In 1982, when Kenneth Cole decided to launch a brand-new shoe company, today a $465 million enterprise, he had no money, no resources and no one to help him out. In fact, his father, who was also in the shoe business, smugly told him he would fail miserably.
With no money or investors, he flew to Italy and found a struggling shoe manufacturer that needed the business, knowing it would be easier to get a line of credit from a struggling Italian manufacturer desperate for business than an American bank. After getting his shoes designed and a means for production, he then had to figure out how to get them sold.
At the time, there were no social media outlets to advertise on, no e-commerce sites or technology. You had to get a retailer to buy your product. The shoe industry did all of its business at an annual convention in New York City, where everyone from the industry came together for three days to transact. His options for attending this event were either buy a sponsorship at the convention and compete for the buyer’s attention against 1,100 other competitors, or rent an expensive showroom on the street outside the convention like the bigger, more established vendors did.
How could he stand out? He had no money and very little time before the event started, so the showroom was out. He didn’t like the idea of being lost in a sea of 1,100 competitors in the convention. He was out of money and time, but not out of creativity. He came up with the idea of setting up a makeshift showroom in a 40-foot trailer and parking it on the street directly in front of the big showrooms set up by his competitors. Here’s what he did in his own words:
“I called a friend in the trucking business and asked to borrow one of his trucks to park in Midtown Manhattan. He said sure, but good luck getting permission. I went to the mayor’s office, Koch at the time, and asked how one gets permission to park a 40-foot trailer truck in Midtown Manhattan. He said one doesn’t. The only people the city gives parking permits to are production companies shooting full-length motion pictures and utility companies like Con Ed or AT&T.
So that day I went to the stationery store and changed our company letterhead from Kenneth Cole, Inc., to Kenneth Cole Productions, Inc., and the next day I applied for a permit to shoot a full-length film entitled The Birth of a Shoe Company.
With Kenneth Cole Productions painted on the side of the truck, we parked at 1370 6th Avenue, across from the New York Hilton, the day of the shoe show. We opened for business with a fully furnished 40-foot trailer, a director (sometimes there was film in the camera, sometimes there wasn’t), models as actresses and two of New York’s finest, compliments of Mayor Koch, as our doormen. We sold 40,000 pairs of shoes in two and a half days (the entire available production), and we were off and running.
To this day the company is still named Kenneth Cole Productions, Inc., and serves as a reminder of the importance of resourcefulness and innovative problem solving.”
It seems to me that far too many people roll over and give up when faced with even a stiff breeze of adversity. I hear it all the time from small MSPs who come to us for advice on how to get more and better customers: I can’t do that… I can’t afford that… I don’t have the time or the money. It’s the siren song of losers.
Right now there are a LOT of MSPs struggling and sliding backwards. Some have closed their doors and some are barely hanging on – the question is, what are they DOING about it?
It’s convenient to blame the plague, the tough economy, politicians, etc., but not entirely true. Long before COVID, all of these businesses were barely making any money, had ZERO marketing systems in place, ZERO sales processes, ZERO savings and terrible customers. Most were grossly underpriced, with insufficient recurring revenue. These are the very same people who are constantly complaining to us they are “too busy” or “too broke” or “too techie” to do marketing – and now that the easy money is gone, the well dried-up, they are toast.
Many of our clients are thriving right now – closing six- and seven-figure deals. Some are so busy they’re struggling to keep pace with the number of projects coming in. My conversations with them are NOT “Let’s pause marketing,” but about what campaigns they are launching now, what new markets they are targeting, what new solutions they are now selling and focusing on to get MORE.
You might say, “Well, it’s easy for them – they have money and resources.” Tell yourself whatever you need to get through the day, bubba, but the inconvenient truth is that they never let their situations or setbacks stand in their way or dictate their outcomes. Take it all away, and they’d have it back in short order despite competition, the economy, who’s in office, the plague. That’s because they are resourceful.
If you are an MSP struggling right now due to losing clients, marketing not working, leads and opportunities drying up, projects being canceled, clients not paying, etc., don’t despair. There ARE things you can do right now to win and pull yourself up. Join us at this upcoming Roadshow event for the lift you need: www.RecessionProofYourITBusiness.com