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Saturday, June 8, 2013

Cookiepreneur Mindset 101- Overcoming The "F" Word

 I have to warn you that this week’s post may be a bit difficult for you to read, particularly if you are the kind of person who gives up after the first blow or thinks that just because you made a big  mistake you should give up.
Fact, life is NOT fair more often than not and when you decide that you are going to go for it and open a business, you do it with the best of intentions,  Your hope is that everything will go smoothly. I am here to tell you that more often than not , things will not go totally smoothly, sometimes something may happen that may put the very survival of your business in jeopardy . 

 I am telling you right here and now that  if you ever want to achieve BIG success first you need to make friends with the one thing keeps grown men from sleeping at night. That horrible F thing that puts most people out of business permanently when they experience it for the very first time. The horrendous, ugly and unthinkable word that no one wants to talk about because we all want people to think we are perfect. The dreaded F thing that you will experience many times in your career as an Entrepreneur and must learn to embrace.

The “F” word I am talking about is FAILURE!

Cookie Business Guru or Human?

A close friend suggested I not write this post.  How will this make you look to the other ladies? Talking about your failures ? They will discuss you for weeks behind your back!  Good I said, if this teaches them something.

Fact is, this blog is not about constructing a flawless public image of myself  a Cookie Business Guru that has never failed at anything. The fact is if you ever find one of those, run in the opposite direction because they have nothing to offer you except a carefully crafted  image of perfection that you will never achieve. Not because you are not a fabulous businesswoman, because perfection does not exist. Gurus do not exist! They just want you to think they do, but I have earned my experience through trial and error, just like you will.  I just happen to be here now, because I have gone through it and if I can help you avoid the same you bet I am going to try.
So Yes, I am going there. The cold hard truth is if, if you do not develop sound psychological resiliency and a strong mindset as to how to deal with and embrace failure then a business of your own may not be the best option.

So at this point you are probably thinking , wow Aymee,, what an abrasive delivery.  You bet your cookies it is and I want to drive my point home , so pull up a chair, grab your coffee and listen up because this is going to be one of the most important lessons you will ever learn as a Cookierepreneur.
The Cookie Business, or any other business is NOT for the fainthearted!

As a Cookiepreneur you are going to make mistakes.  Sometimes it will be something that you thought was the right thing to do, and will turn out to be a complete disaster.  Sometimes, it will be a dumber mistake, like the one I made and that I will tell you about later on in this post.  These mistakes may lead to failure but when they do…. Always remember this.

 The ONLY thing that separates a “winner” from a “loser” is their ability to turn failure into success.

 Let me repeat that in a different way. The ONLY difference between a person who is successful and a person who is not, is the meaning they give to their failure and what they they do about it.

Please do not think that I am calling anyone a loser.  I simply use these two broad terms to draw contrast and to help you understand that there truly is no such thing as failing in life until you decide to give up.  

Let me share a personal story with you.  Not one of my early “failures”  I can tell you a million of those , rather one that recently happened to me, and when I say recent I mean about two months ago that threatened to wipe me off the map as a cookie business.

Had I not put a strategy in place to deal with this, I would have most certainly gone under right away, I would not be writing this right now, and I you would never be able benefit from this information.

My Most Recent Epic Fail

As you know, my main cookie business is  The Wacky Cookie Company.  About  two years ago, I discovered a wonderful website called Etsy, that many of you may be familiar with.

For the benefit of those of you who are not, Etsy is a huge global online marketplace for handcrafted goods, and it is the ideal place for Artisans who create everything from jewelry to handmade cards, quilts, baked goods and art to come together and sell their products.

Etsy is a  Billion dollar  industry and if you have a quality product, with a smidgen of marketing acumen,  and good photography skills, with the help of Etsy you can start making very good money with your business in a relatively short period of time. Millions of people, that are interested in the “handmade” product niche visit daily.  

Needless to say, I started building a good presence on Etsy at first with  Wacky Cookies , and decided to branch out and open up a Gourmet hand poured candy shop, The Candied Flower, as well as another shop called Rainbow Sweets that was dedicated exclusively to the marketing of my rainbow colored cookies, and finally I opened my latest shop earlier this year called CookieBurger, which featured my latest brand of Gourmet Crème Filled Cookie Sandwiches .       

About a year ago, I had my first little run in with ETSY due to  some cookies that I created for a client’s baby shower. The theme was Burberry Love, and as you can see from the pictures below, the cookies were to follow the Burberry theme  which I am a huge fan of.

I listed these cookies for sale on ETSY , under a listing name that did not mention Burberry at all, but one of the tags were Burberry inspired.  My client who had ordered these is a stylist and she had submitted the table she put together to be featured as a guest submission on the Amy Atlas website, and was selected which drew massive attention to my shop.

