I took four people on a fishing trip along the Vaal River near Parys. All were beginners who had never caught a fish in their lives before. Neither had they paddled an inflatable raft upstream. But after some basic instruction they were able to paddle the raft about a kilometre up the river. The two fishing guides who were with us did not paddle – they steered and navigated the raft through the river waters.
When we got to a spot where the river runs down over rocks into a larger section of the water one of the fishing guides put out a rudimentary anchor and we lay there in the churning water with white foam on top. We started fishing with light rods and reels for the ultimate fresh water game fish in South Africa – the yellow fish. My daughter who has never caught a fish before landed the first one quickly and enjoyed herself thoroughly. The other three, all beginners, caught the fish within the next hour. The one young woman, a friend and my daughter, caught the largest yellow fish of the morning which was about two kilogrammes.
Afterwards, all these new be fishermen were full of smiles and the adrenaline rush that occurs when you catch a strong fighting fish like the yellow fish on light tackle. Was this just beginners luck or were other factors at play? Perhaps you could say that the two fishing guides put us in the right spot where the fish were. They also provided the right kind of tackle with thin lines and the best bait available for catching yellow fish. But whatever the luck or basic skill involved, everyone had an exciting time on an early summer morning on the Vaal River.
When starting out any enterprise, you may be able to count on beginners luck. You see it all the time. Young and even old people who suddenly hit on a new business idea and make an early killing. We look at their success and wonder in amazement – how did it all happen? Was it luck or was it planning?
Yes, there may be some people who are in the right place at the right time with the right product and customers in the right numbers. This is when we say they must be lucky. Yet if you look at the number of people who try out something from scratch and fail, then you begin to realise that something else is at work. If you want to create and develop a business that will last over the long term, you will quickly realise that it takes preparation, organised planning, acquiring new skills and an apprenticeship whether formal or informal in the real world of business.
Instead of dropping your fishing line in any part of the river with any sort of bait, you need to find out what people want, need and desire and what they will open their wallets to pay for. A major part of increasing your odds in coming up with something from scratch is to develop a product or service not for the sake of developing it but to meet customer demand.
It’s of little use to develop a product, spending months or even years and investing your precious capital into it only to find out that nobody wants it. If you want to find out more how to achieve this delicate balance between creating a new product or service and testing potential customer demand for it, then get your name down as soon as possible for my forthcoming book “Breakthrough Ideas”. Limited copies will be available so act now and get your name on the waiting list.