You don’t have to be first, but just be ready

Last week, my friend Melissa and I decided to spend a day co-working together.

We’re both working on some major projects. And there’s some overlap between them. Plus, we just enjoy each other’s company.

Melissa let me pick the location. So I chose a coffee shop in Tribeca – a neighborhood in Lower Manhattan – to offer us a change of pace to my uptown digs and Melissa’s Brooklyn homebase.

When I arrived, the place was surprisingly packed to capacity. Nowhere to sit, obnoxiously noisy – nothing like the accessible hangout I’d grown to appreciate and expect.

So in earnest, I set out to find a Plan B. But after 10 minutes, my notorious impatient streak flared up. I gave up on my search and slipped into a Starbucks a few blocks away from the original shop.

This particular ‘Bucks had all the makings for a superb coworking date. There were ample seats! (With outlets to charge our devices too!) Not to mention, it was quiet! And I knew the barista would make my Venti Cool Lime Refresher – with lemonade instead of water plus two pumps of raspberry – to perfection.

And a superb coworking date it was: Melissa and I caught up on life and put an epic dent in our projects. For all intents and purposes, it was an awesome experience.

But still, there was a tinge of remorse that the smaller, buzzier joint couldn’t accommodate us. It was the first time in at least 10 to 12 visits that I’d exited as quickly as I entered. And while Starbucks certainly proved to be a viable second choice, that’s what it was: a second choice.

The truth is, Starbucks doesn’t care though. They got my money; the other place didn’t. On top of that, I'm using my weekly newsletter to write about my experience. Word of mouth they're not paying me for. And it’s because Starbucks was equipped to solve my specific problem with a remarkable experience.

This is something I think about a lot both in my business and when I’m working with clients:

Am I prepared to meet people wherever they are when they start a relationship with my brand to support them in achieving their desired outcome?

And if you want to get noticed and get paid with your big idea, I challenge you to answer the same question.

Because whether you have a business or not, if you have a big idea then it’s already someone’s desired pick – even if they don’t know it yet.

I didn’t know I would end up on Starbucks. All I knew is what I desired: A pleasant space, with free Wi-Fi and refreshing drinks, for my friend and me to be in community together (while making progress on our projects).

And when the rubber hit the road, I ultimately didn’t care which brand provided it to me.

Here’s what I’m saying: You don’t have to be the top or best pick to win. You just have to be there when your prospect is ready to exchange their money for the value your product or service promises. Then deliver on that promise.

And isn’t that a much more manageable mountain to climb? As opposed to trying to compete in your market by reinventing the wheel? Perhaps the best innovation is consistency…

Because at the end of the day, it’s not about you. It’s about the people you put here to serve with your unique mix of creativity, skill and expertise. And the personal freedom you get to experience from monetizing that unique mix.

Unless, of course, you’re not up to the task. Then those same people will set out to find a Plan B, just as I did last week.

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