The Face in the Mirror or What Did You Learn Today?

Look at yourself if you want success

three-bearsRemember that girl called Goldilocks?
And how she broke into the house of the Three Bears?
And how she ate their porridge, sat in their chairs, and slept on their beds?
All while the three bears felt that their little home in the forest was safe and secure while they went into the woods for a picnic that day.

Well, that’s what has happened to many business owners.
Something has eaten your porridge, rocked in your  chairs, and rustled those
sheets while it slept in your bed — all while you felt you were secure enough that you could relax and go into the woods for a picnic while your business took care of itself.

And suddenly you arrived home to find the doors unlocked, the bed unmade, and the porridge all gone.  “Woe is me!” you moan, as you wring your hands.  “What is a hard working business person to do?”

I’ve read posts on the gift basket bulletin boards both from people starting a business and from those who have been in business for years.  They ask, “What can we do to rescue our businesses in this economy?  What techniques are working for the rest of you. ”

“Tell me, Tell me quick so that I can do it do,” they seem to say.

Businesses are closing daily while others are in dire need of  resuscitation.  But you’re looking for the wrong Goldilocks.

  • It’s not the economy.  People are still spending money on “feel good” gifts.
  • It’s not the lack of customers.  They’re still there, waiting to buy.
  • It’s not the industry.  As a whole, it is as strong as ever and will remain whole even if your business doesn’t.

The answer is easy.  Take a few moments, step into your bathroom, and look into the mirror.  You’ll see the answer staring you in the face.  Ask that person that you see looking back at you, “Are you taking advantage of every resource out there to keep your business growing and thriving in today’s world?”

Then step back, think a few moments, and listen to the answer swirling around in your head.

I believe that the strength and the backbone of any industry, including the gift and gift basket industry, rests with the educational offerings, resources, and information shared with each other.  The world is changing.  The gift industry is changing.  That’s not news.  It has been changing from the time it first began.  There are always new ways to attract customers, new technology to embrace, new ways to keep our customers coming back, and new ways to motivate employees.  There are always new products, new techniques, and new resources.

So let me ask you the question:  What did you learn today?  What resource did you take advantage of? What new technique did you try?  What idea did you put into practice?

And don’t say, “How can I do that?  There aren’t any resources!  I’m all alone.”

It’s not a question of a lack of resources.  There are numerous Facebook groups available for your use — all frequented by many experienced in this industry that can help guide you through the maze. Most, like our GiftBasketNetwork group  are free.   The others either require a subscription to our national trade magazine or a membership in a gift basket directory, or a membership fee to use the board.  The advantage that the private boards have over the free open-to-the-public boards is that those with knowledge to share are more willing to share if they show what they are sharing isn’t going to show up in the search engines.

Are you taking advantage of the other resources?  GiftBusinessInsider, a monthly digital publication for the gift basket  industry, isn’t free.  GiftBasketNetwork is the leading directory, for the least cost and the most benefits, for driving traffic to your website.

You can operate your business on a shoestring but you can’t grow it without spending some money on important resources.

Are you learning everything you can about changes in the industry and in technology?

Some of you are while others are stretched out on the grass sleeping away the afternoon while Goldilocks trashes your house.

So look in that mirror and place the responsibility, for making sure that your business continues to grow and thrive, where it belongs.

Today, and at the end of each day, ask the face that is staring back at you, “What did you learn today?”

Not Your Traditional Gift Basket

With all the competition in the gift basket industry, customers are looking for value and something different when making  a purchase more than ever before.  Sending a gift is still an accepted way to express feelings–regardless the occasion.  But that gift has to be more than just an ordinary gift.  That gift has to be special.  It has to speak louder than words.

Our customers have all sorts of options for gifts.  They don’t have to send a gift basket.  They can send flowers, a gift card, a book, a cake, cookies, or any number of other things instead of a gift basket.  If all you offer is a traditional gift basket, you may be left behind.

I can hear you now.  “But I don’t want to have to carry a lot of gift inventory.  This box of cookies that I bought can be used in any gift basket that I create.  Buying more stuff just isn’t practical with today’s economic downturn.”

All of that is true.  But you are a CREATIVE ENTREPRENEUR, aren’t you?  If not, stay in touch with this blog.  Follow its suggestions, and you will become one.

Creative Entrepreneurs think outside the box–and even outside the container.

