a sea of debt.

3)      In a new world where getting an education and a job doesn’t necessarily mean success, I personally believe becoming an entrepreneur is becoming increasingly appealing. What advice would you give to someone who WANTS to start a business, has an idea, but hasn’t really gotten started yet?

The first issue you need to look at is really defining whether you have the qualities needed to be an entrepreneur.  Starting a business is extremely complex and requires a lot of appetite for risk, hard work, motivation, passion, and a LOT more. Even if the idea is an excellent business idea, you need to ensure that you have the qualities necessary to move the business idea forward. I have seen those in this exact situation who were not able to even start the business because they lacked a number of entrepreneurial qualities, and they did not want to bring on others to help, despite a great business idea.

Another piece of advice is to be careful in defining the motivation for starting a business. If it is because times are tough, or one is trying to keep busy, these are all the wrong reasons. There has to be a passionate belief that one has a unique idea that is really solving a key problem.

4)       Other than your book Fail Fast Succeed Faster, are there any other books you believe would provide a lot of value for newer entrepreneurs? Why do you recommend this book?

Two books I would recommend are Buyology by Martin Lindstrom and Give and Take by Adam Grant (affiliate link). The former illustrates how people actually make buying decisions and the second shows how being a giving person can actually bring success to an entrepreneur. In both cases, the human element is very important.

5)       In my experience, writing a business plan had value, but reality did not align with what I had in my plan. What is the value in a business plan? What is a common mistake that is made in the business planning process?

The value of doing a business plan is that the entrepreneur makes sure that the business idea is articulated in a comprehensive document. The most common mistake I consistently see in constructing a business plan is that unrealistic assumptions are made. For example, some startup and ongoing operational costs are missed, revenue projections are often aggressive, an assumption is made that customers will somehow immediately begin to buy the product or service with little marketing, or there is little to no recognition of the business risks that may be encountered.  Missing these in a business plan will result in the business heading for failure very quickly. Being unrealistic just so that the business plan looks attractive only serves a very selfish purpose. If the idea is not a good business idea, the business plan should be able to show this right away before time, resources and capital are wasted.

Thanks again to Sunil for agreeing to particulate in this guest post interview. If you read this, please let me know if you enjoy this style of post. I would like to improve my interview skills, and eventually start a podcast so if these articles provide value to you, I will keep them coming moving forward.

About The Author


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1 Comment

  • BJMiller

    Reply Reply June 1, 2014

    I also adhere to what Sunil stated that we make Business Plan but it didn’t go well according to plan. The purpose is just to guide the owner and it is use as a reminder to have it on hand whatever happens just in order to keep track of the things needed to be done.

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