It’s now or never – Reinventing your business

Trust yourself; don’t compromise; continue to deliver

I remember getting a call nine years ago from my current boss, asking if I knew anyone who would be interested in starting a brand-new segment of his business. We knew each other from when I had done some training for his staff, and I kept in touch with his goings-on over a span of six or seven years.

I have since kicked myself for not immediately initiating a conversation about this new opportunity, out of sheer professional respect, if nothing else. Instead, however, I told him that I would certainly scour my resources and see if I could come up with a good candidate for him. It wasn’t until after I got home that night, sat down with a nice Tempranillo and thought about our conversation, that it occurred to me that the best candidate for this challenge was me!

Like my boss, I am in a service-based industry: retail medicine. But a good track record and a strong client based don’t ensure any outcomes. I said as much to him and made no promises as to whether my long-term client base would follow me or not. It took a minute but in less than a year, most of them did find me and liked the concept of our business – a boutique atmosphere with concierge services, but all the advantages of a larger, full-service facility. 

Once we determined that we would be a good match, it took another year and some change to actually get the business up and running. We had some important decisions to make, starting with where the best physical location would be for our new concept: Inside a medical building, or tucked behind a storefront in a strip mall? Retail space in an office building?

In the end the right answer turned out to be buying a building at the corner of one of the busiest intersections in the city, which of course needed to be gutted and built out (no small feat).

That was only one step of the process; you can’t just hang a shingle and expect them to come – especially since we wanted our clients to think of us as their home away from home, a place to come, sit and share their day. Perhaps instead they’d just want to slip in, close their eyes for a bit and enjoy the care we provide.

Either way, we needed to take many things into consideration when hiring staff talented enough to be on top of things, but who would give those clients the feeling that we had all the time in the world to take care of them. We had many questions to answer.

The easiest element to tackle at that time turned out to be retail product. Because my clients trusted that I had done all the footwork including examining peer-reviewed studies, medical journals, customer reviews and using the products myself, they rarely questioned what was offered. I carried and still carry a variety of products based on skin type, age, condition, and client personal preference. But while the lines we carried were proven performers, one last question continued to crop up in the back of my mind: “Should we invent our own line?”

After a lot of back and forth, I ultimately realized that operating a small business doesn’t mean you have to rely on the bigger guy to make it work. You can make it work yourself, but that decision comes with yet more questions: How to go about creating something all our own? How to have better control over the ingredients, application, combination therapy and cost to our clients? Would our clients be open to this paradigm shift? Established companies have spent millions on branding their product and even I trust a name I know. 

After studying trends, ingredients, methods of application and pharmaceutical companies with stellar reputations, we took the plunge. I will admit I WAS SCARED! I had so many “what ifs.” I was waking up at night thinking about objections that might surface. 

Luckily, I had done my homework and it made sense to expand our business to include our very own retail product and guess what? Our clients purchased 25 percent of the SKUs by the end of the first week. Almost every person who has come through the door has been excited about our new baby. 

I’m not saying, don’t worry. I’m saying, ask yourself the right questions: Is this the right time? Right product? Perfect combo? Will they come? Will this detract from my current product line offerings (and revenue)?

In the end: Trust yourself. Don’t compromise. And continue to deliver.

Categories: Management & Leadership