Ideas are nothing more than fleeting thoughts until you actualize them into scalable, real-world products. A simple idea can become the springboard of a flourishing brand, but first you must get the product into the consumer’s hands.
At one point, my Combo washer-dryer had been nothing more than an idea. I simply wanted to help my wife with the laundry. But once I began building a product for a larger customer base, I realized that I needed more than just a basic solution to an isolated problem. Ultimately I wanted Equator to become an industry leader in creating many more problem-solving innovations. But I needed to find flexible and reliable distribution outlets. This proved to be a mammoth task, and one more area where my trustworthiness, accountability and integritywould play a crucial role in my success.
In my forthcoming book, I detail how we found a daring ally to help us bring the Combo into the U.S. market.
“I have a really great new product that I’m about to receive my first shipment of. I know it will sell extremely well in the U.S. market. I’m looking for a warehouse partner that will pay for shipping from Italy, customs duty and import costs, as well as storage and shipping of the machines to customers. I would pay as I sell the machines.”
She looked at me blankly. “You’re a company, a large operation shipping products from overseas. You don’t need this kind of help.”
“I’m just starting up,” I told her frankly. “I do not have the funds now, but this product has real potential.”
She looked at me intently for a few moments, as though she was trying to gauge my character. “Are you good for the money?” she asked me.
“Yes,” I said, confident that my combo would soon be bringing in the funds I needed to pay her. “I want to build a relationship with you that’s based on trust.”
She looked around the warehouse, then at me for a moment. “Okay, you’ve got a deal. Let’s do it.”
Our agreement was for her team to pick up the merchandise as it was shipped into the U.S., transfer it to the warehouse and ship it out to my customers on an as-needed basis. Although my payments for her services were delayed by 60 or 90 days, we had developed a sense of trust. Just as Campari had trusted me to market this product, she was trusting me to make good on my promise as soon as sales started rolling in. Even at this early stage, I was accountable to a growing number of people. Anyone who thinks entrepreneurs don’t answer to anyone but themselves has another thing coming, I remember thinking at the time.”
Certainly, introducing a fresh product to a new market can only be successful when you prioritize your customers’ needs. But it’s equally critical for a brand to prove its trustworthiness. Making a sale requires gaining customer trust. But getting a footing in the business world requires obtaining the trust of partners and collaborators. To achieve customer satisfaction and product success, you’ve got to be accountable for every one of your actions. Unfortunately, I had to learn this vital lesson more than once.
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