5 years ago, one of my companies was failing.
It was an extraordinary venture. The biggest I had ever embarked upon. And the one where I invested the most funds in.
In the end, I lost close to a million. It was the first million I had ever made, and I lost it all in two years’ time.
I ended up closing down the company and taking my losses. I felt horrible, and actually, still today I rather don’t think too much of it.
Losing a million is not exactly what I would recommend you try for yourself.
what is interesting however, is what losing a million learned me.
To be brief; we had a startup in an eco-friendly transport solution. The product was great, all the specs where there. It was strong, light, clean and ecological.
Few people know that I am an engineer. Being an engineer seems cool at first, but there is a huge pitfall.
Engineers keep engineering.
In this project I could go crazy about technical specs and product development. And I lost myself there a bit.
We wanted to make the perfect product. But in the process, we just kept developing and didn’t sell.
The company was racking up losses and I was burning money big time.
I remember one night sitting down with a friend over a beer. I was explaining him how I couldn’t believe that such a great product didn’t sell. It had everything! All the specs where just great.
My friend was listening patiently while I went on and on about how great this product was.
Then he asked me this one question: “Wiet, do you think Mc Donalds makes the best burgers in the world?”
“Of course not!” I laughed. “They make -at most- reasonable burgers, but certainly not the best in the world”
“Exactly” He said. “But they do sell the most burgers in the world, don’t they?”.
The conversation was over. I was blown away.
Instead of trying to make the best burger in the world, I should have focused on my sales and marketing.
All of a sudden it came to me. The engineer had kept on engineering the whole time and the company had run out of cash.
I believe there is only one ultimate reason a company fails in the end, and that is the lack of sales.
Sales is an opportunity to do it better. Every single time again.
Sales is what saves a company and the lack of sales is what eventually kills you.
I lost that million, but every company I’ve built since then has been super-focused on sales and marketing. People who work with me know that very well.
First sales, then we’ll figure out the rest.