Entrepreneurial Gold: Connecting to the Market

We asked our Entrepreneur Panel about getting and retaining customers. They had some great comments. We have selected a few to share with you below.

Before you get an office, you need to knock on 1000 doors.

There’s a three-millennia-old proverb that advises, “Prepare your outside work, Make it fit for yourself in the field; And afterward build your house.” An office, as with a house, brings with it a number of fixed costs. Utilities, technology, staff, leases and taxes are but a few items on a very long list of overhead expenses. Knowing something about your revenues before making such a commitment is important.

“Knowing” is the operative word there. For most business owners, a conversation about revenues is more often “pontificating” or “prophesying.” Predictability can often seem like a wistful dream. With activity, however, comes the opportunity for enlightenment.

In a recent sales meeting, we looked at the economic impact of 100 “asks.” While the profit potential of even a small rate of success was appealing, there remained the daunting task of having 100 conversations. No one likes hearing “no,” much less dozens of them. The Law of Large Numbers, however, dictates that our results become more predictable as activity grows. By the time you’ve knocked on 100 doors, asked for the business 100 times and ridden the roller coaster of yeses and no’s, you’ll have a good idea of what to expect from the next 900 doors. In the realm of business, this becomes an essential ingredient of good planning.

If I see that I got 10 purchases from my last 100 conversations, I can predict that I will have 100 purchases from 1000 conversations. That translates into a certain amount of revenue per purchase, a certain amount of cost and a certain amount of profit. Now that I know what will be in my pocket, it is simply a matter of how quickly I can get to Door #1000.

As activity builds predictability, your ability to foresee future revenues increases. Armed with this information, you will more clearly see at what point your business can afford the new digs.

What’s the low-hanging fruit? Who desperately needs what you offer?

You can spin a lot of wheels chasing rabbits. I can think of little in business that is more depressing than trying to close a deal with an unconvinced consumer. Someone out there needs what you have. Desperately. And they know it. The problem that you solve has become too painful for them to continue. It’s time to make a change.

There’s an old joke about a man and his hound dog. A neighbor came by to visit one day. Both the man and his dog were sitting on the porch, the dog howling every minute and whimpering every other minute. “What’s wrong with your dog?” the neighbor asked. “He’s laying on a nail,” the man said as the dog howled again. “Why doesn’t he move?” the neighbor inquired again. The owner of the dog responded, “It doesn’t hurt bad enough yet.”

There are prospective customers in pain who are looking for you. Keep searching for the ones who truly value what you offer. They will be thrilled, and your enjoyment in helping them will be through the roof.

What is the need no one else is touching? Services may exist, but do they touch the true need?

Opportunities abound in every economy. The reality of life is that we live in a decaying world. The Second Law of Thermodynamics tells us that every system in the universe is spinning toward chaos and entropy. If that is the case, then somebody out there needs something that they don’t have right now. An unsolved problem is a business opportunity. When we learn to become solution-minded, we find opportunities everywhere we go. The trouble isn’t finding a good business idea. It’s trying to choose which one to pursue first.

There’s gold in them thar hills – the gold of wisdom. The entrepreneurs in your community are a wealth of information, much of it earned at the University of Hard Knocks. Your road can be smoother and more profitable by listening to the sage advice of those who have gone before you. It all comes at the price of asking.

Happy Hunting


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