Discovering Business Opportunities in Problems
We are often approached by young folks who ask us, “What business should I go into?” – as if there was the realm of all possibilities. We assume by this question that these folks have not decided to “follow their passion.” So we talk with them about how most business opportunities present themselves as solutions to problems they are personally experiencing.
“Why hasn’t anyone done this yet?” might be their first reaction. And this is where many wantrepreneurs stop. They don’t do the research to find out why. Perhaps someone else did think about it but was unable to make a profit or get it into circulation. Many great ideas are collecting dust in warehouses somewhere because they may have solved the problem, but they were unable to solve the distribution challenges.
Many young folks spend too much time perfecting their product while grossly underestimating what it will take to get it in the marketplace. They tend to take distribution management for granted. Their idea is so good, it will distribute itself! Not!
The Challenges of Selling Online
Many think that they can “just sell it online, avoid the middleman and go directly to the customer.” They might, but then they face several challenges that are generally overlooked:
First, they are making their idea and the market for it highly public before they have amassed even a small war chest to protect their idea. This opens the door to copycats who already enjoy a war chest and already have secured access to the bricks and mortar stores. They can achieve instant market penetration and outlast you in court.
Second, online sales are a race to the bottom price-wise. The first thing your customer will do is check for a lower price. Never mind that yours is the original, and never mind that yours is of high quality. They can’t physically feel it and compare it to others in a tactile way. They must buy on picture only and so price becomes the major differentiator.
Third, because you are selling onesies and twosies, direct to consumer, you will never get a big check for a massive volume from a major retailer. So you won’t be able to compete with competitors who will benefit from quantity discounts for substantial purchases.
The good news is that anybody can sell online. The bad news is that your risk of failure is much greater.
So, our answer to “What business should I go into?”
“Choose one that you can achieve distribution with.” We strongly advise a careful study of the distribution system for your great idea, even before you finish it. Why waste your time if you can’t get it to market?
We suggest you engage someone who has already successfully navigated the distribution system for your kind of product. You may be surprised to hear what they might have done differently, now that they know what was required.
A distribution advisor can save you tons of money, time, and anguish. They don’t cost, they pay!
As advisors ourselves in this critical area of business success, we caution against growing faster than you can support the cost of sales. We advise our clients to test out distribution for their great idea in a small area to discover what they really will be required to do in a larger area. That education will determine their strategy for success. And isn’t that the whole idea? Not just coming up with a great solution, but actually getting it out there and keeping it out there?
So, go into a business for which you understand the distribution. Then you can solve a problem, and we can all thank you by buying it!
Who We Are
Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey co-authored the New York Times bestselling business book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. The book has been selected as recommended reading in the CEO Library for CEO Forum, the C-Suite Book Club, and numerous university classes on business and entrepreneurship. It chronicles their humble beginnings from the laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse to the board room of E&J Gallo, who ultimately acquired their brand and engaged them as brand consultants. Barefoot is now the world’s largest wine brand.
Beginning with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative ideas to overcome obstacles, create new markets and forge strategic alliances. They pioneered Worthy Cause Marketing and performance-based compensation. They built an internationally bestselling brand and received their industry’s “Hot Brand” award for several consecutive years.
They offer their Guiding Principles for Success (GPS) to help entrepreneurs become successful. Their book, The Entrepreneurial Culture: 23 Ways To Engage and Empower Your People, helps corporations maximize the value of their human resources.
Currently they travel the world leading workshops, trainings, & keynoting at business schools, corporations, conferences. They are regular media guests and contributors to international publications and professional journals. They are C-Suite Network Advisors & Contributing Editors. Visit their popular brand building site at www.consumerbrandbuilders.com.
To make inquiries for keynote speaking, trainings or consulting, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.