Cincy Chic Chef-in-Residence Ken Durbin shares some leaps of faith he took in his personal, professional life that helped him find success
This week’s issue about New Businesses got me to thinking about the great advice I’ve learned along the way in building my culinary entertaining business, The At Home Chef. But it also made me reflect on the tough decisions and gobs of bad advice that so many women entrepreneurs have to endure in building their own business empires.
Early in my wife Julie’s career, she was faced with the tough choice of moving to Boston. While that decision ultimately helped her move up the corporate ladder in the financial services industry, it wasn’t easy. She had to uproot her life and leave her family in Texas not knowing where she might end up. But she took a leap of faith.
The company she was working for offered Julie another promotion and transfer, which led her to Northern Kentucky and to me. We met through mutual friends, and at the time while she was soaring professionally, I was struggling to get my new career in the culinary world off the ground. As a trusted friend, romantic interest, and savvy business woman, Julie helped me to forge my path, to harness my passion and drive for cooking and entertaining, and to develop it into the fulfilling and lucrative career I have today.
Between my successful wife, my friends and business associates, and my professional networking groups, I’ve been very lucky to have been given a great deal of good business advice. So I thought I’d pay that forward and share a little of what I’ve learned:
1. Don’t allow your haters stop you from doing what you want with your life.
Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. Your mother, your spouse, your siblings, or even people that you call your friends might try discourage you. These are your “haters”–the people in your life disguised as loved ones who want to see you fail. They will tell you all sorts of horrible things and cast doubt in your mind: You don’t have the time, the resources, or the intelligence. They will tell you that similar businesses have failed and that you’re making a big mistake. They will even use your children against you by telling you that your kids will suffer from you taking on a career in addition to raising them.
Don’t listen to the haters–especially when it comes to being both a mom and a successful entreupreuneur. No, you can’t do it all, but you can do a lot more than others may tell you that you can’t do. You have more time than you think. You have the internet, wi-fi, and a mobile phone on you 24/7, which means you can multitask more effectively than you could have even just five years ago. Many mothers who are also successful entrepreneurs today are utilizing new technology to sell their products or services completely over their websites, blogs, Etsy shops, or their instagram profiles. All the while, multitasking, learning new skills, raising amazing kids, and raking in the dough.
So when you stop listening to your haters, all these supposed reasons that you can’t be professionally successful begin to disappear. Then what do you do? How do you even start?
2. Be Aggressively Patient.
One of my favorite business tips I learned a few years back when I was building The At Home Chef was a term called aggressive patience. What this means is that you can’t just assume that the day you start your business, that your inbox will be flooded with orders. You have to put in a lot of hard work and be observant and critical about what’s working and what is not. You have to be patient when those around you (your haters) will question you and tell you that you should quit.
By drowning out your haters, you’ll be able to begin the hard work of adjusting your business model, your customer base, and maybe even your mission to developing a product or service that people need and want and will come back to again and again. Your business should be in a state of constant, aggressive improvement.
Patience, though, also comes in accepting some failures. Your failures are often going to be publicly broadcasted, especially to your haters. They will laugh and tell you it’s time to quit, but your aggressive patience will tell you no, it’s not time to panic. Aggressive patience will allow you to understand that you don’t need to throw in the towel, you just need to make some more tweaks and keep on grinding.
3. Never Take Advice From a Non-Expert.
This one may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how often you do it. For instance, you may eagerly accept your cardiologist’s professional opinion when it comes to avoiding high cholesterol or controlling your arrhythmia, but you wouldn’t ask him what’s causing the pinging sound in the engine of your car. Why? Because he’s an expert on diagnosing noises in hearts, not in cars!
When you are building a business, everyone wants to give you advice. However good their intentions may be, both your haters and well-intentioned family, friends, and even complete strangers will want to put in their two cents on how you should be running your business. The problem with their advice is that non-experts have no idea how to achieve the goals that you’ve set forth for yourself.
For example, if you’re developing a website as an e-commerce storefront for your business, don’t listen to what your hairdresser has to say about whether to use Shopify. Instead, contact a colleague who’s a web developer and tap into what they know. Call a friend who runs a similar e-commerce online shop and invite her out for coffee to talk it over.
When a non-expert tells you what you should do with your business, just nod, smile, and consider this final very important tip:
4. Take Time to Bask In Blissful Discontent.
Each day that you’re in business-building mode, decide what your priorities are, make a checklist, check them off as you accomplish them, then critically analyze whether or not they were successful. If they were, then take a few moments to enjoy the victories. Have a glass of Prosecco, pat yourself on the back, but then don’t linger on it. Go back to your checklist and keep grinding. At the end of a successful quarter or blockbuster year, throw a party. (And call to book me, I’ll cook for you!)
In closing, here are some very encouraging stats I found, courtesy of National Association of Women Business Owners:
These statistics are indicative of what women are capable of when they ignore the haters and take necessary but difficult leaps of faith in both their personal and professional lives.
As I sit here with my glass of blissful discontentment bourbon, my thoughts turn to all the women out there (such as my wife Julie) who have spent years taking brave leaps toward their current success. I also am thinking about my awesome female clients that are taking brave leaps daily and taking time to enjoy their victories, and also thinking about all of you who are inspired by this issue of Cincy Chic and are about to take your very first brave leap…
I would like to propose a toast:
May the hard rock blare in your earbuds to drown out your haters while a bottle of Prosecco chills in the fridge, primed and ready to be popped when you hit your goals (which you WILL do).