2012 Tales: The client with too many irons in the fire.

I gained and lost one client this year who had a difficult time focusing on the task at hand. You could tell in conversations, on the phone and certainly in the way he conducted business. He started last summer with a local coffee and entertainment venue, that looked like it would do well. They were filling a need we had in the community for a place to gather and hear live music. Each Friday night was packed and it looked like they were really onto something.

As is often the case, success in one area can lead to trying new things, which can cause you to move away from your vision and mission statement, and hurt the very thing that gave you your success in the first place. This client proceeded to start a separate entity for the purpose of looking for musicians to play in his shop. It was a legitimate need, but he simply didn’t have the manpower to handle it at at the time. It brought unneeded stress to a business that was already beginning to struggle, after only 6 months in existence.

Around this time, he also started up a local networking group for Sapulpa-area businesses wanting to learn more about online marketing. I was one of the founding members of this group, and it too saw some success in the beginning.

He was now a key part of 3 different organizations, which demanded more of his time than he could give. This didn’t include other local organizations he was a member of, such as the local chamber of commerce. As you might have guessed, the day-in-day-out grind began to wear on him. Even worse, his inability to focus was taking it’s toll on his first business, the one that got him started.

With sales and foot-traffic waning at the coffee shop, he did what some might call a foolish move: he bought another business. Didn’t start it, bought it. It was a local bakery with an established reputation, and the idea was that the revenue from this business would pump new life into the others.

The dominoes started to fall: the organization he’d founded to get new musicians faltered, never having really taken off in the first place. The networking group we had started was falling apart, so I offered to relieve him of that one in order to retain the local value I saw in it. He left his wife to run the coffee shop while he began learning how to run a bakery.

The coffee shop, formerly a shining beacon into the local nightlife, was now on it’s last legs. They moved to abnormal hours, which kept them open mostly at non-peak times. Finally, near the end of that summer, they sold all they could get out of the shop and closed it for good, choosing to focus exclusively on the bakery. The coffee shop lasted just over a year.

The bakery seems to be doing well, but I know this town misses that coffee shop. It was about our only option for a good lattè, and we enjoyed the music and comedy they had there on a weekly basis. I hope this somewhat sad story has a happy ending, but it’s a good look at how trying too many things at once can effect even a whole community.