“Building a Business” means something very different to me.

I saw this post today on VentureBeat about free courses being offered by Stanford to “Build Your Business

Scan the list… NOT A SINGLE COURSE ON SALES!

It doesn’t matter how much “cryptology” you use, or how good your “graphical models” are, or how “creative you are”  if you can’t get people to buy the product – if you don’t have people who want to PAY you for it.  You will eventually go out of business!    (BTW:  are they seriously trying to teach how to be creative?  isn’t that in your nature or not? of course, I feel the same way about teaching you how to be an entrepreneur, you either are or you aren’t – it can’t be taught).

On the same day, there was a post on Business Insider about how Tumblr ignored revenue for too long and is now feeling the heat.

I say it over and over again, your product does not matter if people don’t want it.  It has to solve a critical problem.  And if you aren’t thinking about sales from day 1, you are already too late.  You don’t build a product for product sake, you build it so that people will buy it – so that you can bring in revenue and make a living for your employees.  Spending some angel’s money or some VC fund’s limited partner’s money just for fun is NOT what being an entrepreneur is about – and it always shocks me that business schools have not figured this out!  There is only one common thread in EVERY company in the world – and that is selling.

In every company that I have started, revenue has always been the main focus in inception.  If I couldn’t think about how the company made money, I moved onto another idea.   The revenue can certainly be indirect, but there has to be a monetization strategy somewhere – otherwise you are just spending investors money “playing company.”

When I have been brought into companies to rescue them, it is always about bringing revenue in- and its certainly much easier when there are plans for this from the get go.

So… certainly take these free classes from Stanford – but don’t forget that “building your product” does not mean “building your business”.  If you are building your “business” then revenue should 100% be a component of that discussion.