Have you taken over your neighbourhood yet? With the invention of the Internet and the world seemingly getting smaller due to ease of access, many entrepreneurs feel they need to come out of the gate with their new business on a global scale. You see it all the time on shows like Dragon’s Den or Shark Tank. The first statistic most new entrepreneurs throw out is that fact that there is 100 million people in the U.S. or the the health industry is one of the largest industries in the world. If you watch the investors on the show you can all see them roll their eyes and almost simultaneously everyone will say together, what are your sales? Maybe some products need to hit it big right out of the gate, but for most of us starting small is the best way to go.
I am a firm believer in starting local and expand as you are able and comfortable. I do think you should stretch your wings once in a while and take chances if the benefit is there. Taking on the world before you have even sold to people in the neighbourhood is the same as taking your new boat out on the ocean before you have tested it in the lake. There may be lots of water out there,but the lake has smaller waves. When we started our art business in 2003 we did just that, we worked our way up with the same system. We started selling our products and services to people we knew in the neighbourhood, then we expanded our reach to the local community, we then moved regional to to a certain limit. Today we still work primarily in our Province, but we are steady and busy. Could we offer more by expanding further? Sure we could, but what most people forget is that to expand takes more money and time. It’s the same as that person who dreams of getting their product into a big box store, they dream of the millions they will make by having their product on the shelves. Usually they are seeing the footprint of the store in their community. A store like Walmart however, has stores across the country and getting a product in that store may mean a large purchase order, but you also have to be able to create and stock the product. It may cost you millions to get the product in the store in the first place. As they say on the shows, do you have distribution, manufacturing, etc?
So before you jump the gun and plan on taking over the world, you may want to start by taking over your neighbourhood. Get some sales, listen to what customers are saying about the product. Refine the product in your local market before launching on a bigger scale. We have had products succeed and fail, we have had products that we have shelved and refined. The process is ongoing and it is much easier to make changes in small markets than in larger ones. As I always say focus on the quality of your product and not the quantity of product and you will be better off. Now get out there and take over your neighbourhood, your customers are waiting.
About the Author
Bruce Outridge is an entrepreneur and author of the books How to Start an Artistic Business in 12 Easy Steps, Running by the Mile, and Driven to Drive. More information can be found on his website at http://www.outridgeenterprises.ca