Trade In Overwhelm for a Fresh Perspective

As a small business owner, there are often too many ideas, too many tasks and projects, too many orders to place, employees to hire, displays to be built, leases to be negotiated, emails to be written, research to be done, and not enough time or resources. Entrepreneurs are a creative bunch of people and we’re always thinking of new ways to grow our businesses.

@Fotolia Photography

There are only 24 hours in a day and 365 days in a year, and if you’re in the midst of starting, running or growing your business, those hours and minutes fly by very fast. In this series, we’ve been talking about the overwhelm that we face on a daily basis, and some actionable steps we can take to overcome that feeling.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, “What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.”


The late, great Stephen Covey presented this idea in his excellent book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. (A MUST READ for every business owner, btw!)

Lessons Learned from a Taco Trailer

Welcome to El Parasol!

I’ve discovered throughout my life, every family is different. In fact, one of the life lessons we tried to teach our children was that “Every Family Is Weird” and especially OURS! This was to prepare them for life and eventually marriage to someone from another family that has its own idiosyncrasies, and also to save us from embarrassment when they were little.

Road Trips
One thing our weird family enjoys is Road Trips, and as small business owners, we have always done our best to support local restaurants, both at home and on a road trip, along with staying at local hotels, and shopping at local businesses. Our track record with choosing local is pretty good as most local businesses cannot survive if they are not doing things right…at least they don’t survive for very long!

Keeping it Local
We have found that the very best place to find out where the stellar local eateries are is to stop at a fruit stand.  As the owners of fruit stands are the same people who supply restaurants with FRESH produce, these people have an inside track to the very best locally owned restaurants, and they know “fresh & local” like no one else!  This is exactly how we arrived at El Parasol in Espanola, New Mexico many years (and many road trips) ago.

Introduction to El Parasol
Now, El Parasol is not somewhere you would choose from it’s elegant exterior.  It is an 8’ x 10’ Taco Trailer that has somehow that has been serving local and regional visitors for over 50 years now. The food is amazing, the service extraordinary and this tiny Taco Trailer is legendary.

Podcast 006: 5 Great Reasons to Get Going With Gourmet!

Be Our Guest!

I am on the same journey and quest to become a Remarkable Retailer that you are on…and have tried many different approaches to product selection over the years, but one decision that we made many years ago has continued to pay off in a variety of ways. To be a Remarkable Retailer or an Exceptional Entrepreneur, you must step outside of your comfort zone and do something that other businesses are NOT doing!

Honey Apple Pecan Dessert

Honey Apple Pecan Dessert…Click Image for Recipe

Zig when everyone else Zags!

My friend and co-worker, Sandy Brooks gave me a book titled “Crazy is a Compliment: The Power of Zigging when everyone else Zags” by Linda Rottenberg (I mentioned this in an earlier post as well), and I think adding a Gourmet & Kitchenware department to your existing store may seem a little “Crazy” to some store owners. However, you need to take steps to set your store apart from all of the other cookie-cutter businesses that are out there!

That one decision I mentioned earlier was the decision to commit to a Gourmet Foods/Kitchenware Department in our retail store, stop dabbling in gourmet foods and take our selection and our service to a new level. We made this decision several years ago and it has been a game changer for our store!  It changes the atmosphere of your business when you offer drinks and a small snack to the customers shopping in your store.

Today we’re going to talk about 5 Great Reasons to Go Gourmet!!!

The road to comfort is crowded and it rarely gets you there. Ironically, it’s those who seek out discomfort that are able to make a difference and find their footing.

Hug Your Customers

“We shower our customers with attention. There’s no doubt in my mind that our philosophy can be applied to selling just about anything- from aircraft engines to beanbags.” ~Jack Mitchell

Flo Hajek from Northern Michigan Hallmark (aka The Book Queen) gifted me with this book at least a year ago, and I have flipped back through it looking for a particular piece of advice several times since my original read many months ago. Flo and her husband Steve are outstanding retailers in Northern Michigan who truly believe in training their staff to give STELLAR customer service.  Their daughter, Jaime has joined their leadership team and you can see the evidence they have instilled in her to strive for excellence in caring for their customers.

The author of “Hug Your Customers,” Jack Mitchell runs Mitchells/Richards, a profitable high-end clothing business in Connecticut that was founded in 1958. Today they do over $65 million in sales. They know how to take care (HUG) of their customers. This book talks about going way above and beyond the normal expectation for customer service in any business, however, you do not need to be a high level multi-million dollar enterprise to learn from the examples in his book. He gives down to earth, daily practices that you can instill in your team that will make a difference in the business you do today!

The Story Behind Your Success


Behind every small business, there’s a story worth knowing. All the corner shops in our towns and cities, the restaurants, cleaners, gyms, hair salons, hardware stores – these didn’t come out of nowhere.

~Paul Ryan

I absolutely LOVE to hear the stories that business owners tell around a table in the coffee shop, standing in line at a conference or riding a shuttle between two buildings at a Market. Your conversation might start around a particular product or idea, but usually the question of “how did you get started?” comes up. Every one of these stories begins with a dream of entrepreneurship and most of them have very humble beginnings.

© labalajadia via

Maybe your parents were entrepreneurs and owning a business just feels natural to you. Or, perhaps in your previous career you worked for a large company and were just burned out with the corporate structure. Maybe you’re an accidental entrepreneur that suddenly found a hobby turning into a business.

Whatever your story, it is important to tell it to your family, your staff members, your clients and to those in your community.  We can all learn from each other’s “story” as we nurture and grow our businesses. Today, we’re going to take a quick look at five common story lines that successful small businesses share.