Thursday, July 16, 2009

Don’t Try and Reinvent the Wheel, Reinvent Yourself

As an online soap making supplier, I meet all kinds of people, from all walks of life, from all parts of the world. With all the diversity, there is still one common thread that links everyone: Survival. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs comes to mind when I consider the worldwide economic woes that are threatening our security, resources and employment. The inability to pay bills, provide shelter, and put food on the table puts us in survival mode. Sadly, masses of hard working individuals are no longer able to provide these basic needs and have been forced into this survival mode.

In the US, we are faced with one of the highest unemployment rates in our history. These economic woes are making us much more pennywise as we look for ways to save and look for new ways to make money. For those in the soaping community, competition is becoming fierce and staying afloat and turning a profit is harder than it was a few years ago. This is especially true for smaller businesses just starting out who aren’t yet able to purchase supplies in volume to help reduce production costs. Shipping and packaging costs are up, raw materials continue to rise, and the average consumer is spending less. So what does this mean to you, the small business owner? And, how do you keep yourself afloat in these times of uncertainty?

“You reinvent yourself.”

1) “Reinvention leaves no stone unturned. You must be willing to be self-reflective and examine all those things that might hamper self-discovery. Self-discovery fosters creativity and new ideas.

2) Be willing to jump outside the fish bowl. You must have a willingness to step outside your comfort zone. When I started in this business, I came from a corporate finance background. It was definitely stepping outside my comfort zone to start a soap making business.

3) Set unrealistic goals to achieve and accomplish things beyond your wildest dreams.

4) Everything changes. When faced with change, embrace it as an opportunity. I am a perfectionist and this has probably been the hardest lesson learned. I don’t like change. I want to wake up each day with an agenda that is documented right down to the minute. Then the phone rings with a customer issue, or an email is received about a missing item, or a supply order is delayed, or production is rescheduled… the list goes on and on. You can’t control changes. What you can control, is how you manage and work through those changes.

5) Learn from your mistakes. Keep going until you find the right solution, strategy, or answer. If that first batch of soap didn’t turn out oh well… move on. Try again. Do it until you get it right.

6) Focus on activities you enjoy and what you are drawn to. You will never succeed if you don’t like what you are doing. In my early soaping years I took on some product activities that brought a sense of dread. Custom soap embeds was one such activity. When an order was received, I cringed and dreaded the time it would take to make these custom products. I dropped these items a number of years ago and have never looked back (even though many customers complained).

7) Reinvent yourself around your key strengths and unique talents; then, offer those services to others. Don’t believe that every soaping project is some big secret. If you post it online, you can be assured it is going to be duplicated and resold by others. Take advantage of whatever unique design you’ve created and market it. Do this via an instructional or some kind of kit.

8) Be ready to meet the changing needs and desires of your market. Don’t get locked into 1 or 2 soap designs. Branch out into new designs and unknown soaping territories.

9) Don’t allow messages from your past to control your future. So your mother said you weren’t creative. Doesn’t make it true. Growing up, my daughter never thought she was as creative as me. She shied away from decorating and doing crafty projects thinking it was never going to be as good as moms. WRONG! She has proven to be incredibly creative and I now take pointers from her.

10) Avoid measuring your inside thoughts and feelings against another person’s outer appearance or success. Don’t allow yourself to feel “less than”. There will always be those individuals that have a better success story. So be it. This doesn’t lessen or diminish your own business worth. Don’t allow your self-esteem to be based on someone else’s success.

11) If what you’ve been doing isn’t working… change it! YES, YES, YES! I can’t emphasize this enough. If you know you can’t draw blood from a turnip, then why would you continue to try? If a particular product, design or kit isn't selling... change it and focus on what is selling.

12) Live by this rule: You’re never going to please everyone NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO! You’ll never find success when trying to please the “unpleaseables”. If you’re running a business this is Rule #1. Don’t expend energy on those customers that are “hell-bent” on making your life miserable.

13) Create an emotional arena for success. A) Don’t measure yourself against others, B) focus on the things you do right, C) refuse to behave or perform to some ideal standard. Instead, reinvent your own standard.

14) Surround yourself with individuals that believe in you and that want to see you succeed. Join organizations, groups, and message boards that support what you do.

15) Remember, you can only fail forward. If you never try, you’ll live life with regrets.

How are you reinventing yourself? We would love to hear your story.
Email us at


Erica said...

Thanks! I really needed to read this post. It was inspiring and cetain things spoke specifically to me.

Denise said...

Hi Erica, glad the post spoke to you. Any glimpse of inspiration keeps us focused and moving toward our goals. I wish you much success in your soaping business.

Mindy said...

I've been in such a Funk lately personally and business wise. This was just what I needed. Thanks for posting this. =)