How many times have you been told that you can’t quit your way to success? On the other hand, I’ve often said that it takes the first year of a business to just figure out what you’re really and truly selling and who your customers really and truly are. I can’t tell you how many successful business owners have told me that they started out as a “this” and ended up as a “that”; that they started selling “this” and ended up selling “that”.
As I pointed out, there’s a misconception that you can’t quit your way to success. Wrong! Winners quickly quit anything that doesn’t move the ball down the field. And unless someone has a crystal ball in which they can see the future, typically they’re going to have to make many small changes along the way.
For example, three years ago I started Capulus Roasters; a wholesale coffee roasting company selling a wide variety of coffee roasts to coffee shops and drive thru stands. When that didn’t work, we started selling to non-profit institutions like schools, community theaters, bands, sports organizations, and the like.
With nearly 25 years of sales and marketing experience we tried every kind of marketing that I could think of, from radio to print media, from direct mail to email, and from PPC to SEO.
A year later we evaluated our sales over the previous year. We asked two simple questions. Who are our best customers and what are our best selling products. Sure enough! Not only was our business plan was way off base, but our marketing plan was also wrong.
As a result of our analysis, we quickly revamped our entire business as Lake City Coffee. We decided to focus on retail only, to home-brew coffee snobs only, to online sales customers only, with Costa Rican coffee beans only, and only 3 different roasts. We also laser targeted our marketing to only a few SEO keywords.
Here we are today at the threshold of our two-year anniversary as Lake City Coffee. In those two years we’ve grown significantly. Restaurants, hotels, grocery stores, and wholesalers have approached us. But we keep turning them down. Why? It’s because we know our business model. We know our product. And more importantly we know our customer base.
I’m really looking forward to this next year. In reality, I don’t see a lot of changes this year. We’re a fine-tuned and well oiled machine. I think I’m ready for a year of just enjoying our customers and keeping it simple.
Here’s my point. In a sense, you can quit your way to success. In my mind, real quitting is giving up. But making changes, both big and small are necessary in a startup business. As small business owners, we need to be flexible, but once we’ve tuned our business, don’t go chasing shinning objects. Stick to the plan that’s been working and quit your way to success.