“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.”
- Lao Tzu
Ordinarily, I think of myself as someone who is quite adept at change. After all, for the first 20 years of my working career, I worked in 7 different states for over 15 companies and God only knows how many different assignments / departments as a mechanical designer.
It’s a little bit different when you’re the one running the show or, in my case, the company.
We’ve had our challenges, to be sure. Buy we’ve had way more blessings from the people we work for and with from our customers to our community. Still, we’ve had to make some changes and the time has come to finally ‘shoot the engineers and go into production’ as we used to say.
We’re changing our hours (yes, again) to be open only from Thu, Fri, and Sat to better serve our retail customers. Really?
I can already hear the collective groans …
“Why are they changing their hours … again?”
“I never know when they’re open!”
“Can’t they make up their mind?”
And so on.
Perhaps I should explain.
Michael Gerber, in his book ‘The E-Myth’ writes about three personalities every business owner must deal with. First, it’s the entrepreneur: “Gee, it wouldn’t be fun to open a bakery, especially on Main Street in Menomonie? We really need a bakery in this town.” Second, it’s the technician “We bake world-class, hand-made breads using the best local / organic ingredients that we can find. Our quality is second to none.” Finally, it’s the manager “A business must make a profit. How can we possibly make a profit under these conditions? Something has to change!”
And, like many a business owner, these three personalities have lively discussions about what is and what should be. The problem is, how to create an amicable solution that provides the proverbial Win / Win / Win for all? Good luck with that one.
A successful entrepreneur I know taught me the value of the following maxim, known as RYBLAB: Run Your Business Like A Business. The bottom line may be where it belongs (at the bottom), but a business is still a business. We have to make the best product that we can. We have to delight our customers. We have to make a profit.
We had to make some decisions, and implement some changes. Fast.
To satisfy the entrepreneur in me, we have to have a downtown, retail location (in addition to our steadily growing commercial business). To appease the technician, we can’t compromise on quality or selection. To quiet the manager, we have to make a profit. After a great deal of deliberation, we have come to what I feel is a unique, even workable, solution.
Here’s the dilemma. We bake the best quality breads / scones / cookies / bars / etc. that we can using local and organic ingredients whenever we can. Great. What that means, however, is that we can’t simply let our baked goods sit on the shelf for days (weeks?) on end like those infamous yellow snack cakes because we use ABSOLUTEY no fillers / extenders / modifiers or preservatives. Our products are best for a few days once they’re baked (but they do freeze well) but that’s the nature of our baking process. We won’t let anything sit on the shelf for more than two days max, otherwise they’re donations to Food Pantry. While the Food Pantry is a GREAT organization and we love helping them, we can’t build a successful business that way. What to do? Streamline operations to offer the maximum variety that we can, as fresh as we can, over a shorter period of time.
Our best sales are always on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. So, we decided to change our hours to be Thursday and Friday from 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM, and Saturday from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM. That makes everyone happy: we can produce a good variety of fresh baked goods, put our heart and soul into our work, spend time with our customers, and keep our costs under control.
Will we ever be open Mon, Tue or Wed again? Short answer: that depends. Once demand grows (and we predict that it will) we will be open more days / hours.
In the meantime, stop by and see us any Thu – Sat, other hours we are always available by appointment. Until we change our hours … again … but that will be to ADD hours, not change them.
In the meantime, my inner entrepreneur has some GREAT ideas for new products, my technician is ready to perfect these new recipes, and my manager is negotiating with a new flour supplier.
Ah, the joys of entrepreneurship!