Just over a year ago, I had coffee with a pleasant couple planning the opening of a pastry shop in the Greater Vancouver area. I asked about the basics:
Branding? A friend helped them design a logo, which was printed at home on perforated business cards. Signage? A small, plastic banner was on order. Online presence? They planned to use a free template and “throw something together.”
After explaining the need to delegate, build a professional brand and get an informative website up so vendors, such as coffee shop owners, could conveniently peruse their product offerings, they politely nodded. It was obvious they saw such costs to be unnecessary.
The business was launched, the products were delicious, and business was carried out focusing only on minimizing costs rather than looking at ways to build revenue.
Things got tighter and tighter, to the point the husband decided to get a job ‘on the side’. That was the beginning of the end. Various parts of the business became neglected, and there was little, if any, chance of growth.
Sadly, despite a fantastic product, the couple recently announced they are closing their shop.
It goes to reinforce some basic rules of business.
Delegate or Die
Business owners need to focus on their core business and make an effort to hand off everything else.
Perception is Everything
You can have a great product, but if you don’t back it with proper branding, its image and perceived value will suffer. Moreover, if they were not willing to invest in their business (i.e. professional business cards and a website), why should others?
Understand and Accept Your Strengths and Limitations
With today’s rapid pace and cut-throat competition, you must choose what activities it makes sense for you to do, and what tasks you should delegate to specialists.
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I’m all for marketing, but websites aren’t necessary for every business. There are thousands of bakeries and pastry shops that were doing just fine before the Internet existed.
Sure, there are exceptions, but websites undeniably provide businesses of all types an opportunity to establish a powerful marketing hub. While bakeries did just fine before the Internet existed, you overlook an important point; none of their competitors had access to the Web. Likewise, bakeries probably did just fine in the 1800s without artificial light. But if you didn’t use light bulbs to your advantage when they became mainstream in the 1900s, you’d eventually be left in the dark.
I think the other point is you need to focus on generating more money. If you only focus on spending less, your business is going to become stagnant at best.