Friday, January 30, 2015

The Single Most Important Word For Entrepreneurs

For the past few years now, Andrea and I have been building Engraving Amore from the ground up.  We have done extensive research and testing, designed some fun and unique products, spoken to vendors and customers, sweated about financial decisions, learned what we could about the legal and accounting side, the list goes on and on.  I have learned so much, and I look forward to learning more.  There is one thing, however, that I have learned above all else.  There is a single word that you need to know and use, regularly and with enthusiasm, when you are creating a business from the ground up.  I believe that it is the most important word for any business owner, whether it is a small business of two or three employees, or if they are the CEO of a major company.  It is the word that opens doors.  That word is "yes".

How I Learned The True Power of Yes

Our First Sale

The real value of the word yes came to me last week.  From Engraving Amore's very first sale (over a year ago), Andrea has noticed my desire to tell a customer, "Yes, we can do that."  And, frankly, she's even laughed at me about it on occasion.  But, whatever it was, we did it, even if it was the first time we did it.  Last week, we had another situation come up. A friend and fellow businessman we met this past fall, a woodworker, unfortunately had a fire in his shop.  His equipment and inventory were ruined.  He called us on Sunday about an order the customer was supposed to have by Friday.

"Yes, Marcy, We Got You Covered"

Our new "Save The Date" offering
The bride, Marcy, was behind on her schedule and wanted to get her "Save The Date" magnets in the mail to her guests.  We spoke with her on Monday morning.  Delivery in four days?  You want them in your hands on Friday?  Meaning, we ship by Thursday?  Yes, we can do that.  That meant designing, purchasing, manufacturing, cleaning, packaging and shipping.  Oh, and did you know Andrea and I do still have full time day jobs?

I'm sure you know where this is going.  Yes, Marcy's magnets were shipped on Thursday and delivered to her door on Friday afternoon, and she followed up with an email stating, "They are beautiful! Thank you so much!"  A satisfied customer is the best kind. Afterwards, I reflected on the situation and realized how many times we had said "yes" along the way to get us this one single satisfied customer.

Say Yes To Opportunity

This past fall, we had the opportunity to attend the South Jersey Pumpkin Show as a vendor.  The fair was three days long, and it rained for the first two.  The last day, the weather was okay, but our sales still didn't cover our expenses for the weekend.  We did learn a lot about our business, our products, our customers, and we were content with chalking this weekend up to a learning experience.  And, we met Cliff, the owner of Precipice Wood  We saw Cliff again at a winery festival the following week.  Now, when he needed help, he knew our product line would be the right quality (his words), and he reached out. Taking the opportunity to attend the festival was the first "yes" towards getting Marcy her magnets.  Taking on the last minute challenge to get Marcy her magnets in time was another "yes" to opportunity.

Say Yes To New Products

We also offer them with your picture!
You may find this hard to believe, but before speaking to Marcy, we had never engraved a "Save the Date" magnet.  We know enough about engraving and our materials to do it, and putting a magnet on the back of a piece of wood is simple enough. But this was a new product.  "Can you make this new thing you've never done, and make 80 of them in 3 days, while working another job?"  That was the question.  "Yes."  That is the answer.  Some people and companies get in a rut, or just get comfortable with what they know.  The same products.  The same sizes. The same colors.  A small businessman, an entrepreneur, and a startup (I'm all 3!) doesn't have that luxury.  Saying yes to new opportunities has led to our line of wine charms and wine plaques, cast bronze plaques, metal corporate signs and my favorite, the red double heart plaque.  Now, it has led to us adding "Save the Dates" to our product line as well.  (We even offer an upgraded version with pictures included!)  The more we have to offer our customers, the happier they will be, and the more they'll come to us for personalization, engraving and unique gifts.

Say Yes to Visibility

A Great Photo Op from the Pumpkin Show

Saying "yes" to the SJ Pumpkin Show gave us some great visibility.  We didn't sell enough on the rainy weekend to cover our expenses, but it has led to definite sales down the line.  We've sold multiple log plaques to people we met there that ordered them a few weeks later for the holidays through our website.  We had a great display that allowed us to get some cool pictures for our website and Facebook page.  And, of course, we met Cliff.  These multiple layers of visibility ended up being a great advertisement for our company and led directly to repeated revenue over time. 

Say Yes to Revenue

This one goes without saying, right?  Every business needs to bring in the sales.  Saying yes as often as possible brings in business. It is a direct and measurable correlation.  While the three days of the Pumpkin Festival weren't busy enough to cover our expenses, we've made enough in post-sales to cover the cost of entry and some profit, too.  Couple that with the new product, learning experiences and income we got from saying yes to Marcy and the Pumpkin Festival was a great decision for us.  Because we said "yes".

Saying Yes Does Come With a Price

Be smart.  Saying yes doesn't come free of charge.  Having a YES mindset can be difficult because it takes work.  It takes responsibility.  It takes follow through.  You can't just say yes, and then follow it up with, "I'm too tired," or "after this TV show," or "Tomorrow..."  Getting the business off the ground takes "now" and "yes".  But if you're a business person, you're supposed to be able to handle those anyway, right?  

It also takes logic.  While you may be tempted to say, "yes" to pretty much anything that comes down the pike, you do have to be smart about it.  Saying yes to a challenge to meet a deadline can be fun and rewarding.  But don't make a habit of killing your profit margin in order to take that challenge or you won't be in business too long!  Also, it is best to say yes to those products and services that complement your current offerings.  We sell engraved and personalized gifts.  Do you need trophies or t-shirts for your organization?  We can do that, too.  But we won't change the oil on your car.  Sorry.  If you need that, go see our friend Rocco.

Anyone Can Say Yes

Some parts of being a business person are hard.  Many parts are exhausting.  But some are also absolutely critical.  A positive attitude towards customers, for example, is critical.  A can-do mindset is, too.  These are ways to say YES and make your own opportunities.  If your customers are going to take a chance on you, you owe it to them, and you should believe you can do it.  You'll see opportunities you never thought of just appear.

If you have any questions or comments, please leave them in the section below.  And, if you have any needs for personalized or engraved gifts, let us know how we can say yes to you!

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