06 July 2011


I've been looking at feet lately - namely, those of my girls.  (It's crazy where I'll find inspiration for blog posts sometimes!)  What I've observed has some good guiding principles for business.

Observation #1:  My baby likes to walk around in her big sister's shoes and in my shoes - mainly her sis's.  How can one apply this to business?  Have shoes in which those coming behind you want to walk.  In a literal sense, if you're a shoe fashionista, you're not going to want to put your feet into a pair of grungy, beat-up shoes from three seasons ago.  Likewise with business.  People don't want to walk in the footsteps of business owners who are behind the times, irrelevant to the current market and treat their customers poorly.  They want to emulate businesses who change and grow with the times, who treat their customers like royalty and who are somewhat adventurous in how they approach business.

Observation #2:  When my baby and I go down the stairs, she'll sometimes let her foot hover over the next step for a few seconds before stepping down.  She'll let it hover, pull it back to the step, giggle, let it hover again and then finally step.  It reminds me of when I had to take my deep-water swim test in college to pass P.E.  I didn't learn to swim until college, and as I stood on the edge of the pool down at the deep end, all I kept thinking was, "It's over a one-story drop from here to the bottom of the pool."  Never mind that I'm buoyant and would never have gone all the way to the bottom; all laws of physics were moot at that point.  Besides, the water never studied law or physics.  Well, my baby makes it down the stairs and I passed P.E. (and, therefore, college), but it takes a giant leap of faith.  She has to trust that I'm going to hold her hand, not let her fall down the steps.  I had to trust that the water would, in fact, hold me up.

Business often relies on these leaps of faith, too.  While there's a lot to be said for planning and drafting ideas, creating a budget around those ideas and so forth, eventually you've got to stop planning and just do.  It's scary.  What if the plan fails?  What if an unexpected expense pushes you over budget?  What if the plan succeeds?  What if you come in under budget with a perfect execution?  Sometimes, success can be just as scary as failure (but in a good way).

Observation #3:  Sometimes, my baby tries to go down the steps too fast and ends up falling.  She takes a step and almost without pausing, she takes another step with the other foot, feeling so successful that she wants to take a bunch more - more steps and faster than she's ready for.  As it is with business, it can be easy to ride on a success and suddenly want to do more, faster than for which we're prepared, with miserable results.  Then we need to fight the temptation and stop, proceeding through our next steps slowly and cautiously, being careful to make sure we are firmly stable on one step before going on to the next one.

What are some important steps you'd recommend for someone just starting out in business, taking those initial baby steps?
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Babs said...

Great post Sara! I would add that your babies (and mine) learned how to do so many things in life by observing and imitating people successfully doing what they wanted to do. In business it's not a bad idea to observe and emulate the successful things you see in other businesses. Have a good mentor or two or three!


Kari a.k.a. DishChick said...

I think you have made some great points! Stepping out in faith is necessary and very scary. Have some kind of plan, any plan, and some goals, any goals, is a good start. And go slowly, reach out to others, and who knows what will happen?! If it doesn't work, figure out why not and start from a different direction. Ah, yes, all easier said than done. :-)

Sara's Soaps 'n Such said...

Thanks, Ladies! Babs, absolutely on the good mentor(s). I'm lucky to have two when it comes to soapmaking, plus a plethora of friends and colleagues to whom I can turn, too. Donna Maria of IBN is a tremendous business mentor; I've had to work a bit harder at finding those.

Kari, you're right. You've got to take those steps on faith, and they must be baby steps. I've seen a lot of would-be small business owners take giant leaps when it comes to their businesses - leaps for which they're nowhere near ready. It's so much easier to back-track and make U-turns when you don't have far to go to re-execute a plan differently.