If you’ve read my article ‘Confessions of a (Poo)preneur’ you will already know that last summer I had an idea for another new business and it came to me while I was picking up horse poo.
I had been thinking about what makes the perfect entrepreneurial idea (entrepreneurship is about creating something new out of something others believe has no value).
To cut a smelly story short, the idea became WhinnyPoo™ and the product became ‘Horse Manure Tea’ (a natural soil conditioner). For your plants – Not for you!
By the way, when I first suggested it to friends most of them thought I was crazy and who could blame them.
The local market
Back to my story. We’ve done a few local markets and a couple of larger national fairs. Word has started spreading and sales are climbing.
If any of you have tried selling anything at your local farmers market, especially here in the UK you will know it is hard work.
You stand there usually in the cold, for hours on end. Your legs ache, your feet hurt, your hands freeze and it can pour with rain all day – but you still stand there hoping the sun will come out and the customers along with it.
It can be soul destroying
It is very easy to become disillusioned.
It’s easy to start coming up with excuses for going home. You begin to tell yourself it’s the wrong town, the wrong type of customer, the wrong weather, the wrong time of year or, even worse, you tell yourself you’re not cut out to start your own business.
Yesterday was a case in point. We got up at the crack of dawn and loaded the car by torchlight, had a cup of coffee and headed off to a market we hadn’t yet been to.
On arrival we were allocated a pitch right at the far end of the market, the very last stall. We sat in the car thinking; should we even bother, no one is going to come this far along the street, “we don’t stand a chance”, we will just be wasting our time…
In the end we decided to stay and within an hour we had started selling poo.
Within four hours we had completely sold out of one product (should have made up more) and our other ‘poo’ product was selling like never before.
The ‘poo pooers’
Yes, there were some people (and we get them at each market) who come up and say negative stuff. They laugh as if we are stupid but don’t know it.
Some try to tell us we have got our message wrong, or the packaging is misleading, or that they could just ‘pick up free horse poo from the side from the road’.
Those people are not our customers and never will be. Once you can accept that, not take it personally, and look to the next customer the day becomes a lot easier.
It turned out to be our best day ever
Everyone loved WhinnyPoo. Even the ones who did not buy stopped and said what a great idea it was, how lovely the packaging was and how much they loved the brand name.
It only goes to show – never give up. You never know just how close you are to success.
The flipside is that you also need to know when to ‘stop flogging a head horse’ (excuse the pun). Not every idea is a good one, not every idea is sustainable.
Just because you never give up doesn’t mean it will be a success. Just make sure you exhaust all the possibilities before you let it go.
The tougher the goal, the more difficult the journey.
I know too many people who have given up at the first hurdle.
Never be afraid to start small
Here are 3 things to remember when you first start out.
Small is beautiful
Small can be perfect, it can be beautiful, it can certainly be successful and it can be enough!
You don’t have to build a business that is scalable, you don’t have to chase global domination and you don’t have to try and make everyone your customer.
There is nothing wrong with staying small and profitable and there is also nothing wrong with global domination. Each to their own path and if you want to stay small it does not make you any less of an entrepreneur, or your business idea less valid.
It’s about creating something you are passionate about and making it profitable, around an equally passionate following.
Don’t rush into spending money on it!
In the beginning moneys probably “too tight to mention” so bootstrap everything.
If you can do a task yourself do it. If you can’t, ask yourself ‘do I need it yet’? Bootstrapping is the process of launching a business using only what you can afford with the skills you have at hand.
Learn to say ‘no’ quickly.
When you first start out you are so keen to make a sale that you can easily be suckered into sales on the wrong terms, and you under-price your product or service.
Finally, I want to leave you with a quote.
“What’s money? A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do.” Bob Dylan