About two weeks after these were featured via the Amy Atlas blog, I received an email from the ETSY Legal department which included a notice of copyright infringement from The Burberry Legal  Department asking that I please remove my cookies because they resembled Burberry’s trademarked Nova Check pattern.

The listing was deactivated and  that was the last I heard of them.

Fast forward a year and I receive yet another notice from the ETSY Legal Department letting me know that The Wacky Cookies has been shut down along with my three other shops for repeated instances of copyright infringement.

This  time it was two other listings in question that had triggered the notice.  This time there was no cease and desist notice from a huge corporation owning the rights to the likeness of my cookies.  My shop had been “reported” by a fellow Etsy  shop owner or someone who is a member of the Etsy community . Etsy did not disclose who reported my shop. 

The culprits pictured above 1. Aloha Kitty  2. Block Heads 

Their claim was that Hello Kitty is a registered trademark of  Sanrio and the Lego Heads are a registered trademark of Lego and that due to my “repeated” instances of copyright infringement, my privileges as an Etsy seller have now been revoked, forever more leaving me no recourse whatsoever.

Now, keep in mind. I had NEVER committed any kind of copyright infringement in any of my other shops,  they contained 100% original material designed by yours truly but they were shut down as well, all in one fell swoop, therefore rendering most of my channels of income DEAD in an instant.

My first offense was innocent enough, as I did not use the Burberry name and quite frankly did not think that it would be a big deal. The last two , were one of the dumbest mistakes I could have EVER made as a Cookiepreneur.

So what happened? Why and how could I have made such a stupid mistake? The fact is I am human! I got careless and complacent, I did not listen to my inner voice about slowing down when I should have, and I was just so tired from working all the time that I made reviewing my listings and making sure that everything  was okay a second priority .

I have been well aware that Etsy has a very erratic way of doing away with shops that contain any designs that are licensed. I figured that I would be okay if I did not actually write “Hello Kitty”  and even though it was her face, it was my outfit design , Stupid mistake!  .

The fact is there are tons of cookie shops on Etsy who do this. Yours may be one of them and it’s all too tempting to list cookies that your clients ask you for over and over again that are in fact trademarked designs by a huge Corp. Don’t do it!

I got tired of people sending me private messages asking me , Do you make Hello Kitty cookies? I don’t see any listed in your shop?

I am telling you this story for several reasons 1. As a cautionary tale  2. Because I want you to know that you will make dumb mistakes now and again , that may cost you everything unless you are prepared 3. If these mistakes bring you to a point of failure, you will know how to deal with the failure and turn it around  on a dime.

The Turnaround

So, here I am, every single one of my Etsy shops has been shut down and my stream of income, paralyzed.  Sure, I had a good 50 orders in my pipeline to fill, but now I would have to scramble to try and set up my shops once again to bring in new traffic, even so , how would I get that amount of traffic without Etsy power? I thought about all of that but did not dwell, I sprang into action..

I shared my ordeal with a group of my closest cookie colleagues as a vent and I thought nothing more of it and went into full swing without even flinching. I worked 72 hours straight with the help of one of my best friends and my PA from time to time, and we were able to get a new shop up.

I already had my own Wacky Cookies website, for the past few years, even before Etsy , but I felt the design had become outdated and it would not appeal to people wishing to just purchase a listing of cookies, rather than going through an entire process of having to contact me via email or telephone to inquire about cookies, how much they cost, etc.

The first 72 hours after the incident, my adrenaline was pumping hard and I scrambled around to save my business from doom when all of a sudden, the fourth day, after this happened  I checked back into my Etsy shop , viewed my stats and  that is when the reality of what had happened to me hit me in the face, like a wet dirty mop.

I collapsed on my sofa and started crying.  My heart was broken and I thought MY GOD what will I do now?  I have worked so hard to build this business for the past few years, and thanks to ETSY it exploded into this enormous success.  Where will I get all of my traffic from now? What will I do? The saddest part being that I had so stupidly left a huge chink in my armor, that threatened to bring me down unless I moved rapidly.

I strongly believe in that saying “What we resist, persists” Therefore I decided to not fight the sadness and  give myself the rest of the day off and grieve for what was. How could I have been so stupid? I decided to forgive myself for that too, I am only human, I am not a machine.

I woke up the next day  ready to do battle and , well, what I had not yet mentioned to you is  that in spite of my shop being shut down, I kept receiving emails and requests for my cookies. Several per day, from my loyal client base. Both via my business email and Etsy.

It just so happens that over the past few years I have been working very hard to make sure that I provide my customers with top quality cookies and amazing customer service.

Repeat customers are the ones who truly build your business and  make you money.  

Thanks to that I have built a solid and loyal client base that has kept coming back for their children’s birthday parties, Anniversaries, Weddings, Christenings, Baby Showers and most of their most important occasions that call for cookies. Some of these clients found me through Etsy, some did not, but they are part of my loyal and solid base that I can count on. 

