If you’re a new business owner during COVID-19, then you know your original business strategy has had to change. Janie Burkett is one of those business owners. Her business, TheBiscuit Bar, had to go through new phases of growth during the pandemic. And she even had a new baby to take care of as well. Can you relate to all these changes happening at once? Whether your changes were professional, personal, or a mix, you're not alone.
Business Strategy and Family Strategy
Janie and her husband own and operate TheBiscuit.Bar together. And surprisingly, they don’t have a background in restaurants. Their background is actually in commercial real estate and network marketing.
A few years ago, Janie got pregnant with triplets. Unfortunately, Janie experienced a not-so-easy pregnancy and ended up losing two of her babies. After many months in the hospital and having a baby living in the NICU, the new family finally got to go home around the holidays. Mourning the loss of her other babies but also being excited to be a mother, Janie turned to something that would comfort her and her husband — comfort food like some biscuits and gravy.
And as most new parents know well, Janie was not about to start cleaning her kitchen and cooking from scratch.
So she set out to buy the food she was looking for but in premade form. That’s when her husband had the thought, "Well, if we would buy it, maybe other people would buy it too." And that was the birth behind the idea of The Biscuit Bar.
By the time they opened a restaurant in 2018, Janie was pregnant seven months pregnant with her second child. Janie and her husband now have a total of five restaurants and three children. Clearly, this couple knows how to create things! (And gosh do we love a happy ending!)
Advice to Business Owner Parents
Janie says that it’s impossible to do anything perfectly, including being a parent and running your business. You're not going to be able to parent perfectly, and you're not going to be able to do your business perfectly. She also suggests doing what you can intentionally do to set yourself up for success in whatever way that looks like for you. For Janie, that means continuing to exclusively nurse her youngest baby.
“The couple of things I would say to other parents and moms, in particular, is, first of all, give yourself grace, because you're not going to be able to do everything perfectly.”
Janie and her husband also recently made the move to get an official office space. She felt that when she worked from home she couldn’t easily focus on just work or just being a mom. (2020 parents understand that!) Now, she can focus her energy on work when she’s in the office and then focus on her family at home. “We were really intentional about making sure that we could carve out focus time for the business. And then when we're at home really be focused on our kids and not let the two really intersect too much.”
Business Strategy + Growth
The Biscuit Bar has seen growth from their network marketing business. And Janie advises that if you have a retail store, you should have many different retail outlets because there are only so many sales you can do from one location or one kitchen. However, if you have multiple kitchens, you can increase the number of sales. Janie and her husband knew right away when opening the Biscuit Bar that they would have multiple locations. This is one part of their business strategy when it comes to continued growth.
The goal for this couple is to have 500 stores. “If you're dreaming, you might as well dream big, right? So we really started that way, but we knew that we had to start our business with the end in mind, just like Stephen Covey says, ‘Keep the end in mind.’ So that’s what we do.“
Another part of the business strategy is figuring out if Janie and her husband could teach someone else to create food the way they wanted it to turn out. And could that person teach someone else, and so on. If you're the only one that can make the food then Janie warns you’ve just bought yourself a very expensive job. “We don't want to buy a very expensive job. We wanted to create a business.”
Marketing Your Business
The Biscuit Bar doesn’t have a marketing budget and an advertising budget. Instead, this brand uses organic social media. People love good food and it’s easy to talk about and to share, so that’s been the marketing strategy.
This team relies on two things: their food and their service, and that creates fans. Janie knows that people talk about experiences and are loyal to businesses that create amazing experiences.
Mistakes That Pave a Path
Every business makes a few mistakes along the way. It’s something that can’t be avoided. Janie said that one of their biggest screw-ups was in hiring and keeping employees that they knew were not going to be long-term. Because when you're growing a business, particularly one like a restaurant, there's no timeout or day off. So you need the right people.
"We are focused on a team win not individual stats"
Depending on what your business is, you might have the weekend where you can say, "Okay, let's take a timeout, regroup, and we're going to fix it." But for a restaurant, there's no timeout. And this means being staffed with the right people who can help keep the business running smoothly each day.
Business Strategy for Running a Restaurant During COVID-19
Janie has opened two new restaurants since COVID-19 hit.
Janie says they had a thought, "What decisions are we going to make to come out of this stronger? Because we knew that on the other side of this, unfortunately, there were going to be restaurants that were closed, but that created less competition and more opportunity for us. And also more opportunity on the real estate end to come in and get second-generation spaces too.”
Powerful! And a good mindset to have.
So she and her team were focused on what they could do to make it work. Their message became all about delivery and take out. She says they didn't talk about anything else — that was their only message. So essentially they trained their customers on how to order in this new world. Their social media focused on how to order from them each day.
Places to Find Inspiration
Ramon and Janie talked about finding inspiration between work, family, and everything else that takes up time in our days. Janie recommends these authors if you're looking for a mix of small business advice and inspiration to keep moving toward your goals:
She also recommends the book, The Vision Driven Leader, by Michael Hyatt.
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