QUESTION: Is successful inventing more about who you know, than what you know?

ANSWER: Very good question. Thank you. Let me tell you a little story. Part of being successful is certainly about who you know. With Better Blocks, there was a pivotal point when Better Blocks quite clearly was on the road to success… even though I didn’t realise it at the time. I’d written a business plan, spent two years travelling around Australia asking for venture capital in all traditional channels of raising finance, but I was unsuccessful. I realised that a part of the problem was the way I approached raising venture capital and the other part was, I just hadn’t spoken to the “right” person yet.

One day I was talking to my sister’s boyfriend, John Wilkie. He was a carpenter. He built and installed beautiful kitchen cupboards. Not the kind of guy you’d expect financial expertise from, right? So, while I was talking to John about BetterBlocks he casually said “Why don’t you ring up my mate in America? He’s a New Zealander living in the US and he’s doing very well in direct marketing.” I rang up Kelvin and the end result of that call was a $45 million business. Now, you can’t write that into a business plan!

Certainly, it is who you know and what you know, but it’s also speaking to people, listening to them, being very aware of what they are saying. People will always offer you advice or opportunities. Just follow these opportunities and see where they go, because, my greatest successes and new inventions have come out of doing just that. You need your business plans to give you a guide to where you are going and how you can “probably” get there, but always be aware of what’s in left field because, like I said, who would have ever thought a carpenter would be the key to Better Blocks becoming a successful business. So I thank John Wilkie from the bottom of my heart for that comment.

This post is part of my Radio Coaching Interview. To listen to this section please click here.

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