Marketing makes or breaks small business, not just rural ones. The principles have broad application because they're about persuasion and building relationships--skills for life as well as business. See Ellie's website,http://beyondthesidewalk.com If you'd like these articles in your inbox, send an email to:
Monday, June 3, 2013
Luck Favors The Persistent
It's such a busy time of year that I wanted to remind you of some business ideas to mull over. The next two posts are reprints from ten years ago. (I'm busy too)
It’s taught religiously in business courses, this idea that
all visionary companies start with a big idea. It turns out only about 25% start with the “big
idea.”The other 75% starts with
In 1937, Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard, newly graduated
engineers, got together because they wanted to work together.They had no idea what kind of business it
would be.Their beginnings were characterized
by trying many ideas—including some that failed.They didn’t have any plans when they
began.They were opportunistic, doing
anything that seemed feasible to keep the company going.
Sam Walton started without a big idea.What he had was a desire to work for himself
and a passion for retailing.His
overnight success took about 20 years and began with a Ben Franklin franchise.J. Willard Marriott began with a desire to
work for himself and an A & W franchise.Nordstrom began as a small shoe store in downtown Seattle when he
returned from the Alaska gold rush.Merck started as an importer of chemicals from Germany.Proctor and Gamble started as soap and candle
makers.Phillip Morris started as a
small tobacco shop on Bond Street in London.
Some of the most visionary of companies started with
outright failures.3M began as a failed
corundum mine.In the midst of the
failure, they started making sandpaper.Bill Boeing’s first airplane failed its Navy sea trails.To stay afloat they made furniture for a
time.Walt Disney’s first cartoon series
was a dismal failure. Ever heard of
“Alice in Cartoon Land”?
All in all, very few of the visionary companies started with
a big idea.And they were far more
likely to have had entrepreneurial failures.It turns out that waiting for the big idea might be a bad idea.
How does this bear on your company?Chances are you’re not trying to be another
Hewlett Packard, Disney or Marriott.I
think it applies to those of us who live beyond the sidewalk especially if
we’ve discovered the original big idea might have some flaws.
The smart strategy is to be opportunistic, like the above
examples.What products can you come up
with that can grow your company, not necessarily grow your “big idea?”How can you keep your company afloat and
still remain your own boss with the lifestyle you want.
Opportunism means looking for opportunities and taking
advantage of them. Next time I'll give you some examples of the opportunities farm entrepreneurs have
come up with to increase their profitability—not to give you specific ideas but to
inspire your creativity for your own ideas.
Busting the myth of the “big idea” means that you need to
look at this backwards.Rather than
starting with your farm (your company) as a vehicle for the big idea (goats or
alpacas or horses or miniature poodles) you need to start looking at the big
idea (all the ideas) as a vehicle for your farm.The farm-company itself is the ultimate
There is a big difference between the person who can tell
time and the guy who builds a clock that tells time even when he’s not
around.Builders of visionary companies
tend to be clock builders, not time tellers.Building a company that can weather economic cycles and product cycles
is like building the clock.
Luck favors the persistent
Mandy Evans lives near Palm Springs in the California
desert, but there is a lake near her home.She watches the Canadian geese show up every winter and leave for cooler
parts for nesting in the spring.But
there is one goose couple who arrivesevery year in the spring.They set
about laying a clutch of eggs just as spring ends, and the heat of summer cooks
the eggs and they rot instead of hatch.Still, every year, in spite of their failure, Mandy watches it happen again.
But this year, there was a late spring.It stayed cool much longer and the geese finally
had a gaggle of babies hatch out.Persistence paid off.
The stream of great products and services from visionary
companies comes from them being outstanding, persistent organizations—not the
other way around.Be prepared to kill
ideas that don’t work.Be prepared to
revive them, add to them or to evolve them.But never give up on your company.Be looking for opportunities because without looking for them, you’ll
Just like the geese, persistence eventually gets you there.