« Previous | stories | Next » log in to write entries / post comments

HOW TO: learn about business from martha, PART 2!

by Christy Petterson

As promised last month, here are the other five of Martha�s rules.

Rule #6: Quality is everyday. Quality should be placed at the top or your list of priorities, and it should remain there. Quality is something you should strive for in every decision, every day.

For an entrepreneur to be successful they must be able to identify quality and understand what goes into producing quality. Understanding quality comes from comparing designs, materials and methods. With excellent quality comes satisfied and happy customers.

Rule #7: Build an a-team. Seek out and hire employees who are brimming with talent, energy, integrity, optimism, and generosity. Search for advisors and partners who complement your skills and understand your ideals.

The thought of someday having a team seems totally out of reach to me at this point, but I suppose it might happen one day. And even if it doesn�t, I think this rule can be applied to collaborators as well as employees. Martha says, �Good employees will energize you and your business.� This reminds me of something I always say, �Enthusiasm is infectious.�

Rule #8: So the pie isn�t perfect? Cut it into wedges. When faced with a business challenge, evaluate or assess the situation, gather the good things in sight, abandon the bad, clear your mind and move on. Focus on the positive. Stay in control, and never panic.

This chapter contained my favorite story of the book. During one of her catering gigs, Martha was preparing a dinner for Paul Newman (who would have been the love of my life had I been born a little sooner and had he not met...) and Joanne Woodward. Martha had just traveled to Morocco and suggested a Moroccan buffet for the dinner theme. Shortly before serving time she discovered that one of the main dishes--dinner pies--had burned in the places that were closest to the walls of the oven. There wasn�t enough time to recreate the dish so she had to think quick on her feet and decided to slice the pieces and serve the unburned pieces on platters. Instead of freaking out--most people�s initial response--she took a moment to assess the situation. Grace under fire!

Rule #9: Take risks, not chances. In business, there�s a difference between a risk and a chance. A well-calculated risk may very well end up as an investment in your business. A careless chance can cause it to crumble. And when an opportunity presents itself, never assume it will be your last.

Martha suggests �following a well-informed instinct or a calculated hunch.� You might be the only person who sees the merit in the opportunity and you have to be ready to take the risk despite others warning against it. She describes a chance as �a long shot that depends largely on luck� and warns against these. I like that she reassures us that no opportunity is ever your last opportunity. Sometimes it feels like you should try everything when you�re just starting out, but you don�t have to do it all!

Rule #10: Make it beautiful. Listen intently, learn new things every day, be willing to innovate, and become an authority your customers will trust. As an entrepreneur,� you will find great joy and satisfaction in making your customers� lives easier, more meaningful, and more beautiful.

Martha repeats the mantra �Make it beautiful� to herself several times a day and makes it her number one goal to improve the lives of her customers, colleagues, family and friends and in doing so her life is better as well. Sounds good to me!

Christy Petterson lives in Atlanta where she writes, sews, works in PR, organizes crafty events, roadies for her drummer-of-a-husband, eats the yummy food he cooks her, drinks coffee, goes for walks and spends time with her friends and family. She is currently hard at work getting ready for the Indie Craft Experience which will be in Atlanta on June 10.... www.ice-atlanta.com