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The Ugly Truth About Business That No One Ever Talks About

Imagine trying to start a new business, only to watch it fall flat. This was exactly my experience 365 days ago. I had a crazy idea: to start a social media content curation business specializing in African-themed events in the US and Canada. My ambitious goal was to achieve a turnover of $40,000 in the first year. To reach this, I drew up a detailed roadmap.

Today marks the 384th day since the launch. Naturally, you’re wondering… 

Did it work?

Yes! Well, parts of it did. I was able to identify a target audience and sent each of them a cold direct message on Instagram. I made sure the message focused on what I could do for them and why I should be their only choice. From May 2023 to June 2024, my team and I contacted 1,295 businesses. Out of these, 64 responded, but only 11 booked appointments and showed up for the presentation.

Initially, the numbers looked promising. Of the 11 meetings, 3 asked us to send over the contract, showing interest. Then, everything went radio silent. I bet you’re wondering why.

What happened?

I failed to account for the trial-and-error aspect of any new business venture. Plans and strategies often look perfect on paper but reveal loopholes and oversights in practice. This experience made me realise the importance of thinking like a scientist. Scientists make assumptions based on available information and then test these assumptions to determine what is true and what is not. With this in mind, let’s dissect my roadmap to assess the assumptions I made and determine what worked and what didn’t.


1. African-themed event planning businesses in the diaspora need content curation to promote their events.

2. These businesses are more likely to be on Instagram than any other platform.

3. They are more likely to respond to a cold DM rather than an email or phone call, given their constant presence on the app.


1. These three assumptions were accurate: 4.9% of the 1,295 businesses we contacted responded to the cold DMs we sent, and 17% of the 64 people that responsed scheduled a meeting and showed up.

2. The assumption that these businesses could pay $500/month for my service turned out to be not-so-true. 

Throughout 2023, no one was ready to commit to paying for the service I was offering. No one ever said, “here is $500, do your thing.” This is one of the ugly truths about starting a business that is hardly talked about. Getting that first sale can be difficult. Closing a sale is a major component of running a business, and the process of making assumptions, testing, asking questions, and re-testing can be exhausting.

I remember two separate meetings I had with potential clients. The first client attended all the meetings, from the discovery call to the actual negotiation, and convinced me to take a pay cut because she was just starting her business. I gladly agreed, but she ghosted me. My team was demoralised, but I kept them motivated until the second client actually asked us to send over the contract. He promised to take a look at it, and from that point on, all communication went dead silent. This time, it got to me because, compared to the first experience, I seemed closer to a yes with the second client.

I am learning to detach myself from the outcomes, put my head down, and just keep plugging away.


I have come up with a few questions to help me understand why sales haven’t happened yet and what I can do to make it happen:

1. Am I speaking to the right audience?

2. Is my sample size too small?

3. How can I include a follow-up strategy in my roadmap?

4. Can my audience afford to pay for my services at the current price point?

5. Can my service solve major goals such as generating leads or sales for my audience’s business?

6. Is my content curation a service that my target audience cannot do without?

7. Should I be targeting a different audience?

Curious to know what the answers will be and how they will help… or not? Fill in your details here, so I can send you notification once I written the article on it.

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