You Have Nothing Until You Have Your First Sale

Posted by Heather Villa, CMA, MBA, MSM on February 18, 2009 in: Business - Plain & Simple, Coaching Ins and Outs

In my work as a consultant who helps turn ideas into products and business services, I am often approached by a potential client who tells me: “I have a great business idea”…and then they proceed to tell me what it is.

Although I maintain an air of professionalism and would never word it quite this way, the truth is, they don’t usually have a good business idea. They might have a good idea. And it might be sellable. But they don’t really have anything until they’ve made their very first sale.

If you are a small business owner (or someone who aspires to be a small business owner) then listen up: You have nothing until you have your first sale.

Now, I realize that budding entrepreneurs get excited because they’ve designed the next great mousetrap and they’re expecting the world to beat a path to their door. But what happens next? They conduct a market study. They design a website. They start picking out carpet samples for their office. They buy a computer. They hire an administrative assistant.

And they haven’t earned a single penny in revenue.

Forget the market study. Forget the website. Forget the carpet. Forget the computer. Forget the administrative assistant:


Down the road, you will need the other stuff. And I would advise that you do a market study and website early. But in most cases, probably not first. (Although if you’re selling website design, you might be an exception to my “no website” rule).

Why sell your product first? That first sale will tell you more than a market study ever will. (Note, that first sale will not excuse you from a market study). Your customer’s feedback will be invaluable as you evolve your product or service. The sales process will help you understand what you should do. Who your customer is will help you understand your demographic.

Also, the first sale is the hardest and will tell you whether or not you’re cut out for this kind of thing. (Maybe you discover that you hate sales, but sales are the fuel of every business).

So, create your prototype (or sample or whatever you need to close the first deal) and start knocking on doors or calling up prospects. Transact that first sale. And THEN you’ll be in business!

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