Getting Started

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Let’s start with a gratuitous Science Fiction reference. In Dune, the author Frank Herbert states “A beginning is a time for taking the most delicate care.”

Since by all reports as many as 19 out of 20 new businesses fail in the first 5 years, that is evidently true.

There are a lot of pieces of the puzzle to getting a new business off the ground, but, being a marketing guy, let’s focus on the marketing end of it.


There’s the most fundamental question of all. Can you have a successful start-up without good marketing?

Well, yes and no. If we put it another way, it answers itself: Can you start a successful business without a way of getting enough customers?

Well, duh!

But the fact is, a large percentage of successful new businesses DON’T have a good marketing plan to start out. Here are two time-honored ways people do it:

  1. They start doing things in their spare time and build up by word-of-mouth to a point where they can quit their day jobs.
  2. They work for someone else, quit to strike out on their own, and take enough customers with them to get off the ground.

If those doors are shut, then you’d better have a plan for successful marketing.


Here’s the most guaranteed way of not making it work:

Pick a business you don’t know anything about, and decide to go into it because it’s a big new thing and people are making a lot of money at it.

We get calls virtually every week from people on that road.

Just think of all they have to overcome to succeed.

  • They don’t know how to produce or deliver the product.
  • They are guessing at who will buy.
  • They have at best vague notions of how to reach those people.
  • No clue of the economics of effectively marketing the product or service.
  • Don’t know what the best marketing channels are.
  • Not sure what appeal people will respond to.

You could go on and on. The list of what problems you wouldn’t have would be far shorter. The most common and damning one: A grossly overly rosy idea of how easy it will be.


The reverse of this of course is to start a business doing something you know well.

I should add that the big mistakes come from looking at the wrong end of the business equation.

Don’t start a business to make money. Start a business to deliver a valuable product or service to people, preferably something that you love and already knows well. That’s a formula for not just monetary success, but happiness.

None of the following people started their businesses to get rich. Each of them started out being interested in something:

Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak (Apple): a couple of geeks fooling around with computers in a garage.

Walt Disney: Was taking classes in art and cartooning by the time he was in High School.

Sergey Brin and Larry Page (Google)  – they were computer geeks who got the idea for what became Google, while they were graduate students at Stanford.


So you have a product or service, or perhaps only a general area in mind for what your new business will do.

Now you need to distinguish an opportunity. An opening. Because there are a LOT of businesses out there and a lot of competition for the attention of potential purchasers.

There are several possibilities, but probably number one is this:

A unique, or nearly unique product or service.

Amazingly, with 350 million people in the U.S., tens of millions of businesses, and millions being started every year, there are yet things no one has thought of, or at least that no one is doing.

We have developed websites for a few of these over the years. Actually, in each of the three cases that stand out in my mind, there was already a single business  – just one – doing it. That is quite an opening, because someone already established the idea, but there is always room for a second business in a field, and many great companies started out that way.


You can’t ignore the fact of money as an opportunity factor. If you have plenty of money to get the business off the ground, good for you. Similarly, if you have plenty of time to get your business rolling. There can be many reasons why you might need to succeed fast, but along with the money factor, if you don’t have them, you need to be very clever in your planning.

You know the old saying, how do you make a million dollars?  First, start with a million dollars.

There’s nothing sadder than a company that would have been a great success, if only they had had the time or money.

But if you face the realities of your situation, you can always do something about it.


There are certainly other opportunity points. The key thing is you are going to need an opening to succeed with your marketing. You should energetically pursue the possibilities. Otherwise nothing happens.

This is where to START, thinking it all out and good planning to make your dreams a reality.

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