Were there any rough spots when you were getting started?
The morning my first store opened, my husband bet I couldn’t make $50 in sales. Of course, I took that bet. I was sitting in the store on our first day, waiting for customers, and after a few hours, I realized that not only were there no customers, I was going to lose that bet.
So I took to the streets. I walked up and down the street, letting people try the product, and that day I ended up selling $75 worth. I had to realize that failure means something isn’t working–and I had to try something new.
I structured my business to give me immediate feedback so I could see right away whether I was failing. I used to get the profit and loss sheets ten days after the month ended, and that was just too long to wait. So I sat down and worked out not only how much I needed to make per month, but also per day and then per hour. It was something like $32 an hour. And hey, we could do that! Even as the company grew, we still set our sales goals by the hour.
When was the moment you knew you made it big?
I think success is something you earn every day, and I never felt like I earned it. I break it down to every customer, every cookie: If I didn’t make my customer happy and my team didn’t honor the recipe and our purpose, I wasn’t successful in that moment. It’s easy to get comfortable, but it’s important never to lose touch with that feeling of opening day–that enthusiasm and excitement, that desire to touch every customer.
What’s an entrepreneurial trick you’ve learned along the way?
Never ask a question that can be answered with the word, “no.” This doesn’t just apply to business; it’s for daily life as well.
For instance, when I call a hotel I don’t ask, “Can you give me a discount?” First, I get the name of the person I’m speaking with, and then ask them to direct me to the person who can give me the lowest price on a room. When I get to that person, I ask if they’re the person with the power to say, “Yes.” They tell me that they are, and at that point, they’ve already agreed! I just haven’t asked yet.
What are some of your own personal finance tips and tricks?
Because I grew up on imitations, margarine and fake, to me the most important thing is to buy the best. That doesn’t always mean designer, or most expensive–it means pure and good and what makes you happy. What I’ve learned is that “good enough” never is … that’s the philosophy of Mrs. Fields.
I buy things because I fall in love. First I fall in love, then I see if I can afford it. If I can’t, it doesn’t mean I can’t still love it–I just won’t own it. I would rather love something and appreciate it than compromise and buy something that I don’t love instead. If it’s something I could maybe afford, I sleep on it for a few days, then check back. If it’s there and meant to be, it’s mine.
After growing up with limited means, the little things give me joy. I just bought a pair of inexpensive sparkle shoes–I love things that sparkle!
Any final words of wisdom?
The American dream is true. It works and it’s possible for everybody. Even the word “impossible” says “I’m possible.”
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