Limits and Entrepreneurs

For people who start new businesses and build brands from scratch, limits are the lifeblood of creativity. It is frequently said that ‘It would be nice if money were no object.’ Well it is, so is the employee talent pool, getting the best locations, the customers in your market, and about a thousand other things. The entrepreneur recognizes all these things, finds a niche and builds an offering that delivers value people are willing to pay for.

All these things are limits, they are the parameters of the current possibilities for the business. Embrace them, squeeze them like your own child, they are yours and they are the reason you will succeed. It is important to feel that way about them, for they should be the fostering ground of your creativity, the hurdles that create what is unique about what you offer.


To train your brain that way is to embrace the limits, and to dominate them. It may be easy to get lost in the day-to-day functions of your business, and lose sight of what parameters you are working within, but that is where discipline should kick in and get you back on the path you know you need to be on.

The ancillary benefits of that discipline are many. It is easier to train your employees when you have a defined framework to work within, and what you do will be clear to your customers. It wont be a messy collection of exceptions, it will be clear, concise, and easy to understand.

In Employee Training: Due to our size we carry three brands of the major liquor varieties, for instance for Vodka: Grey Goose, Tito’s, and Reyka, These three represent three price points and all offer exceedingly high quality. Grey Goose is the leading ultra premium vodka in sales, Tito’s is an excellent American made and gluten-free vodka, and Reyka is a small batch premium vodka from Iceland. With these three we will be able to deliver vodka drinks in three price points, $11/$9/$7 — make notes of any customer complaints about this selection and be sure to include the brand requested, as managers will tally them and adjust the three brands if needed. Be sure to offer the customer a taste of the brands we carry if they are not familiar.

I believe that too often a new business creator focuses on the limits as reasons why they can’t make a situation work, instead of embracing them as the guideposts to help navigate them to success. The first step is identifying your limits, then planning to deliver value within the parameters. That discipline will give the business the matter of fact nature that it needs.

In the above example, if someone wanted a dirty vodka martini and they were unhappy with any of the three vodkas offered, they would be in a tiny tiny minority, say 3% of the population of vodka drinkers. Yet every bar has a plethora of vodka bottles, many which do not sell much at all, taking square footage, time to inventory, store, and clean. If you multiply that over and over in various undisciplined categories, what is the true cost of not staying within limits? I would wager that it is far greater than any profit you will make from serving the ultra-picky 3%.

Thoughts and comments?