You are not a special flower

I should be upfront and say that the only reason I am writing this blog post is because it is one of the critical mistakes I have made in my own business. And I have seen a lot of business owners, especially ones just starting out or solopreneurs, make it as well.

We all start out so excited. We’ve found something we want to put the full power of our determination and wit behind.  We talk marketing, product, and strategy. We fill our world with phenomenal scenarios – both good and bad, but mostly good because, God knows, entrepreneurs are fabulous at ignoring the bad.

We think we can do it so much better than the competition. After all, if we didn’t think we could do it better, why would we open a business?

And we do what every person in love does – we ignore the obvious. We say things like, “It won’t be like that for us.” “We’re going to do it differently.” “That’s just the way it is for them.”

Listen to me carefully – You ARE NOT special.

I know – that stung but, believe me, it’s good advice.

When we started Seven Sisters Scones, we would look at comparable businesses and we would say, “Oh, but it won’t be like that for us.” or “ You know, our idea is kind of different.”  We had great advice that we had cultivated over years. For example, every cafe owner I knew said that same thing – Don’t start with a white box and build out, it’s expensive and you probably won’t get the return you need.  Instead, find something that you can take over and tweak, even if it isn’t 100% your vision. Did we listen? Nope. Instead, we argued that our hybrid model of specialty food company and cafe meant that we needed a specific and flexible set-up. We built out.  Two years later, we realize that we could have probably just tweaked and gotten as good of a solution.

We were told that we should only look for foot traffic and not car traffic. We argued that being in a suburb was different and that people would stop. Now, we really want a retail location with foot traffic.

I could go on.

The downfalls of any industry will apply to you and maybe hurt you even more than your competition. If your competition isn’t doing something that seems painfully obvious, there’s a reason.  Figure out those reasons. Know the dynamics of your industry in and out. Take qualified advice even when it’s not what you want to hear.

Then, go out and prove that you really are special.

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