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Read me like a book by starting at the beginning

Build It And They Won’t Come

Date - 20 January 2016/ Category - Facts Of Life
Facts of life

If you read the autobiographies of rich men, you’ll find something in common.

Predominantly they talk about the people they employed, or the products they sold, but at no point do they touch on how or when they generated the leads in the first place.

Leads are the fuel that makes all businesses tick, yet for some reason the world focuses on the sale and not the bit that came first.

As a basic perspective to start ups, there seems to be a predominant belief that great products create great fortunes and I’m going to break your heart by telling you it’s just not true; of course it helps but having a great product shouldn’t be your number one priority.

The perspective that if you work hard you will be rewarded is a lie. Hard work helps but it doesn’t make bad ideas successful. In life you aren’t guaranteed a reward, in fact often reward isn’t linked to effort at all.

There was a study once where they wrote to 100 successful people to ask for some time to study them and virtually none of them replied. The ones that did reply simply said that they were too busy. Only one or two took them up on the offer, and they were either retired or struck rich early in life.

The ones that struck rich or retired early commonly focused on the “hard work” lie simply because they knew no different. For them hard work did get them where they are, but they forget the other influences that mattered just as much.

It’s interesting that the business minds that get studied are often the ones no longer on the coalface; sure it leaves them with the time to discuss their experiences, but it also leaves them with the time necessary to craft a version of reality that shines a positive light on the output of their hard work.

This version isn’t always deliberately misleading, it just so happens that time weeds out the bad memories and embellishes the great ones. Time is both a great healer and a great editor of stories.

Ask yourself a question, think back five years. Can you describe your low points and bad points with 100% accuracy? Add to that the fact that an editor will be asking you to make your book more interesting and it’s understandable why most books end up as enhanced versions of the truth.

So if having the world’s best product isn’t your number one priority then what should be? The answer is simple; leads.

Generating leads is the hardest thing you will ever have to do in a business, yet it’s one of the most underappreciated tasks because we all dedicate our lives to delivering the product we offer and not the mechanism by which we offer it.

Much like football, the glory goes to the scorer not the creator of the opportunity.

Sales do not come just because you have built something. In order to make a sale you need a lead first and the sheer fact a product exists doesn’t mean leads will come your way; even if it is the best.

In fact if I were to start a business today I would do it in complete reverse to the way most business ideas are generated.

First I would find a source of leads with a problem the world as yet couldn’t fix and then I would build a product to fix it. Even if I couldn’t make the best product, with great sales and marketing people I could do better than another simply because when people faced a problem I would make sure my solution was the first one through their door.

Investing in a slick sales and marketing machine should be your priority over the products you sell; and doing that means you need to a rich lead source before all else.

Take for example a friend of mine, his passion in life is teaching and for the first few years, he lived out that passion through working with disadvantaged children. He didn’t become a teacher because at that point in time he had a young family and didn’t want the added pressure of studying – instead he took a job caring for children who needed homes.

After a few years he realised although he had good memories of his time working with disadvantaged kids, his career wasn’t progressing, so he chose to up skill and start working part time as a swimming teacher.

The first thing he did was start to earn his qualifications; level one and level two and so on; work hard, get qualified and then set up shop but therein lies his first mistake. He valued his product over his leads and yet his perspective of how to start a business is exactly the perspective 99% of the population would have.

My question is simple, despite that hard work how exactly does the rest of the world know he’s a swimming teacher? I don’t even know what my neighbour does for a living!

There’s a presumption amongst society that qualification automatically leads to employment. It doesn’t. There simply aren’t enough up skilled jobs to go round. The idea that everyone should go to university is frankly bonkers; who needs a degree in marketing when on the job experience will teach you more?

Just because someone’s qualified to teach children to swim doesn’t mean there’s an endless supply of children needing swimming lessons. It’s simple economics; supply vs demand.

As a result of his hard work, when my friend eventually qualified he decided to start marketing his business and he didn’t break even for 18 months.

What he should have done was alongside his 18 months of training, spent 18 months marketing his business and figuring out how he could break even from day one.

This example might seem trivial and but you’d be surprised how similar the problems of all businesses really are. No matter how rich you are the same basic problems in life still apply and leads will always be one.

Whether you’re turning over £5 or £5 million the basic problem is the same. You simply can’t start a business or launch a new product by giving yourself some tools and presuming the work will arrive on your door step.

Someone once summed the “build it and they won’t come” rule brilliantly for me like this; a girl can wear all the makeup she wants on a night out, but if she stands in a dark corner no one would ever know. All that effort would be for nothing, because no one would know she’s there.

She has a great product but without leads to shine a light on her efforts it’s pointless.

Leads are vital to any business, new or not. Once you understand their importance you’ll need to turn this chapter on its head. Instead of failing because you built it and they didn’t come, simply try “letting them come and then building it”; your business will be infinitely more successful.

Chapter Summary

• Leads are more important than products
• Never build a product without doing your research into lead potential first
• Hard work will not make a bad business successful

Read our next blog post “Shit flows down hill”.