KNOW THYSELF, KNOW THY BUSINESS
Updated: Aug 16
Since the start of G Sharp Productions in 1996, contributor Gordon S. Williams has been a part of the media/entertainment landscape in Southeast Texas for over twenty years. From producing creative media content for various entities to facilitating independent film screenings/industry events to hosting Latin dance events, Williams has built a diverse body of work and accomplishments. Today, Gordon shares his thoughts knowing your business and how to look at your development differently than past experiences.
“Know thyself” is a maxim attributed to a number of Greek creatives and philosophers throughout history. This is sage advice for individuals desiring to better themselves. Conducting a self-evaluation to understand who you are can be greatly beneficial for personal development. This same statement should also be applied to your business.
First, why did you decide to participate in this venture? At times, hobbies or passion projects manifest themselves into business opportunities. For some people, “the side hustle” is a way to bring in extra income.
Rickey Beasley, owner of Beasley’s House Of Cakes, began his enterprise in 2017 when he discovered a love for baking cakes for his daughters’ birthday parties. After receiving compliments on his desserts, the wheels started turning.
“After baking those cakes, I thought I can make a little extra money on the side. Next, family members started asking me to make cakes.” Rickey states.
Another family member challenged Beasley to make a wedding cake. At that moment, he believed he was starting to find momentum.
“I realized I had a passion for baking cakes and making other people happy. That's when I knew I had something.” he explains.
For some, there is shear enjoyment in creating the product, performing the service, and making it a “must generate massive revenue” enterprise is not the goal. There is nothing wrong with that!
If you have the “must generate massive revenue” enterprise mindset because you want to be your own boss, your work ethic, and mindset will be completely different.
“My ultimate goal is to turn Beasley House of Cakes into a corporation and have franchises across the state of Texas.” Beasley says.
With larger aspirations, you have yourself and your family to support, possibly employees, and other factors that will weigh into your sweat equity and several different levels of investment in creating a successful enterprise.
“KNOW THY BUSINESS”
You are probably thinking, yes, of course I know my company/business. From side hustles to operations that have been in business for decades. When was the last time you analyzed or evaluated your product? What methods are you using to interact with your clientele, whether face-to-face or online? When was the last time you disconnected from your company/business and entered your brick-and-mortar establishment as if it was for the first time?
Have you viewed your website or advertising with fresh eyes? If you have employees, do you know them? Their strengths and weaknesses? That can be an extremely difficult task with hard questions to answer. Evaluating your enterprise is work.
If you like, continue being great! If not, do not panic. You are still in business, you have garnered success because if hadn't, you would not still be in business. Are there changes you can make to improve your product or your service? Can you make your brick-and-mortar establishment or social media aesthetics more impressive? For a number of businesses across the spectrum, these answers will depend on resources.
Time is a resource. To use another historical adage, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” These changes can be made over a period of time. If it was as easy as snapping your fingers, most “mom & pop” restaurants may choose to turn into franchises overnight. Improvements can be anything from changing the table cloths, offering a weekly online special, or implementing a convenient delivery service to bring your product directly to your customers.
Your time is a resource. How much time are you willing to spend to improve your entity? How much time will you invest into learning about your craft or inside the industry that you desire to find success?
“I had to learn more about baking, the science behind making cakes, and purchase better equipment to help produce cakes at a higher volume.” Beasley explains.
Financial resources are important in most situations. Change is not cheap! First, consider what improvements can be made without incurring any additional costs. For example, a smile during face-to-face interaction and being pleasant is free of charge. Customer service goes a long way and can lead to success. Just ask “Chick-fil-A”).
If possible, budgeting an amount each month or quarter for branding, advertising, purchasing equipment/software, or making cosmetic improvements to your brick-and-mortar establishment. Over time it can add value to your business.
