Archive for Strategy

What is the one question to remember when meeting new people?

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you”
- Dale Carnegie -

It has been a while since I went to one of these big industry networking events. I used to hate going to these events. I was the one who stood near the food table (at the corner of it!). The one who looked lost. I wished for someone to come and speak with me. I wished this person would inspire me. I wished it would not be a person like me, a person whom no one else wanted to talk to.

“Why am I here?” was a question I kept asking myself. You know this lonely feeling, right? I remembered telling myself, “Liz, you are not good at it, why are you coming to these events?”

The funny thing is that most of the time, I did find someone to talk to, and then I would just talk non stop about myself. I talked about my business, my life, I was so afraid she would leave and I would be alone again, I just kept on talking. I never heard back from the people I talked to. Read more

To change or not to change, that is the question

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change”
- Charles Darwin -

As small business owners and entrepreneurs, we are faced with many decisions, some minor, some crucial and once in a while, we are faced with the big question, the big decision, the one which will define a new path toward our company’s vision. The answer to that question will usually result in a significant change to our venture but how can we know the right answer?

All major businesses face this decision. YouTube was intended to be an online dating service site called Tune In Hook Up, which allowed users to upload videos of themselves, the founders made the decision that the idea is too narrow and dropped it. Nintendo used to sell playing cards. Richard Branson’s Virgin was a student magazine company for a few years before he closed it, and Marriot hotels started by selling root beer. Read more

The Power of Focus

“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus”
- Alexander Graham Bell -

Yesterday Jenny got to my chocolate store all upset, she looked disoriented and completely out of focus. She raised her hands to the ceiling and yelled “I just don’t have enough time to do everything I need to do. I just don’t have enough time!”. I looked at her astonished. Jenny usually does not get so emotional, that role belongs to me. I could not hold myself and giggled a bit. Jenny looked very annoyed and said “what’s so funny Liz?”.

I told her, “Jenny, you were here together with me, exactly a year ago when Charlie explained to us the key to time management. Our main insights were that we all have the same amount of time, we all have 24 hours a day, we cannot control our time, all we can do and all we ought to do is to prioritize our time, do you remember that?”.

Jenny looked really mad, “What does Charlie know, going with his brown suitcase, always having the answer, what does he know about the tough life of a business owner, I bet you every business owner end her day by saying: If I only had a few more hours I will be successful”. Read more

The Pursuit of Independence

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”
- U.S.A Declaration of Independence -

It is now the weekend before the big 4th, our country’s Independence Day, I like this day, I am always surrounded with family and friends, celebrating our independence. Good food, great friends, many kids around, fireworks – priceless.

On a personal level, this day marks one more step for me of getting closer to being financially independent. It was not always like that for me.

Ten years ago, I graduated from college and started what many would call my independent life. I worked at a grocery store, one of the fancy ones that sell organic foods, premium wines and imported cheese. It was a well-organized store with beautiful custom made shelves from the outside and a very dysfunctional business model from the inside. I worked there as a cashier. Read more

Saying Yes to Business Success

“I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear”
- Rosa Parks -

It was easy to refuse the offer. It was so easy to say “I’m too busy on that day, sorry maybe next time, I really appreciate the call”. It was last Wednesday, middle of the day. Business at the store is usually slow during the midday. It’s my time to focus on the next week’s event planning. In the store, there only two older people who were drinking their coffees, sharing a slice of a chocolate cake. They were so busy talking with each other that they did not hear the telephone ringing. I picked it up.

The man on the other side said “hello Elizabeth” and told me that he had been reading my blog posts for a few months now. He told me he came to visit my store once or twice and really liked the chocolate cake and my business. I felt so proud. He continued and said he was the organizer of a national small business conference which would take place in one month.

I thought to myself “oh, and now for the sales pitch, would you want to come to the conference”. But instead of this question he asked a very different one, he said “Elizabeth, it will be our pleasure if you can come and present at the conference, there will be about 3,000 people in attendance and I am sure they can learn a lot from your business experience”. Read more

Business Success – No Backup Plan

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up”
- Thomas A. Edison -

I was thinking a lot about setting my business values and business success. Charlie and I were talking about it quite a bit in the past few weeks, I want you to think about your business values, and I have a challenge for you. If these business values were to transform to a physical object, what would it be? Interesting right? We tend to think about values as big words like honesty, transparency, outstanding service and many more. But I find it much easier to imagine physical object (like chocolate :-)). If you could take all your business values and represent them as physical objects, what would it be?

It took me awhile to work on it, so I am going to give you 2 weeks to think about it. Promise me you’ll do it! It’s very important, and I promise to tell you why, but first you need to do this exercise. What physical object represent your business values?

I had a very busy week this week, it’s now almost the weekend, Charlie stopped by a few hours ago for our weekly talk and strategy meeting. We were talking about keys to business success. We had a long chat about broadening the competitive advantage of my business and as we came up with some tactical tasks, Charlie stood up, raised his hot chocolate cup and said “one key to business success is having no backup plan of what to do if it fails”. Read more