Kolbeco has been around 17 years. In that time, we have watched some businesses explode and some implode. So, as we have reflected on the successes and failures, we see a common theme. The ability of the organization to develop a clear mission, their brand, the ability to hustle and to think through the details are the core components to success. The complexity of it all is balancing all 4 components. When one gets out of balance, things can start heading south. In this article, I am focusing on balancing the hustle versus thinking through the details.
When you talk to most investors/bankers, some of the first questions asked are who your customers are and what your company size is. Despite no one ever saying anything, the key is they are judging whether you’re an idea person and whether or not you have some hustle in you. No customers is not good, no matter how great the idea is, because at that point it is just an idea. No one wants to lend money or invest in an idea. They invest in you as a human being and your drive to make things happen, no matter the challenge. That is why investors often want people that have started a business before. They know how hard they have to work to get things off the ground.
Then you have the other side, someone that has great ideas. Great ideas are what revolutionize our world. The problem we see with many great ideas is they keep working on great ideas and not selling what they have. If you get caught in the trap of just improving and not selling, then in the end you may have some great innovation, but no one knows about it and there are no customers, because the idea at that point has passed or something else came to market addressing the issue.
The reality is that in today’s world you have to find customers. You have to take this one-day at a time. While having strategic plans and products for a year down the road is important, you can’t lose sight of where the sales numbers are and just keep working on the next idea; otherwise the momentum just stops. You have to keep bringing in customers. Otherwise the funding dries up in regards to loans or cash to fund the next big idea.
People look at the start up community in St. Louis and see people getting six figure investments. These are rare and the people getting these investments are spending years working on their pitch. Those startups have been hustling for years trying to get someone to invest in their idea.
While a great idea is wonderful, it is the person that hustles that usually gets the customer, and wins in the end.