Last night I had a dream that I was talking to a chef. He needed help with marketing but he was having difficulty articulating that. In fact, he never out right said that marketing was actually a pain point, or something he needed. Instead he lamented about the fact that sales were down and that the restaurant was empty. Despite being a talented chef, people weren’t coming into his restaurant.
This scenario isn’t far fetched. For a lot of restaurants this isn’t a dream — let’s call a spade a spade, it’s a damn nightmare. It’s also rooted in reality.
The trajectory for most restaurants (especially in major cities around around the globe) is to come in hot, make a huge scene — we’re talking full court press: PR, the Eater LA list, bloggers and influencers. And then what? Most end up closing their doors after two years. This problem isn’t unique to chefs, or the restaurant industry.
Talent doesn’t translate or convert to sales. Having a great product or service isn’t enough. And no, sorry — if no one knows about you or your product or service, it doesn’t just magically turn into the next big thing. I’m shocked that I’m still having this conversation with clients — even the hypothetical ones in my dreams. Granted not all businesses shut down after a couple years due to lack of revenue. You can make the case of “artistic differences” between the executive and finance teams, but closing due to a lack of sales is a horrible way to go out.
Many current and prospective clients complain about competition. I don’t want to hear about that. Guess what? There will ALWAYS be competition, as there should be. I don’t see the point in lamenting about the competition, and you need not bother yourself with that either.
If you want to write a book, write a book. You want to be an attorney, go to law school. You want to be a chef and open a restaurant, then do it. If you have your heart set on starting a business — pursue it, but understand that what you need regardless of industry, is less about competition and more about being able to effectively communicate your brand and business to potential customers, consumers, readers, clients etc.
The next time someone brings up competition to you, tell them politely to go fill-in-the-blank themselves. The bigger issue is identifying what sets you apart as brand or human and communicating that effectively. We call that marketing.
The next step is understanding when you don’t understand something, and knowing when to ask for help. We call that humility.
Why is it that entrepreneurs and new businesses think they need to be everything and everyone for their business? You come up with an incredible idea. Period. You did your part. Now find the experts who can help you with marketing, accounting, logistics, design etc.
By the way, you do not need to focus on trying to be the next big thing. That sounds particularly exhausting right out the gate. How about steady, consistent growth over time? Not only does that sounds sexier, but it’s a smarter way to work towards being the next big thing. Well, at least in terms of building a business.
So, if there is an area opportunity for your business (which is another polite way of saying your sales are down), you need to be honest with yourself. It’s time to pivot before a pitfall. Hire a creative agency, a consultant, or do some research on your own. But at the very least, know when you don’t know something and get the help you need. Let the experts do what they have spent years learning, developing, training others in, and masterminding. Otherwise, what’s the point in becoming an expert in anything? What’s the harm in keeping an open mind and learning from those who can teach you something new? Why take issue in becoming more knowledgeable? The most successful people keep an open mind, are constantly learning, adapting and changing with the times and trends. Be that person. Figure out what you need and go get it.