When I started thinking about what happened and how I could correct this so it would not happen again It also occurred to me that I did not listen to my instincts when they were telling me that I should start this Cookipreneur venture sooner , that is allowing me the platform to tell you this story about a year ago.  Yup, this idea has been rolling around in my head for over a year, my inner voice was screaming at me to do it, but I ignored it and continued to take more and more orders.

So, once I had collected myself , the proverbial light bulb in my head went off.  My goodness, I can start my Cookiepreneur blog now. This  is a blessing in disguise. I have been wanting to do this for the past year, but my business keeps getting crazier and crazier leaving me no time.  

So crazy that I am left time to do nothing else, and that is fine , if that is what I truly wanted to do, but for me, you see THIS, what I am doing right now, talking to you, telling you about my challenges and how I have overcome them, this is what I REALLY want to do , so you see, that is the meaning that I have given my “failure” .

WAIT, I cannot, even say that it’s a failure, I honestly don’t see it that way, I see it as a lesson, as a means of being forced to slow down a bit, and re-think what Is my true love in life, which is Personal Development, and giving people the tools of resiliency (Remember my first post? The Journey Begins The decision I made to help others? )Well , here I am.  I am going to get all spiritual on you, but the Universe, God, your higher power,  higher mind, whatever you pray to, always delivers what you ask for, ALWAYS!

Well let me give you an update on my cookie business. The Wacky Cookies is alive and well.  All the hard work, love and dedication I put into my customers the past few years, has paid off.  Things have slowed down a bit, and I do mean just a bit. I am still insanely busy and  I find it hilarious that some of my cookie colleagues actually thought I would close down. because of this.

I have filed for a Trademark on my new brand of Gourmet Creme Filled Cookies named CookieBurger, by The Wacky Cookie Company and have sold more of them than I have been able to produce thus far ( working on it). The orders are pouring in, and I have to say, the R&D that I did on these things for a year, really paid off ( That will be another post) They are delicious, and look how cute they are (Pictured below) I love them.

My point, I am doing awesome , and I am not even two months out from what could have been a major catastrophe and the end of my career as a Cookiepreneur.   I am less stressed, have a little more time to dedicate to what I LOVE to do besides cookies, and have even managed to launch a new brand of cookies.. Now if that is not bouncing back, I don't know what is. 

To sum up, I want you to remember the following things when it comes to dealing with failures in your business.

There is no such thing as failure unless you give up!

A true Cookiepreneur, only faces challenges. There are smaller challenges and greater ones.  True failure is when you decide that the blow is so hard that you just give up and quit.

Don't expect to do it right, all the time.

Fact, you will make mistakes, serious ones like I did. They do NOT have to be the end of you and your business. Learn from your mistakes and build on that. 

Failure can be turned around in an instant depending on the meaning you give it.

If you are one of those people who hit the first snag , and feel that the world is out to get you and that nothing you  do is right, etc etc, then forget it . If you decide that this is just another challenge and you see this as a new beginning, or as a vehicle to figure out how to do things better, congratulations, you are half way home in turning it around.

Always do your best, and it will pay off in the end, even if you make mistakes.

It's clear that I made a serious mistake, but my hard work the past few years paid off and has kept me alive. By taking advantage of  Etsy as a catalyst, I have built a solid client base that has allowed my business not only to survive, but thrive during a challenging period.

I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes by a man that you will probably hear me mention often because of the respect and admiration I have for him. A true winner, not because he is a billionaire, but because he had the guts to endure so many failures that would make a grown man head for the hills with his tail between his legs.

“Not many people are willing to give failure a second opportunity. They fail once and it’s all over. The bitter pill of failure is often more than most people can handle. If your’re willing to accept failure and learn from it, if you’re willing to consider failure as a blessing in  disguise and bounce back, you’ve got the potential of harnessing one of the most powerful success forces”
 - Joseph Sugarman-

A good way to strengthen your mind and spirit against failure is to read great Personal Development books.  You can start with anything by Tony Robbins  or get Entrepreneurial mindset coaching or both!. Invest in yourself, you’re worth it! I have invested thousands of dollars over the years in my Personal Development Education, I would argue that it was an even better investment than college 
Very soon I will be announcing a series of teleconferences and online webinars, among them the  M2 Elite Series webinars, there will be a series dedicated to the “mindset” part of being an Entrepreneur.

Anyone can teach you the mechanics of how to run a business,  but mindset is by far the most important part.  If you have that in place, you will not only survive any challenge, you will turn it around and make it into one of your greatest successes.

Good luck, I wish you a wonderful and prosperous week and always remember this.

Persistence is the Key to success, never give up, NEVER!


p.s. I would love to hear some of your stories of psychological resiliency and how you overcame a difficult situation in business.   

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