As you may have already read in Part 1 or in Part 2, for this years post summer camp vacation, my husband and I road tripped up the west coast camping and staying with friends. We started our road trip in San Diego and finishing our vacation in Seattle and flying home from there.
I'm writing about our experiences making our way up Highway 101 thinking like a true entrepreneur (even on vacation) pondering what made these (mostly rural) businesses successful.
The third and final lesson that I learned having these small business vacation experiences is:
3. Don't complain about the problem. Find a solution to the problem.
So I was doing some shopping in a touristy part of town on the Oregon Coast and I noticed they were setting up some little temporary amusement park rides outside by where all the shops were.
I thought, ooh fun a carnival is coming to town.
As I was doing shopping in town, I started to notice that everyone in the shops, especially the shop owners were talking about what was going on outside. They clearly had strong feelings about the upcoming carnival.
The (strong) vibe I was getting is that shop owners were not happy about the little fair that was going to be starting the following day.
There was a lot of complaining about what was about to happen and they weren't shy about talking loudly about it.
Yes, I'll admit it. I LOVE to listen to (eavesdrop on?) shop owners when they talk about business stuff in their shops. I can't help myself. I'm an entrepreneur too.
So maybe I'm pretty in tune with this kind of stuff. But it was hard to miss how annoyed almost all of them were with what was going on. It was seriously the topic of conversation in each of the little shops I visited. All the complaining I was picking up on was really starting to put a sour taste in my mouth.
Shop owners were complaining about how parking was going to be so difficult. They kept stressing how the people that come out for things like this are not *their* customers. There was a general consensus they were NOT looking forward to what was about to happen in their town the next day.
And this made me think of an experience I had with my business that started 7 or 8 years ago.
I could totally relate to all of this. And believe you me, I can COMPLAIN with the best of them.
About 7 years ago my sewing studio was in another spot in Hoboken and this one was an actual storefront.
Every year, the Saturday before St. Patrick's day there is a giant bar crawl that starts at like 8am. If you're not familiar with Hoboken, this is a town that is 1 square mile in total, but has roughly 70 bars in that 1 square mile.
Every year during this event, Hoboken becomes over run with partiers way too early and by 2pm everyone is completely wasted. The town turned into a giant bar and that made things very difficult for anyone coming to the studio.
There was no parking, there was tons of debauchery all around and everyone who lives or works here, doesn't really want to be around for that day.
Because this happens on a Saturday every year, at first I still open because that was a good day for classes, obviously. And each year, I would totally regret it.
I finally would have to lock the door to the studio so people wouldn't come in looking for a bathroom. It was awful!
But I knew that I continue the way things were going. I had to STOP complaining and make a change to what I was doing.
Yes I lost a day of business each year because of this, but I scheduled around the event because it just wasn't worth opening that day.
Once I made that decision I felt triumphant that I had taken action instead of just complaining about the crappy situation I had no control over.