One of the more neverending debates I have with my entrepreneurial friends is over development of new business lines. Regardless of how big or small you are, venturing outside of your comfort zone tends to require new skill, new connections and cash. Most of all, it’s about the right timing.
There are a few things that success is not about:
Potential. Ever hear someone tell you that they have an awesome business, incredible revenue growth and potential – but they just don’t have the cash to grow as fast as they possibly could? Bullshit. Investors love great ideas and growth potential – what they don’t like the risk. So if you have an incredible potential and incredible risk – you’re like everyone else out there.
Uniqueness. Almost every hopeless entrepreneur that has sold himself his own dream believes they have a unique business model. The problem with that is that business models are easy to copy and more savvy people can get things done faster than people obsessed with perfection and quality.
Connections. It’s all about who you know, right? Unless you deliver a total disaster. Then those connections are your enemy because nothing spreads faster than bad news. In every new venture, you have to establish new partnerships but that is by no means the primary vehicle for business development. For some reason, many people I’ve met in business spend an incredible amount of time trying to network but it rarely works out – I suppose because it’s more enjoyable and easier than actually working.
Right Message, Wrong Timing
Even if you have a great product, if your timing is wrong you’re going to be spinning tires. For example, if you just decided that you were going to start building networks or selling computers at the time when the world turned to the cloud and tablets, you’d be out of luck even if you got fancy with financing because you’re pushing in the wrong direction. Marketing hardware and large investments in a bad economy is the wrong message.
But let’s say you had the right message – it’s all about the cloud now so let me ride the hype! I’m gonna build me a data center! Well, slow down Bob. First, what is different from your data center and thousands of others that are already built and not at capacity.. aside from not having SAS70 Type II audits, bandwidth redundancy, power redundancy, business history – you know, the stuff that takes years to develop and prove? Being right alone is not enough if you’re showing up late to the show.
Right Message, Perfect Timing.
The trick to having the right message is research, experience, case studies, test marketing. That part is relatively easy.
In terms of timing, you have to be lucky.
There you go, class dismissed. Do some research and toss the dice and hope they come up lucky. Hey, the blog is free
On a more serious note, I wanted to write this because I speak to a lot of you that are currently reorganizing and refocusing your companies to move them forward. Not all business models work forever – we had a great run with managed services. The cloud move in the small business we are enjoying right now won’t last forever either.
Focus on growing a dynamic, versatile company. Don’t fall in love with what you’re trying to sell, try to build what your customers want to buy. Demand should drive sales which should drive marketing which should drive more demand. If your chain is not spinning in that direction or is missing any of the components you’re going nowhere fast.
Most of all, accept failure. For every Own Web Now, ExchangeDefender, Shockey Monkey and CloudBlock I’ve got 20 other things I’ve tried to build and it just didn’t work out. Remember all that hype around Health Care IT that flopped? Well, what if you sunk all that money and effort into the cloud? The point isn’t to dwell on the stuff that didn’t pan out but to stay focused on building the next thing.
Do your research.
Stay ahead of the curve.
Stay loyal to your clients and deliver what they are asking.
Everything else will fall into place given enough passion, effort and luck.