I am impatient. Launching a company takes time and patience, but I would never tell a founder to have patience. I think patience could kill a startup before I gets off the ground. Instead, I would tell an entrepreneur to re-direct that impatient energy to do something that he or she could be doing while waiting for other tasks to be completed.
Things are moving at a snail’s pace right now. I feel like nothing is happening with my startup. I have not heard from any manufacturer in over a week. The last one that I spoke to said he was interested; was busy at the moment; and would call me back. I could tell by the tone in his voice that he wasn’t going to. He had the same tone I have in my voice when I’m busy and I get a call from a sales guy: annoyed with the call. To be fair, the RFQ gives them until the end of the month to turn in their quotes. But I should have had phone calls by now. I can’t believe that the RFQ was so clear to each one of them that they do not have a single question. I have distributed RFQs in my 9-5 job. There are always questions. And if there are no questions, at least some of the vendors dripping with a disgusting layer of slimy snake-oil, patronizing phone calls while poking and prodding and trying to find out who they are bidding against, or who will make the final decisions, etc. The point is, I still get phone calls. But this time, nothing. Of course, those sales guys are hoping to make hundreds of thousands of dollars or more and they are bold sales guys. In my case, these manufacturers appear to be small companies – even owner operated and they seem to be creative introverts and not sales guys by nature. Still, running their business is their livelihood and they need to don a sales hat once in awhile and seek out business. I knocked on their door, you would think they would open it at least to consider another opportunity.
So, what’s the issue? Are my volumes too low? Is the work too difficult? Do they think they are bidding against the Chinese? Do they not take the RFQ seriously because I am a startup? Does the formality around the RFQ intimidate them? Is it not clear enough? Is it too long? Does the product not fit within their core competencies? (One of them was kind enough to tell me this, in his own words.)
I don’t want to be a nag and badger the bidding vendors; that could be a turn off. But it is possible that this RFQ has slipped their minds. If I do nothing, I should not expect things to change. My dad it best all the time, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” I think I need to call these guys next week. Hopefully, they just need a reminder or a little encouragement. Some might be waiting to see if I’m serious to call them. Others may think I am too small. Who knows, I can not possibly know what’s going on unless I call them. And even if they are not interested in manufacturing for Kids Double Desk, perhaps I can find out why and learn something from them. It does not change the fact that I am impatient.
I see things like this. If I fail, or if I lose out on a deal, or if I fall short of something, it’s not a total failure if I learn something from it. I have tried to start a couple of businesses in the past, and I did fail, but I am bringing those lessons with me. Thomas Edison is credited with saying, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” I also worked side by side with my Dad in his business when I was a teenager. Those lessons, both on the business side and also the hustle and work ethic are ingrained in me also.
The RFQ went out to about a half-dozen manufacturers. If nothing pans out, I’ll have to cast a wider net. If that’s what I need to do, then I’ll do it; but I’d like to first find out why I don’t have any bites. Otherwise, I may continue to make the same mistake over and over again.
To the layman, this may appear to be a waiting period for me, do not be silly. Anyone who has started a successful business knows that the to-do list is always longer than a mid summer’s day. While waiting for the manufacturers to response, I continue to keep busy. Lately, I’ve been researching color psychology. Some say that colors affect sales and there seems to be a lot of material (and opinions) on the topic. I also continue to read about warehouse and fulfillment options. I’m thinking about starting a mastermind group. I have a few people in mind, but I haven’t made up my mind yet.
The design of the Double Desk, while perfect in my mind, is not perfect for mass production on a CNC router. There are still a couple of limitations that prevent the desk from being assembled with all flush joints. A few days ago, I finally came up with a slight design change to fix this problem. While I have not updated the CAD drawing. I could contract this with Odesk, or I can simply have the winning bidder do this. I’m not sure yet.