Monday, February 14, 2011

KISS Like Melody Biringer, Founder of CRAVE

Hello Everyone, In October 2009, I had the pleasure of meeting Seattle-based Melody Biringer in Amsterdam, where she was hanging out for a few months to kick start her CRAVE Amsterdam guide. Melody and I met up again a year later, this time in Las Vegas for a conference and have kept in touch in-between. I love hearing about all the cities that Melody's CRAVE guides have expanded to and I love learning from her entrepreneurial lessons (20+ businesses to date) and successes.

Recently, Melody posted this entry on her blog. I loved it and gained her permission to share it with you. If you are a current or budding entrepreneur, you'd be wise to listen to this seasoned experimenter!

Wishing you success in your business, at home and abroad, Andrea.

Nobody Kisses Like Melody Biringer

"The exercise of writing my business history down this last year, about the 20 some businesses I have started over the last 30 years, made one thing loud and clear to me. KISS (keep it simple stupid) has been haunting me most of my life. When trying to decide the title of my book, I thought I should just call it KISS.

This lesson learned has popped up over and over again. I know this stuff. I know it so well I could write a book about it! So WHY do I keep trying to complicate my businesses still today? I am a very “right brained” female. I like to have my hands in lots of things, and am easily tempted to live life like a mind map. BUT, my only successes have come when I kept it VERY simple.

I started my first business with the most simple business model of all. A lemonade stand. I sold lemonade….period. How much simpler can you get. Flash forward a few years and it is ironic that I still basically sell lemonade for a living. One of my most successful businesses has been the festival concession biz, where I sell strawberry shortcake and berry lemonade to thousands each summer. People stand in line and hand me cash and have continued to for the last 22 years. I have tried to complicate that business a bit over the years by adding other products to the mix, like pie baked in a bag, berry cobbler, even s’mores….always thinking of ways to grow.

But I finally got it through my thick skull…I am known for our strawberry shortcake and that is why I am still in business. Just KISS!

For several years, I was deeply invested in the wholesale bakery business. This is a perfect example of doing too much and not paying attention to simplicity. We sold muffins to grocery stores and coffee stands all around Seattle. It started with the fat free muffin, then we added 97% fat free and finally added full fat muffins. We had about 10 flavors of each kind. Of course the blueberry was always the best seller across the board. So many labels, ingredients, recipes to keep track of, so much staff to manage, so many headaches keeping track of all the flavors and which % of fat was ordered.

What if we just put all our muffins in one basket and specialized in the best fat free blueberry muffin in the world and sold the heck out of it? I might still be in that business today if I’d done that.

I remember being jealous of the Uncle Seth pink cookie at the time. He made one really good sugar cookie with pink frosting and could barely keep up with the demand.

It all goes back to the 80/20 rule I believe. Usually we are spending 80% of our time on nonsense and forgetting about the most important part of our business – the 20%. It is so easy to get trapped into the 80% because there is a lot of drama around it and very hard to see the forest through the trees.

I am so happy this lesson has come out loud and clear in my life right now. It makes decisions so much easier. When I am in team meetings, we all say “is this KISS?” and that makes our decision.

We even took a chance on this CRAVE blog. We had created a big huge nightmare for ourselves these last few years. Who are we? What are we going to write about? How many guest bloggers do we need? What should they say? What does our editorial calendar look like? We are behind! Help??? So we flipped it (another lesson learned) and took the KISS principal and decided to just talk about one of my lessons learned each month.

Talk about KISS all month? Is that too much of one subject? Will people get sick of us? Just do it, we said. It is simple and will simplify so many people’s jobs around here. YES I like the sound of that. A no-brainerWho knows if it will work, but we are all breathing free and that is a good thing.

What can you simplify to breathe easier?


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