My little sister was among those one-track-minded people who refused to change their minds once they’re set on something. Sometimes, it could be an excellent trait since it meant that she was not a quitter – she would undoubtedly finish whatever she started. All her schoolteachers commended her about it from elementary to high school, saying that my little sister could be a leader someday.
Other times, however, my sister’s one-track-mindedness became the bane of her existence. A fitting example of this was when she wanted to open a coffee shop in our little town because she got inspired by the cute cafés we saw in Japan and South Korea. We tried to dissuade her from doing it because:
- My sister never had coffee.
- She had a degree in Fine Arts, not business management.
- We lived in the suburbs, where people preferred to go to diners instead of cutesy shops.
Although my little sister claimed to be aware of all that, she remained unfazed. She sounded so optimistic while saying, “What if it clicks and attracts folks from various places? I will not know what will happen until I try.” When someone puts it like that, you practically have no choice but to let them be and pray that you are wrong.
My little sister spent over $20,000 to customize every table, chair, and lighting, buy her supplies, and rent a commercial space in the town center. Half of it came straight out of her savings; the other half was borrowed from our parents. She was technically broke a week before the launch date of her coffee shop, but my sister still said, “It’s okay; I can earn it all back in a couple of months and pay off my debts.”
Sadly, I was right – the café did not thrive as much as we all hoped. At first, the high school girls in town frequented it and turned the place into a selfie hub. After a week, though, the element of newness faded away, and people merely peered through the window without going in.
The business went on like that for a couple of weeks more, and every day that passed, I saw how it chipped off my sister’s confidence little by little. She got everyone worried, but my parents asked me to talk to her as a big sister that she looked up to. So, when I paid her a visit to the coffee shop, I gave her two pieces of advice:
Figure Out What’s Wrong
From the beginning, you need to assess every problem that hinders your business from thriving. For instance, is it your employees – do they need more training? Is it your leadership – are you not communicating your expectations? There may also be an issue with your location, internet connection, or products.
Getting to the bottom of your business problems may not happen overnight. That is especially true when you are too busy to handle it personally. Some entrepreneurs need to go as far as interviewing every employee to figure out where the problem has started.
A smart tip from your fellow entrepreneurs: be honest with yourself about it. If you are at fault, admit and accept it. It is wrong to blame it on your staff; no matter how much you try to do that, it will never work. In the end, you are fooling but yourself because the situation might make you bankrupt, not them.
Try Different Marketing Techniques
I overheard a couple of teenagers outside the café one time, saying they wanted to go to the shop, but they could not afford it. I looked at the situation from their perspective and understood that my sister’s target market could not afford her products all the time. Hence, I advised her to try the buy-1-take-1 or buy-2-take-1 scheme to attract more customers. I also told her to promote the business on social media pages, considering she was often on Instagram and Facebook.
At first, my little sister wanted to say no and stick to her guns. She thought the posters and the shop itself were enough marketing materials. But before the week ended, she decided to heed my advice, launched the buy-1-take-1 scheme for a weekend, and announced it on her Facebook account. By afternoon, my little sister called my parents and me for backup because there were so many customers, and she couldn’t handle their orders fast enough.
My sister’s coffee shop turned into a tourist spot in our little town slowly but surely. Whenever travelers passed by, they could not help but stop there to rest and have coffee. She also added some pastries and pasta to her menu, which made people love the place more.
In a way, her one-track-mindedness served my little sister well. However, she knew better than to make decisions without consulting us first.