One of the habits of successful people is that they are always interested in what they can learn from those who have already succeeded. An example of this quality comes from Debbi Fields, the founder of Mrs. Fields Cookies Inc. At the age of 20, Fields decided to look for a business she could control and grow. She believed she could bake cookies that people would want to buy, so she convinced her bank in 1977 to finance her first cookie store in Palo Alto, California. The people around her kept telling her (with her best interests in mind, of course), “A cookie store is such a bad idea, and anyway, market research shows that people want crispy cookies, not the soft and chewy cookies you make.”
She opened her store on August 16, 1977 and didn’t sell a single cookie for hours. Quickly analyzing the situation, Fields came out of her shop and started passing out samples to everyone walking by. By the end of that first day, she had sold $75 worth of cookies. Today Mrs. Fields Cookies Inc. has 390 locations in the U.S and 80 locations internationally.
Ironically, Mrs. Fields Cookies is today facing financial restructuring due to the high price of gas and ingredients and the downturn in the economy. But this does not diminish the insights a 20 year old woman had about building a business. Let’s look at some of her quotes and what we can learn from them:
“Good enough never is.”
Right from the beginning, Fields kept her focus on improving the product. Her cookies had to be the best available and she worked on making them even better every day.
“I use nothing but the best ingredients. My cookies are always baked fresh. I price cookies so that you cannot make them at home for any less. And I still give cookies away.”
Fields knew she needed to give people reasons to buy her cookies, so she studied her customers carefully. She realized that people wanted fresh-baked, well-priced cookies but didn’t want the mess of baking them themselves. And instead of spending millions marketing her cookies, she used the product itself as her marketing tool, giving people a free taste that created a desire to buy more.
“I”ve never felt like I was in the cookie business. I”ve always been in the feel-good business. My job is to sell joy. My job is to sell happiness. My job is to sell an experience.”
This is an amazing lesson for most people in business. We are not selling a service or product, we are selling the results and benefits that our product or service gives to people. We are selling people the experience of owning or using our product, and we have to market it as such.
“You should do your job because you love it. You shouldn”t do it just for money. And then the money comes naturally.”
If we love what we do, we’re usually very good at it and other people will pay for the benefits that our talent brings them. So take what you love to do, and keep improving it. The money will follow. Many people convince themselves that they can’t make a living doing what they really love because there’s just no market for it. But if you take a closer look, you’ll see that for anything you love to do, there are plenty of people who want the results you could offer. They’d be happy to pay you for it, even if what you love to do is bake cookies.
“You do not have to be superhuman to do what you believe in.”
It does not take a genius to open a business. Yes, you have to learn the basics of running a business, but you can always find good people to do it for you. And with all the online resources that now exist, you can find out just about anything you need to know with just a click of the mouse.
EXERCISE OF THE WEEK
The point to learn from Mrs. Fields Cookies is to put your heart and soul in doing what you believe in and the money will follow. In every industry and business, there are unmet needs that are waiting to be solved by someone with vision and passion. Take a close look at your own field and see what issues or problems exist. Ask your clients what they would like to see improved, and then go to work on designing a solution.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“Real success is finding your lifework in the work that you love.” David McCullough
© 2008 – 2011, Written by Keren Peters-Atkinson, CMO, Madison Commercial Real Estate Services. All rights reserved.