The Wikipedia article begins… 

“Alexander Turney Stewart (October 12, 1803 – April 10, 1876) was an American[1] entrepreneur who moved to New York and made his multimillion-dollar fortune in the most extensive and lucrative dry goods store in the world.” 

In all, it is estimated that Mr. Stewart was worth over $113 billion in today’s dollars, making him one of the top 30 wealthiest people in history. 

How did he make his fortune? What was the fundamental secret to his wealth? 

The answer is the same principle that Elon Musk lives by and has helped him become the wealthiest man on earth today. 

It’s the same ideal that drove Steve Jobs. 

When I work with CEO’s we talk a great deal about strategy and inspiring employees to reach high performance. 

I’m amazed that so few of them have an intense focus on the one principle that made A.T. Stewart, Elon Musk and so many others outrageously successful. 

A.T. Stewart started off with $1.50 in his pocket. He purchased some buttons and needles for around $.70 and tried to sell them. It was a dead loss. Almost half his money gone. 

He thought about it and realized he was trying to sell something that people didn’t really want. 

Lesson from 31,097 Freelance Copywriters

One of my companies has trained more than 30,000 freelance copywriters ( I see many copywriters do the same thing. They are personally passionate about a topic and are sure that the rest of the world also loves that topic. They think companies will pay top dollar for their services.

One of our students was extremely excited about quilting. She spend thousands of dollars for copywriter training… and many more thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours going to events, building a website, and joining mastermind groups. 

In the end, she lost all of her money because she was selling copywriting services to an industry that doesn’t really use copywriters. 

After losing all his money, A.T. Stewart decided that he would never invest a penny into supplies unless he first knew that there was a specific demand for those products. 

Elon Musk said, 

“Great companies are built on great products.” 

Interestingly enough, Elon’s focus has never been on profits or wealth. Instead, he has focused on giving the world solutions that they wanted. 

He said, 

“For me it was never about money, but solving problems for the future of humanity.” 

And that is the secret… 

Only sell solutions for a known demand. 

When you are leading a company, the primary strategic question should be: 

“Is there an intense demand for the solutions we offer?” 

If the answer is “yes”, then your next objective is to answer this question: 

“In offering that solution, are we a ‘proposition simplifier’ or a “price simplifier”? 

In other words, are you in the business of making life easier for your buyers and charging a premium for it… or do you sell a simple solution at a discounted price? 

Apple and Tesla are proposition simplifiers. They sell high quality at a high price. 

Walmart and Ikea are price simplifiers. They sell OK quality at a low price. 

Uncover Your OTM Score

One of the first things we analyze when working with new clients is their offer-to-market-match score (OTM Score). This scoring process allows us to assess how in-demand the client’s services are, how urgently they are needed, and how much buyers are willing to pay. 

We do this because there’s an old expression that states… 

“A rising tide raises all ships.” 

The “tide” in this case is buyer desire, urgency, and buying power. When each of these areas highly aligns with what the client is offering, the odds are very good that revenues will rise. 

And, clearly the opposite is true. 

Then we analyze the market and our client’s internal structure and culture to determine what kind of “simplifier” they are. 

Many strategies on market positioning, offers, marketing channels, leadership questions, and HR concerns come into focus once have clarity on these two points. 

Solve Known Problems.

Sadly, too many companies are selling things that few people are buying… and when they do sell them, they are not clear on their market positioning (ie price or proposition simplifier). 

As the captain of the ship, when you look forward, take time to make sure you have perfect clarity on market demand and your strategy for offering the desired solutions. 

As you do, you’ll help your ship rise with the swelling tide.