Jul 20, 2011

No Market for Your Product? That's Great News!

Have you ever had a business idea that you really wanted to try out but you backed out from because you felt like there was no market for it?

Well here's some news for you: Sometimes, the fact that there's no visible market for a product can be a good thing -- because that means you're the first to offer it!

The immense value of being first

There is an important value to being the first.

Think of this: What's the name of the first person to walk on the moon? Neil Armstrong, right? Even my six-year-old knows his name.

What's the name of the second person to walk on the moon?

If you answered Buzz Aldrin, you're one of the few who know. One thing I can tell you: my six-year-old does not know Buzz Aldrin -- yet. (But he does know Buzz Lightyear.)

The first always gains a special position in our brain. Who is the first president of the Philippines? Who is the second? Who is the first president of the United States? Who is the third?

Which company first sold cameras? You may not know this, but take a guess.

Did you say Sony? Probably not. I'll bet you said Kodak. If so, you're right. No matter how much Kodak gets eclipsed by the competition, it will remain a household word as far as photography is concerned.

That kind of position in the market's mind is priceless. Coca Cola has it. (How often have you had this dialogue: "One Pepsi, please." "Sorry, ma'am, Coke products only." Nope, it's always the other way around.)

Need tissue? Here's a Kleenex. Need a photocopy? Xerox it. Buy books online? Go to Amazon.com. Auctions? eBay. Pay online? Use PayPal!

See the power of being first?

Brave entrepreneur

Let me say it again: if there is no visible market for your product, go for it and establish your position of being the first.

Let me tell you a story of a real life entrepreneur who did this.

He thought up his business in the early 1980s. What was his idea? Organic vegetables!

Now that may sound like a great idea today, but in the 1980s, it was out of this world. Vegetables without chemical fertilizers or insecticides? Heck, my dad even had chemicals to make his plants grow roots!

Besides, in those days, very few people in the country liked salads. The Filipino palate then thought the lettuce a bland, boring vegetable.

Nonetheless, this crazy man decided to go on with his idea. He started an organic vegetable farm -- and soon lived to regret it. There was no market, remember? So nobody bought his produce, except a few hotels who needed something to feed their foreign guests.

The farmer ended up giving away his vegetables to the convents near his farm. But he did not give up.

Success story

Rather than cut his losses, this crazy farmer decided to spend even more by building a restaurant that served the vegetables that nobody wanted to buy.

Well it turns out, while people did not want to buy his veggies directly, they enjoyed eating them in a restaurant. And soon word spread that there was this quaint little restaurant in Silang, Cavite, that served delicious healthy food.

Today, that little restaurant is so successful that the crazy farmer had to expand it to a two-story chalet. And his little farm filled with vegetables that nobody wanted to buy? It is now 10 hectares large.

As for the crazy farmer, he is now known as the pioneer of organic farming in the Philippines. His name is Ernesto Escalier, and he is the owner of the highly successful Gourmet Farm and Refreshers Cafe in Silang, Cavite.

My own tale

Lest you think this is an isolated case, let me assure you that it is not. In fact, I have witnessed it firsthand.

Once upon a time, I had the idea of selling Gcash online. Before I jumped into it, I did a little research with this little Google tool I use to see how many people are actually searching for "Gcash online" on the Internet.

There were hardly any. If nobody searched for it, there must be nobody who wanted it, right?

Wrong. Because despite the fact that there was no market for it, I went right ahead and offered Gcash online.

Well, buyers slowly came trickling in. After a couple of completely dry months, there came one buyer in one month, then two in a month, then one per week. Pretty soon, I had three buyers in one week.

I had to close that store down, though, because (1) I was busy with another business, which was my bread and butter, (2) I did not anticipate the amount of cash flow I would need once the orders came in, and (3) my carelessness opened me to problems that I could easily have avoided had I been more prudent.

What I mean to communicate is this: Just because there is no market does not mean there are no willing buyers. If the seller comes, the buyers will follow.

So if you've got a business idea brewing in that brain of yours that you think there is no market for, go ahead and try it! It's a chance of a lifetime and you'd be foolish to let it go.

Do you have a new business that you would like to introduce to the world? Tell the Nanay Notebook about it. We'd be happy to feature you in one of our posts! (Yes, it's free!)

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