Great chefs all cook wonderfully complex dishes using amazing ingredients, but they are rock stars because they can cook the perfect egg. Watch Alice Waters cooking an egg on 60 Minutes to get an idea of what I mean.
So what does cooking the perfect egg have to do with creative business? More than you think.
What would you pay for an egg cooked perfectly by Alice Waters? $10? What would you pay for the egg cooked the same way at your local diner? $3? $5? Presuming you are an Alice Waters fan, you will pay the massive premium for her egg because it is worth it to you AND you can afford it.
As you look to take your creative business to the next level, may I suggest that that level is not creative business lite to the masses. Watering down what your creative business does to make it more “accessible” almost always removes all that is valuable (read: unique, special, creative) about the business in the first place. Day-of coordination, interior design room “consultations”, instant editing by videographers and photographers are examples that leap to mind. Each of these businesses is a good business on its own, just not as part of your overall creative business.
Instead, just like cooking the perfect egg, your goal has to be to find those new business lines that celebrate your creative business and offer distinct value in the narrow range they are assigned. Have a look at what the ever-brilliant Laura Novak has done with Little Nest Photography if you want to see what I am talking about. In the beginning, Laura distinguished Little Nest in what it offers in-studio versus what she offered out-of-studio. Little Nest is compelling value to those that love what Laura is all about AND, I am sure, priced at a premium to relevant competition. If Laura was not who she is, Little Nest would have had very little chance of getting off the ground. Now that it is going, however, it has its own momentum separate and apart from Laura, so much so that Laura can now fold her premium work directly into Little Nest. The perfect egg.
Another example is the growing trend of blow out only hair salons. My favorite is The Drybar. Brilliant in what it offers as value to its customers: “No cuts. No Color. Just Blowouts. Only $40.” I am certain every hair salon on the planet offers blowouts and the concept is not new. It is just how The Drybar is doing it that is so smart. Specific value based on premium talent beyond what is offered. Every stylist at The Drybar is more than capable of cutting and coloring. It generates trust and creates value for the $40 blowout. The perfect egg.
Nothing is ever ideal in this world. Starting the perfect egg business requires commitment. Not commitment to get started – ironically, that is the easy part. It is the commitment to scale, to critical mass. If Laura’s photography goes for, say, $100 and Little Nest goes for $25, then Little Nest has to do four times what Laura’s photography does to get even. And, who wants to start a business just to get even? Same thing with the The Drybar – if the average sale at a typical salon is $100 and their blowouts are $40, they have to do 2.5 times the volume of the average salon just to get even. Seeing your way through until you get to the scale you need will not be easy, but then momentum will take you the rest of the way. Once Little Nest gets 5 customers for every one of Laura’s, The Drybar 3 customers to every one of an average salon, likely is growth will compound on itself.
Here is my favorite part about starting a perfect egg business – you have to be unyielding about the premium your core creative business offers. You have to stand for something, know your market and ignore the rest. You have to create a community waiting for even a taste of the meal they know is not accessible to them. Not leftovers, not crumbs, a true taste. The more focused you, your art and creative business is, the more valuable the taste.