The First 3 Speed Killers
Speed to market in the multilevel marketing, direct sales, and party plan worlds is becoming more crucial as more companies enter the fray. Not only are more and more companies emerging, the number of people signing up for the business opportunities these companies provide is also growing. Also, the longer a new MLM company waits to launch the more opportunities for growth are missed, right? Well, yes and no.
Entrepreneurs are often consumed with the idea they’re losing business everyday they are not launched. This thought track can often derail an otherwise great business or product launch. In the rush to get launched, companies can overlook or be under-prepared for many important aspects of their business. At the same time, overthinking and indecisiveness can be just as detrimental to a quick and successful start to your business.
The following is a list of MLM speed-to-market killers, whether you are launching a new business or a new product. There could be 20 or more things to add to this list, but these are the ones I see pop up the most.
Funding can be a two-edged sword. With other people’s money comes other people’s opinions and directives you may have to accommodate. Your investors are assuming risk by giving you their money and understandably they want to protect their investment and share their knowledge of wealth. Putting more “cooks in the kitchen” can dramatically add to the complexities of your otherwise simple business plan. If you are passionate about your well thought out plan, make clear to your investor what they are investing in before you take their money, and make sure they do not dramatically change your plans. On the other hand, if you lack the well-thought-out part of your plan, a successful investor may be just what you need to help you fill in the blanks and get your business going.
Often times, great business ideas are underfunded. I know of a network marketing company that was riding the crest of the super drink rage. They didn’t secure enough funds to produce enough product AND have an infrastructure ready if there was a rush to join their company. They seemed to have everything else in place. Yet, because of a lack of funding, they were left to try to organically grow their company, knowing this was a much slower way to success. Long story shortened, the market interest in super drinks waned before the company gained enough momentum. In other words, a great opportunity was lost because there was not enough funding to grow the company fast out of the gate.
There is no speed to market in a market that doesn’t even know you are there. Proper funding and proper planning can get you noticed, and both are equally important. Some companies try to start before full funding is secured, and some have eventually succeeded this way. However, if you choose a poorly funded route, plan on a long and slow growth curve and pray the interest in your business idea does not die before you get noticed.
Rarely have I seen production for a new product go smoothly and meet the original timelines. By the time you source ingredients, have them shipped, find time on a production line, complete the design work and sourcing for packaging, many things can and do go wrong. Start this process early and prepare for delays. Don’t make promises to your investors or your leaders about when product will be ready, because many times it will not be ready when you anticipate.
One way to protect yourself from manufacturing delays is to have alternate sources for ingredients, production, and packaging ready. Many companies are sourcing exotic ingredients (translated: hard to get ingredients from other countries). Bulk shipments from a country like China can often take a month or more to receive. Buying more ingredients than you need and air shipping a smaller amount for an initial product run may be a smart choice. Look for secondary sources for manufacturing that are more nimble and can do a short run for you if you get in a pinch. But know that this will come at a premium price. Sometimes if you over commit your launch time, you may need to pay for such an expense. I’ll probably write another article on over-committing and how to avoid it.
Design work is another area that’s notorious for missing timelines. You can shorten these delays by getting referrals for design work. If others you know have had a great experience with a particular designer, the chances of that designer working well for you are much higher. Just because your nephew or niece graduated college with a degree in computer science or graphic design does not mean they are the best person to help you create your branding. Sure they may come cheap, but finding a designer or firm that has industry experience, meets deadlines, and understands your customers is critical to getting it right and ultimately helping you make more money in the end.
Still, working with experienced designers can be wrought with delays and re-designs. The better prepared you are to engage a designer the better able you are to shorten or avoid delays. The most common delays involve lack of direction, slow feedback, and indecisiveness. And these are typically problems with the company paying for design services. Instead, come with examples of design work you like. Show samples to the designer of what you like and what you don’t like. Talk to the designer about your target audience, their demographics, their interests, their fears and aspirations, and the problems you help solve for them with your products or services. This information can help your designer get the right fit for the right audience,
Lean toward a more simple design for your logo as it needs to work well within all different types of print and online media. Think about the most easily recognized and memorable logos. The majority of them use a simple flat design. Having a simple, logo can dramatically reduce design time as you work across all media.
And, if you can, come prepared with all the content (images and text) you want to use on products, websites, advertising and brochures. This last one can be an overwhelming task, but don’t leave your messaging up to the designer. (It’s a good idea to hire a content writer to keep the company “on message” across, products, websites, training, etc.) Instead, allow the designer to influence your decisions on how much of that content to show and how to make that content more consistent and simple across all your messaging.
These first 3 speed killers are not necessarily the most profound. In future articles of this series we cover more speed killers that surprise many young MLM companies as they get ready to launch their business or a new product.