- April 10, 2015
- Posted by: Topher Morrison
- Category: Blog
I’ve said many times that every big idea an entrepreneur has for their business is either a million-dollar winner that they will be able to live out the rest of their lives from the rewards, or a total flop that will cost them money until they finally let it go. Either way, it’s your job as the entrepreneur to find out as quickly as possible. Because, if you procrastinate on your winning idea, you are losing countless amounts of money and, more than likely, giving your competition time to sweep the idea out from underneath you. Or, if you fiddle-fart around with the idea without going full-on, you will slowly lose tons of cash over the years with an idea that, frankly, should have been thrown in the trash.
Last week I got to prove that theory. Several months back, I had a million-dollar idea: The BIG Pitch – A pitching competition that had the largest prize package for a local pitching contest in Tampa – $25,000. And, it wasn’t your typical pitching contest where you would try to raise capital or find partners for a start-up or an idea, but rather, a social pitch for the everyday entrepreneur who is already established and operational. I just knew this would create a buzz in the local small business owner world. The result? Pathetic. In fact, we had to pull the competition because the number of applicants were so low we couldn’t come close to covering the prize package. My total loss for this event with advertising, web design, and labor? About $17,000. How much would I have lost had I just kept plugging along, slowly, without giving it everything I got? Who knows, but it would have probably been in the range of around $50,000 or more. Finding out this idea was a dud as fast as possible allowed me to minimize my loss.
200 applicants in Round 1
50 applicants go to Round 2
10 applicants go to Round 3
We had 51 people apply and only 42 of of the applicants submitted a video.
Why didn’t this promotion succeed? We could probably fault some of it to poor ad copy that didn’t clearly articulate the benefits of the competition. We could probably fault the timeframe that we gave the contestants to submit their pitch videos. But after our team had spoken to several small business owners in Tampa who we genuinely felt would be great candidates, and after a complete conversation that clearly articulated all of the benefits, the overwhelming majority of the business owners we spoke with responded with one simple, sad response. “I just don’t think I can win.”
The failure of this promotion, for me, isn’t even the real story. Here’s the REAL Story:
The majority of business owners are waking up each morning feeling like failures before they even compete. It makes sense now why pitching contests are designed for start-ups, not like my contest for established business owners: Start-ups feel invincible. They are optimistic and haven’t felt the kicks in the gut like most seasoned entrepreneurs have. The failure of this promotion unveiled, perhaps, the real reason why most businesses fail within 5 years. It’s not for lack of business acumen, or lack of a great idea. It’s because most entrepreneurs have got the smack-down so many times they lack the spirit to push on.
Every entrepreneur you can think of right now that you admire and respect has been knocked down. And they’ve probably suffered bigger failures than you or I have yet to endure. But, something compelled them to get back up and keep trying. One of the best pieces of advice for entrepreneurs comes from a scene from “Rocky Balboa” when Rocky is talking to his son about failure. He said,
“…and the time came for you to be your own man and take on the world. And you did! But somewhere along the line, you changed. You stopped being you. You let people stick a finger in your face and tell you you’re no good. And when things got hard, you started looking for something to blame. Like a big shadow. Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is going to hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you get hit. It’s about how hard you can get it, and keep moving forward! How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done! Now, if you know what you are worth go out and get what you are worth, but you gotta be willing to take the hits. And not pointing fingers and saying you ain’t where you wanna be because of him or her or anybody! Cowards do that and that ain’t you! YOU’RE BETTER THAN THAT!”
If you are beginning to feel defeated in your business, or if you are just going about your business slowly for fear that if you go too fast you will take a hit, then please re-read that paragraph above. Or watch the video. And read it and watch it over and over again until you realize that if you want to experience a big win in your life…the kind of big win that makes people stand up and take notice, then you better be willing to take the hits and keep moving forward. I am; are you? To our next BIG ideas!!!