When we work with small businesses, entrepreneurs and inventors in our Consumer Product Marketing and Branding Consulting group we constantly find ourselves using and reinforcing the importance of the word “focus” to prospective clients. It is crucial to their success. It is also, often in the shortest of supply.
By their very nature, people who create products and attempt to start businesses have some level of creativity. They envision possibilities for their ideas and endeavor to turn their vision into a commercial entity. However, this creativity often handicaps their efforts because they cannot maintain total focusand apply it to the job at hand. This manifests itself in different ways, usually by comingling work elements from multiple concepts and straying from the alpha plan that must be executed to get their initial idea to market.
Recently we reviewed a Pet Product for dog and cat wellness. The products were well developed from a clinical standpoint. The Entrepreneur had conducted bountiful lab research. The Marketing Strategy and Business Plan were unformed but that could be easily fixed. After a thorough review process, and much debate, we passed on the opportunity to proceed and engage on this project. Why?
Simply put, the creator of this interesting line of Pet Care Products was unable to focus on this one, high potential group of products. During the meeting, and on subsequent conference calls, he would divert his attention to human oral care products he was developing, or a horse liniment, or an arthritis spray treatment, or a cancer patch. On numerous occasions we asked him to identify the most market ready product in this vast arsenal. He would respond the “pet products” and then ramble on endlessly about other cures he envisioned.
This lack of laser-like focus is the Achilles Heel for far too many aspiring inventors and entrepreneurs. It is paramount that success be achieved on at least one project before investors, partners or licensees will want to participate in subsequent ventures. By muddying the waters with bits and pieces from multiple, diversified concepts a signal is powerfully given that the owner lacks focus, and thus discipline and commitment.The experience I describe with the creator of the dog and cat wellness product range is not an anomaly. It is too often the norm. It is also a red flag that the presenter is not serious. A creative mind is a wonderful asset, if it can be harnessed. Projects must be prioritized and nurtured with care and full attention to every detail.
If you believe in your idea and opportunity give it a chance to be seriously and fully considered. A great concept is minimized if the owner is not equally strong in presenting themselves and their total commitment to achieving success. Do not make a hash of your introductory meeting by confusing your audience with multiple, non-connected concepts. Too often this is done as a simple act of narcissism. The breadth of your creative instincts will become apparent soon enough, if you can get past the introduction and excite interest from partners or investors.
Geoff Ficke has been a serial entrepreneur for almost 50 years. As a small boy, earning his spending money doing odd jobs in the neighborhood, he learned the value of selling himself, offering service and value for money.
After putting himself through the University of Kentucky (B.A. Broadcast Journalism, 1969) and serving in the United States Marine Corp, Mr. Ficke commenced a career in the cosmetic industry. After rising to National Sales Manager for Vidal Sassoon Hair Care at age 28, he then launched a number of ventures, including Rubigo Cosmetics, Parfums Pierre Wulff Paris, Le Bain Couture and Fashion Fragrance.
Geoff Ficke and his consulting firm, Duquesa Marketing, (www.duquesamarketing.com) has assisted businesses large and small, domestic and international, entrepreneurs, inventors and students in new product development, capital formation, licensing, marketing, sales and business plans and successful implementation of his customized strategies. He is a Senior Fellow at the Page Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, Business School, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.