When starting the journey as an entrepreneur, I don’t think we can fully understand that we cannot and will never be all things to all people, places or things. I have been around small business my entire life. My father was an entrepreneur, my grandfather was an entrepreneur. We grew up talking about ‘job sites” and employee troubles at the Thanksgiving table. Mix that along with my unconventional mind, and I was a doomed to be forever knee deep in all things small business. Fast forward forty years and several businesses later and I find myself in a place where I am finally comfortable knowing where I belong in the business life cycle. Let’s just say I am built to create and envision and then hand off to those who are wired to build, operate and sustain.
I think my first lesson in this actually came to me at an early age. When I was about 15 or so, I learned to knit. Now, this is how my mind works: “If I can knit then, of course, I can knit something to sell, right? And if I knit items to sell (this was way before Etsy, mind you) then why not ‘go big or go home’ and target high-end baby boutique on Beverly Hills?”
And so with this (no doubt) lucrative business idea in mind, I bought a roll of fuzzy pink chenille yarn and knit the sweetest, cutest little baby cardigan you ever did see. Then a picked up a copy of my mom’s “Victorian Magazine” (there was no Google yet either) and found the names and addresses of a few upscale boutiques around the country. With a small list in hand, I put together several packages, each of which included a hand-knit cardigan, a homemade business card, and a handwritten note, stating the prices and sizes available. Then I waited and waited and waited until one day an envelope from a small high-end children’s boutique on Rodeo Drive in Beverley Hills came addressed to me. Inside I found a purchase order for several cardigans along with a check. This was amazing! My first sale……..and now I had to knit them.
I wish I had a copy of my first line sheet and copy that first PO. Although those papers are long gone, I still have that first sample cardigan and the memory of what it felt like to sit for hours and hours on end knitting little cardigan’s to fill that purchase order. I didn’t realize it at the time but it was my first exposure to the knowledge that although I could do it, my expertise wasn’t really in the knitting and fulfilling of those little sweaters. The ‘operation’ of the business is not at all what I enjoyed. My expertise was in coming up with the idea for a hand knit line and in the marketing of that brand. It was in the talking about an idea and then seeing it come to life. It was in finding the price that the market was willing to pay for an idea or an item and then capturing the sale.
It has taken me almost thirty years to understand that I will never be good at everything but I am pretty amazing a couple things. A fellow entrepreneur once said, “Sit down and define your one superpower as an entrepreneur and then live in that space”. As entrepreneurs and small business owners, if we can truly identify our superpower – that one sweet spot where we thrive in business – and then laser focus our time and energy in that one place, it is amazing what we can do on our small business journey.