BOLD: Showing an ability to take risks; confident and courageous. That’s according to the New Oxford American Dictionary.
Being bold in life and in business is something I aspire to on a daily basis. In fact, I uphold it so much that in order to remind myself to be bold, many years ago I got a tribal sun tattooed on my ankle. For me, it represents warmth, strength, and courage. It reminds me to ‘go for it’ each and every day.
But believe me, on some days that’s easier said than done! That’s why I have the reminder 🙂
Learning to be bold in business has been a personal journey and I’ve discovered that sometimes the boldest moves are not so obviously bold. In other words, the loudest voice or flashiest display doesn’t always win. With this in mind, I thought I’d share 7 of my best not-so-obvious ways to be bold in business.
Here we go!
1. Don’t try to appeal to everyone
It can be tempting to try to make your offering attractive to as broad an audience as possible. Why wouldn’t you want to have mass appeal, right? But it can be a big mistake because generic just doesn’t cut it in today’s competitive market. A small business’s superpower is often to niche down to a specialty that others have a hard time duplicating.
At Espresso Elevado, our innovative Lavender Vanilla Bean latte is our most popular. We also have a couple other award-winning lattes further out in left field that are not top sellers but they definitely draw attention. By not trying to appeal across the board, your bold creativity can take the spotlight and earn the admiration of super-fans.
2. Embrace your quirky
Some of the most quirky businesses are the most memorable for the unique experience they provide. Zingerman’s Deli in Ann Arbor, Michigan is world-renowned and one of my business role models. Their entire business culture is unlike any other — from their unique style of graphic design to their hiring practices.
At Espresso Elevado we’re definitely a diverse bunch in a quirky little building. There’s even been speculation that we may have a ghost onsite. 😲 We embrace it all! The moral of the story is so long as employees uphold our mission, we encourage them to be their beautiful, quirky selves.
3. Take an unconventional stand
There’s a Michigan attorney named Geoffrey Fieger who runs super feisty commercials. His motto is “If you don’t stand for something, you end up standing for nothing.” I super respect that because he’s not afraid to take a stand on divisive issues that many will interpret as unconventional.
I’m not just talking about taking an unconventional stand for the sake of it, especially on sensitive issues. You want to welcome customers, not alienate them. But if it aligns with your mission, it may be what you need to stand out.
A perfect example was our decision as a shop to only do manual brewing since we opened in 2011. Back then, most coffee shops didn’t want to risk not having a batch brew option available, but for our C.A.U.S.E.-driven business, it was an unconventional stand that amounted to a bold choice.
4. Flip it upside down
If your goal is to run a fresh & vibrant business, it’s a good idea to question traditional wisdom. Just because you’ve ‘always done it that way’ does not mean that you always have to do it that way! For a fresh perspective, why not reconsider some of the perspectives you take for granted and flip them upside down a bit?
Many people abide by the age-old philosophy that customers are king. Would you agree?
Early on in my business journey, I flipped that thinking around and decided that employees are king. If you take care of and treat your employees as your most important customers they will, in turn, take good care of your guests.
There are others who are on to this line of thinking too! Check out this piece by Corporate Rebels.
5. Be less guarded
It’s natural — and often wise — to be guarded about certain things in business. You have to keep an eye on the competition, protect your trade secrets and often be discreet. But I’ve learned it’s also okay to relax a bit!
Nowadays, many forward-thinking businesses including Zingerman’s embrace the idea of open finance as a more transparent approach to handling financial data. Also, sharing information to help customers be successful at home — as we do with coffee prep tips — helps build trust.
Try being less guarded by sharing your ups and some of your downs as well with both staff and customers. It fosters a team spirit so everyone pulls together.
6. Do a soft opening
Opening for business is an exciting time, and you probably want to make a big splash right out of the gate. There’s nothing wrong with that, but did you ever consider the benefits of a soft opening? It gives you time to perfect your systems a bit, start to build relationships, and grow organically. It’s also wayyy less pressure if you’re new to the game of business.
We did this at my shop, and several weeks after opening we had our “Grand Opening”. If you focus on doing what you do super well, positive word of mouth will start to spread. 🙌
7. Turn up the sass
Just to be clear, I’m talking well-placed sass — I am not suggesting to be impolite. The thing is, that when you own a business you open yourself up to all kinds of criticism. Everyone has an opinion and it’s good to let most things roll off. Just like entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk says, it’s best not to waste time worrying so much about what other people think.
“It’s the biggest reason so many people are unhappy right now. Because they value someone else’s opinion more than their own.” Gary Vaynerchuk
So be confident and turn up your sass factor. Here’s to being bold in not-so-obvious ways.