A few years back we were working on a product that was distributed via Spas, salons and hair dressers. We wanted to enhance our distribution network and needed to add some sizzle to the story. The editor approached me and asked for an angle. We chatted for a couple of minutes and concluded ‘new’ and ‘experienced.’
Well was it new or was it experienced? It was either or, so if it was new; you talked about the passion, dynamism, and excitement of the new owners, new location, and new opportunities. If it was experienced, you talked about longevity, satisfied patrons and successes. Throw in an antidote or two and voila you were done.
Does this still apply? We think so, but we also realize that the old, mature and experienced often succeed by innovating. So you can have excitement and experience. The new become successful by leveraging on existing methods, products or people.
Sure you do get some game changers, like Google, Facebook, or Twitter but carefully looking at their businesses you will see remnants of other businesses – successes, or sometimes more importantly, lessons learned from failures.
Recently we listened to a conversation between a young business person and an older one. They had both already had some successes and trials. They were bruised, but still in the game. The younger one – Jay, had heard of a network deal with a couple of hundred distributors in the city, and it required a small investment ($600 or so) to get started. The older one, Hanna, cautioned against getting involved in a business that required an upfront investment.
They are both right – or are they? What business can you do that does not require some investment – time, money or effort – and often all three?
Our advice is to try it. But trying it does not mean drinking the ‘pink lemonade.’ Once we were looking at making an investment in a brewery. The buyers wanted to buy; the owners wanted to sell; we liked the beer. But the deal was not coming together as the owners thought they had an ongoing business and the buyers thought that the owners had a license and some equipment. Our take? We sent our manager to buy 10 cases of their beer. We drank some, we shared some, and we saved some for the holidays…at the end of the day the deal did not get done. That is ok, but do not let a fondness for a product lead you to pay too much for producer.
Back to our Jay and Hanna example – Jay do you like the product? Jay do you use the product? Jay do you know 10 people in your existing network that would be glad to use it?
Last example, if you are a sausage maker and you do not eat your sausage, why would I?
Until you are sure, test, learn and eventually you will get your wings and fly.