Viewpoint: Sometimes ‘failure’ can be pathway to success
Starting a business can be a monumental task and yet the results are so rewarding. When we set out on our journey of becoming a small business owner, we never plan on failure being an option. Most business owners do not have an exit strategy in the event of failure. “Failure” in this instance is not necessarily a bad word.
Failure can be total collapse, or a simple restructuring of one or several aspects of your business model, or anything in between the two. Failure does not mean that you have to throw in the towel, pack everything up and abandon ship. Sometimes failing at one aspect of your business can bring a broader realization of what you should be doing to help your business succeed.
I recently had the pleasure of fulfilling my dream of taking my business to the next level and opening a retail location to expand my clientele and bring more exposure to my brand. I had high hopes of a bustling shop with the addition of more locations, and how I would reap the best of both worlds in having a fully custom cake boutique and a booming retail location as well. Let’s just say that dream didn’t work out as I thought it would. The truth is when I was operating as a custom only cake boutique I had the freedom of choice; by that I mean I could choose my hours and choose my clients. I had artistic freedom and I loved it!
Once I entered the retail market things became very different. Sixty- to 90-hour work weeks quickly became the norm. My clients were less specific and I had to cater to a wider range of customers which had a direct impact on the artistic aspect of my work. I found myself making more and more cakes that were very similar to those that you purchase from a supermarket. Time with my family was very strained and I was beginning to miss out on important moments too often.
Some may say that’s part of the cost of doing business. I say that depends on YOUR business. I made a difficult decision to close the doors of my retail location and restructure my mission statement to reflect the type of business that I wanted to run. I didn’t see it as a failure; actually I saw it as a success. Prior to opening my retail cupcake shop I was afforded some success in my cake endeavors. I was featured in local and international cake magazines, and I had begun to make a name for myself. Once I opened my shop things kicked into high gear, I was on the radio, on television, and featured in many articles. It was absolutely fabulous, but that did not guarantee success.
Success in business comes from having persistence, a clear vision of what you want your business to accomplish [your mission statement], a passion for what you do, and measured goals. For me persistence meant that even if my retail location had to close, my business would still be viable. After experiencing the retail side, my vision became clearer than ever. I knew that my business model was to be free. Free to choose how my time would be spent, free to choose my clients, free to be as artistic as possible. I wanted “freedom from” and “freedom to.” I knew that being free was directly tied to my level of performance. I am definitely passionate about what I do, that is what motivates persistence. Lastly, setting measured goals will help you to see and define the levels of success that you have put in place. Use your business plan as a marker for those goals.
Closing my shop has been one of the single best business decisions that I have made. It works for me financially, personally and has put my business on a more defined path for greater success. Don’t let your “failures” dictate your business’ path, let them define it. n
Tricia Vicks is an award-winning pastry artist and owner of Patty Cakes, LLC, and was awarded a Pop-Up location in 2014 in Milford.