by: Geoff Ficke

Time Is Never on the Entrepreneur’s Side

In the early 1960’s, when the Rolling Stones were trying to become successful as a “blues band”, their first commercially successful recording was a ballad called “Time is on my side”. For the Rolling Stones time certainly has been on their side. For almost five decades this grizzled group has entertained audiences all over the world with their songs, videos and concerts. They are Rock and Roll's richest, most famous (or infamous) and successful group.

If you are an Entrepreneur, however, time is never on your side. A certain hint of paranoia is always an important presence in the successful Entrepreneur’s makeup. This paranoia should be generated by the fear that the great Consumer Product, idea or Business Model they are developing will be commercialized by competitors. They must be concerned about the possibility of being beaten to market. They should always be proceeding with the fear that someone somewhere is working to create a spot on or very similar product. This makes prudent respect for time a most important consideration when preparing the project for Market Launch.

About a year ago my Product Development and Marketing Consulting firm was approached by an Entrepreneur with a wonderful Gourmet Food Product. The product was of excellent quality and possessed all of the elements essential to become a commercial success. It was a nicely convergent series of flavors that were not currently on the market. Packaging options were plentiful, Cost of Goods was in line to provide significant Gross Profit margins and the Marketing Strategies that could be utilized to drive Brand Awareness were unique.

There was only one problem. The owner was a dawdler. We declined the opportunity to work on the project because it was obvious from our first meeting that this person was not driven, passionate and fully committed to getting to market ahead of any possible competitors and sealing the key “First Mover Advantage” that is so crucial to Consumer Product Marketing success. There was a strong touch of the “dreamer” present in this man.

Last week we were walking retail stores to study new products and Merchandising Trends. While touring a major national supermarket store my team was stopped in its tracks. There on an end cap aisle display was a Sales Promotion for a product that looked amazingly similar to the Gourmet Food Product we had analyzed last year. As we studied the Packaging, Flavor assortment, Label Statements and the Point-of-Purchase Sales Collateral we were surprised at how closely this product resembled the line we had declined. There were differences, but there was not a vast chasm of differences.

The line we had discovered had won a “First Mover Advantage’ over our old acquaintance. In Marketing this is crucial. Many product categories are highly specialized. Retailers will typically carry only one product in this type of niche category. 3M’s Post-It-Notes are an example.

The “dreamer” whose product we had reviewed and declined did not believe that there was anyone capable of duplicating or improving on his line of Gourmet Food Products. He was wrong and those that believe this sort of drivel are proven wrong again and again. When I called him to see how he was progressing with his New Product Launch he was still planning, tweaking and procrastinating.

Time is never the driven Entrepreneur’s friend. The example I cite here is not unique and we see it occur all too often. If an idea is worth pursuing, it is worth pursuing with aggression, a customized Marketing Strategy and with a healthy fear and paranoia of probable competition.

Author's Bio: 

Geoff Ficke has been a serial entrepreneur for almost 50 years. As a small boy, earning his spending money doing odd jobs in the neighborhood, he learned the value of selling himself, offering service and value for money.

After putting himself through the University of Kentucky (B.A. Broadcast Journalism, 1969) and serving in the United States Marine Corp, Mr. Ficke commenced a career in the cosmetic industry. After rising to National Sales Manager for Vidal Sassoon Hair Care at age 28, he then launched a number of ventures, including Rubigo Cosmetics, Parfums Pierre Wulff Paris, Le Bain Couture and Fashion Fragrance.

Geoff Ficke and his consulting firm, Duquesa Marketing, ( has assisted businesses large and small, domestic and international, entrepreneurs, inventors and students in new product development, capital formation, licensing, marketing, sales and business plans and successful implementation of his customized strategies. He is a Senior Fellow at the Page Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, Business School, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.