What Peanut Butter Taught Me About Business

I’m in Melbourne this weekend to attend Kate Toon’s CopyCon. I’m super excited to learn from all the incredible speakers on the lineup, and network with some other copywriters in the flesh – we can be a reclusive crowd. I’m also going to be meeting my copy coach, mentor, and business crush Jay Crisp Crow in real life for the first time.

All that excitement had me working up a serious appetite! Luckily, Melbourne is a foodie’s mecca. I decided to take myself out on a date to a fancy restaurant. The place I chose had a special – a four-course Summer Menu’ designed by the chef around a particular theme or ingredient. I had no idea what the food would be, but I went for it, and I’m so glad I did.

The food was creative, unusual, and delicious.

As I walked home through the brisk night air afterwards, it occurred to me that there were aspects to my evening that can be applied to business.

Ask for opinions, but your business is exactly that. Yours.

In Sydney, with my partner, family, and social circles, I rarely do things alone. Spending a few days solo in Melbourne has been
Literally and figuratively.
When you do things on your own, you spend more time in your own head. Your perception isn’t coloured by anyone else’s opinions or desires, and you have a few extra seconds to experience things before moving on to the next thing.

What I’m saying is, it’s great thinking time. It can be all too easy to fall into the trap of letting other people’s opinions influence your decisions. But at the end of the day, just remember: your business is yours. It’s your passion project, your baby, something you love. And yes, it has to be feasible and marketable and all that, but the beauty of running your own business is that you can shape it however you like.

Take advantage of being in a more flexible situation.

Pay attention to the small details.

As I was sitting in the restaurant all on my lonesome, my phone was untouched on the table beside me – I needed to save my phone battery so I could use the maps to walk home afterwards. Instead, I sat and closely observed what went on around me. (Hopefully, the lighting was dim enough that I didn’t come across as too stare-y.)

As I was scanning the room, a couple sitting across from me received their dishes. Two waiters came to their table together, positioned themselves on opposite sides of their table, and placed the plates down in perfect unison with an elegant sweep of their arms. And when I say unison and elegant. I mean UNISON and ELEGANT. I immediately imagined hours spent in training, learning to precisely mirror each other’s parabolic arm movements. It was, visually, an absolute pleasure.

I immediately felt my opinion of the restaurant climb a little higher. It had nothing to do with the food, but it contributed to my overall experience.

Those finishing touches are often the difference between what’s seen as a middle-range product or service and a higher-end one. It’s not enough to just provide a great product or service. Think about how you deliver, how you package. Whether it’s physical packaging, sending nicely finished documents, or doing some extra training with your staff.

Trust the Chef

I’m indecisive as hell. As a supremely not-fussy eater, choosing from a menu when I suspect I’d enjoy all of it can be torturous. That’s why I like going to places with a ‘Feed Me’ or ‘Chef’s Table’ option. The Chef, in this case, Peter Gunn, knows his shit. There’s a reason he put these dishes together the way he did. In this way, in this order. I might not understand all the elements, but I can appreciate what he’s created, and I trust his knowledge.

Why? Because he’s the expert. He KNOWS. I’ve entered into his realm, his domain, and I want the best possible outcome.

It’s important to remember that when you bring other people (like designers, or ahem…copywriters) in to help with your business. Of course, your opinion is important (see point 1), and you know your business and audience well. BUT. Chances are, they’re basing their decisions and advice on a variety of factors and bits of information that you, as the non-expert, don’t have an understanding of.

You’re paying them good money to work and advise you. Listen to them. If you don’t understand or disagree, you can always ask them why they’ve made that decision, then go from there.

This is the best photo I could manage in this lighting.


Peanut Butter Is Life

Most restaurants give you bread and butter to keep you happy while you wait for your food. This place brought out bread and peanut butter butter.
No, I didn’t stutter.
Instead of a little dish with that premade circle of too-warm or too-cold butter, I was given a jar with peanuts blended with butter and salt. I was never one of those people that put butter and peanut butter on their toast, but this was glorious.

Of all the food I ate, the simplest thing is the one I’m going to remember and talk about the most. Why? Because it’s something that is so common and could easily have been done normally, but it was levelled up big time. And it blew my mind.

So what’s the lesson here? You don’t have to invent something totally new or crazy to succeed. Just do the simple things well – like really well. Really, really well. Better than anyone else has done it. Mix your peanuts with butter.

PS – In case this blog has made you hungry, the name of the restaurant is IDES.

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  1. Just do the simple things well, like really well.
    This is so true! So many businesses offer the same thing, because it’s what people need. But when someone does that everyday thing just that much better, what a pleasure!
    Sounds like an inspiring dinner in so many ways!

  2. My theatre teacher used to teach us that your audition didn’t start on stage. Your audition started the moment you stepped foot in the building, in line, amongst your acting peers.

    Your point on HOW you package your delivery hits home. Too often a good product just isn’t enough, people want enjoyable experiences. It’s how you get repeat customers. It’s how you get word of mouth.

    Insightful article, Liv!

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