The M-word (...and it's friend the S-word)
I’m a solutions guy. I see a problem or a need and I come up with a way to fix it cost effectively and efficiently. Some say that this is the essence of entrepreneurship, but I’m starting to disagree with that. Here’s why:
Identifying a need in an area of high yield and and means of meeting the need with a solution from an area with low yield is the basic idea of a supply chain. The difference between the cost of the solution and the value of the need becomes your profit margin. Simple right? Lather rinse repeat.
Here’s the bit that many people like me forget about until it bites them in the backside:
No sales = no business.
You can have solutions and ideas up the wazoo, but if no-one knows that they are there, and if you can’t sell them properly, then I’d humbly submit to you that you don’t have a business yet.
The word “marketing” has a pretty strong stigma to it… Many people don’t like it, they think that “marketing” involves putting a pink tutu on their hard-fought idea or solution and making it do a blatantly crass song and dance. Marketing does not necessarily mean ads on TV or the paper or radio or Internet or word of mouth, in fact the term doesn’t mandate any form or medium. It simply means “to expose your product to your market”. Business does not exist without connecting your product or solution to the people who are going to buy it.
It’s the same with sales – Big stigma, essential part of the process… When people think about sales it’s usually the smarmy door-to-door salesman that springs to mind. Sales is the same as marketing – business doesn’t not and by definition CANNOT exist without it. And sales is not necessarily a simple thing… Delivery of a product always has terms and conditions around it and these need to be defined ahead of time. I believe this is why people are generally more comfortable buying from larger companies – their sales processes are simple and well established.
What’s my point?
It’s great to have ideas. I love ideas – I spend my days and nights pretty much consumed by them. But ideas on their own are worthless. It’s only when an idea meets marketing and sales does it become a business. It’s SO easy to forget this and focus all your energy and attention on the heady and exciting process of product development – I’ve managed to repeat this mistake more times then I’d like to admit to.
If you aspire to build a business you need to start thinking about marketing and selling your idea RIGHT NOW. Read whatever you can, I highly recommend Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point” for marketing (especially if your thing is “high volume low value”), I am yet to find a good sales book but will update this when I do.
One last thing – If you don’t feel like this side of business suits you but still want to continue then YOU NEED a partner who can do it. Find someone who shares your passion for business, not necessarily your zeal for your particular idea.