Nov 5, 2006
"Courage" is a word with power. Even if we don't feel it, or think we have it, just saying the word "courage" is empowering. I discussed courage in an earlier post (June 13th) and I recently received an email from a reader who felt she "chickened out" and didn't lease a store in her town. She wants to own a little store, but she didn't sign the lease and now she is beating herself up. She writes, "I just don't have what it takes, I guess..." Never mind that her husband just started a business and she has two small children right now, but still, she is feels like she "chickened out."
Wrong, wrong, wrong. Sometimes it takes great courage to say "no." I will give two examples from my life in which I said, "no" and it was years later did I even recognize what courage it took to do that. Once upon a time, I wanted to own a bed and breakfast - prior to my Elizabeth House days. I was a great cook back then, I loved to entertain, antiques, old houses, and decorating. I took seminars, read books and was even getting ready to work at a B&B to get experience. We found a Civil War plantation home about an hour outside of Savannah, GA. We spoke with the owner, and she really wanted us to have it. She lowered the price severely just so we could get - she felt we would treat "her home very well."
We flew out there to take a look. It was everything, and I mean everything I wanted: 10 bedrooms, huge circular driveway with a huge fountain in the center, pool, 5 acres, pool house, 3 car garage, 7 fireplaces, and it came completely furnished! I couldn't believe it! This home had it all and then some...except....the location was not that desirable. It was more than an hour from Savannah, the surrounding area had nothing to offer except shacks for homes, cars on blocks down the dirt road...none of which could be seen from the home, but just as you turn on to the road, there it was: yuky homes, beat up cars and not even a decent place to eat nearby. It would have taken a lot of money to make the place a "destination" place. A lot time, marketing, and did I mention money? My heart was screaming "yes!!!!" My ex was ready as well and he was sure that I could make it work. I took several days to think it over. My heart still screamed "yes!!!" while I made the phone call to the owner, with tears in my eyes and said "no." My head ruled this time. With all the seminars and books I read on this industry, every single thing I read put "location" at the top of the list when buying a B&B. For years I wondered if I had made the right decision. I now know that I did. Did I feel couragous when I said, "no"? Nope. I felt defeated. I felt like I didn't have the guts to take the plunge. Now I realize that it took courage to say "no."
Another time I said "no" and didn't do something was only three years ago. I was approached by a newly built shopping mall to open a Elizabeth House in their mall. The owners wanted to give me a grant of $20,000 to buy inventory! I wouldn't have to pay it back! They took me on a tour of the construction site and it was near completion. I had been open barely a year and so much has already happened and now this. I really crunched numbers, looked at the lease, called a very good friend who has a good head for business, and I studied the offer carefully.
They were willing to build it out my specifications, help me move in and get me started. But, to do this, I would need more employees, be open 80 hours a week, have POS (point of sale) electronic system, which could easily cost $7000 to $10,000 to get one up and ready. I needed more bags, paper, another stereo for music, another office in the back which meant another computer, desk, microwave, file cabinets, shelving...it sounds easy, but when I did the numbers, it would have cost me at least $15K to move in and get up and running and that is not including the inventory!
But still, to get $20K free??? To be in a brand new mall in a GREAT location?? But I studied carefully how my life would change with two locations, many more hours, but then there could a lot more money coming in too. My heart, which takes all sorts of risks, wanted to go for it. But my head won out. My head was telling me "no." I had tears in my eyes when I made that call as well. In fact, I cried for a couple of days and for about a year or so, I always wondered if I did the right thing, or did I just pass up a good opportunity? I know now I made the right decision. In fact, that mall isn't doing well at all and it has fallen way below the revenues it predicted. But it isn't for that reason I know I made the right decision, I know I made the right decision because now, my heart agrees with my head. It took great courage to say "no" to that offer.
So courage is something that is needed when we want to do something risky, or when the odds are low, or when everyone else says "don't do it" and you do it anyway. But, courage is also something that is needed when we must turn down an "opportunity" when everyone else is saying "go for it!!" So back to my reader who emailed me about not leasing a store...you have courage. You have the courage to wait. You have the courage to keep looking. Don't give up and please, don't beat yourself up. That's what city hall is for (inside joke).
Courage. A wonderful word with wonderful powers. Know that everyone has access to it. So use it. And use it well.
From my house to your house,