18 Jan If you build it they will come… or will they?
Hasn’t everyone seen a blockbuster movie or saw a TV interview highlighting an ultra-rich entrepreneur who along with their super smart college friends, came up with a radical and cool new idea. They took that idea and they built a multimillion (or billion) dollar company out of their dorm room. Companies like Dell Computers. Microsoft and Facebook come to mind pretty quickly to me. The underlying assumption is that anybody with a great new idea who puts some hard work into building a business will automatically be successful. The boring and mundane stuff of their day to day operations and procedures really don’t matter. Or do they??? It is easy to blame the failure of the business on the fact that the idea was not good enough or market ready. But what if the idea was good, but it was those pesky details that really sank the ship? According to Eric Ries in his book The Lean Startup, he states that “Startup success can be engineered by following the right process, which means it can be learned, which means it can be taught.”
Steve Blank, an investor and adviser to IMVU (a Silicon Valley computer software company) spreads the idea that “business and marketing functions of a startup should be considered as important as the engineering and product development and therefore deserve an equally rigorous methodology to guide them.” His advice helped Eric Ries , co-founder of IMVU, develop his Lean Startup Method. I wonder how many products have been designed, built and sat on store shelves unsold. Dream products getting covered in dust only to be recalled or thrown away. I am sure there are more dust covered products than there are top sellers.
As a young girl in my elementary school days, I learned this lesson selling Girl Scout cookies. Every few years the Girl Scout organization would come out with a new cookie. They were looking for the next “Thin Mint” big hit. That new block buster cookie that no-one can resist. I do not know what type of product testing or what their evaluation process was but even I knew that most new cookies were duds. Who wanted to pay $1.25 (this is 1970’s prices) for a new cookie when they could get their beloved Thin Mints? This was a once in a year treat. What are you going to do? I know our family, over the 30 plus years, has continued to purchase our tried and true favorite Thin Mint and we are not alone. As my daughter now sells these beloved cookies, you see the customers walking up to a cookie booth and they already know what they will buy. It is a rare person who tries the new cookies. Of the 8 varieties currently being sold, Thin Mint represents a full 25% of cookies sold by Girl Scouts. And cookies like Mango Cremes are canceled after just one year with an excess of back stock left unsold. I think if Girl Scouts had spent more time doing taste testing and market research they would not have issued the Mango Cremes or any of the other 40 plus different varieties that were ultimately cancelled and in one case recalled.
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Alicia Sisk-Morris, CPA is a native of the Asheville area. A Certified Public Accountant since 1999, she has a diverse background in tax, financial and business consulting. She is dedicated to helping small and medium-sized companies grow profitably while helping them establish practical and sound tax and financial processes. She is committed to meeting each client’s unique business objectives. Alicia has expertise in providing comprehensive accounting services, including individual, corporate, partnership, and nonprofit income tax returns, financial statements, bookkeeping and payroll tax reports. Alicia earned a Bachelor’s in Business degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an Accounting degree from University of North Carolina at Asheville. She is currently working on her master’s degree from Western Carolina University.