Friday, October 24, 2014

Keep On Keeping On

Becoming one with the code
As some of you may know I've started a small company about 2 years ago in my spare time and I've since created 2 products/services. One of which has just seen its second iteration and is currently in that ticklish and oh-so-stressful stage of customer acquisition.

Now, even with a free 60 day no-risk trial, no additional hardware or software to buy/install and no drastic changes to current workflows, getting members of the target market to use the service (or even give it a try) is like pulling teeth from a very timid, very untrusting bullshark.

Thank God that thus far I haven't received an outright "no" from any of the folks I approached, but boy it sure does get annoying constantly being thrown into that big grey abyss of "let me talk to my boss/let me think it over".

Honestly, sometimes I feel like giving up and resigning myself to being a permanent member of the working class. Paying $X a month to my VPS provider for a service that brings in $0 (as at writing time) isn't exactly one of the things I look forward to every pay day.

So what keeps me going strong? What keeps me dialing back the phone numbers of potential clients even when my emails go unanswered and their personal assistants sigh at the sound of my name? Aside from heavy reassurance from God and my nightmare of my wife having to quit her job to sell shoes door to door, I found inspiration in the most unlikely of places - a group of people I ignore every day on my way to work - roadside vendors!

You see, every day on my way to work a vendor would ask me if I'm interested in buying watch bands, cell phone cases or the one ring to rule them all and their offers to me would usually be met with an unapologetically blank stare and a strong breeze, void of acknowledgement, as I swoosh by on my way to get a taxi. Now that's just me, on person, turning down their offers on my way to work every day, 5 times a week for 18 months. Multiply that by about 10 thousand other no's they get daily and you see some interesting things starting to form in the mathematical soup.

One of those things is that they have a high tolerance for disappointment. They're resilient and persistent enough to boldly approach the same person over and over no matter how many times that person passes by ignoring them. After (literally) more than a million no's they still come out, set up shop and ply their trade daily; they keep banging on the market's door until the market responds with a yes, and it's that yes that keeps their fire burning until another yes comes along to stoke the flames again.

Compared to the 20 or so "I'll have to think some more about it" responses that I've gotten, things really aren't that bad in my court, and it probably isn't that bad in your court either, my fellow entrepreneur.

Sims on the grind
Being a young tech company in T&T is tough, and especially so when you don't have an illustrious family name that makes potential clients quiver and have to sell your product "door to door" because that $500 000 marketing budget is just slightly out of your reach at the moment. However, as someone who is currently in your shoes, I just want to encourage you to press on. I assure you that it's not a solid stone wall; there are soft spots, and with the right hammer, attitude and persistence you can make a breakthrough.

Just hang in there.