Maybe you’re a great web designer
Maybe you’re a great coder
Maybe you’re a financial wizard
Maybe you’ve got a flair for industrial design
Maybe you’re a craftsman with unique skills
Maybe you’re great at managing and building a supply chain.
Maybe selling isn’t something you enjoy, like or even care about. Maybe making presentations is the part of business that really isn’t your thing.
Problem is this: There’s plenty of great ideas, businesses and people who never reached their full potential because the selling bit was missing.
Step forward the ‘Sandwich man’
Startup blog definition: Sandwich Man – a gun presenter and public communicator who presents the ideas and sells the dream on behalf of the business.
A sandwich man is called such, because he holds together all the good things like the bread does on a yummy sandwich. Without him all the ingredients, nutrition, ‘reason for being’ could all fall away.
A good sandwich man would start and close any business presentation to people like venture capitalists, suppliers, key accounts, customers and the media.
Quite often successful businesses are run by a team where one of the members is the tech genius and the other is the Sandwich Man. Who then communicates the ideas and vision to get people on board. Rarely people are lucky enough to have both skill sets. Regardless of which skill set we have, we always need a sandwich man. We can even bring one into the team on a needs basis.
But without one, we may end up with a great product or business which never gets the traction it deserves.
A while ago Philip Welnman spoke at the Hive. (Australian Entrepreneurial forum) One thing he said struck me, and I think it’s true
“Without relationships we can’t win. We never lose business over price, it’s always the relationship, and price is the fall guy.“
Sure, there’s probably some exceptions, like commodity trading. But who wants to trade commodities anyway?
Steve – rentoid.com
I recently had some beers and a meal at a place called Little Creatures dinning hall in Melbourne Australia.
For the uninitiated, Little Creatures is a craft beer which has it’s origins in Australia and has recently opened a flagship ‘dinning hall’ – seen below.
They’ve simply taken this to a new level. I’m not taking about the fact that they have weird and groovy beer flavours, all naturally brewed. I’m talking about the way they take you on a personal journey with their service.
My favourtie was the beer education programme. They have a ‘pony show’ – I don’t think it’s called that, but it is what I’ll call it for this post.
You get a taste in little groovy pony glasses of all their different beers, then choose one you like. One of their ‘Little Creatures Beer Experts’ comes and sits down on your table with you and they explain all the different types of beers. A real sit down for 10 minutes. A rare treat when the usual sitiation is waiting 10 minutes for crappy service in bars and restuarants. They teach you how to taste each beer and the slight nuances of each. They even provide an idea what type of people generally like the different types.
It’s really nice and fun. I even heard the word “sessionable” to describe a beer – They invent some nice jargon to make you feel part of a tribe. Cool.
No need to advertise this little venture. We’ll do that for them….
And this is what cool startups are doing in retail.
From a competitive viewpoint, imagine for a moment that our worst business nightmare came true.
Maybe Google decides to enter our market space. Or the Coca Cola Company launched a beverage with the same consumer benefit we’ve been bootstrapping. Or large company X decided to compete against “us” head on.
Well – you’d be surprised how that feels. How it makes us react, and how it very quickly changes our perspective on what is the most important element in ‘winning’. In competing effectively for our share of wallet.
All of a sudden many of the projects we are investing our time on seem far less important than they were yesterday. Maybe that front page redesign can wait, maybe the shiny new web 2.0 buttons are a little less important. Maybe our packaging will do for now and quite possibly every project we have on the agenda, excluding customer ‘centric projects’ can be put on hold.
Here’s an exercise worth doing with your team. Act as if. Act as if it has just happened. Have an ‘emergency session’ with your team on how you’d react if a more well resourced, financed and well known competitor came to play. Build your battle plan. Once your battle plan is drawn up – throw out your current business plan and work on that instead. Because they are coming, especially if your startup is in a fertile consumer territory.
After the intital fear, most entrepreneurs just get inspired, get angry and get on with it. A good scare never hurt anyone.
Steve – founder rentoid.com
I took this quote from Seth Godins latest micro book Tribes:
“Do you beleive in what you do? Every day? It turns out that belief happens to be a brilliant strategy”
This resonates with me because it will motivate us to find solutions that ‘non believers’ will be too inept, apathetic or bored to uncover.
Entrepreneurs ought launch something they beleive in conceptually, not just financially.
While dropping into Startup Camp in Melbourne last week I started chatting with Jonathon from Melbourne Angel Investors. I asked him just one question:
What is more important in their investments, the team or the concept / product?
His reply was a simple one and here it is:
We’d invest in an A Grade team with a B Grade product, but we wouldn’t invest in an A Grade product with a B Grade team.
Startup blog agrees. Though I did here that he was pretty ‘anti-tech’ as far as their investments go…
But the first piece of advice is worth adhearing to. Above all things build an A Grade team, be an A Grade entrepreneur.
And so again we hear that the people in your startup are way more important than the secret sauce. It is without irony that A Grade teams more often than not find A Grade ideas too.
Sometimes we convince ourselves in the early days of our start up that the fun stuff is most important. Yes it’s seriously important, and it’s partly why we decided to leave the cubicle.
But the biggest reason we left cubiclesville was because we wanted to win. We wanted to do something, change something, prove something and achieve success which other corporate plankton couldn’t claim on our behalf.
That said, we ought ask ourselves this:
Is what we are doing Game Changing?
Will what we are spending investing our time on today be the thing that ensures we win the game in our web domain, category or industry?
Fact: When Youtube launched there was over 450 other video sharing websites. Youtube won video sharing for these reasons:
1. They had the simplest user experience
2. They had the most videos uploaded
So – are we investing our day on Game Changing activities, or just passing time?