When does a company cease to be an idea and instead becomes a real business? Is it when you get your tax ID? When you hire employees? When you accept investment? To me, the ultimate measure of a business is whether or not it can provide a product that people will buy.
In order to get to that phase – the phase in which you are pushing product and generating revenue - a lot of things need to already be in place. Nothing can be successful without a solid foundation. Let’s look at a restaurant as an example. Before you can feed your first customer, a litany of items must be completed. You need a location, staff, suppliers, distributors, a chef, and a menu. Without all of those things in place, the restaurant will never be successful. Imagine having your customers walk through the door day one and not having a menu to hand them. Without the foundation in place, nothing will work. But (and here’s the frustrating part) having all of those things does not guarantee success either.
I have seen this happen a lot. Other entrepreneurs and business owners spend time, energy, and money setting up a new business, only to sit back and treat success as a given. It is like creating a foundation makes people think they are entitled to the house. But in reality, the work has only just begun. The foundation is crucial, but you can’t simply sit back and wait once the concrete has been poured.
Let’s revisit our hypothetical restaurant. The owner has everything in place; a stellar chef, a delicious menu, and a beautifully appointed dining room…but the diners are not coming in. Maybe, the entrees are too expensive. Should the owner reduce his prices and source less expensive ingredients, or should he stick to his plan and face an empty dining room every night? The answer should be obvious.
Like I said above, the ultimate measure of a business is whether or not it provides a product that people will buy. And you know what? You will never get it right on the first try. You can spend months or even years building your foundation and setting yourself up for success, but if you can’t bring in customers and revenue, you have got to change that plan. Make your foundation work for you in a different way. Maybe you got the price point wrong, maybe the offering, maybe your staff aren’t trained well enough…whatever the issue is, you need to be able to change it in order to start generating revenue. Stubbornness will never serve you well. In order to even reach the turning point of a business, you have got to be willing to change.