Hello friends! Kristen here! I am thrilled to bring you the 6th installment of my “Turn The Tables” series. If you haven’t had a chance to read why I decided to do this series, click on over HERE. I am thrilled at the people I am hosting at my “dinner table” this week! This week we are talking about an interesting topic, bad advice. Have you been given bad advice? Did you take it? Everyone has an opinion, especially when you start a business or create something. I wanted to see what my dinner guests this evening had to say. For me, I have received tons of advice, some good and some bad. The bad wasn't really advice, just statements that made me doubt myself, but only empowered me to push forward with my passion. I remember leaving the job I had before this. I had just gone into the boss above my boss' office. As I left he said,"I mean, can you make a living doing this? Do you have enough business?" I grinned and politely said, "I'm not doing it for the money." Moments like that make your heart flutter a bit, but when you are doing something that has your heart fully invested, you don't even waiver or fumble when those questions are asked... That heart flutter is excitement to live and share your dream!
Happy reading! - Kristen
What is the worst business advice you have ever received, and why do you remember it to this day? If you took the advice, please do tell.
"Oh jeez.... good question. Not necessarily advice per se, but a few big licensors told me in the beginning that I'd be much better off licensing than trying to manufacture my own products. I had more than a few people tell me there was no money in greeting cards." - Emily
CONNECT WITH EMILY:
"Well, I haven’t been given a lot of bad advice, but I do have a lot of people ask me when I will move into a larger space for my shop. I love the size of my shop and the footprint it’s making. My shop is 187 square feet and honestly, moving into a larger space would only mean higher overhead, more working capital to stock the shelves, more employees to hire which means more taxes to pay, and it would create items possibly not selling fast enough. Customers come in looking for what’s new, not what you haven’t been able to move. Larger shops, like Anthropologie or J Crew, are able to move around this because they get a larger discount from the manufacture and they mark items up higher than 50% past the wholesale price, so are able to mark it down 50% on a regular basis and still make a profit. A small business like mine isn’t in that position. I have found a way to expand my business into other markets for an overhead still less than if I moved into a larger space in Oxford. I am about to open my fifth and sixth locations, in NJ and NYC respectively, for less overhead than one location would be at 2000 square feet where my flagship store is. That seems like smarter growth to me. " -Erin
“Someone once told me when I was first starting out not to do tea towels... to just focus on what I know (which is paper). I ignored them, did it anyway, and now it is one of our top selling products. I designed them on a whim before my first show, and truly they are at the top with our greeting cards. I wish it always worked out that way when we design and launch something new, but that isn't always the case. This was one time that it was true and I could not be happier with that. At the end of the day you have to stay true to what you know, but you also need to trust your gut and your heart. ” - Meg
“Someone told me I'd regret starting a business for the rest of my life. And sure, I could have lost a bunch of money and started something I didn't want to keep pouring blood, sweat, time and tears into. But even if it had totally crashed and burned, I'd have learned a lot in the process. I'm a big believer in learning from mistakes and successes. There were a lot of haters at the beginning, and there are still haters now. But I'm learning and growing, and that will always be worth it. ” - Sara
“I think the advice, "Trust your gut!" can be really wrong sometimes... Especially when it comes to taking risks or making big changes. Sometimes a bad gut feeling is just fear of failure holding you back.” - Erin
“Before I opened my store, I met with another business owner in town to talk through some ideas. She was pretty real (to the point of being discouraging) with me about the challenges of owning a business in a small town. Since I didn't have any idea what I was doing, I barreled ahead. Almost 5 years later, she's right, owning a business is exceptionally hard, but each time I have an exciting development or feel incredibly proud, I am reminded that I wouldn't be having those amazing feelings if I had let the fear of her words guide me. ” - Emily
“The advice was “In order to be successful, you have to work like mad.” Success does not equal 80 hour a week work weeks. No thank you! We work smarter, not harder around here.” - Emily
"The advice was “You should integrate vertically and manufacture paper!” When you own a business you get a lot of advice from well-meaning folks, a lot of it is helpful, a lot of it is not, and some of it is bonkers off the wall." - Rosanna
“Don't go into business with your spouse!" I mean, I can see why for some people it would be a bad idea. But they don't know Morgan and I.” - Arley-Rose
"Many moons ago, my lady and I were discussing moving back to where we’re both from in western Massachusetts. I had just recently started my business, but didn’t even have my own press and had a full time job. I reached out to a letterpress company near where I grew up and spoke with the owner about potentially giving me a job if I did move back. I mentioned that I had recently started a greeting card line in hopes of eventually going to the Stationery Show, and spreading my sarcastic, cynical wit the world over. He told me that wholesale greeting cards were a stupid idea (he did all custom) because I would get too busy and it was too much to manage. While I do custom work of course, I absolutely love doing wholesale products, designing and printing new stuff, and developing awesome relationships with amazing store owners, like YOU! I’ll never forget that, being told that what I would become “too busy” and that that would be a problem. Since that conversation, becoming “too busy” has been a goal." - Adam
“Someone very influential in my life told me Packed Party was a terrible idea when I first started it. I was in completely uncharted waters creating a non-subscription care package that would sell internationally and that seemed, well, a little dumb to someone because nothing like Packed Party was on the market. I hadn't even told this someone the names of my packages yet, so this was disheartening to hear. While I took it of course to heart, I kept doing my thing because I knew in my gut Packed Party would work without a question. Being the first to a space is terrifying. Essentially pulling a brand out of thin air and running with it is scary. But I went with my gut and took what this person said with a grain of salt. There will always be nay-sayers, but you have to decide what you let in or influence your business. Stick to your gut..and guns if you have a vision.” - Jordan
“To try other vintage categories, which I tested in a small way last holiday and it was a mess. Focus is key, get really good at something and stick to that.” - Jillian
“The advice, "if you want to be taken seriously, you would not have orange hair." WORST advice ever! It is my calling card!” -Tiffany
“In the early days of TSBC, I had someone outside of my industry tell me that my business decisions and focus should NOT center on the community component of TSBC but rather making money should be my top priority. I think I politely smiled as my eyes glazed over. How can you run a successful business that doesn’t support your clients and their needs? Fast forward four years later and this advice still makes me laugh out loud. TSBC was entirely built around community and TSBC alums are my number one referral source for new business, which I’d like to think, is because I made relationships a priority. I’d hate to think about what TSBC would look like without the tight knit community. :)” - Katie
“That I could handle the accounting myself and all I needed was quickbooks. It took me way too long to realize that for me this was NOT TRUE and the bookkeeper I have now was the greatest thing I ever did for my business.” - Susan
“Someone once told me that I should only focus on the big retailers - and not bother at all with smaller shops. I certainly think there’s value in working with a larger retailer - but smaller stores are what I built this brand on - and there’s no chance we’ll be leaving them behind. Smaller shops support local communities and offer a more intimate relationship with customers. Who would want to lose that?” - Sam
"We get recommended to outsource a lot - with representatives, other people pouring our candles, etc - but we are very focused on vertical growth and being a tightly held company. Outsourcing has just not worked for us, but I know it works for other people. I think the outsourcing sticks out in my mind because it’s an area where we’ve broken with tradition and have to be confident in our business choices." - Kristen
Thanks again friends for following along on our new Turn The Tables series, and I truly hope you enjoyed it! Catch question 7, next Wednesday! NEXT WEEK'S QUESTION: Do you have employees? If you do, what was the deciding factor to hire and what position did you hire first? If you don’t have employees, do you see that being something you move forward to in the future and why not yet?