Thursday, March 26, 2015

More Frustrating than the Chicken and Egg Problem....




So you've been brainstorming for the past five hours and you've finally come up with the next billion dollar idea. It's a platform that lets buyers and sellers talk to each other and transact business while you take a cut of every penny that passes. You're going to make billions, right? Of course!

You start canvasing your area talking to buyers, introducing them to this revolutionary idea of yours, but one question keeps popping up: How many sellers are there on your platform? You pause. You realize that a change of strategy is in order - get sellers then come back and get the interested buyers.

You head out the next day, this time hunting for sellers. You get some meetings and each time at the end of your fancy presentation you get the question: How many buyers are there on your platform?

You, my friend, have a classic case of common "chicken and egg" syndrome.

This, no doubt, is frustrating and you are, in fact, tasked with finding very creative ways to overcome this problem. However, what if I told you that there's something worse than this? What if I told you that there's something more frustrating than spending months setting up meetings, tweaking the product, getting the word out and polishing pitches only to end up sitting late at night propping your jaw trying to figure out how to get sellers and buyers to drink from your milk saucer?

What if I told you that there is a situation in which you create the "perfect product" that escapes the clutches of ye old chicken and egg and is aimed squarely at a unidirectional audience that loves it but simply won't try it because it's a new product that nobody's tried before?

There is a name for this type of situation. I call it the "You Go First" situation - that's where several potential clients are standing in a circle around your product; all of them waiting for the other to try it first meanwhile you just sit there cueing them on to "step right up" while they all stand there stroking their chins; it's like you're the only guy at a kissing party and the girls all want to kiss you but they're each waiting for someone else to make the first move because nobody want to appear to be the thirstiest of thirsties. You know what happens in that scenario? The parents come home and break up the party before any lip locking gratification can be had - everybody misses out because nobody wanted to be the one to make that bold move. Who knows where the evening cold have gone? I digress...

It's amazing - you come to a client that loves you and your product. They believe that the idea is novel, and it's the shot in the arm that the industry needs. It will cost them $0 to try and involve very  minute changes (if any) to their business process while maximizing profits and saving them tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in the process... but they're skeptical to try it because nobody else has tried it yet.

That, my friends, is the state of the soil that we entrepreneurs are attempting to till to plant the seeds of innovation here in T&T. That's one of the reasons why great products (especially technology products) aimed at a T&T audience seldom succeed.

You think it's because most ideas are crap? No! Well, some of them are, but the point is that some of the great ideas, the really good ones are left out in freezing limbo until the money in their veins dries up and the entrepreneur has no choice but to move on and either a.) get a job and become another working stiff or b.) hunker down and set up camp somewhere else.

Is the situation unique to T&T? Of course not. I'm pretty sure this exists in other places as well, but does that mean it's acceptable?

As for what can be done about the situation, I'm fresh out of ideas. All I can suggest is prayer and patience. Every business owner has the right to accept or not accept any business proposition no matter how good it may appear to be. Here's hoping that this generation will see the last of this type of thinking.


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