Jun 25, 2007

I'm Not Going To "Tickle Your Ears"...

I have been getting a surge of questions about opening a scrapbook store recently. Honestly, I don't help people open stores, but I have been quite vocal about cautioning people to look before they leap if they want to open a store. I refuse to "tickle" someone's ears with what they want to hear.

When someone contacts me, I don't mince words. I don't think I am doing them any favors to paint a rosy picture that it will be all lazy days full of opening boxes of new products and scrapping personal pages at the table while chatting with friends who are emptying their wallets into the cash register. It's HARD WORK that demands specific skills - scrapping isn't one of them. I don't want someone to make a mistake that costs them their home or family. I always tell them that it's totally possible to open a store and make money and be successful. However, it takes the right skills to do so. If you don't have them, you won't make it - no matter how hard you try.

I usually get three reactions to my "tell-it-like-it-is" attitude.

  • First: "Oh, you are so DOOM AND GLOOM about this!!!" They get huffy that I don't validate their idea and agree with them about how fun it would be to own a scrapbook store. Most of them probably go off thinking, "She doesn't know ANYTHING!!!" Fine, if you lose your shirt, don't come crying back to me. OR, if you are STILL determined, then use the fact that you are ticked-off at me to become successful. Proving someone wrong can be a powerful motivator! But, at some point, they'll remember what I said and think to themselves, "She was right!"
  • Second: "You don't know me - I have an MBA (or whatever)!" Okay, fine, then take my advice "as-is" and use it in your research. Oh, and I always want to add an "FYI" to that one. This industry doesn't follow "Business School Rules". It's a cottage industry that out-grew the cottage. It's run by people who have no clue about business school rules. My husband has a BS in Marketing and an MBA and this industry makes him laugh almost daily. We do things "our way" and that doesn't always make sense to someone who learned the rules of business at school. You have to figure out and embrace the industry as it is, not as you were taught it should be. Yes, we need to clean up our acts at times and play by the "rules" (which would help us most of the time), but you have to understand that it's not an industry run by women with MBA's!
  • Third: "Wow, I had no idea!" I like the people who cash their "reality check". It makes them stop and think. They are the ones who usually hadn't considered that although there is no actual LSS in their area, that the online stores are there and that scrappers are getting their products from SOMEWHERE. They are also often the ones who didn't realize how much money it would take to open a store, or how much time it would take away from their families. These are the people who I would give the most chance of making the correct decision. That decision can either be to NOT open a store or to do further research before they open a store. Thoughtful research and a cool head can help someone make the best decision. It might be that your area could support a store, but can you family survive a store? Jumping into something without considering ALL angles is never a wise move.

The problem with most people is that they run their idea past their scrapping friends who almost all say, "That's a GREAT IDEA!!! Go for it!!!" They swear they'll support you 100% and shop at your store and even work for free. But, rare is the friend who actually steps up to the plate and does that... Usually, my response is, "go ask those people to INVEST in your store and see how 'supportive' they are of the idea." When they are asked to put their money where their mouth is, they may not QUITE see it the same way. Not that everyone has cash laying around they can invest, but my bigger point is that talk is cheap.

Martha Stewart says it all in her book "Martha's Rules". In her own words: "I am troubled when I hear about otherwise intelligent people who have made the mistake of risking their hard-earned savings or leaving a good job to pursue a brand-new venture about which they know almost nothing. They become enamored with an idea and talk only to people who will encourage them uncritically, instead of seeking out mentors or advisors who will objectively analyze their idea. This is natural, but it is actually heartbreaking to see smart people rush into a situation without the proper preparation or research. At the earliest stages of a venture, sometimes entrepreneurs get their priorities mixed up. They mistake enthusiasm and impatience for the more basic passion that inspires people to want to learn and become expert and make good decisions.”

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