Business struggles are tough. You feel like packing it in. You are thinking of trying something else. I am sure like me and many others, you have had that moment when you want to throw in the towel. It’s too hard. You are bleeding money. You are working another job to feed this business. Or perhaps you are just doubting your venture. You feel your product isn’t good enough. You need some business motivation.
It is always a gamble being an entrepreneur to know when to pack it in. I recently heard Kate Spade’s 2017 interview with NPR where she and her husband talked about how at one point they had decided to close the business. They had spent all of their 401K and savings. Andy, her husband had actually been supporting the business by working on the opposite side of the country to help Kate keep the business afloat. Not only were they sacrificing money, they were sacrificing their relationship. After four years, they had barely given themselves $15,000 in salary. They made a decision to give up on the business. But two of their equity partners begged them to keep trying. So, they pushed on. Within a couple of years, they had sold 56% of their business to Neiman Marcus for more than $30 million.
Most of their success came from recognition and publicity. Without that they probably would never have made it. Of course, marketing a business back in the 90s is a little different than today. But what are the takeaways from Kate’s business that you can apply to your own?
#1 Her business was an “original disruptor”. She had thought of something that no one else had thought to do before. Her line of handbags was original. She had found something that was missing in the bags currently being sold.
Does your business offer something new and innovative?
#2 Do or Die. Being 100% committed. Not having another job at the time. Even though her husband was working and giving her support, Kate quite her job and was “all in”.
Despite obstacles, are you totally committed to your message?
#3 Marketing support. Recognition for your product and its value. Today that would be your Online Marketing Machine: social media, a website, email platform and advertising.
Do you see the “big picture” of your business and how you need to orchestrate the components to accomplish your recognition and success?
I wanted to use Kate Spade‘s story to honor her and her contribution to fashion and entrepreneurs. It is so sad to hear that someone who had worked tirelessly to attain success was still unhappy. I am no psychiatrist and I am sure there is a lot of what we don’t know about Kate Spade’s personal life, but perhaps the biggest lesson her story offers us is that we need to be sure that our success does not cost us our joy in life. Making our business be part of our life, not all of our life.
Do not define your life only by your business success.
I would be remiss if I don’t take this moment to also show my respect and regard for Anthony Bourdain. I loved watching his show “Parts Unknown”. Though I am a wimp when it comes to trying new exotic foods, I loved watching his adventurous passion. It did encourage me to explore my culinary creativity which I love to share with my family and friends.
Let Anthony and Kate’s success and teachings make you and I better entrepreneurs and help us make better contributions to the world.
RIP Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain.