Good timing can turn a mediocre product into a breakout success; bad timing can destroy an otherwise successful career.
In business, timing is everything.
Unfortunately, most people think timing is just like luck. It isn’t. Nothing can be further from the truth. It’s a critical success factor and you can learn to use it to your advantage … or let it bite you in the you-know-what.
I don’t care if it’s a business plan, a negotiation, a customer relationship, a product launch, a presentation, a marketing campaign, a proposal, a career, or an entire corporation. Timing can make or break it; I see it happen all the time.
Unfortunately, even some of the best and brightest business people consider timing as an afterthought. Their thinking goes something like this: 1) idea, 2) budget, 3) target customers or audience, 4) competition, … , 27) timing.
I have no idea why, but it’s true. And sad. Really.
Few things matter more in business than timing
Being too early or too late can be just the same as failing – even if the idea itself is correct.
But, if you get your timing just right, you can make a lot of other mistakes and still succeed.
In terms of timing, it’s hard to beat British technology entrepreneur Michael Birch. He and his wife started working on the social networking website Bebo in January 2005. It grew rapidly and just three years later, he sold it to AOL for $850 million.
Yet a mere two years after the purchase, AOL proceeded to dispose of Bebo for an undisclosed amount thought to be less than $10m. As Birch said afterwards: “Obviously, the timing was good for us and bad for AOL.”
Did Birch predict the financial crisis and the rise of Facebook? I doubt it. But, he saw a fashion, obtained sound advice and knew when to take some cash off the table.
Timing is everything
You’ve likely heard this said many times before but, a clear explanation of why is rarely forthcoming. And, since timing is so important, how can you identify and take advantage of good timing?
To answer this question I spoke with a Sydney based serial entrepreneur Aleksandar Svetski, founder of Crave Frozen Yogurt in Australia & NZ. Svetski seems to have a knack for picking the right time to enter an industry or launch a new product/service.
For the past 6 years he’s managed to successfully time his entry and exit within various businesses he has been involved in. All were in different industries.
“I have a saying: Too early and you end up being the guy with the arrows in your back. Too Late, and you missed the show,” he explained.
“At 19 years old, I thought I was a hot-shot trader making what most people make in a year in under a month, doing what I liked to call “swing trading”. I learnt the hard way that you need to be on the right side of the trend otherwise you’ll get run over. It’s a lesson I will never forget,” Svetski continued.
“Markets are a collective and, whether it’s the stock market or a more micro-form of a market your business is involved in, if you can spot the trend, then you can take advantage of it. A word of caution though. Some trends don’t take off or, as we call them in the world of trading, “a false break”. This means it looks like something will take off, but in reality it’s a short-term move. A smart business owner and a smart trader always waits for confirmation of a trend before they invest. That is, they wait until there is some support behind the movement,” he continued.
“This is exactly what we did when introducing CRAVE Frozen Yogurt into Australia. We waited, we bided our time, we sharpened our axe all whilst waiting for the actual trend to be confirmed and the market to adopt the product before we charged in, all guns blazing,” Svetski shared.
How do you create perfect timing?
Even though it plays an important role in your business’s development, identifying the right timing in business is fairly simple.
Here are four things that you can do to try to find perfect timing.
Network with others
Doing this will allow you to take advantage of a wider variety of resources and insight that could prove useful. Essentially, you never know what other people know, until you ask.
Study relevant websites and blogs
Find online sources that are related to what you do and compare them to other similarly themed sites.
If a trend is emerging in your industry, you can bet that more than a few places will be talking about it. So, follow what others are talking about and you’ll be able to capitalise on it.
Do some market research
If you want to get information straight from the source, then you should set up some way of gathering information right from your customers.
Try sending out surveys, providing polls through social media or, conducting market research that will offer insight into the behaviour of people who buy from you.
Look at industry leaders
The leading companies in your industry may be in their position, in part, because they jump on trends before anyone else.
Keep that in mind when working at identifying business trends.
You may notice newly adopted practices that are keeping those companies ahead of the game.
Be your own superhero. Be vigilant
Vigilance is an important quality to have in business management.
It will serve you well when identifying business trends because it will allow you to catch emerging trends as quickly as possible and maximize your return on them.
Whilst timing is important, it is merely a function of finding the right balance between supply and demand.
You need to find the sweet spot when demand exceeds supply. This will make your job easier and provide the runway you’ll need to take off, before a market consolidates.
With this in mind, know you can afford to get a lot of other things wrong, if you get your timing right.