“Give me a place to stand and rest my lever on, and I can move the earth.”
No doubt you’ve heard the phrase “starry-eyed,” but have you ever seen it? I did, in a young married couple I’ll call Mary and Joe. They dreamed of owning a catalog, and when they came to see me about a launch, their eyes sparkled in anticipation.
”We’ve done lots of research. We’ve built a business plan and sales projections. And we’ve saved enough for the initial investment.”
A good start, I thought. These folks have a realistic plan. They’ve got a chance for the stars in their eyes to become real.
In working with startups, I’ve noticed that success often begins with some leverage that delivers profitability in an easier, cheaper and faster fashion, such as a pre-existing mailing list of store customers, exclusive designs or great margins, if they’re the product manufacturer. I was hoping Mary and Joe, with their careful planning and research, also had a lever.
We looked at their marketing concept, product line, operations plan, cost and sales projections. Each item was OK, but nothing that took my breath away and made me gasp, “By golly, this is going to work.”
If the stars and their catalog were going to align, it was going to take a lot of work and money, and it would come with no guarantees. In the old days of cataloging it was possible to start a title on your kitchen table. What about today? What about for Mary and Joe? Impossible? No. But darned hard? Yes.
A small company is a lot better off if it can begin with some kind of leverage to reduce risk, capital needs and time to profitability. How about a big company? Is it easier when the pockets are deeper?