Exactly one week later I was sitting in the basement office of the VtSBDC in Burlington. Steve Densham instantly gained my trust, as I couldn’t help but see astounding similarities between he and a good friend of mine from past Real Estate lending days across the pond in Plattsburgh, NY. A very father-like figure who would regularly take me for lunch dates, cocktails and was always up for great conversations. Feeling his spirit in Steve was comforting (especially since I was sitting in a basement with a strange man…).
Densham is a wealth of knowledge and too happy to share with anyone who will listen, intently. He has a background in his own business ownerships and speaks well from experience.
Looking at my notes from our meeting is satisfying. What seemed like an exciting, albeit daunting list of who, what, where and how to go forward, I can put a check mark next to each and every one – save one thing – a fulfillment facility I overlooked and will now make a point to vet. It’s about two hours from my home base for operations, but get this… I sit here writing this from my camp in the Northeast Kingdom (that’s the uppermost northeastern corner of Vermont) – TEN MINUTES from said facility. Coincidence? I think not.
Some wisdom-filled thoughts from Steve included forecasting out three years – for my wants.
Qualitative: What will my work schedule be? My quality of life?
Quantitative: How much do I need to do? Year 1? Year 2? Year 3?
What does the business need to look like? X-sales? What do I need to produce in the first year and where?
This is where I could feel myself at a whole ‘nother level of excited. I was super stoked to have an idea that became a thing, but creating and running a business? Yeaassss! It’s so fun to think about all of these “what ifs”; projections and planning.
With that he pivoted to my customers. He challenged me to define the problem I was solving. Ummm – running with a stroller sucks – isn’t that enough? Apparently not. What do runners want that they didn’t even know they needed? How will I give them a reason to believe that I have that solution for them? How is my solution better than others? How will I offer a dramatic difference to their lives and experiences? What is my competitive advantage?
A customer needs to DECIDE that they have a problem that needs fixing.
They then DISCOVER the options available and and determine what they will purchase.
My job is to DELIVER on their expectations PLUS 1%.
Still this resonates with me years later. It makes sense. It’s how I think and what I want when I choose to buy something. And when that brand delivers with that +1% – ohhh, I am going to tell everyone! I will gush all over my girlfriends about what I found and experienced and encourage them to jump on board. I want to give that to my customers with StrollRunner.
Deliver +1% – got it. Now, how am I going to make the next prototype, and even more pressing…how the heck am I going to pay for it?