Small Business Stories - Chief Cookie Lover
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At the COSE 2008 Conference in Cleveland, Ohio Debbi Fields, founder and "Chief Cookie Lover" tof Mrs. Fields Cookies, talks to's Alex Fees about her business and shares advice to other entrepreneurs about following their passion.


Alex Fees: I’m Alex Fees on Small Business Television. We are coming to you from Cleveland, Ohio at the 2008 COSE Small Business Conference. COSE that’s C-O-S-E the Council of Smaller Enterprises, a group that yields to the experience of it’s membership. Debbie Fields is joining us here now, Debbie good t met you. Debbie Fields: Hello Alex! Alex Fees: I appreciate you being here in, you are the mastermind behind the Mrs. Fields Cooking Empire. Debbie Fields: Alex, I’m just the chief cookie lover. Alex Fees: And one of the key notes speakers here. Tell us about your presentation to COSE members here. Debbie Fields: Well, my presentation was to talk about the history of Mrs. Fields. And how I got started, but most importantly to be a story teller and addressing the challenges of starting with a dream. Alex Fees: Right. Debbie Fields: Trying to take that dream and turn it into reality and then all the nose along the way, everybody saying you can’t, it won’t work and the really trying to gain some self confidence and then the story and the evolution of just doing things that are outside of the box. Because when you’re starting a business and your doing something new, you have no experience. And so, what you have to do is try everything. Alex Fees: Right. Debbie Fields: And tell some things sticks and some thing works. Everybody’s objective is to have you know a certain annuals sell. You know from there operations whether it’s a predator a service. And my father made $12,000 a year. Alex Fees: As a welder? Debbie Fields: As a welder. And as a result of that I mean for me to envision a $300,000 a year annual sell and the annual sells. I realized that if could break it down into what I call baby steps and realize that 300,000 is divided by 12 and that 12 is divided by on average in that 30 days. That it will tell me my daily goal and that daily goal let’s say it was $500. Alex Fees: Right. Debbie Fields: I would then break that down and place on my retail service hours so that I knew and of course that was based on how busy I was, I would be slower in morning busier in the afternoon and then it would be a low again. But I would do all of my production planning, all of my service staffing on the basis of right now this hour. Alex Fees: Right. Debbie Fields: I need to make $10. And that $10 allowed me to a have fun; translate the objective and goal to my team and when we were not making our goal to actually taking action to do something about it and that would be to take cookies. Alex Fees: Right. Debbie Fields: By Samantha Cookie Shake, leave the store and go out and asks people to try. So, it is trying by process that will bring costumers back into the store. Actually I loved the idea that in theory every product or service if it’s possible should test driving. It’s kind of like here you have the ability when you go buy a car, everybody is allowed to experience it. Alex Fees: Right. Debbie Fields: Well, I actually believe that costumers would be more satisfied is if they could either try it, taste it, experience it. And see if it’s work for them so that, that way they would have something that they enthusiastically love. Because they’ve already tried it, I think a lot times people will buy things they don’t know that’s going to work, they taking home and then they can’t return it. And so, that builds up frustration, I think that for small business in America I think for anybody who’s watching this they should take a look at what they can do where they can allow people to try it. Feel so confident that the product is great or the service is great that the costumer absolutely buy it. Knowing that you need the money and you’re walking in and they don’t want to give you the money is just you know what’s your –. And so, the way is how do you get them to say yes, okay so we start there. Now, you have to understand when I started out I was kind of ahead of my time 30 years ago there were not a lot women walking in to this banks. So, already knew what my challenge is were. Was that something to cause to give up, no already knew that this was unique. The second thing is, when I made the decision to get the financing I didn’t have a balance sheet. I had no assets, I had no real reason for them to loan me any money. So, I had to having me experience it that was one. The other thing that I had to focus on was knowing that I didn’t have any money. I had to really focus on demonstrating, that I would find the way to pay them back. Because what the bankers thinking is, they’re basically sitting there look at you gone. Are you going to pay me back? Can I trust you? Do you have integrity? Can I count on you? Because we’re in a related, and that’s the power of people because if you invested me and I don’t pay then it impacts your driving your success. So, what they’re looking at is, can I trust? Can I depend? And so I knew that, that was the one thing I had to get convey. And so, it was personality, it was product and it was determination. I did build Mrs. Fields; I build it base that in what I call the phasing P’s. Whatever you do, it has to be base on philosophy and that means that if you’re going to business you got to do it because you love it. And if you love it you can succeed. Alex Fees: Now? Debbie Fields: The second thing is, that you absolutely have to be totally devoted to perfection. If your product ahs to be the greatest whether the greatest product, the greatest service. Because you can’t compete, you can lasts and unless you make it great. The third P is that you have to persevere. There are so many people out there who would say, you can’t do it at long it work, you have to see it through. And the fourth is that you have to realize that power of people, your costumer you’ve got to make a personal as personal as possible. Those four P’s link to quality, now for me that lead all of those P’s allowed me to do something that is truly the American dream. I am grateful everyday of my life that I did that. I actually have, I have not ventured into any new business, if anything I’ve been spending most of my time really taking care of my family, I have my daughters. Alex Fees: Right. Debbie Fields: And I have five step children. The second I’ve been doing is kind of living life in the most adventurous way possible. And taking the time for my family and friend, now if there is something always around the corner possible but I’ve got to get to do anything. I have to be motivated but passionately motivated and I have to be willing to do whatever it takes. And right now, I’m really enjoying my family and my friends. In starting Mrs. Fields I kind of think about it’s all about seeing your dreams through. And part of that is learning the confidence that comes with that. I did not know if I would succeed, I didn’t know if I was capable but I knew that if I didn’t pursue my dream that I might end up wishing that I have. So, I am very committed and very determined to sit down and really do what ever it takes to see the combination of this dream come true. Alex Fees: Right. Debbie Fields: So, I would say that you know what really matters is that you, you act on your dreams and that by doing that it gives you confidence, it gives you a sense of self-esteem and that only continues to build in baby steps. Where the more you learn the more you do but you have to get outside of your comfort zone. You have to always push yourself to try something new. And that continually builds.