Businesses Don't Fail For Lack Of Product
I always imagined that coming up with a product to sell is the hard part of running a business. I learned the hard way that this in fact is the easiest part.
When I first started out with my web design business, Synergy Kinetics, I was enthusiastic and naive. I had an irresistible urge to bring something of my creative ability to the world, and nothing was going to stand in my way. A lot has changed since that time.
For one thing, Synergy Kinetics wasn't the name I started with. Initially I had named the business Abacus Computers and then changed it to The Point IT, before it finally became Synergy Kinetics. The reasons for the name changes had a lot to do with the directions I was taking as an individual and also the change in the business model. Perhaps a discussion for another blog post.
No One Told Me
For this blog post however, I would like to talk about something which people seldom discuss which every individual should be aware of when going into business. Businesses don't fail for lack of product. This is so crucial a point that if someone had mentioned this to me, I would have gained traction in business sooner.
So, in my ignorance of this fact, I spent most of my early years striving to create the best services and business processes my low budget could allow and ensure that the business appeared professional. I spent most of my time crafting the business website, never satisfied with my work and aiming for perfection, always changing it numerous times.
Do not get me wrong, I do not regret spending a lot of time working on the business and the business processes. There are numerous advantages to this as the business matures. I just wish someone had told me the importance of being able to sell, because no matter how shiny and impressive your business, at the end of the day it has to bring in clients.
Maybe It's Obvious
I was telling a friend of mine of the need to be able to sell your business and his response was, “Isn’t it obvious?”. It might seem obvious when I bring it up but most people going into business do not adequately consider this problem. They think about it, but what is lacking is the depth and emphasis that is need to be placed on marketing and sales.
In the Book “Ready, Fire, Aim”, Michael Masterson emphasises the importance for a business, particularly a start-up, to focus on its sales strategy. He even goes on to say that selling should make up to 80% of the business's activities. Other activities such as making things look good and the nice office building should come as a tertiary consideration with product development coming as a secondary consideration.
I think a lack of suitable mentors is what is missing in our communities to foster the growth of successful businesses. A while a ago when I started experiencing a shortage of new leads and was on the verge of quitting, I turned to reading certain types of books to help me along. That is when I discovered that I should have started solving this problem a long time ago by dedicating the majority of my time and effort to marketing and sales.
The Perfect Product Is Not Enough
Aiming to produce the perfect product or service is not enough. Our natural way of thinking inclines us to think that if we build good enough a product or great enough a service, then it will practically sell itself. This is far from the truth. The reality is that there is a lot of work involved to get your product or service to sell.
The first step in selling a product is getting the word out. You have to find an effective and affordable way to let your customers know of your great product. There are many ways and approaches to doing this ranging from going door-to-door, to placing posters along the street, to social media or even pay-per-click advertising. Each approach that you choose has its advantages and disadvantages as well as cost implications.
There is a problem with assuming that the perfect product or service will always sell. At the end of the day, its your customers who have a final say whether your product or service resonates with them even if it is “perfect” in your eyes. Supposing you spend thousands or even several million Rand developing a product or service, only to find that no one wants it? It is better to produce a minimal viable product and improve on it once you get customer feedback.
Finding My Way
Discovering that you cannot sustainably find customers to patronage your business can be a devastating feeling, especially when you had such high hopes and dreams. That was what happened to me recently and I was seriously considering throwing in the towel. Finding the strength to carry on, I am now looking for ways to finding a solution to my predicament.
What is need in my case, and I think in the case of anyone in business, is to find a suitable way to bring in validated customers and make sure that the sales process should be repeatable. This is customer development. This can best be achieved by developing a customer development process alongside the existing product or services development mechanism and giving the customer development process priority and majority in terms of time and resources.