Rule # Twenty-something: Keep. Knocking.

I was going to re-enter this blog by ranting about Michael Arrington’s recent post telling folks that in this economy, they need to build products people will pay for and not ad-supported products.  That’s a strategy I’d advocate (and have done so before on this blog) even when money is growing on trees and riverbanks are dusted with gold coins.  Ad-supported business = fail.   Large companies can use scale to build ad-based businesses, yes.  But your startup isn’t a large company so you aren’t going to make it if you’re counting on ads.

Now that my rant is out of my system, I’ve spent the last 6 months learning yet another Rule for starting a business that has more to do with day-to-day operations then building a web-application.  That rule is simple:

Keep Knocking.

There are tons of quotes about persistence and desire and working hard, and maybe this is another one.  But I like this one the best because it’s (a) short and (b) literal.  

 

Perhaps the hardest part of launching anything, selling anything, marketing anything is the part where you try to get a seat at the table and convince someone to give you and your product(s) a chance.  You’re not competing with other companies per se nearly as much as you are competing with the status quo.  You need market-share and mind-share, not growth.  (As an aside, many companies can be started and become great even in a bad economy if they are focusing on market share as opposed to market growth.  More on that some other time.  Maybe).

Anyway, what’s the worst sales and marketing job on earth?  Cold calling.  Everyone hates cold calling since it’s so uncomfortable.  But that’s why it should be so attractive if you love your product/service and believe in it.  If you’re cold-calling when no one else is, you can earn that spot at the table.  Sure, it may take 50 calls to get 5 appointments that lead to 1 sale, but that’s 1 more sale then you’re going to get sitting on your ass with the phone in the cradle.

 

My current venture – an offline bricks’n’mortar project – has been knocking for months and months and months.  The sales cycle is really long from first contact to actually getting an order.  But recently, we’ve started to have the door creak further and further open.  In one case, we’re to the point where the person answering told us, “You have earned a large chunk of my business due to all this knocking.”

Coming full circle, “Keep Knocking” is a reminder to be persistent and work hard, but it’s also a reminder that the only way you’re going to be successful is by the near-literal knocking on doors until your fingers are bare.  Knock long enough, knock hard enough and someone will eventually answer.  And as I suggested before, doing nothing will get you nowhere.  Doing something will get you somewhere.  

Start knocking. 

Keep knocking.

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