Entrepreneurs often have well-laid plans for global domination. They have charts, projections and sales plans showing who they are going to sell products and services to and how much they are going to gross once their company has become a household name. What they typically don’t have is a tactical plan to get to the first sale and then the second. Either they have failed to nail down a compelling value proposition or they just feel more comfortable debating among themselves whether the dog will like the dog food, rather than going out and feeding it to the dog. To me, that’s completely backwards.
If you are starting a business, knowing how to get your first customer is really more important than knowing how to get the 1,000th—even in the “big picture” world of the business plan. Start in your own backyard, by creating a product or service that solves a need for someone locally. One you have that first customer onboard, use that reference to get another. Build a local presence, then a regional presence, then a statewide presence. Learn what customers like and don’t like, refine the model and then develop plans to take it national. If you do this, your business and financial model will be based on real data and feedback rather than intelligent guesswork and potentially inaccurate spreadsheet assumptions. The reality is that if you can’t win the game when you have the home field (or backyard) advantage, you are much less likely to succeed on the road.