Welcome to Ask an Expert Business Series with Misty Lambrecht, the owner of Webfoot Marketing and Design, shareing valuable insights based on her extensive 15 years of experience in business startups and advising in Lincoln County. Have you ever received the big call with an opportunity that sounded so good? Sometimes, what we dream of as a big break or golden opportunity does not have the silver lining we expect.
One day, I got just such a call. I love to teach and have taken many opportunities to
speak at chambers and conferences all over the state, and even national events. Several
years ago, the phone rang, and I thought it was my big break. "Misty, I was wondering if
you would like to speak at a tradeshow?" All I heard was "tradeshow" and I immediately
envisioned the glory and glamor of speaking in front of hundreds of people eager to
hear the information I could share.
Without hesitation, I replied, "Yes, of course! Let me check my calendar. I won't charge you anything, just the hotel room and a meal. Then I remembered my sister lived in the area, so I wouldn't need a hotel after all. The planning went on and on, and I couldn't stop glorifying the word "tradeshow" After all, I had attended trade shows before and knew they meant potential dollar signs and a big client list.
It wasn't until after I had completely agreed, confirmed the date, and an email was on its
way that a simple question crossed my mind: What type of tradeshow was it? The
surprise hit me when I opened the email and discovered I had just agreed to speak for
free at the "Garage Door Association Trade Show." Yes, you read that correctly, the
"garage door association." I tried to justify it to myself, thinking about building a website
for the garage door businesses, handing out business cards, and hoping there would be
I attended the tradeshow with about 50 people, but not a single person hired me. Around twenty attended my class, took business cards, but not one ever called, and I gained zero new clients. It's not that I didn't enjoy teaching this small group of businesses, but the point is that I was so absorbed in what I thought was the big break that I failed to research any real and serious questions before enthusiastically saying yes.
Many businesses get sucked into these scenarios, ranging from expensive software
packages promising incredible features that have year-long contracts, to selling
products at reduced rates just to be associated with a larger popular company,
ultimately eating into their profit margins. Some have been offered deals by investors
that take such a large percentage of the business's profit that it leaves little for the
business owner but the hard work. Yet, they buy into the investor's story without
thoroughly considering the implications.
The lesson here is to be cautious and thorough before jumping into seemingly great
opportunities. Research, ask questions, and don't let excitement blind you to potential
pitfalls. Only then can you truly evaluate whether an opportunity is worth pursuing. For
me I still dream of the big trade show, but have lots of questions about how it will really
help my business or if it is another fun weekend away.