The Golden Thread Method™ of Business Development

Have you ever had a sweater with a loose thread? The tendency is to pull the thread, often to your own peril. Business development is like pulling threads. You find a loose thread (a potential market) and you begin to pull it. You follow where the thread goes.

Some people are fortunate enough to follow that thread to exactly where they thought it would lead. They have a product, know the exact market, get the product into that market and the market responds favorably.

I believe a more real-to-life experience would differ. You think you know where you are headed. You see a market that needs your product. You start pursuing that market. During your journey, you find several threads and begin pulling them to see where they go. Along the way, the ends of other threads show up and you begin to pull on them. This must be a disciplined venture or you bankrupt the company pursuing too many threads. It requires continual evaluation and refocus. All the while, you are looking for the thread that leads you to the best market for your product. The Golden Thread.

Let me give you a few examples.

  1. Delysid, a drug, was developed in the 1930s. Experimentation in the 1940s showed it had psychedelic properties and was introduced as a psychiatric drug. Further experimentation occurred to determine if it could be useful in mind control or chemical warfare. The full name of this drug is lysergic acid diethylamide, better known as LSD. It was legal in the US until the late 1960s and became central to the counterculture of the 1960s.
  2. Synthetic rubber compound inventions were encouraged in the US during WWII due to a rubber shortage. Several scientists discovered that boric acid reacting with silicone oil produced a gooey, bouncy material. Unfortunately, it did not have all of the properties needed to replace rubber and was put on the shelf. In 1950s, this goo was placed inside a plastic egg and introduced to the market as Silly Putty. Over 300 million Silly Putty eggs have been sold.
  3. In 1968, Dr. Spencer Silver was attempting to develop a very strong adhesive. Instead, he created a low-tack, reusable, pressure sensitive adhesive. For five years they looked for a fitting product. None were found. In 1974, Art Fry used the adhesive on the back of slips of paper to retain his place in his hymnal. A product called “Press ‘n Peel” evolved using a strip of the adhesive across the top of paper was released in 4 cities. The results were disappointing. A year later, the product under the name of “Post-It Notes” was given away in a blitz marketing campaign in Boise ID. The reorder rate for the product was around 90%. Today, it is considered one of the five best selling office supply products in the world.

The end result was a product was developed and achieved commercial success. Each example shows they thought they knew the target market. The product did not have a high adoption rate. Later after trying different markets, the sweet spot was found and the product took off. They found the Golden Thread.

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