All I know about business. Period.

Persistent step by step can take you further than a giant leap.
                                                                                      Jesh de Rox

When it comes to business, I am like a turtle.  Deliberate. Hopefully, thoughtful. Change comes slow. I am slow to stick my neck out to spend money.  I am a turtle.

Yesterday, I took a class on Blogging for Business. And that quote was posted. And it got me thinking about how I react to a changing economy and what I have been seeing lately.  And I think there are three things that will kill a small business ........ over-enthusiasm, desperation and debt.

Now .. I have no MBA.  My formal business education is severely lacking.  But recently, several businesses that I have known, read about and observed ..... seem to be straying away from sound business practices.

Since this is my blog ........ you're going to hear about it and the basic principles that I hold true.

Research ...... Personally, I don't think you can research enough.

Read.  Read.  Read.

Talk.   Talk.   Talk.

Find out everything you can about your business before you open your business. Don't want to talk to your competitors??  Then go across the country and talk.  Develop bonds with other similar businesses. Find a mentor and ask lots of questions.  Find out what works and what doesn't work.

Shortly after I started my business, my friend Cathy emailed me about my business.  Personally, I see no threat from sharing what I have learned.  If there is another business doing the same thing ... I just have to work harder to give my customers and friends an enjoyable experience.  Besides, having that friend to bounce problems back and forth is great!!!!

Cathy started out with a U-pick but discovered with 4 children and their activities, keeping regular picking hours was difficult.  So now she does flower camps and lots and lots of wedding bouquets. After I did ONE wedding bouquet, I was done!!!!!!  No more! Never again!

There is not enough alcohol in the world to make me do a large wedding!!!

Cathy and I have developed a good friendship ... we refer customers back and forth ... we share plant orders.  We mentor each other.

And we both soon found out that the industry research was right!  One person can handle approximately one acre of cut flowers.  I know I would love to have more flowers!!  More! More! More!

I can order them.. I can plant them ... but when the season gets tough, can I take care of them??  When it rains every day ... when the weeds are taller than I am  (OK ... that's not saying much!) ... when its 95 degrees in the shade. When I am dealing with Japanese beetles, drought conditions and grasshoppers..... can I do it???


Which brings me to point number two ...... focus.

It is really easy to get distracted in business. Something new and shiny will be on the market and you swear you have to have it. (oh, yea..  that is life!) And you make a little a money at it and you think This is good!  And soon, you are totally drifting away from your business plan.

Wait ... you didn't write a business plan???? (Go directly to jail. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200)  Stop immediately and write a business plan.  Who is your customer?  Who will you sell to? Yea, who?  ... and the answer is not anyone that breaths!!! Focus on your customer.  How old are they? How much money do they have? Where do they live?  How far are they willing to drive?  

I am struggling with focus now.  How will I fill the Summer Kitchen?  Home-made and local .... really local.  Am I offering things that my customers will like?  And is the price point right? Who will buy this?  Can I possibly be open in the winter?  Am I creative enough to offer something new and different? 

And most importantly.... Does it fit with my current product line and my business plan? Am I being true to myself and my values?


And finally ... plan for the worst case scenario.  Yep .. be happy, be optimistic, be positive.  But be realistic. Can I make it through the tough times?  Is there money in the bank? Is there enough money in the bank?? Is there another way of making money?? Can I juggle it all????


As much as I love my job at Retail-Hell, would I love to be here at home?  You betcha!!!! But that job is a winter safety net.  I may not work a lot.  It may not pay too much. But it has always helped out on groceries or a utility bill or some years, paid for the next years flowers. And I am grateful for that little bit of security.

Being an entrepreneur is not easy. More of us fail than succeed.  Blindly forging ahead is like trying to navigate through an obstacle course in the dark ..... something will trip you up. 

Sometimes, it is a turtle... slowly and deliberately moving across the floor.


girlwithasword said…
ok, I have yet to meet one single business owner who actually believed their business plan helped much. Mostly they make us laugh, abotu 4 mintutes after they are created. If someone else can tell me any different I'd love to hear it :)
Becky Jo said…
What's a business plan? ;)

I didn't write a business plan because #1. I am not going to spend all my time obsessing over a plan and #2. I don't think 'having a plan' has to be literal. So far in my first year of selling pots, I've been able to pay the power bill and eat every day, and that's progress in my book. :) I do, however, have truck driving during harvest as a 'safety net', which helps me sleep at night. :)
Miss Effie said…
Maggie -- I really think the ACT of writing it all down is incredibly important. There are some that can do without. But by writing it down .. even if its on a scrap of paper .. forces us to think about our words and our plans.

And I will be the first to admit that I so misjudged my target customer!!! And my focus has changed from strictly flowers to education and ag-tourism.

I've been watching one business ... that doesn't seem to have a clue... dump thousands and thousands of dollars into the name of having their own business. We could live on it for years. And there is no planning ... just plunge in.

Might work.

Might not.
Thanks for your words of wisdom Cathy. I agree with the plan helps to focus your ideas into a funnel instead of feeling willy nilly. I had an economic development director tell me once that the businesses who were thoughtful about their plan were much more likely to succeed (and flourish!) in the long run.

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