The Business Plan

Everyone believes they have the perfect story to tell, an old family recipe for strawberry jelly that will make them rich. It all seems so simple. Just type up a few pages, haul out a few berries. Focus solely on the end product. But no one tells you about the disappointments, failures, or overwhelming commitment that goes into producing anything of value. That goes into creating a successful project that you can proudly attach your name to.

My husband and I started a sauce company 25 years ago. Seems like a lifetime ago now. It was a simple endeavor -.a way to pay the bills, make a name for ourselves and establish a future for our family. All we had to do was mix up some ingredients, fill a few bottles, apply a few labels. There didn’t seem to be anything too difficult to handle. And. as time went by, we found ourselves whistling merrily as we filled our multiple case orders. We were so excited by the number of bottles that were going out our doors, we never considered the cost of growth – the fact that the more products we sold, the more money it took to stay in business. Long story short, we ended up selling everything we could get our hands on. We even cashed in our life insurance policies, sold our cars, and took out loans against our home…all in order to stay ahead of the game. It wasn’t until we were faced with bankruptcy that we realized the price of commitment – the price of our hope. The crazy risk we’d taken with our children’s futures simply to have our name and product sitting on store shelves.

But there’s more to this story. It’s about believing in something so completely, so intensely, you’re willing to put everything on the line. You’re willing to commit every waking hour in your day.

At this point in our lives, we’re fortunate in being able to enjoy the fruit of our labors. But that doesn’t mean we get to sit back calmly and watch the world go by. There’s always competition to consider, and although there are lots of store shelves, space is limited. With any product, service, or book you create, it all comes down to offering something substantial – something memorable and gratifying, and your willingness to commit to your beliefs. It’s a struggle to be noticed, to see sales numbers grow. Whenever someone asks me now how they can get their special recipe into the marketplace, how they can be successful too, I find myself looking back and wondering if I’d known about all the hardships and sacrifices we endured over the years – the weekends we spent apart and the vacations we forfeited – would I have continued on my path? Would I have encouraged my husband to follow his dreams? The only answer I can offer is to consider your options. If you can stay positive even when you’re faced with life’s greatest challenges, then I say go for it. Risk is about living life to the fullest. Whether your dreams are in recipes or the written words in a paperback novel, strive to market yourself to the best of your ability and you just might reap the rewards.

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