Is Your Entrepreneurial Plan a WANTrepreneurial Plan?
The most important question for all Solopreneurs.
I wanted to sell radishes. That was my first business venture. I was 10 years old.
I had no idea what “supply and demand” meant. I gave no thought to a delivery system, how to package my radishes, or even how to price them. All I knew was, radishes grew quickly. I had relatives that would buy from “little Billy.” And I wanted to make money.
But my “business” didn’t last long.
I quickly ran out of radishes, that I hand delivered to aunts and uncles who happened to visit, charging them 25 Cents for a handful. And I certainly didn’t make the “hundreds of dollars” I envisioned I would make. Instead, my business came to an abrupt halt with no more radishes to sell, and “customers” who didn’t want any more radishes. Truth be told, they probably only bought what they did the first time to help me, not to add a valuable commodity to their dinner table.
We could laugh at my naïve childhood antics of trying to make some money. But what would you think if I told you about an adult who had the same experience?
A successful project manager found she had a talent for making quilts. Her friends and family were extremely supportive and complimentary about her product. She loved making quilts. So, with everyone close to her encouraging her, she started her business of quilt making.
She excitedly sold quite a few to start with…to her family and friends…and quickly ran out of product. She worked hard making more quilts. But, when she built up a nice stash of inventory, she didn’t have any customers that wanted to buy them.
She worked hard trying to sell them. She told everyone she could about her quilts. She spent money on social media trying to get the word out. Nothing seemed to be working. “Why aren’t they buying my quilts?” she lamented, “Everyone likes them!”
She never saw the truth that, though everyone liked them, no one had a use for them.
After becoming quite discouraged with no sales, in debt because of material-purchase and marketing costs, and with no promise of success, she decided to give the remainder of her quilts to charities. And… go out of business…not even understanding clearly why her business failed.
The “Silly Billy” syndrome is not unique. Rather, it is a common occurrence. I’ve seen it with pottery products, dog grooming services, baked goods, and more. Someone loves doing something, then tries to create a business delivering that “something,” but doesn’t give attention to the other side of the equation – the customer.
They don’t ask the important questions: Are there people who are looking for quilts to buy or pottery to collect? Are there enough people in my area who want their dogs groomed? In other words – is their demand for the supply of my deliverable?
This is the most important considerations for all entrepreneurs.
Most people start out their entrepreneurial journey as Solopreneurs. A single person, trying to make a go of their business. They often struggle with the basics of business. And, just as often, the most basic question of all goes unanswered.
Is what I want to sell something people want to buy? Have I done enough poking around, enough market research, enough looking at the socioeconomic demographics in my proposed sales area to know I will have customers?
To be a successful business, one must separate the emotional investment in the product or service from an objective analysis of whether or not there is truly a viable business for that product or service. Or…is it just be a hobby – something YOU enjoy, but others are not motivated to buy.
I’ve seen the outcome of a person who is trying to make a business out of their hobby. It’s disheartening at the least, and sad. The “business” doesn’t work. But the HOBBYpreneure doesn’t know why. They THINK they created the foundation of a successful business. And further think, “If I would have just had enough money for marketing, support in the community, less competition, better sales skills, more time… then my ‘business’ would have been successful.”
But the truth of the matter is simple: No matter how good of a salesperson you are, you can’t make a big business out of selling ice to people north of the arctic circle. Or blankets to people who live in the desert. Or binoculars to sailors who work in a submarine. Or…. you get my point.
At least, I hope you get my point by now. If you want to be an entrepreneur and start a business, talk to people outside the circle of your family and friends. People who are objective, maybe even skeptical, can be an asset in your discovery process. They can reveal the potential pitfalls and roadblocks quickly.
Talk to other professionals. Talk to business professors at a local college or university. Talk to potential customers. Talk to anyone you can asking them the simple question, “Do you think there would be a market for my ABC product or service?”
Ask them follow up questions: If “no” – why not? (You might be able to tweak your offering). If “yes” – how so? (You will be able to amplify your offering).
As hard as it is to hear, a potential entrepreneur, who may have started with a dream in their heart, must live in their head first to know if the dream is even possible. However, once you determine it is, then get back into your heart and let it lead you. Let it drive you. Let it motivate and encourage you. Businesses are successful when there is a passionate heartbeat giving rhythm to its song.
And if you do find that you have the potential of a viable business, the next step is to create a successful business plan. Put as much effort in planning as in executing. That is the cornerstone of every successful business.
However, coming back to the simple and core message of this article: First, figure out if you have a marketable product or service. Then you’ll know whether you are starting the path to be an entrepreneur…or you are falling into the trap of being a WANTrepeneur.
Founder and President of Truby Achievements