Kona Impact is almost ten years old. We’ve seen the best of times when the stock market and real estate markets propelled an immense growth in business and personal wealth, and we’ve seen the worst of times when clients had a hard time surviving and were existing month-to-month. All of those swings in the economy, however, are beyond the control of most small and medium-sized businesses; that is, we zig when the economy zigs and we zag when it zags.
There are many things that we do control. These day-to-day decisions can have a huge impact on our business results. Here are three mistakes we’ve made at Kona Impact. We would like to think we won’t make the same mistakes again.
- Going into businesses areas that are saturated. When we started Kona Impact, we thought that commercial photography and videography might be lucrative extensions of our offerings. Had we thought it through more, we would have realized that the Kona market is saturated with photographers, many with very high skill sets. We also did not understand the level of demand, so within six months, we realized that we would have to fight extremely hard for a very small piece of pie—a recipe for a failed business—so we quickly stopped these services.
- Trying to create demand through buying equipment. We purchased about $20,000 in specialized equipment when we started with the belief that by sheer force of will, we would be able to develop a market. We were, of course, dead wrong: the market did not exist, nor would it exist in a reasonable timeframe. Technology will seldom create a market that does not exist, and, in the end, today’s tech is yesterday’s news, so, in itself, it is not a wise foundation for business.
- Wrong-sizing our office space. Until about a year ago, we were in an office space on a busy intersection in Kona. We thought that the roadside visibility was essential, so we sacrificed space and good work area for visibility. This was a good strategy our first few years, but when we moved into sign making and wide format printing, we should have moved to a bigger space that accommodated our new and growing parts of our business. With a business-to-business model, we should have moved much quicker away from a space that was more retail and general office us.
Fortunately, we have made many more good decisions than bad decision, or we would not be here after nearly ten years. The expensive mistakes certainly sting a bit to this day, and the more strategic day-to-day mistakes about operations and products just become part of what we know and try to avoid in the future.