The most successful entrepreneurs I have ever met all have one thing in common — they have not done it by themselves. They have all surrounded themselves with the most talented people they could find.
As Edible Arrangements has grown, I, too, have been blessed with the opportunity to work with some outstanding professionals in all areas of business. On a daily basis, I am inspired by the passion and creativity of our franchisees and the professionals we have in place at our home office in Wallingford and at offices around the world.
Over the years, they have come up with ideas, programs and solutions that I would never have thought of on my own. I am always invited — and willing — to provide my input. And even when I disagree, I have learned when to step back and let them have the final decision. Rarely, have their decisions not turned out for the best.
As an entrepreneur, however, there are those times when you must stand firm and you— and only you — will need to make a decision that will have a far-reaching impact on the future of your business. These decisions often require that you go against popular opinion.
I learned that lesson early, as a young entrepreneur with what I was sure was a great idea.
When starting out in business, there are no shortage of people willing to give you advice. And that was the case when I first developed the idea for Edible Arrangements. As I shared my idea with a variety of “experts,” I was continually told that it wouldn’t work. I was told that no one would buy arrangements made out of fruit. I was told to stick with flowers, that I was wasting my time and my money on fruit bouquets.
One of the experts, a highly respected professional, asked me if I had shown the arrangements to any focus groups. That was the first I had ever heard of a focus group. I told him that I didn’t know what a focus group was and he explained it to me.
I told him that it turned out I HAD shown the arrangements to a focus group. When I first took an arrangement home and put it on the table, my mother told me that “this is going to be great.”
He laughed and left, reminding me that I was in the flower business and I should focus on what I knew best. “No one is doing this,” he said, “so I don’t know why you think it will be successful.”
In my entrepreneurial heart, however, I knew I had a winner and that is what drove me to pursue the idea despite the advice of the “experts.”
Now, 15 years and over 1,200 locations later, I think of that story in those moments when I have to make a decision that runs counter to the the advice of others.
Sometimes, it turns out, a focus group of one is good enough.