My Entrepreneurial Journey Part 5: A vs B Minus
Bella Virtu Organics

My Entrepreneurial Journey Part 5: A vs B Minus

Former CEO and new business owner Claire Powell on looking past perfection to accept good enough, and knowing when it's not enough.

A coaching client shared with me the principle that entrepreneurs need to accept a B minus and move on rather than striving for As and staying stuck. I guess this is just another way of expressing the well-used hashtag “#progressoverperfection.”  I’ve been struggling with this lately because I was brought up, like many people, being rewarded for getting As, not for trying and failing, making mistakes and learning from them, or even for the effort exerted. So this key to success for entrepreneurs requires some mental re-wiring.

I keep thinking I should reach out to friends and acquaintances to let them know about this business that I have now owned for nearly six months, but I have found myself hesitating to do so. I really believe in the product and would recommend it to anyone, and I’m proud of the new logo and packaging, but when it comes to the website, social media, email notifications and such like, there are lots of elements I want to improve. What will people think?  Will they say, “looks great!” but inside be thinking “her home page is not going to drive sales.” Or will they tell me upfront, “you need x, y, z,” which might be helpful, or might be overly critical, or is likely to be things that are on my list for when I have the time and money to do them.

I’ve been exploring some potential partners to support me in marketing Bella Virtu Organics. This has led to some feedback such as “Hmmm you’re using stock imagery” – yes, photo shoots with models cost a lot of money (though I did get some great affordable model photos and video at Soona). And, “You can’t talk to national press until you have a lot more followers on Instagram” – really? I don’t know if I want to compete in an environment where the number of (paid for) followers on Instagram is the requisite certificate of credibility. (See article 4: Human vs Algorithm for more on that.) Or, lastly, “It would be great to have video testimonials of people who’ve been using the product for a long time” – yes that would be great.  I definitely felt like I was scoring a B minus.

One step that had to be in place before taking orders on the new website was receiving and approving a test shipment from the third-party logistics warehouse who would be shipping out those orders to customers. I believed I had successfully thought through the perfect (while affordable) customer unboxing experience. I wanted it to be eco-friendly but delightful, so I sourced yellow recyclable crinkle paper for a bright, cheery visual on opening the box. I also created branded packing tape and an uplifting-message postcard (with de rigueur discount code). Finally, the test shipment landed on my doorstep. It was the pleasing experience I wanted, except for one major flaw: the yellow crinkle paper left a coating of yellow dust on the rubber droppers of the bottles. Was this a B minus situation I could live with? No. When it comes to making sure customers are thrilled with their purchase, only an A is good enough. There followed an exploration of different options of how to resolve it with the solution being the creation of boxes for all my bottled products. It turns out that rather than having a negative eco-impact by adding additional packaging and waste, it will actually eliminate the use of plastic bubble wrap for shipping in bulk. This has cost me a delay in my website launch, and a delay in new products being ready, but some things have just got to be right.

Now that I have the website live, products at the third-party logistics warehouse ready to ship, and a returns policy and a privacy policy, there seems no more excuses not to announce it to the world. As long as my customers have an A+ experience with the product, I can be proud of some of my B minus efforts that are part of this exciting and fulfilling journey. The famous words from Theodore Roosevelt express it perfectly: “It is not the critic who counts… the credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena … who, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”

So all that remains to consider now is how do I handle it when my 6th grader gets a B minus?

Follow Powell’s entrepreneurial journey: 
Part 1: Intent vs. Buy

Part 2: Help Wanted

Part 3: The Gift of Feedback

Part 4: Human Vs. Algorithm

Part 6: End of Year Reflection

Part 7: What Now?