Leslie Ungar, The Inner Brilliance of Electric Impulse, Inc.

From Muffins to Millions

Leslie’s Articles

What You Can Learn From Martha About Your Own Business

She’s back.
Martha, of course. And with her return, her muffins to millions story will surely be re-told. The housewife who started an empire from her kitchen is an inspiring story.
The temptation is to look at Martha’s story and say to yourself, “If Martha could do it so can I.” She took a talent and turned it into a tsunami of wealth.

Here’s the catch. Teachers used to tell us to beware of copying our neighbor’s answer because the answer we copy may be incorrect. I worry about the same phenomenon in holding up Martha as an “I can do it too” heroine.

Martha is great at many things. But the one thing she is best at is marketing.
We mere mortals need to look between the lines if we want to understand how to turn a hobby into a successful business in the 21st century.

Let’s look at what her story teaches us: five questions to ask yourself before you decide to turn a hobby or a passion into a profession.

1. Do you want to run a business?
When a hobby becomes a business, the approach to the activity changes.
Will it still be a passion when you have to work at it?
Do you want to put every aspect of your passion under a microscope?
Do you want to hire and fire? Do you want to pay your own insurance?
Can you have your business and the lifestyle you want?
Some experts believe in a business plan, some think a business plan is self limiting.
Some believe in a marketing plan. No consultant, coach, accountant, or advisor has control over your talent or your discipline. The bottom line is, do you have the self discipline to implement your plan on a regular basis??

2. Will you still love your hobby when it’s a business?
For example, you may love yoga and want to own your own studio. What better way to be around something you love? But if you don’t like selling—asking for business, convincing people to take your classes, glad-handing at trade shows, and robbing Peter to pay Paul—then yoga should probably remain your hobby.
Many times we love to do something, but that doesn’t mean we love the process we have to go through to enable us to do that thing and make money. You may love your hobby, but ask yourself if you will love the marketing you will need to do to enable you to “do” your hobby?
Whether you are a doctor, an architect or a business owner, the business you are in is marketing!!
If you don’t have a prospect or a client, customer, member, patient, or guest–who will you perform your service on?

Do you want to separate what you do from how you get clients? It can’t be separated if you are to be successful.

3. Do you want to do what it takes to be successful?
Of course you can do what it takes to be successful. The question is do you want to?
Do you want to do what it takes to be successful day in and day out? It’s going to mean rejection and disappointments. You’re going to need to look at your failures with less ego and more practicality. From dinosaurs to cheetahs, animals that have to kill to eat are only successful 10% of the time. We often expect a 100% success rate.
Can you take the emotion and the ego out of a business situation? Whether it is genetic or academic is a moot point, can you learn how to be more disciplined in how you think? Can you move on?

4. Can you “Heat Seek” the economic buyer?
You need to look inward and take stock of your own abilities. There used to be a saying in sales that a salesperson has to go belly to belly, in other words see the prospect in person. That’s not enough in what I call the 21st century mindset. You have to learn to settle for no one less than the real decision maker. Can you tell yourself that you are important enough to see the president or the CEO?

5. Do you know what you don’t know?
Do you know where to turn for help? Do you have a strong network of people in different professions that you can count on? Do you know what you don’t know
and are you willing to learn? An effective 21st century mindset is, as Carrie says in Sex and the City, all about the questions. Do you know the questions? Do you know the value that you have to a prospect? Do you know how your idea, product, or service makes a difference in someone’s life? Do you know why someone should choose you, your product, or service? Can you grow your business while you are learning about sales, marketing, sports, technology, and the world? Everything you learn will help you in one important defining moment.

Martha is back at the top. Do you feel as though you haven’t gotten there yet? Martha was willing to do what it takes to reach her goals. Make sure you are willing to do what it takes for you to reach your goals. Adapt marketing as a way of life, not a person, a department, or a once a year event. Doing business in the 21st century is different than it was just a few years ago.