How to waste 70,000 Euro in three months?

Take a busy entrepreneur, throw in some megalomania and a bit too much ambition, let it simmer in a sauce of confidence and voilà: the money is gone!

Entrepreneurs are used to thinking: Can this be improved? Why hasn't that been built yet? First we develop ideas. Developing a vision and mission usually is a matter of chance. We start thinking about that when someone asks us for it.

Eight years ago I dropped my computer. I tried to get it repaired without having to leave it at some company for a long time. No luck there, but it gave me an idea: let’s setup a network to connect freelance computer specialists with individuals or companies that have computer-related work to do. After all, in general, freelancers have a higher motivation and should deliver higher quality at equal costs.

It was the start of Guidion. Now, according to a leading Dutch financial newspaper, with more then 500,000 customers one of the fastest growing companies in the Netherlands. But I wanted more, and maybe even international. The power of working with freelancers fascinated me. If only it was common practice to use them, we would be able to outsource a lot of tedious tasks to people who are truly committed to those tasks. Hoofdkraan.nl became my new mission. With a team of eight people we worked night and day at designing and building the new website and it is still work in progress. The thought behind it is to allow businesses to grow faster by making it easy for them to outsource tasks that are not their core business.

Maybe it was an insatiable expansion drift or megalomania but it still was not enough. I experienced it as a stepping stone for my international aspirations when I was offered the chance to buy the website pimtim.com; an international marketplace for the design of logos. Let's be honest, it sounds a lot sexier when you're able to say you lead a global company than when you're about to conquer Maastricht.

Pimtim.com was nearly dead at that point in time. It was an empty shell with no editorial team behind it and all technology was outsourced to Romania. A lot of work had to be done. I thought it should take off like a bullet by simply changing the business model and adding some effective marketing strategies.

As soon as we signed the contract and made the first adjustments, we waited. And we waited and waited . . . and waited a bit more. Nothing changed! We did not get any new customers and the customer satisfaction did not improve. The only noticeable change was that some of the Hoofdkraan.nl workers including myself were a lot busier.

The international dimension that sounded so cool for smalltalk during business parties also meant working with foreign languages and various payment systems and currencies. It was a reality that people designing logos from within a Mongolian yurt had to be paid in their local currency, the Tugrik. In short: it failed.

Which lessons did I learn?

Don't get distracted by sidetracks. Keep focusing on solid business that can even be expanded; in my case Hoofdkraan.nl. Perform a lot more research before allowing yourself to get involved in any new activity and thoroughly assess how much distraction that new activity gives.

Besides knowing when to start it is also important to know when to pull the plug. Sometimes the only good decision is to say goodbye. Was that the best solution in my case? We'll see. In the meantime I'll try mending my life.

Designers, thank you for working with us and giving such great products to the buyers. Buyers, thank you for your trust. Through our main site hoofdkraan.nl, we will continue to offer services to people needing a logo or a design but only in The Netherlands.

Rest in peace pimtim.