You've probably heard the story about the frog that jumped into a shallow pan of cold water. The pan is on the fire, but the frog isn't alarmed enough to jump out of the pan because the water warms so gradually. Eventually, despite being able to easily jump out of the pan and escape at any time, the frog gets boiled, because it never realizes that the water is no longer cold like it was when he got in.
"Throwing good money after bad" is the phrase used to describe a situation where despite obvious failure, resources continue to be thrown at the problem because a lesson hasn't been learned. Sounds dumb, right? And yet many of us do this in all practicality, with our lineup of events.
Over the past two years, I became aware that the traditional club format was no longer working for the majority of my customer base. Groups that had been going strong for years began to lose members here and there, and they were not replaced. The reasons behind the bleed were very legitimate, especially given the state of the economy and the political uncertainty in my state. I'm not exaggerating when I say it felt like every person in the state of Wisconsin became commitment-phobic last year. I was gaining new customers, just not new clubbers.
Eventually, despite my best efforts, three of the clubs were no longer viable (fell below the numbers required for hostess benefit level and stayed there for six months or more). At this point, I had three options.
- close down the club and accept that I'd "failed"
- continue meeting, losing money on supplies and taking a night away from my family every month, in the endless hope I'd eventually be able to replace the members
- radically alter the club format in an attempt to meet my customers' new lifestyles and needs and see what happened.
Number one (accepting failure) is not in my personal vocabulary. Number two (continue as before while losing money indefinitely) should not be an option for a saavy businessperson. So that left option three. I would change what I was doing. I would be brave enough to say out loud, "this isn't working anymore." I would be creative enough to find a different way to draw those customers and new ones to events on a regular basis. I would be flexible enough to chuck my expectations and revamp my pricing. And I would be patient enough to give the new format a chance to succeed.
This is much easier said than done, of course. We (women especially) like to hang onto things for sentimental reasons. And because we're so often people-pleasers, we don't like to disappoint those for whom the old schedule still worked. Or maybe it's ourselves that prefer the old way of doing things, because it was easier and comfortable. So we dither and dandy and put off making a decision. We begin a long, slow fall in business. Inertia sets in. Like the story where the frog boils to death without realizing that the water temperature has changed--drastically.
There are other options--but only for those who are willing to bend with the wind of change. Stampin' Up's well-developed theme of "My Way" for this year has given us lots of new ideas for out-of-the-box events and ways of doing business. A little online research will give you insight into what other demonstrators have found works for them. There are demos out there being successful with really unique ways of approaching the problem. Like you, they were probably initially unsure about changing things up. But the difference between their outlook and the "frog" approach is that they were self-aware enough to realize things weren't going well, and then energetic enough to make the change. They may not have gotten it right the first time around, but they are resilient enough to try again.
Beating our heads against the wall is foolish, when a door has opened wide right next to us. But it takes a willingness to take a couple steps to the side of where we have been, and then the courage to walk through the door. Do you have that in you? Decide today that you will be the type of business person who will evaluate regularly, act decisively when change is indicated, and move forward without regrets.
Dream BIG, friend! I'm rootin' for you.