Bill Kenney
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What should we focus on investments or sales?

This article is written by Mohammad Eslim, a Contributor Author at Startup Istanbul.

Bill Kenney is the founder of MEET (My Expo and Event Team), which helps B2B growth companies effectively leverage at trade shows and in-person events, thereby ramping up sales for its clients. Bill also founded Test My Pitch, which is an online platform where entrepreneurs and business professionals draft, share and receive feedback on their idea pitches and self-introductions.

There is this notion that we have been told, that the only way you can grow is through investment which is a lie sold to entrepreneurs. Investment should not be what you worry about when you start the business, because entrepreneurship is not easy. It’s not about getting the idea, making money and live wealthy with yachts under your name; actually you can build your business and scale it without attracting investments, because for a fact only %1 get the investments out of a huge number of entrepreneurs. There are a lot of successful companies have scaled without taking investments such as Facebook, hp, techsmith, eBay and lots more.

Most of today’s marketplaces are selling the approach that if we focus on money we can be successful. But what happens when we focused on investments is that we are determined to build something the investors would buy and by doing so you tend to mostly focus on your product, thinking it is the only right solution, so much that you get financially and emotionally involved in the product rather than the idea or the customers’ needs and you get defensive over it when they share their idea and demand a feedback, which makes the people stop giving a feedback. Doing that you limited the problem validation because when you get your answers and feedback you would have spent and wasted so much of your resources.

Going the investment road is not easy, since you have to be more careful and certain to reduce the investors’ since of risk in order for them to take the leap and convince them that they made the right choice and put their money in something meaningful. Another downside of this road is that it limits the number of iterations we can create because are sort of committed to this road and we are depleting our resources quickly, which means we are less able to develop our product based on valid feedback.

There are steps to do in order to solve this problem, there are 6 keys of action for you to take:

  1. Focus on the problem. And it doesn’t mean that whenever you got the idea then it is working to solve the problem; as a matter of fact, you have to understand the problem not from your perspective but from the customers’ perspective. Second step after that is assuring it is something they are willing to pay money to solve.
  2. Be demand centered not idea centered. Go out and interview customers in some industry, or a certain type of customers and know their goals, what is the barriers standing in their way to achieve them, what are they willing to do to solve that and exchange some ideas with them then see if they are actually willing to pay you to solve that.
  3. Focusing on sales. It gives you a great sense on how to develop your product in the way the customer demand and make you learn how to scale your business.
  4. Best feedbacks happens when you ask for money. Talk to customers to find out their interests in solving the problem that you imagined and once you identify the problem exists, you start finding a solution they imagine will solve the problem. You must validate their interest in solving the problem!
  5. Align everything to ‘problem’ and ‘sales’. If you simply align everything you are doing, then the rest takes care of itself and you won’t have to worry.
  6. Investors find you when appropriate. Due to their great networks and them traveling around so often, they will come to you.

It is you who drive the whole process, if you are in a program, a school or a system then use them to get to your customers, get their feedback and use it to evaluate to solve real problems. Investments won’t come before sales unless in the dictionary, so take the step and make your story of success!

─ March 9, 2020