The Other Side of Denial

Because We're All in it Together, by Debbie Richards


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Business as Usual? Listen Up!

Big Fat SoapMy business is growing regardless of how often I unintentionally stand in its way, and it’s time I step aside and allow it to grow up to become all it can be. People sometimes ask, “Where do you want to take the business? Do you want to be in Whole Foods?” “Well, of course,” is my usual answer. Because who wouldn’t want to be recognized in that way? In the handcrafted soap industry winning a contract with Whole Foods is the ultimate standard of success. As a business owner, I get to choose which direction to take it – but where do I want it to go? That is the question.

Prior to Big Fat Soap becoming an official business, friends and acquaintances (those who I gifted with my excess soap) consistently asked me, “How much do I owe you? I’d really like to buy this from you.” I argued with them for a while, until one day I started listening. The next question I started hearing was, “Where can I buy it and do you have a website?”

The point is I doubt I would have a business at all had it not been for those around me willing to make suggestions, question me, and tell me what they wanted. Of course the most important part of all is that I learned to listen. It takes practice and thankfully the opportunities [to practice] continue.

As I look back, the business is established, the product line is expanding, the website is fine-tuned and producing consistent results, our wholesale business is growing, and the customer suggestions and questions are still coming. A healthy business means building relationships. My product line has been built on listening to my customer’s needs. It occurs to me that I’m not just in the business of selling soap. I’m in the business of helping others solve problems and building relationships along the way.

So where do I want to take the business? Options and opportunities abound. I think a better approach is to ask, “How can I grow as a business woman while building an even stronger foundation of supportive customers?” This listening thing, it’s a two-way-street. Imagine how our world could change if more of us practiced the skill of listening.

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