DiY Business Growth Strategy and Exorbitant Opportunity Cost

Ed Marsh | Nov 4, 2013

It's not like putzing around with your deck!

Home Depot is often cited as an example of a company that really understands content marketing.  They make DiY home projects accessible and digestible through great use of various media tools.  

Some of you may have had the same Sunday evening experience as me - that maybe they make it seem a bit too accessible!

But we live in a DiY world of never enough money and never enough time.  If your deck project takes a an extra season to finish you may have some marital discord and neighbors impatient for you to reciprocate their invitations for the 4th of July neighborhood cookout, but otherwise you won't suffer substantial negative consequences.

Business people (even in mid-size companies!) get into trouble though, when they extrapolate that experience to their business investments.  We see it in "accidental export" programs that devolve into a marginally successful series of ad-hoc market activities (rather than a strategic business revenue driver) and in digital marketing (where everyone thinks that with a twitter account and a website they'll realize all possible benefit.)

And in addition to overestimating their in-house capability, there's also skepticism of outside resources (whether consultant, agency, etc.)  Too many companies have been dissatisfied with results in the past and presume that mediocrity is all they can reasonably expect.

The cost of doing it cheaply isn't savings

josh linkner entrepreneur business growth strategy investmentI've cited Josh Linkner's blog in the past.  But this week's article deserves presentation in its entirety.  Give it a quick read, then let's circle back together at the end.
Business people waste a lot of time worrying about spending money. By conserving cash, the thinking goes, they are protecting their most precious and scarce resource. As an investor in startup companies, I see this pattern play out again and again: leaders that invest too slowly in growth, believing this is a safe approach.

In today's fiercely competitive landscape, squeezing pennies has simply become a losing formula. In fact, the most valuable and scare resource is not money; it's time. A plan that fearfully conserves is actually far more risky than one of heavy investment in innovation and scale.

If you have a great idea to launch a business or a new strategy to grow an existing one, chances are that hundreds of others around the world have the same idea. The question becomes, who will get there first? Results in business are often binary - the winner takes all. So any friction that slows down your sprint to the finish line becomes an albatross that restricts your ability to achieve.

Unlike time, money is a replaceable asset. You can create more through revenue, loans, or investment. Time, on the other hand, cannot be replenished. While it doesn't show up on accounting statements, it is your most precious -- and limited -- commodity.

Most people overlook the importance of speed. They don't consider the opportunity cost of squandered time, lost opportunity, or forgoing competitive advantage. They don't realize that most ideas have a limited shelf life, and that failure is too often the result of simply moving too slowly.

Concerned about spending, an entrepreneur recently asked me if he should spend an extra $10,000 on contractors to launch his product two weeks earlier. My response: "What is the cost of waiting the extra two weeks? Lost customers? Slower company growth? Handing over competitive advantage? In hard dollars, if you have the rest of your 20 people working for an extra 14 days, what happens to the overall project cost?" Turns out, spending "more" equated to actually spending less when looking at the big picture. More importantly, it allowed this startup leader to hit the market faster.

Vince Lombardi famously said, "In my entire career, I never lost a single game... I just ran out of time." If you're looking to seize the next level, worry less about investing in growth and worry a whole lot more about letting time slip through your fingers. As you deeply consider the impact of waiting, you'll want to strap on your running shoes and begin to sprint.
Awesome or what?  Make you a little uncomfortable with some of your budgeting decisions?  A lot uncomfortable?

Outsourcing....sensibly

Sure you've heard that bromide that it takes money to make money.  And GoDaddy would have you believe that if you can create a "website" like writing an email, you've addressed your company's digital marketing requirements with a smaller investment.

But there's clearly more to it.  Pursuing global opportunities wherever they pop up leads companies to conclude that export growth strategy is only for multinationals.  A twitter handle and static "brochure" website are no longer signs of savvy - but rather easy gauges of a companies digital ineptitude.

It's critical to find advisors whose deep expertise informs their recommendations - not, for instance, PR agencies simply scrambling to maintain relevance or logistics experts who claim broad global business development chops.

And then it's equally important to find those confident enough in their approach and results to comfortably detail incremental approaches to simultaneously deliver results and do so in a phased model which gives clients comfort in the knowledge that they aren't simply plunging blindly into an abyss of consulting fees without corroleting results. 

With impressive results, those fees are a sensible investment.  Without results, their outrageous and exorbitant regardless of how big they are.

Bottom line?  Listen to Josh.  Don't be silly trying to be savvy.

And check out our approach to B2B digital marketing.  For the investment of a couple typical trade shows, you've got a phased program that proves its merit each step of the way.  Download a really, really detailed overview by clicking here or the image below.

internet marketing for manufacturers

image credit - JoshLinkner.com