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Jan 2, 2021

A Note from Lisa Sulka: Secret to Success

Lisa Sulka

Photography By

Krisztian Lonyai
Have you ever noticed when someone paints a house, the actual painting doesn’t seem to take very long? What takes the most time is getting ready to paint. We call it “the story of the blue tape.” You know that blue tape that comes off really easily? When someone is going to paint a house—if they are going to do it right—they spend a lot of time with that blue tape. They put that tape everywhere. They cover up everything that could cause a problem down the road. Every window is wrapped in plastic and taped with that blue tape. I bet if it takes a week to paint a house, five of the seven days are spent on the prep work. That’s where the time is spent.

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If you like to paint, you’re anxious to get to the painting portion. You don’t really want to do the prep work. But doing all of that prep work makes the painting so much better. It goes so much faster, and the job has a much better chance of turning out like you want it to. Plus, you don’t have to go back later on and fix mistakes where you didn’t do the prep.

It’s like that in business too. At the Don Ryan Center, when we’re working with the companies in our Startup and Growth programs, we spend a lot of time at the beginning doing the prep work, using our own type of “blue tape.” We tell entrepreneurs that they may get frustrated in the beginning because it might not seem like we’re making a lot of progress in our first few meetings. But what we’re doing is the prep work. We’re thinking ahead of where we want to be, of where we want to paint, of how we want to paint, and of how we want the job to turn out.

But new entrepreneurs are anxious. They want to get that product out there. They need to start generating revenue. They want to see the marketing materials and the website, and so do we. But none of this matters if you haven’t prepared for it.

It’s not just about releasing the product or service. It’s about knowing what your product really is and if the market wants it. What is the vision three to five years from now? It’s about knowing your strengths, and weaknesses. What are the first big opportunities you have to capitalize on to get going? How is the organization going to be structured? Who is your customer? What is your beachhead market? This is all part of the preparation.

Now don’t get us wrong. We are not saying don’t try to get the product to market as soon as you can so you can find out what works and what doesn’t. Just don’t launch blindly. By doing this work at the beginning, we are setting companies up to be more successful and to be able to scale faster when the eventual growth comes. Doing all of this prep work is almost a self-fulfilling prophecy, making the company’s chances to succeed that much better. So, when you are thinking about starting your own business, don’t skip on the preparations. Better yet, contact us. We have boxes of tape….

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