Barriers to Entry

by richard on August 12, 2010

warehouse 300x220 Barriers to Entry

Last night I visited a friend in a warehouse. She was sorting through all of the stuff she had just unloaded from a container. About six months ago she had this crazy idea.

My friend just loves France. It has been a dream of hers since being a small girl to own an apartment in Paris. She finds any excuse she can to be in France. She needed some more excuses.

She caught up with a friend of hers who sells antiques, curios, etc, and floated an idea. Why don’t they head to France, go to the markets, buy some stuff, bring it back to Australia and sell it? This way they could indulge in their love of travel and make some money on the side.

Does this sound like a pipe dream, or something that you would “love to do”? Plenty of people have told my friend they would love to do this, and she is now worried that everyone will try it, diluting her market and opportunity. She started mentioning her ‘Intellectual Property’ last night, and sighted the freight carriers as the main component, and the need to keep this secret.

But I disagree. There are so many things she was taking for granted as her I.P., or probably to be more precise, the barriers to entry for others. So many people love this idea – travel, shopping, and making money, but how many of them could actually do it?

Finding a freight company is just a matter of a Google search, or asking an antique dealer. So why doesn’t everyone do this? I’m of the opinion it’s not one thing, but probably a number of little things that stop people chasing their ideas, going out on their own, taking that giant leap.

In the case of my friend’s business, it would help to speak French – a little at least. Some people can’t do this, or don’t want to learn. Then there is time – ‘I have a lot on my plate right now’. Money – ‘everything’s going against the mortgage, or school fees’. Logistics – ‘I don’t know where to buy the stuff, or how to make sure I’m not getting ripped off. How do I get it here? How do I handle customs? How do I sell it? How do I tell people about it?’ Etc. etc.

Out of 50 people who immediately think this is a good idea, I bet at least 49 of them find a reason in the first five minutes that becomes a hurdle, and stops them entering such a market. I think this happens a lot with everyone’s passion, or dream opportunity. In the case of my friend, she set herself a challenge, and kept working at it until she found the answers to all her questions. She knew what the outcome would look like. Next week is the grand opening of this venture, and they seemed to be worried now that they don’t have enough stuff for the interest they’ve generated – a good problem to have, her husband said. By the way, I haven’t mentioned any details at the request of my friend – it’s part of her business model.

The lesson in this for me was not just to follow your dream, but to realise there will always be to hurdles to your dream, and that if you are really passionate about it, you just have to find a way to make it happen. I have a quote on my desk from Frank Lloyd Wright, the great American architect and interior designer, whose most famous work would probably be the Guggenheim Museum in New York. He said: “The thing always happens that you really believe in; and the belief in a thing makes it happen.”

If you are going to make a change to do something new, you have to really believe in it. Trust your gut. You’ve accumulated all those years of experience for something! Vision is important. You have to know exactly what the end point looks like so you know how to get there. Can you see it in your head? I can.

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{ 1 comment }

Nic August 12, 2010 at 12:08 pm

Hey Richard, something tells me that you know a little bit about breaking away from the typical routine and chasing what you really want to do. In my prior career I came across hundreds, if not thousands of people who wanted to do something other than they were doing – and it wasn’t just a case of the ‘grass is greener’. Barista’s who wanted to be designers. Accountants who wanted to be doctors. Lawyers who wanted to be science fiction writers.

But still…for the most part…they were not taking the necessary steps to make any of it happen.

I really hope your friend has a huge success – who wouldn’t want to earn an income out of your passion.

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