Small business ownership is hard….
Small business ownership is hard. Period. Most of us go into the adventure not knowing everything about what we are doing but, hoping that the most important things come quick enough to either stay out of trouble or to keep us from losing our minds and, all of our money for that matter. Whether we started our small business from a great concept or took over an already existing business or franchisee, when business ownership involves people, there are bound to be some issues, mistakes, opportunities or whatever you want to call your positive and negative challenges. Going through these experiences are what can make us great or can make us crumble but either way, they make great stories at the end of the day.
If you are anything like me, you are fascinated to hear these stories from other small business owners, how they got started, how they are doing now and their vision for success. I’m like a kid at library story time, sitting at their feet, eager to hear the passion in their voice and see the gleam in their eyes when talking about what they have poured their heart, time and tears into, and made into something better than they expected.
Although I love a great story that seems like a fairytale, where everything works out well in the end, I sometimes also want to hear the stories that have the not-so-happy ending or the stories in the middle of the struggle. For me, listening to these types of stories help me to grow, they teach me more about dealing with issues and let’s face it, they are more relatable for me than those stories without the drama, trials and weird situations.
For this reason, I was pleasantly surprised to find a place for me to learn about small business owners, the good and the bad, all without leaving my living room. My husband and I came across the show The Profit. It is a reality tv show that shows a successful businessman, Marcus Lemonis, going in to help struggling small businesses who have potential to be great but, made a few bad choices over the years.
Now I know what you are thinking, reality tv is a fake, drama filled way for people to spend their free time escaping from their own unexciting reality. I think that is true in many cases but, I think there are some important bits of information for me to learn with this one and I pick up a different tip, trick or lesson each time I watch the show (which by the way, if you are like me and don’t have cable, they have the full episodes online for you to watch here http://www.cnbc.com/live-tv/the-profit).
Lessons to learn for my small business
For example, one of the episodes highlighted a clothing store Courage B, who was family owned and operated. It was a store that had too many products, no established brand and processes that did not work. One of the issues Marcus identified was that they had no signature items that they were known for, that were great quality and that people could go back to for each season and color change. They also had too many products that didn’t fit their style or their brand. This show made me think about my company and what products/services I want to be known for. When I start adding products and services, I need to make sure they are consistent with my brand and complement our value packages, the items that our customers will keep coming back for.
One more example came from an episode that recently aired about Fuel Food, a healthy meal replacement system. One of the issues with this company is that the owner and staff had a perception about their food quality and value, but their target customers did not share that same perception. Sales went down drastically and the owner was unsure why.
When Marcus took the products through consumer testing, the owner got to see what people really thought about the products and the marketing and how their food was a little bland and their marketing was insulting to women. This made me think about my own products and how I need to be constantly talking to my customers to ensure that they see the same value and identify with my marketing as I intend. I need to consistently do my own customer surveys and discussions to see how I can change my business to better fit my customers’ needs. Let’s face it, if what we are doing is not impacting our customer the way we want it to, we are wasting time and small business owners do not have time to waste.
Meeting “The Profit”
Lastly, I actually had the pleasure of meeting Marcus Lemonis this week and got to hear him speak about his life and what has driven him to do his work. I was amazed to hear such honesty and openness about his life experiences and how sharing the intimate, personal details have helped him relate to people and build lasting relationships.
Marcus Lemonis didn’t have to come and speak to the group I was a part of. He didn’t have to tell very revealing things about himself and he didn’t have to focus his conversation on the audience and not on himself. But he did it anyway. My takeaway from our meeting is that he is a real person with real struggles that did not go away just because he became successful. I appreciate what he does to call attention to the hard reality of owning a small business but also celebrating the joys when it all comes together. I also appreciate his making these stories available for me to learn from and hopefully, make my small business better. I hope his show helps you too.
For more on the show, visit http://www.cnbcprime.com/the-profit/.
Also, for tips and more ways to learn from these shows, visit their news section at http://www.cnbcprime.com/the-profit/news/.