I'm sure you've all heard the saying "if you build it, they will come." This iconic quote has been a staple of pop culture ever since it was whispered by the big voice in the sky in the movie classic Field Of Dreams. If you build it, they will come...but will they really?
The idea of building a business so great that people can't help but come admire it is an alluring idea. We all have the innate desire to create a legacy, and the wild and seemingly instant successes of today's mega-tech companies have made that desire even more alluring. Facebook and Google and Twitter and Evernote and all the other industry giants were overnight successes, so why can't one of our business ideas be the next overnight success? The secret to the success of these admired companies, however, is that they weren't overnight successes.
They are all great businesses, yes, but it took years of building a trusting customer base before they became the companies that they are today. So, even though building the product before the demand worked in the movie, you may find that this business strategy is as real as fiction once it's implemented. But re-arrange the wording of the saying to read: "if they come, you will build it," and it becomes a sustainable business strategy that every entrepreneur should implement.
The business world has shifted quickly over the last twenty years. The focus is now more on serving the customer than it has ever been. Successful companies such as Southwest Airlines and Zappos have set a standard of loyal customer service that every business must now abide by, big or small. No longer is it the customer who needs to be loyal to the company, it's the company that needs to be loyal to the customer. And building a trusting customer base - a sustainable platform, as I called it in my previous post - is the first step to creating a successful business.
The "if they come, you will build it" strategy is specifically geared toward building that trusting customer base. Rather than creating a product of service and then hoping it will catch on, focus on creating a community of like-minded individuals who share your passion. Use the resources available to you today - a blog, a podcast, a speaking engagement, a networking event, a self hosted website - to seek out people who may be interested in what you have to say or offer. Talk to them about your passion (whatever that may be). By doing this, you will begin to build an authentic platform based on something you love. And let me tell you, the one thing that a trusting customer can sense over anything else is authenticity.
Once your community begins to grow, continue to cultivate it. Focus on sharing awesome information pertaining to your passion. Think of it as in depth market research. Once you have built that trusting and loyal base, the product or service that your community needs will become obvious. The door to entrepreneurship will be so apparent to you that you can't help but step through it. As Seth Godin said, if you have a tribe of even 100 fanatical followers, you will never go hungry.
Already have a business? The "if they come, you will build it" strategy holds just as true. Regardless of if you are a brick and mortar establishment or a sleek tech company, it's never too late to build trust among existing and potential customers. By implementing this strategy, you will not only refine your current product or service, but it may lead you to your next big idea.
The bottom line is trust among your customers is priceless. Whether you are a current entrepreneur or have the next big idea percolating in your head, the "if they come, you will build it" strategy will create that trust. Trust me.