How to Move on When Your Business Idea Fails

Author: David Porter

David Porter

David Porter

9 min. read

Updated October 29, 2023

Each day, entrepreneurs of all ages come up with fresh ideas for their new startups. They’re full of excitement and hope. They dream of turning their ideas into thriving businesses.

But the reality is that few of those businesses will succeed. They’ll get started, build some momentum, and then burn out.

It’s tough but true.

The key to being a successful entrepreneur is not just coming up with a great idea—it’s continuing to come up with great ideas, even after failure.

This isn’t easy. It takes courage, determination, and positivity to come back. But if you’re going to find long-term success, you’ve got to dust yourself off and get back to work.

The first step is admitting you have a problem

Are you a bold, determined entrepreneur, willing to fight to see your startup succeed? Excellent, you’ve got the spirit it takes to make it in the cutthroat business world.

But be warned. That stick-to-it attitude comes with a catch—you may also have a hard time knowing when to call it quits on a failed business venture.

Balance your never-give-up mindset with your business-savvy side. Stick to your original business plan. Listen to the advice of co-founders and other confidants. They can help you determine if you should dig in your heels and fight for your business, or if it’s time to admit defeat (at least temporarily until your next business gets started).

Some entrepreneurs have to hit bottom before they can move on to their next venture. That’s what happened to Brickell Men’s Products co-founder Josh Meyer. Now, he’s taking Brickell from a small ecommerce business to an international brand featured in popular men’s magazines.

But it wasn’t always that way. After successfully selling one business, he was running into serious financial trouble with another. In fact, at one point he had basically nothing left in his checking account—not even enough for groceries.

It was time to move on—and that’s where Meyer found huge success. Let’s look at the story of Meyer and Brickell Men’s Products as a case study for knowing when to move on to a new business idea.

Entrepreneurs are problem solvers

Your business should appeal to customers by solving a problem. Maybe it’s one they’ve struggled with for a long time; maybe it’s one they didn’t even realize they had. Regardless, you need to identify that problem and offer the solution.

That’s how Meyer got the idea to start Brickell Men’s Products. About three years ago, his then-girlfriend took a photo of the two of them. When he thought he looked a little off in the picture and asked her why, she said, “Oh, I just touched up some of your wrinkles in Photoshop.”

There was the problem. Wrinkles, before he even hit 30. That led to research into the men’s skincare industry. Here, Meyer unearthed another problem: He discovered that there weren’t any brands offering natural and organic options that resonated with him.

Most of his options were just women’s skincare brands with a few products packaged and marketed to men. But the products themselves weren’t any different from the women’s; there was no distinction about why these men’s products would be better for him. Additionally, the brands didn’t offer any advice on how a guy who had never worried about skincare before could get started.

Voila. Problem identified.

From there, Meyer and his business partner Matt Bolduc got to work on the solution: natural and organic skincare products, designed for men first. They didn’t want to simply copy the many women’s products already on the market. Their goal was natural products with gentle, non-irritating ingredients that could still cleanse and hydrate the skin.

They started with the basics—a face wash and a face moisturizer. They got to researching common ingredients, comparing the products already available on the market, contacting suppliers, and eventually creating and testing their own formulas.

You can find similar success by brainstorming about everyday problems you face. What can you do to make life easier for your potential customers?

This isn’t always easy if you’re still reeling from your last business failure. Don’t hold on to the past. Move forward to your next success.

It starts with brainstorming. Get creative and don’t hold back from researching any plausible idea.

Once you have one or more ideas, start your market research. Is there a viable market? Who are your target customers? How will you convince them to try your new product or service? If you need help validating the demand for your business idea, check out our article on demand validation.

As you develop your new idea, don’t let negativity from your previous failures keep you down. If you realize that one idea isn’t viable, get back to brainstorming. With patience and determination, you can find a hole in the market you can fill and thrive in. For more on validating your business idea, our business idea validation checklist is a download that can help you with this process.

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Big idea, small business

Just coming back from watching your business idea fizzle? Did you lose savings in the process? If so, you would do well to start small as you work on creating a new venture.

