Hardest part of launching a new business

July 6th, 2011 by michael | Print Hardest part of launching a new business

What is the hardest thing about launching a new business? If you’ve done your research, you’ve spec’d out a novel product / service that the world needs. It provides value, focus groups used it and loved it or your service is top notch. A business plan or some sort of economic model shows how your going to make it rain money. Alas, there’s one thing you need: customers. How do you get them? This is by and far the hardest part of launching a new business.

I was dumbfounded when Howard Lerman, who founded and sold the consulting company Intwine and is currently CEO of Yext, told Jason LaFolette, the Co-Found of Citrrus a mobile development and consulting company, that the easiest part of launching a business was sales. Datran’s Reston office was shutting down and Howard advised Jason to hire as many ex Datran engineers as he could, regardless of whether Citrrus could afford it. Howard remarked that getting top notch people was the hardest part of business and that sales would come easily.

I don’t disagree with the fact that it is critical to get the right people on the bus. However, putting people on the bus before you can afford to add those extra bus seats could be the end of business. I’ve launched 6 businesses in 12 years. I’ve had one mild success. Every time I encountered one major problem: how to get customers, or the cost to get customers.

Perhaps Howard is the Joe Gerard of the IT world and he could sell Ubuntu to Bill Gates. Obviously Howard is a talented guy and has successes under his belt, but I flat out disagree that sales is the easiest part of launching a new business.

Over the next few posts I’ll delve deeper into my own challenges, triumphs, and failures in launching new businesses.


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