The Worst Business Advice in the World

In 2016 a friend of mine had a great idea. He lived in a small suburb of Kansas City and there was no coffee shop on his commute to work. So he decided to start one.
He picked a great location on the main street everyone used to get on the freeway. He invested in the best coffee equipment and made a great deal with a local roaster to supply him with top notch coffee beans.
A week before he opened his doors I stopped buy to have a look at his operation. It was impressive. He’d poured his life savings into the business and it showed. It was a beautiful space. The kind of spot you’d feel comfortable writing the next great American novel.
He introduced me to his staff who were hard at work putting the finishing touches on the store. After we sat down for a cup of coffee and dropped the big question.
“Mike, what’s your marketing plan? How are you going to promote the business?”

His response floored me. He said,

“You know, I’m not really worried about it. We’re the only coffee shop this close to the freeway and we’ve got the best of everything. Word is already spreading and I’m confident if we create a great product the sales will take care of themselves.”

I should have said something. But Mike never asked me for advice, so I didn’t offer any.
The grand opening was a huge success. It looked like the business was going to take off. But shortly after the opening sales began to slide. He was struggling to cover his rent and pay his staff. Not to mention provide for his own family.
A few months later I stopped by with my kids to see how things were going. To my surprise he’d added and entire lunch menu and ice cream bar to the shop.
When I asked him about the changes he said, “Yeah coffee alone wasn’t cutting it so we expanded to include a lunch menu as well.”
I thought, Ok…let’s have some lunch then. So I ordered the “gravy burger” and a chocolate malt.
I’ll be dammed! If that wasn’t the best burger and malt I’d ever tasted I don’t know what was. I brought my family back to his restaurant several times over the next 3 months. Yet the store continued to struggle.
Before the year was out he had lost everything. He ended up moving his family to Ohio to live with his parents.
True Story.
I should have said something in the beginning. It still haunts me to this day. But I can’t change the past so I’m telling you now in the hopes you don’t make the same mistake.

“Build it and they will come.” is terrible business advice. Having a great product is only the start. If you want you business to succeed there are 4 systems you’ll need to build.

  1. A system to generate leads. (Marketing System);

  2. A system to convert leads into sales. (Sales System);

  3. A system to fulfill on customer orders, handle support issues and deliver on the client promise; (Operation System)

  4. A system for managing billing, expenses and cashflow. (Accounting System).
It’s not enough to have a great product. People have to know you exist. My friend Mike had a great business, but it failed because he didn’t have a system for generating leads and converting them into customers.
If you want help designing these systems in your business then I would love to talk with you. Book a 90 minute strategy call now.
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