“KNOW THY CUSTOMERS AND COMMUNITY”
Again, there is an automatic assumption that you know the consumers of your services/product. You may see them daily, weekly, or they may be visiting your website to get new information about your business. In face-to-face situations, as a business owner, how much interaction are you having with your clientele? In smaller communities, would they recognize you as the owner outside of your establishment? It is impossible to know every customer, yes, but there should be some familiarity and/or engagement that your clientele has with you as the owner/management.
Via customer service surveys, comment cards, or YELP reviews, can you learn more about the demographics of your patrons? Learning the age range, gender, and visiting habits can be informative to help you create specials to cater to your clientele. Also, you are allowing the community to evaluate you. Having casual conversations face-to-face with customers about your service/product can be extremely beneficial. Asking for this type of feedback from patrons may endear customer loyalty, causing the customer to feel valued.
Words of caution, possibly contradiction: Do not take the complaints or compliments personally. If you are receiving similar commentary from multiple sources, positive or negative, these evaluations could identify strengths and weakness of your enterprise. Definitely take the information received into consideration and disregard any outlandish comments that will not benefit your business/company.
In allowing the community to evaluate you, is there any way you can turn your customers into a community? If you own a restaurant, are there theme nights with food specials that can cater to a particular niche of your audience? Wine lovers? Professional networking groups? With your product, can you create a digital community via social media for your customers to share advice or interaction about your product, software, or equipment? Is there training and “do-it-yourself” seminars that can be offered in-person or online to develop your community of customers and their knowledge base?
Lastly, to spin the community aspect another direction, are you involved in your local area? Your enterprise being civically engaged can create brand awareness in the area your brick-and-mortar establishment is located. Sponsoring a youth sports team, a float in parades, or having a booth at a local festival are among various methods to improve interaction with customers in your community. If your product or service is geared to online sales, establishing a connection within digital communities and forums can aid you in expanding your footprint and brand awareness. Also, advertising via social media with content geared toward these specific groups or locale could be greatly beneficial.
“KNOW THYSELF WELL ENOUGH…TO KNOW WHEN YOU NEED HELP”
After evaluating yourself, your business, receiving feedback from your community of patrons, feeling overwhelmed and dealing with exhaustion will probably be next. Take your time, this is a process! Knowing thyself, thy business, and thy community does not happen in a day or overnight. With a clear head and even-keeled emotions, address your strengths, weakness, and where you may need assistance.
“Asking for help?” the ego, your ego, may be saying “I’m good.” Asking for help, having humility, may be the next step that leads you to greater success.
In most ventures, you cannot complete the task necessary alone. To assist you in making improvements to your enterprise, do you need to contact an individual or company with greater expertise in a specific arena to take your company to the next level. In some instances, the person may already be a part of your company/business and is an untapped human resource that needs the opportunity to flourish.
In participating in several projects and organizations, I have learned never to be the smartest person in the room, especially if I am leading a project or venture. Knowing myself, I am aware of my skill sets, my strengths, and weaknesses. I have learned to ask for assistance. Turning to experts and professionals in accounting, advertising, finance, social media, fellow entrepreneurs, and various disciplines to aid in making improvements is a strategy for success.
“I ask questions, I read books. I have asked for advice from family members that own businesses such as barber shops and restaurants. One of my family members put me in contact with the owners of the “Dessert Gallery Bakery and Café” in Houston, Texas. Nicole Morris, the chief operating officer gave me so much valuable information.” Rickey says.
Surrounding yourself with individuals that can strengthen your weaknesses and finding the humility to be educated by these individuals can be extremely beneficial to your development and your enterprise.
The maxim, “know thyself,” was found on the wall at the “Oracle of Delphi” in ancient Greece. Individuals would journey to this place to gain sage advice which ultimately directed the individual to look inside themselves. Knowing thyself, your goals, your enterprise, and knowing when to ask for assistance are instrumental keys to finding success in your business ventures.
For more information on “Beasley’s House Of Cakes,” visit them on Facebook.