During my networking over the last few years, I have collected a number of pithy sayings that speak to the challenges of building a business. These statements are worth taking some time to think about.

Customers want to “hire” a product to do a job, or, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!”

– legendary Harvard Business School marketing professor Theodore Levitt – quoted in HBR

Many companies flail around trying to find a need. They don’t talk to customers.

It has to start with customers – choose a familiar sector and ask people what their problems are.

Only build solutions for problems that are urgent, pervasive, and that people are willing to pay for.

Does your product represent vitamins or medicine? – Vitamins are nice to have, but medicine is essential!!

Customers can want you to death – what do they really need?

Are we climbing the right mountain?

Are we executing the right plan?

Don’t go chasing pretty butterflies!

Dr. Surinder Kumar, Chairman and Founder of Vecima Networks Inc.

Many smaller companies are run by inventors. They have not figured out markets and value (needs). They have good technical sense, but no head for business.

Too much gov’t money (sr&ed, irap, etc.) means startups don’t have to learn how to survive. They just have to learn how to get the next infusion. The ecosystem is broken as a result.

Your opinions, while interesting, are irrelevant. Leave the building and listen to the market, rather than sit around and just dream up stuff.

Pragmatic Marketing

Markets don’t buy, customers do!

Your brand promise guarantee has got to be painful for you to deliver on, but it should make it easy to sell with!!