For new brands, seizing an opportunity when it presents itself is key to success. One of the big advantages small start-ups have over their big, corporate counterparts is their ability to quickly take advantage of openings in the market and time-sensitive circumstances.
We have found that it’s better to make a move when you are 75% prepared than to wait until you are 100% prepared and miss the window of opportunity altogether.
When you are under-capitalized and facing a constant cash flow battle, you really can’t afford to miss any chance to build your brand. For instance, while building the Barefoot wine brand, whenever we won a wine contest anywhere in the country, we had signs made, distributed, and in the marketplace within three days – everywhere. Sure, they were slap-dash and hand-made, but they were on the shelf!
Being fresh and current with information about your brand and striking while the iron is still hot provides the attention a fledgling brand needs to catch the eye of an overloaded market. Any salesperson will tell you that they need fresh news every time they speak to a buyer. It makes the salesperson more interesting, and is a break from the same-old pitch for the buyer.
Being first to enter into a market to satisfy a pop-up demand or add a new twist to an old one is always advantageous. All the advertising in the world for the second entry won’t make up for the momentum the first one can gain by simply being first. Waiting for the perfect solution will often put you behind the imperfect first solution.
When you are quick to get to market, other advantages start to present themselves. Now that you are in the flow of things, you can see the market’s concerns and learn lessons that weren’t possible when you were “getting ready.” For one thing you’ll notice that the market itself is ever-changing, constantly morphing into new definitions, iterations and expressions of what it wants. So, the faster you become part of this dynamic force, the better. You can be a market leader if you move fast to satisfy its current demand. Because you are already in motion, you will be more likely to see the opportunities and changes as they occur and take full advantage of them.
And what about being only 75% prepared? You will learn and apply the other 25% faster when you are already in the game. Plus, you will make tweaks in your product or service on the fly. Once you are already moving, you will use your experience to make decisions that will be far superior to the ones you would have made before you jumped into the market. In fact, you likely will need to undo and change many decisions you made in the planning stages. All the focus groups in the world will not provide the intelligence you will gain by actually doing it. Getting real feedback from real customers in the real marketplace will give you the other 25% in a hurry.
Don’t be the company that plans and plans and keeps testing the waters while the opportunity fades away. Get started and don’t be surprised if you pick up what you need to be ‘perfect’ from the market itself.
Who Are We.
Having built and sold a bestselling national brand, we appreciate the value of brands and everything it takes to make them successful. Companies are valued by their brand equity. Achieving and maximizing brand equity requires tremendous respect for all your customers, from your wholesaler to your end user.
Starting in our laundry room with no money and no knowledge of the industry, we built the famous Barefoot Wine brand. We learned a lot they don’t teach in school and much of it the hard way. Although our success was in consumer products, our real world experience will be helpful to anyone looking for information and advice about brands.
We have written the New York Times Bestselling Business Book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand, which chronicles the history of the famous brand from its inception through its acquisition. Our book is now required reading in schools of entrepreneurship across the country. We hope this book will provide inspiration and encouragement for all those contemplating starting a brand or wanting to improve their existing brand.
Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey
-Barefoot Wine Founders