Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Building-Branding Lisa Knows Tea & the Books that Helped Part 2

Last week I started part one of a two part series on branding and building my business.  This is the 10th anniversary of my tea business, so I thought it would be fun to share the things that have helped me along the way.  I concluded in part 1 last week with writing about how much I love what I do.  Loving it makes it easier to spend so much time doing it.  I can't imagine me doing anything else with my life.  I think most everyday, I spend some time on my business.  It might not be at my desk, but I am costantly thinking about tea.  I think you have to love something that much to create a business around it.   

 Along with discovering my mission and my vision, honing my speaking and writing skills and figuring out how to get published, I couldn't lose sight of my main event-tea!  I have tried to stay on the cutting edge of tea training as well. This has been done by self study and also by formal training through The Specialty Tea Institutes's Educational/Certification Program. I was part of the first graduating class of Level Three-Professional Series in 2006.  This year, the Specialty Tea Institute rolled out two classes for the next level of training.   I have just finished the first two Level Four classes and will be blogging about that in my next blog.

In last week's blog I told you about the book The Path. Another great book I recommend was suggested to me by my brother Mark and is titled Now Discover Your Strengths: The revolutionary program that shows you how to develop your unique talents and strengths-and those of the people you manage by Marcus Buckingham & Donald O. Clifton. It is based on the Gallup study of over two million people.

After you finish reading the book, you go online to Gallup's Strenthsfinders.com and take the quiz to discover your top five strengths. I have referred back to my strengths many times as I have developed my business. The concept of the book is stop trying to correct your weaknesses, but to work with your strengths. Working with your strengths is where you can make the greatest impact. It is also where you feel the most comfortable as you are in "your zone." I love referring back to my strengths. I believe we are all created with several strengths and when I stay true to mine, things just seem so much easier.

Another book I want to share about that made a great impact on me was, The Martha Rules: 10 Essentials for Achieving Success as you Start, Build, or Manage a Business by Martha Stewart. Think what you may of Martha, she has been a huge success in business. She took her passion and turned it into a conglomerate. The book emphasizes turning your passion into a business and steps to think about along the way on how to do it.

           Martha Rules are:  
1.  What's passion got to do with it? Build your business success around something that you love-something that is inherently and endlessly interesting to you.
2.  Ask yourself, What's the Big Idea? Focus your attention and creativity on basic things, things that people need and want. Then look for ways to enlarge, improve, and enhance your Big Idea.  
3.  Get a telescope, a wide-angle lens, and a microscope. Create a business plan that allows you to stay true to your Big Idea but helps you focus on the details. Then remain flexible enough to zoom in or out on the vital aspects of your enterprise as your business grows. 

4.  Teach so you can learn. By sharing your knowledge about your product or service with your customers, you create a deep connection that will help you learn how best to build and manage your business.

5.  All dressed up and ready to grow. Use smart, cost-effective promotional techniques that will arrest the eye, tug at the heart, and convey what is unique and special about your business or service.

6.  Quality is everyday. Quality should be placed at the top of your list of priorities, and it should remain there. Quality is something you should strive for in every decision, every day. 
7.  Build an A-team. Seek out and hire employees who are brimming with talent, energy, integrity, optimism, and generosity. Search for advisors and partners who complement your skills and understand your ideals.

8.  So the pie isn't perfect? Cut it into wedges. When faced with a business challenge, evaluate or assess the situation, gather to Good Things in sight, abandon the bad, clear your mind, and move on. Focus on the positive, stay in control, and never panic.

9.  Take risks, not chances. In business, there's a difference between a risk and a chance. A well-calculated risk may very well end up as an investment in your business. A careless chance can cause it to crumble. And when an opportunity presents itself, never assume it will be your last.

10.  Make it beautiful. Listen intently, learn new things every day, be willing to innovate, and become an authority your customers will trust. As an entrepreneur, you will find great joy and satisfaction in making your customers' lives easier, more meaningful, and more beautiful. 

The last book I want to share is My Life in France by Alex Purd'homme.  It is the story about the life of Julia Child.  Although it isn't in the business genre of books, it is a great read for those trying to stay true to their dreams-even when it is difficult and takes a long time. 

Julia Child was not an overnight success.  She didn't find her passion until later in life when she relocated to France for her husband's career.  Once her passion was found, she immersed herself in it completely.  Although she got discouraged at the pace of success, she didn't give up.  Determined to get her cookbook published, it took 3 publishers and many years to make that dream a reality. 

By staying true to her dreams and vision she singlehandedly changed the way Americans thought about food.  In addition, she was a leader for women in the culinary field and also a leader for cooking on television!  Her book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, made it to number one, 48 years after coming out!  Even if food isn't your thing, I think this book will excite you to stay true to passion and dreams-whatever they may be.  This book was a fun read as you travel through France with Julia as well.  I would love to have been able to sit with Julia Child over a cup of tea!   I have heard that she loved Lapsang Souchong.

I have tried to stay true to my mission and vision as I have built Lisa Knows Tea over the last 10 years. If you have decided these two important things for yourself in the beginning, building a brand is much easier. It is not easy to build a business and a brand, but when you do what you love, know what and why you are doing it, and know where you want to go, the hours don't seem as long!

I hope these books and insights are helpful to those of you who are thinking about creating a business or have a business already. I don't claim to know it all and will continue to learn, but I wanted to share with you some of the knowledge I have gained so far. 

What is YOUR dream and have their been books that have helped you along the way? 
Happy Sipping and Celebrating 10 Years, Lisa


  1. Dearest Lisa,

    There are several books, in several languages that have nudged me and inspired me. Above all, it are the different languages that allow you to have a more in depth look into the culinary culture of a country. Living and working there as a consultant and being invited into the homes of the Staff people has taught me more than any written book. That is deeply engraved into my soul and remains there to draw from for as long as I will live. It is that passion that I want to share with others, the beauty of the little things in life, the creation of romance in the home... That often includes a cup of tea in your fine china and adorned with fresh flowers. Why in the world should one keep that china in a cupboard? Life is so short already. We MUST learn how to enjoy it more.
    If one loves people, loves to write; it then becomes rather easy to open up to others and pass on our passion. Our Joie de Vivre!

    P.S. please do email me your physical address and let me know the total, incl. shipping for the two books...

    Greetings from the Heart of Georgia,


  2. Great summary of those books! I haven't read any of them, but I've read some similar ones. I just read the e-myth, which has helped me a lot. I'm not totally sure I'm building a brand with my blog, but I know that it is one of my passions, which is so important. Thanks for putting so much time and thought into this post!

  3. Thank you for this post and the previous on! What great information, tips, and advice. I defiantly plan on checking out some of these books and really try to narrow down and focus on my vision and what my ultimate goals are.

    Also a BIG congratulations on you 10 year anniversary of your business