I attended a conference last week and was fortunate to hear Kathleen King, the driving force behind Tate’s Bake Shop, speak.  Kathleen shared her story with us.  It was a story filled with ups and downs as many Tates.jpgentrepreneurial stories are, but let me tell you, her downs were really down.  She lost her business to people she trusted.  She was nearly jailed for things she hadn’t done.  She lost her name (notice that it’s “Tate’s Bake Shop” and not Kathleen’s?  It used to be Kathleen’s) and she had to rebuild her reputation.

Kathleen said that there is no secret map to success (her business now grosses over $20 million dollars a year). However, she did share five pieces of wisdom that I’m taking to heart and you might want to, too.

  1. Set a goal because it will tell you where you’re going and give you a baseline to evaluate all of the decisions that you make.
  2. Keep your life and business as simple as possible.  We all have such a tendency to overcomplicate things.  Keep it simple.  It’s easier to keep track of and easier to succeed.
  3. Be the very best at your idea and don’t take your customer for a fool.  You can’t do everything, but you can do one thing really well.  Focus on that and do it without compromise.  An example she gave was her use of a specific brand of baking powder, even though substituting a cheaper one would work.  Her customers don’t know the difference between the two baking powders; however, she feels that they taste the difference.  My response to that is simple, have you tasted the cookies?  YUM!
  4. Take the emotion out of your business and you are free to execute your ideas and make decisions.   Passion and integrity must stay in and to differentiate ask yourself, if you took the emotion out of the equation what would you do?
  5. Don’t avoid confrontation.  Sure it’s not fun in the moment, but the fear of a confrontation is worse than the confrontation itself and once it is done, it’s done.

And here was my favorite piece of wisdom from Kathleen… My business plan was “Yeah, I can do that.”  Well, of course, she could and so can we all.