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A year ago a client of mine decided to enter the online retail market. They are manufacturers of bespoke, large and

expensive products, sold mainly through architects and interior designer. By nature, this market is project-based, which means that income is irregular and planning is difficult .

By starting to make and sell small decorative items online they hoped some of their sales will become more regular and predictable, and they will be able to flatten a bit their erratic income stream. The items were designed and created, sales started to increase but then they realised that:

  • this is a much more competitive market in which they have no advantage over garden-shed manufacturers that sell on Etsy for half the price

  • the logistics involved in fulfilling orders requires a lot of resources

  • too many items arrived damaged, resulting in unhappy customers

  • the management attention dedicated to this business line hurt their core business

So they decided to call it a day and focus on what gets them the best results - their original bespoke products.


  1. Sometimes you have to try new things in order to learn

  2. Not every idea that sounds good turns out to be one, so prepare an escape plan

  3. Diversifying has its risks and costs

  4. If you try something and it doesn't work, quit

  5. A wrong decision is not a mistake, just a lesson learnt

What are you going to try next?

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