Q: I’m pushing like crazy to meet an important product-distribution goal that will be a huge milestone for my business. How can I maintain my momentum for the less exciting follow-up steps?
A: That distribution goal should be just one part of the solid plan you must develop for your business, a plan to enable you to constantly think ahead and build on each achievement.
Vivian Tenorio, a mom from Bedford, Texas, learned that lesson the hard way. She planned to leverage a family flan recipe into a fortune.
Armed with courage and audacity inspired by a Tony Robbins motivational tape, Tenorio—with Signature Flan samples in hand—walked in unannounced to Whole Foods world headquarters in Austin, Texas. “From the beginning, my goal was to get my product onto the shelves at Whole Foods, the mothership for a small artisanal company like mine,” Tenorio says. “Whole Foods was the Holy Grail: Get in there, and it automatically gets you in the door at other stores.”
She remembers her approach vividly. “It was a Monday. We packed our car, packed our flan cups, and within 24 hours, I was meeting with a buyer.” And after a year, her flan was on the shelves of 19 Whole Foods Markets in four states and in more than 120 specialty food markets across the country.
In some ways, her meteoric initial success was the beginning of the end for Signature Flan. Tenorio realized that her baby would need daily nurturing, and she wasn’t fully committed to that. “What I noticed after the fact was that I thrive in the chase. To me, the challenge of getting into Whole Foods fueled my fire.”
Being in Whole Foods did get her in the door at other stores, but that was hardly a free pass. “I just assumed they knew I was the little girl selling flan door to door and would give me a break.
“But everyone wanted a discount. Everyone wanted free product samples. I couldn’t afford to discount or give away my product.”
At that point, Tenorio questioned whether her goal of taking her flan into the big leagues was worth the effort. She asked herself, Do I really want to accept the realities of being in this business?
The answer was no. So after a little more than two years, she closed shop and paid off her loans. The act of giving up bruised her ego and confidence. “It hurt because I wanted it to work, and it didn’t.”
Yet Tenorio was much happier than she had been in months. “I’m a creator, and I always want to be involved in doing something creative,” she realized. “Once that creativity is not being met, I get bored fast. I learned that about myself.”
Tenorio now hosts podcasts geared toward entrepreneurial startups. While fear of failure is no reason to derail a dream, she says “it’s a very good idea to know yourself from the beginning, along with what exactly must happen after the initial big goal is realized, better than I did.”
If Tenorio had had a step-by-step plan in place, she would have seen the big picture and the future that didn’t dovetail with her passion.
This article appears in the February 2016 issue of SUCCESS magazine.