If you're not doing it right, you're doing it wrong

By Paul Shumlich

The other day after a client asked me "where the f*#k is the lettuce" I had a sudden realization. If you're not doing it right, you're doing it wrong. I wasn't delivering on the value proposition that was originally promised to our customers.

Deepwater Farms works with Calgary's best chefs, providing them access to sustainably grown leafy greens and herbs, delivered the day of their harvest, all year round. These chefs love locally farmed food and fully support Deepwater Farms.

We had discovered the secret sauce to providing chefs access to sustainably grown local ingredients all year round, coupled with premium service. This created a 10x improvement to their current system, which meant they were willing to switch suppliers to use our service.

We had a deep understanding of our clients; we knew exactly what they wanted and locked in several early purchase agreements to secure demand. We made it clear that it was going to take us time to develop, build, operate, and test an aquaponic system. After all, we were working on a breakthrough technology.

The chefs were patient, supportive, and aware it was going to take time. However, I was impatient and shifted my focus. I wanted to start cash flowing right away and to get product on their plates. I began bringing them common ingredients with slightly better service and packaging.

Ultimately, this deviation from the original goal wasn't even close to delivering a 10x improvement for them. Here's the problem, I wasn't doing anything brand new or game changing. As soon as I saw an opportunity to get cash flowing, I switched my focus from development to production. I took the easy path rather than investing my time into the development of our technology, which was the real work that needed to be done, especially as the founder of the company.

By being impatient and shifting my focus to cash flow, I sacrificed my priority of premium grown produce and the true value offering. By bringing in easy to grow and procure produce options, I nearly compromised my brand and my word.

Once you have validated your assumptions, stick to them. I knew what my clients wanted. I knew they would pay a premium for this offering. All I had to do was deliver on my promise.

It wasn't until a chef bluntly called me out that I realized I was doing it wrong. Take the time to do it right.