The following edited excerpt is reprinted from “No Try, Only Do,” Copyright © 2017 by Andy Bailey, CEO, founder and head coach at Petra Coach, a national business coaching firm. Published by Advantage.
It’s the gift and curse of entrepreneurs to see gaps everywhere. Most of us entrepreneurs walk around this planet constantly spotting these gaps and thinking, “Oh, there’s a gap. That process could be done better, this could be more efficient, and if we do it this way, someone might pay for it. How do we build a business around that?”
My youngest daughter, Gracen, is a great example of this. At age fifteen she saw a gap in people having extra stuff in their homes and not having the time or expertise to sell it on eBay.
It started with my own growing collection of outdated Fitbits. I got the first version when it came out, then I wanted the next one and the next and never got rid of the old ones— they just sat there collecting dust in my closet. So Gracen sold them for me and at the same time learned how to negotiate the posting, bidding, selling and shipping processes at eBay.
She could have just done that for me, made a few bucks, and left it at that. But she saw a gap—she saw the need to help others sell items that they didn’t want to just throw away but didn’t have the time to sell.
It was the beginning of “Gracie’s Garage,” and the very first thing she did was create a list of item types that sold well and for high multiples. Then she created a flyer and had me hand it to people who I thought could use her services.
In a couple months, she’d taken over the big walk-in closet in our guest bedroom. Everything in it is labeled and inventoried, neatly organized into drawers and logs kept on their online activity. She does the research, handles the shipping and even negotiates the complaint and refund process if buyers receive an item that’s either not what they wanted, missing a part or broken.
There are plenty of nights when I come home, walk by the closet, and hear her playing music and typing away, digging into the history of some item or communicating with someone on the other side of the world.
And just like an entrepreneur, she gets frustrated. When she first started selling, she came to me in a huff because eBay was charging her three dollars to process a payment.
“That’s three of my dollars,” she said angrily. I couldn’t have been prouder. She’s learning these incredible lessons at a young age, and even though they’re on a small level now, they’ll lead her down a path that will help her be a better entrepreneur later on; and she’s already pretty good at it.
My own business, a cellular phone agency called NationLink, was also pretty good at spotting entrepreneurial gaps and filling them. For instance, we took a unique approach to billing in 2004 that brought us an incredible number of new clients.
Even today, wireless bills are a confusing mess, and you can imagine the complexity of a one- to three-person family plan versus the monthly bill for an organization with fifteen or even five hundred phones. Often, people just gave up trying to sort them out and simply paid the bill.
We saw that as a gap and decided to tackle it from two directions: creating a bill-auditing service and creating an online portal that allowed an organization to handle all things cellular in one place.[…]
Petra Coach, too, was created to fill the gap between what Verne Harnish’s “Rockefeller Habits” are and how you actually put them into practice in your business. Our software, Align, was another stopgap that’s proven highly useful to businesses, whether or not they’re implementing the Habit methodologies.
But Petra Coach, and later Align—the software we created to fill the gap of tracking and aligning team members in real-time—were not early ventures for me in the entrepreneurial world.
Just like Gracen, I had to build my first business. Then I had to sell it, take it back, and struggle to build it again before I even discovered the Rockefeller Habits—and then I had to figure them out for myself. It was twenty years, in fact, before the idea for Petra Coach hit me like a rock.
What do your early days of entrepreneurship look like?
For more about Andy and his entrepreneurial journey, as well as his lessons for entrepreneurs at all career stages, check out the rest of “No Try, Only Do” via Amazon.