Risk vs Reward

This week marked the 20th anniversary of the day I moved to Seattle.  I came here knowing no one for the express purpose of starting my business, Sleep Country USA.  Seattle was one of the 3 markets identified by my vendors as being “under retailed”.  I had spent a couple of weeks here the month before doing research; shopping competitors, scouting locations, meeting with local newspapers, radio and television stations and finding a place to live once I’d concluded it was a viable market for me.

When I tell that to people, they often look surprised.  First they are somewhat shocked that I would move to a city that was never on my list of “Places I’d like to live”  just to improve my odds for success.  To me, this seems so basic.  If you don’t like where you are; if you are struggling to find a job or enough customers to support your business – you can move. Most of the successful people I know have made at least one move for their career and many have made several.

Then they seem surprised to learn that I personally visited each and every location of each and every competitor prior to opening my first store.  20 years ago, the internet was not a tool available to the average wanna be entrepreneur so I had to do it the “old fashioned way”.  Even though Google makes it quick and easy to get a list of competitors in your market and you can learn a lot from their websites, there is no substitute for an in-person visit if at all possible.  You would be surprised what you can learn.

I posed as a customer and collected brochures detailing services, warranties and product information.  This gave me the opportunity to see if my competition was trying to discover customers’ needs and selling using features and benefits or just on price alone.  One sales person even gave me printed sheets detailing upcoming sales with prices!

Now with digital cameras, even on our cellphones, I probably wouldn’t have been asked to leave for taking photos!

What are YOU willing to do in order to be successful? I’m not talking about illegal or immoral acts; just tough choices and brave decisions.  If you are only willing to work so many hours, certain days or in one particular field or geographic area, you may have to be also willing to accept lesser results.

Every measure of success comes with an equal measure of risk; what are you willing to risk for success?


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One Response to “Risk vs Reward”

  1. Glenn Leach Says:

    I remember the day you and Bob shopped my store – BedZzzz. I didn’t know who you guys were, but my smug boss Warren did and was so proud of himself when he called you guys by name and “welcomed” you to Tacoma. After you left, he told me how you guys wouldn’t be a threat at all – your prices were too high and your products were lousy – and we had our “7 Guarantees” – which I can’t remember other than it meant we had to sell everything below where I could make a decent commission.

    18 months later, BedZzzz was gone and I was selling $99 Funai VCR’s (after a funny incident where Bob un-hired me while I was taking a shower and I took the job at Good Guys). Finally, I got on with SCUSA and really learned how to sell and service a customer. Best experience of my business life and I use the skills I learned from you every business day.

    Thank you for choosing the Pacific NW – there are many, many people here who have benefitted from your leadership.


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