How not to grow a business

Mickey Mellen
3 min readAug 24, 2021

I was talking to some new business owners yesterday that were working to get things off the ground, and they asked about failures that we’ve seen over the years. Successes can be great to study, but failures are often great learning opportunities.

While things at GreenMellen have gone pretty well (we’ve made it nearly 12 years at this point), we’ve had our share of mistakes over the years. Here are five that come to mind.

Wrong office

When we were first considering office space, we found two options that could be great for us. One was absolutely perfect, and the other was a much smaller (and less expensive) option. We went with the small one and regretted it almost immediately.

We did it for the right reason (not committing too much money), and things have worked out great since then, but in retrospect getting the right office the first time would have been good move.

Mis-hires

We’ve done well with our hires over the years, and I wouldn’t trade a single person on our team right now — they’ll all literally extraordinary. That said, we’ve made two less-than-perfect hires over the years.

We loosely follow the EOS model for running our agency (I’ve mentioned it a bit here) and they have a concept of making sure employees have “GWC” regarding their role:

  • Get It: They understand what’s needed and can execute.
  • Want It: They have passion for the position.
  • Capacity: They have time and ability to make it happen.

In our case, we had one that didn’t “want it” (he simply didn’t care) and one that didn’t quite “get it” (he was a great team member, but wasn’t the right fit for that position). We’ve learned our lessons from those, and have been more careful (and very successful) with our hires over the past few years.

LLC vs S-Corp

We formed our company as an LLC, but it seems an S-Corp would have been a better move. It’s not a huge difference, and I don’t understand the nuances of each, but it’s something you should consider carefully when you’re first starting.

Being too generous

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Mickey Mellen

I’m a cofounder of @GreenMellen, and I’m into WordPress, blogging and seo. Love my two girls, gadgets, Google Earth, and I try to run when I can.