©2013 Paul Edgewater All Rights Reserved
I’ve been an entrepreneur and small business owner for the better part of 30 years. Looking back at all of my successes and failures, one common theme has been at play; the marketplace always has the final say. The wants, needs and desires of the business owner are always ancillary. Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of bringing a product or service that they love and believe in to the marketplace, without researching if there is actually a demand for it. Idealism is a risky proposition in business. Rewind to 1993 when I started my first company, Busy Bee Music. It was a recording studio. At the time, I was a performing musician and recording artist. I invested thousands of dollars in microphones and recording equipment, signed a lease on some raw commercial space, invested yet more into building the space out into control rooms, isolation booths, live rooms and so much more before I had my first customer. I mistook my musical passion for marketplace demand. I lost my shirt; and more. Being success driven and an entrepreneur at heart, I didn’t let this learning experience defeat me, but it wasn’t until I met my business partner and built a company based on the demands of the marketplace, that I felt success. Our current company, Busy Bee Promotions provides a service that all businesses desperately need; getting new customers. We are serving the marketplace and our positioning is rock solid; everyone needs and wants what we provide. If you are currently enjoying the success you expected, it is because the marketplace has responded favorably to your unique selling proposition. You produce a product or offer a service that there is a demand for and you’re marketing it correctly. You’re in small company as less than 5% of companies accomplish this and most are out of business within five years. If however, your company is struggling, it’s not too late to turn your ship around. Invest more time studying your marketplace. Did you open a business based on your passions and not market demand? I’m not suggesting that your passions aren’t shared by others, but if your product or service is too niche, you are limiting the growth potential of your company. If you are committed to your vision, one option is to expand your services or product offerings to be attractive to a larger pool of potential customers, or change your marketing approach. Pinpoint and market directly to your ideal customer, instead of trying to win over consumers who will never opt in. As a rule, it’s better business, and much easier, to scratch an existing itch than it is to create the itch. There are a few exceptions to this rule though. Look at Apple. Who on earth can honestly say that they thought the iPad was good idea when it first came out? Did you immediately want to run out and get one? Most people didn’t. However, after millions of marketing dollars spent by Apple, most of us want one; the itch has been created and Apple is scratching it (along with Samsung & Microsoft, et al). It needs to be said though that most of us aren’t worth $623.5 billion like Apple, so we’re better off catering to existing demand. After we’ve enjoyed a level of success where we can safely take some risks, we can incrementally introduce our more passionate ideas to existing customers. Who knows? You may become the next Apple!