Monday, August 8, 2011

On Setbacks and Moving On

If you haven't figured it out by now, I'm big on Halloween. It's my favorite holiday. I do it up big for my family's houses, too. Until this year, I ran three yard haunts.

Cue yesterday:
I just got dumped from Halloween.
It's true. It's sad. I'm heartbroken.
I've done my family's house up for at least the past 6 years for Halloween. You can see the results on my haunt site. I was just told that they don't want to deal with the trick or treaters anymore and I have until the end of the month to get all my big props out of there.
Where I'm living now doesn't get a lot of Trick or Treater action. It's a busy street filled with nasty old Catholics who offer criticism on appearance and manners to visitors on Halloween. I can try like hell to hype up the haunt in its new location but it's not going to be the same.
The only plus side is that this new yard is gigantic. It's twice as big. I'm just really far behind to fill that much space with quality props.
This could have been something far more serious. Not that I don't consider this last minute (under 90 days to Halloween IS last minute for a home haunter who does everything from scratch) mandate serious, but think this way: it could have been my business (writing or crafting). That's where we're going today.

Music to Read By: "Put On a Happy Face" from Bye Bye Birdie 

So I find out at the last minute that everything I planned for the better part of year needs to be changed, reset, and expanded upon. I did not let myself panic. I vented appropriately and started planning anew.

First, I took the space I had to work with into consideration. I went from a small yard to one twice as big. That's a lot more wiggle room for spacing big props out. It also allows me to have more control over the path the trick-or-treaters go on. One of my favorite films, The Company of Wolves, uses only a handful of large prop trees to create an entire forest. I can do the same thing by winding through the props I'll get done in the yard and making sure (as I always do) that everything works 360 degrees and offers something new. I'll have to put a little more money into the yard than I planned to this year, but I'll get by with these new ideas.

Business wise, this is the equivalent of finding out that your brilliant new product is going to cost you a lot more money to produce and market than you thought. You don't panic. You start brainstorming. How can you refine the process to be less expensive? Where can you streamline your workload to make it more reasonable to produce the items? How else can you use the finished product to expand your revenue sources and possibly cut costs? These are all things to think about.

With the haunt, I realized that the new yard is actually the perfect venue for the framing device I was going to abandon. Instead of the guests walking down an uneven concrete walkway, they can walk right on down the smooth driveway to the front path. I can block off the yard from the right side of the property and the street with DIY decorative fence posts and block off the yard by the driveway with my ticket booth, snack bar, assorted supplies, and characters. The bigger yard means better safety measures, more visibility from the road, more room to play with the path, and a whole lot more room for giant props I build for next to nothing (oh papier mache, you treat me so good). 

What's the equivalent in your business to this revelation? Realizing that your new complications, costs, and restrictions are actually better than what you originally thought. That grand idea you had, thanks to your brainstorming, is now the centerpiece of a good number of solid products that you can use to launch a line of related merchandise. You can expand on it further by changing out colors, shapes, sizes, and settings for the pieces. What you thought was a total disaster is now a golden opportunity to grow your business faster than you ever imagined. It might be hard work, but it'll be worth it when you get the response you've been looking for.

If you face a terrible setback, don't give up. Unwind, brainstorm, and execute. Think of all the ways you can get around the problem, solve the problem, or capitalize on the problem. That's the only way to win when it seems like nothing is going right. Don't rush if you don't have to. Just working at it when you can will get you where you need to be.

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