Too Much Lemon


Patience is not an entrepreneur’s virtue

Chia-Li Chien | Dec. 8, 2010


Like most immigrants who come to the U.S., I continue to foster my own culture in my family, especially by way of Chinese food. When I first came to the U.S. at age 21, I did not have much cooking experience. Over the 22 years of living here, I kind of made up my own cuisine of mixed Chinese and American food in my day-to-day cooking. However, these days, my teenage daughter loves to “order” her favorite American food while I am preparing meals.

Initially, there were many American recipes that I tried and failed at. I had the most success with recipes from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food. Their traditional spaghetti and meatballs is at the top of the order list from my daughter. She has a sweet tooth, too and always wants a traditional apple pie. So, once again, I followed a recipe from Everyday Food.

In Chinese cooking, we don’t use many lemons. But I love lemons, especially because they have significantly lowered my cholesterol. So instead of following the recipe and using the juice of half a lemon in the freshly sliced apples, I used the juice from a whole lemon.  Well, you can image the look on my daughter’s face. She did not want to eat that pie at all. I have to admit, it was a bit tart and citric, but I LOVED it. To make sure my husband did not make the same face my daughter had, I left him a big note that night to tell him to make sure he added sugar to his piece of pie if he found it too tart.

The next morning, he told me, “Honey, that is the best traditional apple pie I ever had! There is no tart lemon taste at all.” So I tried it and he was right. You see, T.C. and I love to eat and cook a lot. He immigrated to the U.S. when he was 12 years old, so he knows much more about American cooking than I do. T.C. told me that in fact, the extra lemon might have helped to ripen the apples overnight, actually making the pie filling much sweeter than expected. Guess what, that next day my first homemade traditional apple pie was gone in a very short time. My daughter decided she loved it and the orders are coming in again.

I’ve seen many of my clients without solutions for branding, with difficult to sell goods and services, or painful P & L’s continue to thrive. Why? They persist, waiting it out with patience while demonstrating consistency in their imarketing, sales, and operational processes. Like adding too much lemon in my traditional apple pie, it just goes to show if you are not patient enough, you’ll never get to taste the sweet results.

Of every six new businesses starts, five close in five years according to the Small Business Administration. Many of them survive the first five years, yet still struggle to make ends meet. Depending on whom you speak to, those business failures could be due to:
•    The brand having no stickiness
•    The wrong products/services
•    Not enough profits
•    And other similar reasons

Entrepreneurs are pros at getting their clever, innovative ideas off the ground. However, many fail to have a plan to sustain their big ideas and/or follow through with the plan. Instead, they jump to next hottest idea on businesses promotion without the flexibility needed to make the change. They sometimes drop the ball just when it gets rolling. Patience is not one of the entrepreneur’s typical personality traits.

As an entrepreneur, you might want to consider the following as you expand new ideas, products, and services into the new or same market space. And remember – it takes patience.

Have a 12-Month Marketing Calendar.  See sample below from our PROFITS MATTER® 1-Year Growth Action Plan (1GAP).



•    Active Marketing. Consider this your primary marketing method. For example, in professional services, speaking engagements are the best way to market yourself. So make speaking engagement as a part of your Active Marketing.

•    Passive Marketing. Your website, advertising, search engine marketing, articles, blogs, social media are all passive marketing. Consistency is the key here, so consistently engaging in passive marketing will help in the long run.

•    Follow-up. How do you communicate to your prospects and continue to stay in front of them? Tools such as Constant Contact or InfusionSoft can do help you systematically keep in touch with your clients and potential clients.

I don’t believe in any one business solution overly much. Perhaps I did put too much lemon in my homemade traditional apple pie. Just waiting overnight helped to validate a method I can now use the next time. The result was sweet. Remember, patience is a virtue when it comes to marketing your business. The first results may not come out as you expected, but in a while, you may just enjoy results that will have your customers ordering again and again.

Chia-Li Chien, CFP®, CRPC, PMP; helps women entrepreneurs to creating business value that transforms their world.  She is the Award-Winning author of Show Me The Money and columnist for WomenEntrepreneur.com & Fox Business online.   She is available for consulting, speaking engagements and workshops.  She can be reached at http://www.chialichien.com or jolly@chialichien.com.

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