As mentioned previously in this space, I get many e-mails and phone calls from people with gear “problems.” Or should I say “Gear Opportunities?” For the most part I enjoy these interactions even though they rarely turn into billable hours. When you are lucky enough to be your own boss you do not have to be a slave to the clock. Gears are a favorite topic for me not just a way to make a living.
It has not always been so. Over the years many interesting projects had to be turned down because management did not see how a “science project” could turn into a profitable product. Most of the time they were right too; if the order couldn’t “self-fund” why pursue it?
My appreciation for customers has been nurtured by some determined sales people who continued to visit them, who kept cultivating the key decision makers, and bravely presented the resulting inquiries to the same boss who said no the last five times. One of my Sales Heroes visited an account regularly for twelve years before he got an inquiry accepted, booked, and into production. It turned into a long-term partnership that was very good for all involved.
I am reminded of that tenacity when potential clients contact me. You never know which call is going to turn into a nice project so it is logical to treat each one like it was a lottery ticket. And the biggest value in a lottery ticket, the reason so many tickets get sold every day all around the world, is the dream that it might turn out to be a big winner.
You can’t invest all your time in long shot inquiries but why not buy into someone’s dream occasionally? As Nelson Mandela once claimed: I never lose. Either I win or I learn something. Inquiries are great training exercises for design engineers; good opportunities to” virtually” test out new concepts or methods of manufacture. The most powerful words in any language are “what if?”
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