Alice Waters’ culinary empire started with duck and olives.
It was the first meal she served at Chez Panisse in 1971, at the wonderfully ridiculous price of $3.99.
I heard her tell her story on the always awesome How I Built This podcast. She had no business plan and no clue how to open a restaurant, so she just started cooking. That, she knew how to do. She also waited tables on the side to make money, so she could take time to experiment in the kitchen.
She had financial backers, although none of them expected to make a profit. They just liked food.
Now, at her internationally known restaurant, she has two main chefs and they both work three days and get paid for five. That way, not only do they both get time off, but they can take time to recharge their creative brains and come up with new ideas.
Alice Waters did what she loved from the start and succeeded. But that’s not what was the key to her success. Or mine.
I started my marketing consultancy in January 2009. 10 years later, the economic meltdown of 2008-09 somehow doesn’t seem as bad. But it was a bad time, stained by a truly shitty economy. A lot of people lost their jobs. 818,000 in December 2008, when I lost mine.
Some of them, like me, started new businesses. I had no formal business training. and maybe a few little crumbs of business knowledge. “Clueless” would be overstating my level of preparedness. But here I am, over 10 years later, having succeeded with lots of help and support from smart and generous people, and having learned a lot on my own.
Since I’m a writer, I wrote a book about it, called The Worst Business Model in the World: A New Kind of Guide for a New Kind of Entrepreneur. At the core of the book is the five strategies that helped me survive, and whether she knew it, they helped Alice Waters too.
The first one is called Trust Yourself. It sounds easy. It sounds intuitive. But it’s really hard. And insanely important. Go ask Alice. Or Lara Merriken of LARABAR. Or Niraj Shah and Steve Conine of Wayfair.
When you trust yourself you can try new things, which leads to new ideas. New ideas are the lifeblood of any business. Alice Waters credits the longevity of Chez Panisse with constant innovation, and I can relate. In the past year I’ve developed a Professional Coaching practice, helping entrepreneurs get unstuck from the things that are holding them back and achieve their goals, however big or small.
New ideas stoke the soul and feed the brain. And they fill the wallet too.
So yes, do what you love. But also constantly change. And then, the money will surely follow.