EntreLeadership: Timing

Dave HeadshotExcerpt from Dave Ramsey’s EntreLeadership
When we dream up some great new idea inside our company, or when you dream up a great new idea that is going to become your company, one of the first things you have to determine is your timing in the marketplace. A great idea timed poorly can die a thousand painful deaths. If you are going to open a retail store you would want to consider Christmas. Most retailers make the majority of their entire year’s income between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. So starting a new retail store in February might not be bad, but you would need to have the money to survive until sales kick in. You would want to be very careful opening a gym or starting a landscape company in November, because it is going to be several months before you have any customers. The gym will likely have its best month in January, and the landscaper will obviously start to do most of his business in the spring. This is a painfully simple and obvious observation, but there are a number of beginning small-business people and even supposedly sophisticated corporate marketers who overlook timing because they get so excited about the whole project that they plow without first flying over their field.
Timing is of course more than just which month you launch, it is also about your timing in the marketplace in a broader sense. Where are the competitors and what is the economy like? A real estate developer who gets so excited about his cool condo architecture and location and fails to realize he is in the middle of a recession will likely go bankrupt. If the market is flooded with competition you must be much more careful about your timing as well. What is in vogue, in fashion? I have a book out that sold several million copies titled The Total Money Makeover. The book was first published in 2003, when everything and everyone was getting a “makeover.” Today you and I would not launch a new “makeover” project because that is “so ten years ago.”entreleadership_lrg_flat
Timing includes the geopolitical climate as well. Wars and rumors of wars affect when you should go to market. After the 9/11 attacks we Americans were sure we were going to war. The only question was exactly when. How would you have liked to have your grand opening the night we were all glued to the TV watching the night sky light up over the desert? So you have to time product releases according to things outside your control like seasonality, the economy, competitors, and the geopolitical environment.
Timing is largely common sense, but it does require some research and understanding of the mind-set of your customer. In our business of helping people with their money we know January is a big “get out of debt and get my money straight” month. Money, weight loss, and quitting smoking are the three perennial New Year’s goals people set, so January is always a big month for us. What we didn’t find until later is that September and October are almost as big for self-improvement. Apparently after summer vacations are over and the kids go back to school people tend to want to restart positive things in their lives – as much or more than in January.
Talk radio gets its biggest ratings in the fall because the restarting effect, football, and politics are all at their apex in the fall. Summer ratings are the worst in talk radio. People are at the lake or the beach, and Dave Ramsey or Glenn Beck is not as appealing as a good Brad Paisley song. Consider timing when launching a new product or service, otherwise you may have a dry spell that might not be survived.
The more experienced you are in a particular field, the more timing becomes almost second nature. You should go with your instincts, but the more experienced you are the better your instincts will be. Years of nonfatal failures will create a fabulous gut instinct that is born of experience. There once was an old man known for his great wisdom and a young man asked him how he became so wise. The old man said, “I have good judgment.” The young man said, “How did you get good judgment?” The old man replied, “I have experience.” Of course the young man asked, “How did you get experience?” The old man answered, “Bad judgment.”
Also, for a person of faith your instincts are enhanced and directed by prayer. As scary as business can be, it has caused me to get better and better at prayer, as I am often reminded to pray about decisions.
Dave Ramsey is America’s trusted voice on business and money. He has authored five New York Times best-selling books, including EntreLeadership.The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 8 million listeners each week on more than 500 radio stations. Follow Dave on the web at www.entreleadership.com

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