Fortunately, that’s easy. There are tons of resources to help you launch a bootstrapped business. Not a web design genius? No problem. Use an ecommerce platform that makes the whole process as easy as dragging and dropping. There are tons of ecommerce resources available for new businesses—some free, some paid.

Before you sign up for any service, do your due diligence. Find out what other businesses in your market are using. Read reviews of the most popular platforms, and determine what your budget will allow. That will save you from blowing your budget on services that you might not really need.

Brickell got its start this way. Originally, the “warehouse” was co-founder Matt Bolduc’s garage—but you’d never know from their well-designed website and early feature in Men’s Journal. From those humble beginnings, Brickell is now sold around the world and in luxury retail stores like Bloomingdale’s.

You can do the same. Take your big idea, condense it into a small business, and focus on ecommerce. From there, you can grow your brand into a massive success.

Of course, this requires planning. Don’t dive in without writing a solid business plan. Ask yourself questions to help develop an idea of your future business, like:

  • How can I briefly describe my business to others?
  • What are the specific products or services will I offer at launch?
  • What overhead costs will the business have to deal with at launch?
  • How will those costs change as the business grows?
  • What is the plan for expansion and further development, assuming the launch is a success?

Savvy marketing and brand building

Learn from your mistakes, and get creative with your next business idea. Don’t limit yourself to markets or industries that you already have lots of experience in. Yes, experience is valuable—but so is leveraging smart marketing skills and knowing how to reach your target customers.

When Meyer and Bolduc first got the idea to start Brickell Men’s Products, they weren’t skincare experts. But they did know their ideal customer very well—guys just like them.

Doing the research into skincare products and natural ingredients wasn’t easy. It took time and hard work—investigating the ideal ingredients, communicating with manufacturers, and testing formulas.

But creating a quality product isn’t enough to equate to success. Focusing on marketing, especially when you’re launching an ecommerce site, is important. But your marketing strategy doesn’t have to rely on the traditional methods—like print, broadcast, direct mail, and telephone marketing. Businesses built on ecommerce need to make modern digital marketing their priority. This includes content marketing with a blog, building an email subscriber list, and developing a social presence for the brand.

Meyer and Bolduc always knew that men’s skin care products are not likely to be shared publicly (much less virally) by their customers. Most guys keep their skincare concerns pretty hush-hush.

At the same time, there’s no denying that the men’s skincare industry is growing. Market forecasters have predicted that the men’s personal care market will reach $166 billion globally by 2022. Plus, from their own experiences, they knew that guys want to better understand and improve their skin. The market research agreed. Trends show a growing interest in anti-aging products and an expanding global middle class willing to spend more on luxury products.

So they positioned themselves as experts in the field, willing to share helpful information with guys like them. Marketing became less about direct sales and more about education.

Alongside the launch of their first products, they published blog posts with detailed instructions on how to use each one of the specific benefits. They also emailed the guides to customers upon purchase. That lead to brand loyalty and further interest in the products themselves.

This approach—tailor-made for their market—might not work for your business. But the lesson is clear: Design your marketing to appeal to your target customers, not to follow some old-school blueprint.

For Meyer and Bolduc, this meant using their experience with previous business failures. They considered what had worked, what had failed, and why. They combined the data from market research with their own instincts to create a marketing plan and brand message that would resonate with their target market.

Don’t be limited to only imitating other business’s methods for success. Learn from others, get professional advice and guidance, and do your due diligence on the market—but don’t ignore your instincts. An approach that encompasses all of these factors is most likely to succeed.

Stay positive

You can come back from a failed business idea, stronger than ever. Don’t come crawling back—emerge from the wreckage with fresh determination.

Use the lessons learned by others, like Meyer and Bolduc, to inspire your next move. Don’t let a previous failure stop you from developing your next big idea.

Invest conservatively in your new startup as you develop a smart business plan. Thoroughly research your potential markets to see where you can fill a hole and find success.

Don’t be afraid to scrap a bad idea in favor of a new opportunity. As you move on from previous failures, stay determined to make your next big idea into a business success.

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Content Author: David Porter

David Porter is Marketing Director for Brickell Men’s Products—high performing natural skincare and grooming products for men.