Of the significant functions of business, product development, customer service, accounting, operations, and marketing – the one discipline that should always be given top priority in business is marketing.

The other functions are important, but without marketing, you won’t have sales. Without sales, you will not have cash flow, and without cash flow, you won’t be able to pay for all the other functions. This leads to debt, which is merely borrowing against the cash flow of the future.

I am frequently frustrated by start-up entrepreneurs, who tend to prepare for the launch of their enterprise without an early focus on their sales approach. Before your business makes its first sale, your business concept is nothing more than a set of unproven ideas. Some of these ideas may be good and feasible; others may be bad or impractical. You won’t know which are which until you vigorously test them by selling your service or product.

When I consult with entrepreneurs who are still in the planning stage, I advise them to streamline and slow-down their start-up processes like leasing offices, buying expensive IT systems, creating logos and websites, and buying fancy equipment and furniture. I push them to focus on effecting their first dozen successful sales transactions. Many don’t listen and apply the Field of Dreams approach to business.

They are smitten with their idea and believe that “If I build it, they (the customers) will come.” More often than not, it never happens.

In launching a new business, service or idea, I recommend that a business owner or manager spends 80% of the planning time on selling and building confidence that the new concept is sound and that your current and prospective customers will buy it.

When beginning a new business (or launching a new product or service within an existing business), the sooner you can make the first sale, the better your chances are of success.

Too many people go into business unprepared to take selling seriously. Many of them lose money.