The Law of Trade-Offs

“In reading the lives of great men, I found
the first victory they won was over themselves.
Self-discipline with all of them came first.”
– Harry S. Truman

Quilt Market
t’s Quilt Market time! The upcoming show in Portland will be the 14th Market that I have attended since opening my store in 2004. This year I will be taking staff with me to absorb all that Market has to offer. I cannot imagine staying on the cutting edge of our industry without attending this conference. It’s just one of three I attend each year. I think it is a must for business and for me professionally.

If you are a new shopowner, or a new designer, or new to working for a fabric company or even the media that cover our trends, this conference is one of the best.

Some time ago I had the opportunity to attend a different conference outside of my comfort zone. It required travel to a city within a two-hour drive. I purchased tickets in advance, but when we arrived at the turnstiles I learned that the advertised cost was wrong. We were not greeted with a map of the convention or told who the “star entertainment” was going to be or where. Once our tickets were paid, we were on our own, to fend for ourselves. We found good content but an unorganized setting, lacking in ease for us to gather the information we were seeking.

I bet Quilts Inc. makes many trade-offs each year to host Quilt Market. The challenges are real at every Market. Remember Houston last year? So many people were wondering if there would be a show due to the hurricane. But alas, the show went on and it was fabulous. Quilts Inc. plans, it plots, it takes notes, it invests in the right people and places, and it hopes that this year’s formula will be the best to date.

If you’re not going to Market, why not? You don’t have the time? You don’t have coverage? You don’t like to travel? You cannot see this investment of your time and money earning you more profits later? You would rather spend the money on inventory? Or are you thinking your reps will tell you what’s new?

I say it’s worth making a trade-off or two to make it to Quilt Market. So let’s consider the Law of Trade-Offs.

Tricks of the Trade-Off

As parents we are pros at trade-offs. With our children we say if you want dessert, you have to eat your veggies. We hear our teenagers say, “If I can stay out one hour later than normal, I promise to mow the lawn.” Some trade-offs are easy to make; others require more thought and calculated action. As a shopowner or industry provider, we need to weigh our trade-offs as opportunities for growth.

Some trade-offs force us to make difficult changes. In his book The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, John Maxwell writes that the difference between where we are and where we want
to be is created by the changes we are willing to make in our lives. When you want something you have never had, you must do something you’ve never done to get it. Otherwise you keep getting the same results.

Consider these three P’s of change:

  • Change is Personal – To change your life, you need to change.
  • Change is Possible – Everyone can change.
  • Change is Profitable – You will be rewarded when you change.

5 Trade-Offs for Growth

Think of areas in your life that required a trade-off. What did you give up to get it? Reflect on that now. I am personally wrestling with some growth opportunities, and my list of trade-offs is tougher to make. Henry Kissinger has said, “Each success only buys an admission ticket to a more difficult problem.”

Maxwell says there are five trade-offs we must be willing to make along the way to growth:

  1. Financial security today for potential tomorrow?
    At Quilt Market, what will I take back home with me that I can implement right away that will pay for my travel? Whom will I meet that will cause me to think differently?
  2. Immediate gratification for personal growth? Investing in you, your store, your community takes time. You may not see “fruit” immediately.
  3. Fast life for the good life? Richard Leider and David Shapiro have a formula for the good life: “Living in the place you belong, with the people you love, doing the right work, on purpose.” Fine wine takes time.
  4. Security for significance? Am I making a difference—to my family, to my community, to my church, to my staff—all for the right reasons?
  5. Addition for multiplication? When you are away, give someone on your team the opportunity to step up into your place and gain new skills. Are you equipping others to move forward, build up, and carry on while you are away?

Trade-Offs for Market

Now, thinking about Quilt Market specifically, what will it take for you to attend this important event as you work toward reaching your potential in your business?

  • Vision – Think about what you will see, from the “wow” of the fabric booths, to new designers, new tools, new threads, and programming choices.
  • Time – You’ll need time away from day-to-day functioning, both at the store and at home.
  • Money – You’ll be covering travel, hotel, transportation, food, entertainment, shopping.
  • Decisions – After your decision to attend Market, you’ll be met with decisions to make from the moment you step onto the show floor.
  • Action – Listen to new thoughts, ideas, and business building classes, and consider how to apply them to your shop.
  • Networking – You’ll want to renew acquaintances and meet industry professionals, other store owners, or a new designer you have read about.
  • Planning – You’ll need a notebook, camera, staff members if possible, to work the aisles to the fullest. Study your program guide, circle the “must sees,” and plan to get in as much as you can.
  • Budget – Keep your cash flow in mind. Stop at the FabShop booth for your business-building primers and walk with knowledge, not an almost-full credit card.
  • Walking – Wear good walking shoes!
  • FUN – You will meet the most wonderful people you can imagine—truly an international flavor. And you will take this experience back with you when you leave.

Use this time at Market to build up your business for the months that follow. Before you attend, take time to look at your store. What’s missing? What do you see in the magazines and online? What are your customers asking for? Write these things down. These observations will come in handy as you look at the booths on the convention floor.

I hope to meet you in Portland this year. Attend the FabShop dinner. It’s always a great night. Do all you can, see all you can, talk all you can and, most important, enjoy what our industry has in store for us this year. I am really excited about 2018. Change is inevitable.

If you see any of the organizers for the event, thank them. I love to be spoiled, and they do it well!

“Action may not always bring
happiness, but there is no happiness without action.”

— Benjamin Disraeli, former U.K. prime minister

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