Let’s start with the box.  We use lots of themed gift boxes in this business.  It’s how you use them that can make all the difference.  You’ll find the Boxco Doctor’s Bag box on just about every gift basket website.  But look at how it’s used.  Some people theme it with Dr. Feelgood.  Others fill it with cookies.  There are those who incorporate a teddy bear.  It can be used for a Get Well gift, a gift to welcome a new doctor to the hospital, a gift to say “Thank You for Being a Great Doctor and Taking Such Good Care Of Me”.   But really thinking outside of the box, it could be used as a housewarming gift filled with move-in necessities and called “Doctor Welcome to the Rescue.”

capTake a look at all those Boxco gift boxes that you have on your shelves.  Put on that Creative Entrepreneur thinking cap and think of other new and exciting uses for them.  In other words, think outside the box!”

Now, let’s take that box of cookies that you bought because it could fit in any gift basket.  Is your Creative Entrepreneur thinking cap still on?  What can you do differently with it?  How can you make it an inexpensive gift of it’s own?  There’s wrapping paper, labels, gift containers and more that can be used.

I could give you suggestions but I’m not the only Creative Entrepreneur online.  You have to be one too!  My purpose is to guide you to the new sparkling, clear water.  Now it’s up to you whether you drink or go back to that comfortable, familiar old watering hole.

So think outside that box and suggest some ideas that you came up with when you put on your Creative Entrepreneur Thinking Cap!  Share your thoughts by adding a comment.

Two Kinds of Business Owners

Choices - What's Yours?

There are two kinds of business owners.
Which are you?

Choices - What's Yours?

There are two kinds of business owners in this world.

Those who make excuses.

And those who don’t.

The ones who make excuses don’t begin that way.

No one is ‘born with the talent of  making excuses. But as they grow up and become adults,  they learn that they can get out of doing things by making excuses as to why they can’t do them.  They do this in their personal life and, when they start a business, this talent is used to make things easier for them as they say they want to grow the business. They learn how to blame the weather, their lack of funds, not knowing how to do something, the industry— pretty much anything that can deflect the blame. And give them the excuse they need.

And then there are those who don’t.

Or rather won’t.

We all have our difficulties and some days we feel like making excuses. And we start mumbling, but stop before the mumble pushes itself into a rumble. And we get the job done.

There are days that I don’t feel like working on the magazine or adding products to my website.  I could make the excuse that I’m tried or nobody reads it anyway.  But I don’t.  Ever since I started the magazine back in 2010, it has never missed a time of coming out on the day that it is supposed to be sent out.

Amazingly all of us have similar capabilities. Similar capabilities to get stuff done. Or we can completely screw up our lives with excuses.

When you wake up in the morning, you get to choose which route to take.

As one wise person said: The difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is that smart people hate doing the same things that unsuccessful people hate doing—but successful people do it any way.

As you continue on your journey to growing your business, you get the chance to back out.

To make excuses.

To blame the weather or anything else you can think of.

Or not.

You have the choice.

You decide.

 

Marketing Tip for You to Use

The simplest, least expensive and most personalized insert you can add to customer packages is a handwritten thank-you card. A simple card, can be a really thoughtful gesture, that can help build loyalty. This can be particularly effective when first starting out, as it’s a competitive advantage that most larger scale companies can no longer compete with. Use this to your advantage.

Buy a Franchise or Start Your Own Business?

Why an Indie Business?

I heard on public radio a few days ago that defaults on SBA guaranteed loans to franchisees rose more than 50% last year.  One in 10 franchises closed their doors. Many businesses that are not franchises will fail as well.

I mention franchises because they supposedly have an edge over independently owned businesses. When you buy a franchise, you buy an established brand and a business and marketing model that has proven to be successful.You get the resources and suppliers. You get the advertising slicks that all you have to do is fill in your local info and send them to the local media.

The problem with most—both franchises and independent businesses — isn’t just the economy, but it’s really more the mistakes they’ve made from the day they opened their doors. The economy is merely the straw that broke the camel’s back.

We’ll talk about some of these mistakes in a later post. But also during depressions and economic downturns, new independent businesses that will later become franchises are begun. They don’t start as a huge business with all the resources they need to get established. They start out just as you are.

McDonalds is one example.  It started as a small local business in a depressed economy.  It was grown into a huge franchise much later.

Independent  businesses have advantages over franchises that are rarely mentioned. A franchisee trades dollars for a business model.

BUT YOU:

  • You begin with an idea that you’re enthusiastic about.
  • You do your research and learn whatever skills you don’t know.
  • You locate your own suppliers and talk to those suppliers about the particular niche you’ve chosen
  • You learn from the ground up.
  • You create your business plan based on what your vision is for your business and what money you have to put into it.
  • In the end, Your business isn’t a replica of one in San Jose, CA or Tampa FL.
  • Your business is unique.

As a result, when you talk about your business you understand it.  You’re enthusiastic.  And, if you’ve done your research right, you’ve selected the proper business model, the best location for your business (whether it’s in rented real estate or is home based) and you know what to expect from your business.  You are your business and your decisions will determine its success or failure.