Some people say that the success of their business has nothing to do with luck – it’s all about hard graft and good decisions. In most cases, they’d be right. However, for some of us, a stroke of luck can really transform our business. It may be talking with someone at a party who happens to head a large multi-national company who then agrees to come on as your client, doubling your sales immediately. It may be stumbling across a stunning new business idea while talking to an acquaintance. It may be finding a supplier that’s heads and shoulders above the rest who eventually becomes your partner.
Australian company Aden + Anais had a lucky break when one of their baby wraps was seen on Prince George as he left the hospital. Within four hours of him being photographed in it, the Aden + Anais website crashed. In nine days, the Daily Mail reports that the company had 7,000 orders – a 600% increase in sales on that item. And their website visits skyrocketed: In Britain, they were up 1,960%; in Australia, up 892%; in Japan 791 per cent and in the U.S., up 458%. Thanks for the lucky break, Prince George!
In the news recently was a photographer whose business boomed when his wedding shot of a couple was photobombed by TV star Zach Braff. The photographer, Sascha Reinking, was surprised to find the special guest when he was editing his images – he immediately tweeted the star, saying, “Sir, I think you photobombed my newlywed couple the other day in New York. 🙂 Well played…” and he then tweeted it himself, to his 1.3m followers (!) saying: “I think this is my best photobomb ever”. From there, the photo went viral, retweeted over 4000 times, shared a couple hundred times on Facebook and covered by many news outlets. I can guarantee that Sascha’s wedding business will boom because of this lucky break – there will be more than a few New Yorkers seeing this picture and thinking, ‘Oh I’m looking for a wedding photographer…” Well played, Sascha!
I also found a list of products that have come about through pure luck on www.startupdonut.co.uk. How about Post-It notes, which were born from a chemist who was trying to invent a super-strong adhesive, but ended up with a low-tack glue. A colleague (and church choir singer) asked if the glue could help with his problem of bookmarks falling out of his hymnbook. Samples of this sticky, reusable, yellow bookmark were distributed around 3M staff – and some of them scribbled notes onto them. The product was trialled in 1977, and sold from 1980 and is still going strong today.
Wondered about your Kellogg‘s Corn Flakes? In 1894, Dr John Harvey Kellogg, superintendent of a sanitarium in Michigan, and his brother Will Keith Kellogg, were searching for wholesome, vegetarian foods to feed patients. Will accidentally left out some boiled wheat, which had gone stale when he returned. Rather than throw it away, he rolled the mixture out, hoping to make dough, but ended up with flakes, which they toasted to dry out. They tasted good, so they patented them under the name Granose and tried other grains – crucially, corn – and in 1906 the Kellogg’s company was formed to sell one of the world’s favourite breakfast cereals.
Other hugely popular products that are the result of luck: cheeseburgers (reportedly, cheese was first used at a Californian restaurant in 1926 to cover up a batch of burnt burgers and customers instantly loved them); chewing gum (invented by New Yorker Thomas Adams in 1869 while trying to make rubber tyres from chicle trees); Coca-Cola (invented in 1886 by pharmacist John Pemberton who accidentally added carbonated water to his medicinal syrup); Play-Doh (invented as a wallpaper cleaner in 1933) and Viagra (created by Pfizer scientists working on a drug for high blood pressure and heart disease).
Of course, once you’ve had the lucky break, you need to build on it – you need to step up and follow through with customer experience and all the nuts and bolts of business. That’s when the hard graft and good decisions step in again. And that’s the bit I can help with, as your Auckland based business coach.
In the meantime, good luck!