Innovation by many small businesses over the years has fueled our imagination and pushed us to heights that would not have been imaginable 50 years ago.  We have all heard the stories of the guy who built something in his garage and became an overnight sensation, but we don’t hear the stories about the guy who had a great idea and went out of business before his company could get going.  The latter occurs far more often than the former.

Take for instance “Bob”, a guy who had a great idea for t-shirts, so he started his own small business to sell them.  Bob prepared a flyer that he could distribute,  he added his cell phone number on the flyer and figured he would take orders over the phone. “Piece of cake” right?  Bob and a couple of buddies distributed the flyers at an event that drew in over 40 thousand people.   It cost Bob $5 dollars to have the t-shirt made and he priced them between $10-$15 dollars each. His idea was a hit and let’s say one thousand people called his cell phone to get a shirt.  So he should be looking at a profit of between $5,000 – $10,000.

Bob gets maybe a hundred orders and instead of $5k-$10k, he only brings in $500-$1000.  Why only a hundred orders?  Think about how many callers got a busy signal? How many callers heard that his voicemail box is full? Worse yet, maybe his cell phone battery dies!?

Bob did not plan for success.  With a little research and planning Bob could have captured more orders and thus more profit.  He could have set up an e-commerce website for as little as $100/year.  But maybe Bob is not that savvy on building an e-commerce site.  He could have spent around $10/month for an InteliPhone account (think of an answering service in the cloud).  No busy signals, no full mailbox messages, just the same courteous, professional greeting every time.  Bob could have taken his idea to the next level and had a custom application designed and built by InteliPhone to take orders immediately via live operators (or completely automated for that matter) and avoided anyone having buyers remorse later.

These innovations were only affordable to large companies years ago, but are affordable to almost everyone today.  A couple hundred dollars a year to Bob might have seemed too much to spend at the time, but it could have brought ten times the profit.  The moral of the story?  Unless you plan for success, you could easily drown in it.