When there’s a gold rush – sell shovels.

Sometimes we try to over complicate business.  In fundamental terms all it is is finding someone who has a need and then fulfilling that need.  The more variables you can take out of that equation the more likely you are to succeed.

Looking back to the gold rush days of the western USA I would be surprised if anyone could name any of the people or companies who made their fortunes out of finding gold.  However, the chances are that you’re probably wearing a product from the company that made a real success of the gold rush – Levi Strauss.

Levi Strauss was a young immigrant who realized that gold diggers needed strong, wear-resistant pants and so he provided them.  They had a need and he filled that need.

The clever bit was that he also cut down on the variables.  Yes, the world wanted gold and the miners were providing that but it really was hit and miss as to whether an individual miner actually found any.  But even if he didn’t he still needed work clothes.

Equally, Levi Strauss kept his offering limited – he created a niche for himself (how often do we hear that word today in Internet marketing as if it was something new!).

If you’re planning to start a new business spend a lot of time thinking about what people want rather than developing a product or service then trying to sell it to people.  Time spent in this stage of your business will be very well spent.

If you’re already in business then one of the best things you can do is speak to your present customers about your product or service and ask them how they would like it to be improved.  Then adapt your product. Also consider cutting down on the range of products so that you can focus on the ones that sell and, more importantly, bring in the profit.  Don’t forget to test and measure and remember the 80:20 rule.

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