As I sit in my camper on the edge of the roaring spring run-off in the Similkameen River in Manning Park, B.C., I can appreciate the capacity that Mother Nature has to deal with volume. The river’s normal flow being only a fraction of the current torrent, but she is still able to direct it downstream. It is a beautiful sight as the water pours over boulders that normally would be dry and the soundscape it creates is magical. This is also what great entrepreneurs have the capacity to do – take unexpected volumes of “stuff”, negative or positive, and direct it in a fashion that can have a positive result. Yes – sometimes areas that are downstream get flooded, homes may even be lost – but the strong are able to accept it for what it is, brush themselves off and rebuild. The nature of successful entrepreneurism is also being able to rebound from the set-backs, tweak what was not working and persevere when others would have thrown their hands up in frustration. I believe that you are not truly an entrepreneur until you have failed at least once or twice and have had the ability to gather yourself and set forth on your entrepreneur’s dream – now wiser from the past experiences.
Plan Ahead – and Then Plan Ahead Again!
In my latest venture, “the InterLock – the lock that hides inside your bike”, we of course did our proforma’s and timelines when we first commenced on this entrepreneurial path. Since I have had the benefit of experience on numerous other start-ups, successes and failures, I was conscious about not being too aggressive on estimating our proforma and timeline so as to avoid the old adage that it will take twice as long and cost twice as much as what we estimate! But even with that experience the adage has still applied itself – it is like one of the laws of Mother Nature, that even if you rebuild, this time on higher ground, that you may still get flooded out! So with the twice as long and twice as much being the scenario, it is incumbent upon my business partner and myself to continue to steer our budding enterprise in a positive direction and look for the opportunities that the current circumstances are creating. It also affords us the ability to keep coming back to our original proformas and strategic plan and rework them with the new knowledge gained.
Twice As Long
In the “twice as long” segment it has opened up the opportunity for us to redirect some of our marketing efforts. The original time frame would have allowed us to deliver product for after-market bike retailer distribution in June to countries in the northern hemisphere – not perfect but would have been a good start. Now with delivery not expected until late July (or more likely August) it opens up the marketing opportunity to tap into Southern hemisphere and equatorial countries. With this in mind we already have good interest in Australia and India and will continue to identify others. The delay also gives us the opportunity to target Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM’s) of bicycles for the 2014 season for the smaller OEM’s that have shorter manufacturing time frames and 2015 for the larger OEM’s. Lastly, we have had the time to create a better Customer Relation Management framework (utilizing Salesforce.com and being configured by TractionOnDemand.com) so that we can capture all of our prospects, leads and customers in one cloud based solution. So the time delay, while frustrating, is a fact of life for a start-up and it affords the ability to attack and construct other parts of our business model.
Twice As Much
In the “twice as much” segment we have a patent pending design that has resulted in our manufacturing cost to be approximately double what our original estimates were – but also with an after-market product that will more functional, design efficient and aesthetically pleasing than the original models were. This costing is a big disappointment but still within the parameters of a feasible after-market retail price structure. It still leaves enough room for ourselves, our distributors and bike retailers to make the necessary margins in the selling process. We will go back to the drawing board on the InterLock to see where the areas are that we can reduce our cost without affecting the product quality for future production runs – but for the time being this after-market product for bike retailers hits the spot! What it doesn’t do is give us the price structure that will make it feasible for OEM’s to adopt our InterLock in a universal manner as we expected. So again the entrepreneurial mind has been set in motion to create an opportunity out of this set-back. The result is a 2nd product design from my business partner that is more utilitarian than our first after-market design which will allow for our pricing of this 2nd version, currently dubbed the “OEM” version, to be approximately half the price of the original version and therefore pick up a wider OEM interest and orders. This OEM version will also appeal to the mid to lower-end mass after-market (the WalMart’s of the world) as the convenience and security of the lock will be similar to the original InterLock but at much lower price – while bolstering the value and pricing of the original version being retailed in bike stores due to its more aesthetically pleasing design.
So with the twice as long delay and the twice as much cost we are now on track to create and handle more volume as we have two distinct products appealing to a much broader potential consumer and product placement than we originally started out with – not dissimilar to Mother Nature taking all that extra volume of water and directing it downstream and the folks on the flood-plain being better prepared every subsequent year when the spring-run-off occurs! It is the successful entrepreneur that can re-build, re-tweak and eventually become that “overnight sensation” that really was years in the making!