Tuesday, December 14, 2010

It's a Wonderful Business Life Part 1

Part 1 of 2
This post is an adaptation from one I posted on my personal blog yesterday, but I felt the need to share it here. Over the weekend, like most, I spent the majority of my 48 hours away from the office huddled inside by the fire keeping warm from the frigid weather that has its grip on most of the country. Heck, I even think South Florida experienced frost Saturday morning – if it had been today, I’d venture to say they’d have closed down the schools. I know back in my hometown of Atlanta, the threat of snow flurries sent overzealous moms racing to the grocery store in a fit of panic to buy bread, milk and other necessities deemed to be essential to survival of the approaching “apocalyptic” storm – and we [southerners] wonder why Northerners laugh at us, but to all “yous” scoffing Yanks, I cordially invite “ya’ll” down yonder to south Georgia during late August, and we’ll be even. 

Anyhow, as the fire crackled and I mindlessly browsed what was on television (ugh, how archaic! I should have been streaming Netflix to my Blue Ray Player, right?) Saturday night, I happened upon one of my favorite Christmas movies, It’s a Wonderful Life. Not only does the movie capture the timeless essence of the Christmas season – a season of genuine love and compassion for our fellow man, but it also underscores the unpredictability of life and how even the most impassioned of planners [George Bailey] cannot guarantee a certain route to follow.

Many of the followers of this blog are entrepreneurs, small business owners, and salespeople, thus I’m especially speaking to them, but the movie’s lessons are equally applicable to any person from any walk of life.

In my opinion, the movie delivers an especially poignant message to those that label themselves as dreamers and risk takes. George Bailey, played by the great Jimmy Stewart, leads a life rife with misfortune, and he is befallen with many setbacks to the pursuit of the dreams of his youth. Although he doesn't realize it until the movie's climactic ending when he sees the world devoid of his existence, his life created immeasurable value and meaning to his loved ones and the community of Seneca Falls.

Though we can easily become distracted by the detours and outright roadblocks that cause us to alter our path in business and life, I doubt anyone has ever set out on the journey of life and anticipated each twist and turn along the way. Lesson to take from the movie: we are better for them.

Business deals that fizzle free us to connect with other companies and customers more deserving of our time and resources.

Product launches that fall flat refocus our attention to core competencies, products, and services.

I once read, “There’s no right price for the wrong item.” And that goes for marketing. No matter how flashy, tech savvy, or well-accepted around the office, marketing campaigns that lack results remind us to always put the customers’ needs first and build a marketing strategy from that point.

I could write for days about finding the silver lining within each hardship and struggle, but the point is clear: Be like George at the end of the movie; don’t wallow in self-pity because things didn’t work out as planned, instead choose to see the that each obstacle is life’s way of getting us back on our true path from which we had momentarily deviated.

“Every adversity, every failure, and every heartbreak carries with it the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit.” – Napoleon Hill

Go forth with a smile for we only have to get up one more time than life knocks us down. That’s not too tough to do now is it?

Part 2 of this 2 part blog post will be published on Friday, December 17 and will be a comprehensive review of the lessons learned over a 3 year period since Eco-Protective Products' inception in January 2008. Some of the topics are listed below

  • Growing through a recession
  • Rebranding - not as easy as creating a new logo and catch phrase
  • Traditional marketing materials, why they might not be worth the paper they're printed on
  • When to fire a customer
  • Trust your gut no matter how good the hype makes you feel
  • An email can't replace the value of a phone call can't replace the value of an honest handshake
  • Everyone and their brother, mother, and twitter followers want to verify your Green Product but who verifies them?
  • The common push-back, "well, I've never heard of your product, so because I know everything about energy efficiency and sustainable design, your product must not be good enough" and how to overcome it.
  • Lastly, the importance of building a support group of other small business owners & entrepreneurs to share ideas, strategies, laughs, at times, tears, and most importantly to be there to help each other up again when the battles we face each day knock us down.  

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