Thursday, July 29, 2010

Home-Sprung Business Models: Part I

Preen The Passion

Debbie Fields Rose
Founder: Mrs. Fields Cookies

Passion is one thing, which enthuses an entrepreneur. Unless you are passionate about the business you do, it is unlikely that you will be successful.

Let us put it the other way. If you have a passion, can it be turned into business? Can it be integrated with innovation and launched in the market as a full-fledged business?
Yes this course can be taken, as has been many times in the entrepreneurial history.

Many women entrepreneurs have been successful in their ventures when they turned their passions into business. One classic example of this fact would be Debbie Fields Rose, founder of Mrs. Fields Cookies.

As a child Debbie Fields loved making cookies. She got married to Randy Fields, (a Stanford graduate), and was relegated as a homemaker. She found it difficult to answer at various social gatherings as to what she was doing for a life. In 1977, Debbie decided to open a chocolate-cookie shop. Debbie Fields baked great cookies. Business efficiency and customer satisfaction were her two focal points. She is an example of someone who started out small and made it big. She even became a Harvard Business School Case Study on business efficiency.

The Perspective:
Back in 1977, selling cookies was an untried concept. Debbie Fields initiated with a relatively simple new concept in an untapped market segment, by merely perfecting her passion [i.e. baking cookies], and executing it well, keeping customer satisfaction as her priority. Her company motto "Good enough never is", says all about her business philosophy.

It is a hard work and toil to run any start-up no matter how simple a concept is. The crux of the matter is to identify and focus the key differentiator in the whole business proposition and to focus on maintaining and constantly innovating on that differentiator. In case of Mrs. Fields Cookies, Debbie Fields kept the focus on maintaining the quality [taste] of her cookies, which was the reason why she had customers streaming in for repeat buying. She also increased her product assortment by introducing many types of cookies.

It is equally important to gauge the increasing demand and cope up with the production [baking cookies] without any slack in supply and without any compromise on quality. This means having a good forecast for all the raw material needed, balancing the production vis-a-vis consumption with least shelf life for the cookies, planning for the manpower and contingencies like sudden absence/shortfall of either the raw materials or the manpower.

One of her quotes very aptly summarizes everything here - "The important thing is not being afraid to take a chance. Remember, the greatest failure is to not try. Once you find something you love to do, be the best at doing it”.

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