I talked with a founder who had an idea in about 2005. He didn’t execute then for a variety of reasons, the main one being that he realized he was too early. His idea sounded like science fiction. Fast forward to 2015. He felt more confident that people would be somewhat receptive to his idea, and technology advances had lowered the barriers to getting it off the ground. It took a few years to build the tech and work through other challenges, but he was able to build traction throughout 2020. Nothing crazy—just good healthy growth. That all changed in 2021. His concept was thrust to the forefront of mainstream media, and it exploded. Now people and businesses are interested in his solution.
Timing can have a huge impact on a business, but it’s out of a founder’s control. At CCAW, I waited years for our industry to embrace e-commerce (sounds crazy, yes?), but I knew it was right around the corner. When it finally arrived, we were in a prime position and had developed important relationships of trust. I imagine Zoom hoped it would be mainstream a few years after going public. Instead, the pandemic accelerated its plans from years to months (maybe even weeks). Other examples abound.
Timing is something founders should be aware of but realize they can’t control. They should be able to speak to it (good or bad). Ideally, they can articulate why the time is right and how they’re in a prime position to take advantage of it. Sometimes the present isn’t an ideal time, and that’s okay. If a founder thinks that will change in the near future, they should be able to explain that prediction.