When I arrived home, my husband picked me up from the airport with a surprise; he had found a restaurant that he wanted to buy. Now, if this sounds abrupt to you, let me add that we have never been in the restaurant business or even really worked in one unless you count teenager jobs. I don't. Especially now. My husband, however, is a serial entrepreneur. He loves ideas and making them come to fruition. His business at the time was just humming along quietly, taking up about 20 hours of his week, and going a little too smoothly. He was bored.
Let me tell you, if you want to shake up your life, add a little drama, keep every day different, buy a restaurant. You just never know when your delivery driver is going to have a flat, your best server's boyfriend will break up with her, the ice machine will go on the fritz, or an entire baseball team will show up just after you sent most of your staff home on a slow evening. I'd say it was a roller coaster ride, except on the coaster you know that the slow uphills will be followed by a fast down and then up again. Eventually it will end safely. No such guarantee with your own business. The highs are fantastic - when everyone is raving about the food and cheering the home team on TV while your servers can't pour fast enough and the register is ringing. But the lows...the days when you can't give the food away and the weather and the economy keep everyone shut in their houses and the produce truck driver needs a check before he can unload your order...those days are really low.
So my husband is a business guy. Our managing partner is a chef, and a good one. Say what you want about us, but we have the best pizza around. Folks are regularly surprised when they order dinner and it's delicious - they were expecting ordinary and they got food with heart.
But the marketing? Neither one of them has the time or the inclination. Oh sure, they could do it if they had to, but it's low on the list. So who's left? Me.
I am not a marketer. I am a teacher, a mom, a quilter - in that order for chronological purposes only. What I know about marketing is what I learned from making bulletin boards, convincing small children to eat their vegetables, and laying out block patterns. Being in charge of this makes me anxious, and my response to that is to read everything I can find.
It didn't take long to find Seth Godin's blog. It took even less time to realize that this was some of the best advice I was ever going to get, and it was free. Even though he wasn't speaking directly to restaurant owners, his pithy little posts were enough every morning to wake me up to what I should be doing. I followed along and tried to absorb it all.
Then, last year, in advance of his latest book, Tribes, Seth opened a forum. I don't even know how to explain it, except to say that some of the most knowledgeable and energetic marketing minds gather there to swap ideas. It's unlike almost any other forum I have visited - it's free (other than the fact that we pre-ordered a great book), no one is selling anything, and no one is asking for anything. The collaboration and exhange of ideas is inspiring.
Since I know virtually nothing about marketing or sales or social media or...well, anything...I mostly just read there. But the people who post regularly are changing how our society looks at capitalism. I have received a tremendous amount of support on how to market the restaurant, and never once felt slighted because I'm not officially one of them.
This has been a way-too-long post for most people to read, but brevity is not my forte. If you've skimmed to this point, here's the meat of it: thank you, Seth Godin. Because of you and triiibes I have found my voice, my confidence, my tribe; our business has a twitter following and a facebook fan page, an email list and a marketing plan. Through triiibes I have met neighbors with mutual business interests and a friend in India who helps me with our company website on iChat. You lead me down new pathways every time I log into triiibes, and inspire me with each blog post. I only hope that the past year has been as exciting and fulfilling for you as it has been for each of your triiibes members.
Read more posts in the triiibes anniversary ring.