Wind of freedom
Creative Commons License photo credit: Tambako the Jaguar

You can run fast, but not fast enough that you won’t have to make some trade-offs my friends.

So I’m currently taking a Business Strategy class (yes, I agree that it is surprising that I’m in business school)! That’s why I have Kristen design the clothes. That’s not to say that you couldn’t be in business school and be great at designing baby clothes…but I digress. Anyways, we’ve been talking about how companies have to make trade-offs and I think it is a good lesson not only for huge corporations, but also for each of us.

A trade-off as I will define it is basically saying “no” to opportunities that arise and that don’t fit within your business model. Let’s take a look at Blossom Baby Clothes for example. We have positioned ourselves as a cute baby clothes provider. There are a lot of different types of baby clothes out there: funny, political, punk, etc. We realize that there are potential customers out there searching for that type of clothing. However, we say “no” to offering those types of clothes (unless of course they are cute).

At this point you may be thinking, “why in the world would you pass up an opportunity to sell?” The truth is that it would ruin our brand. Let me offer an example to clarify what I’m talking about.

Continental Airlines is known as an upper-class airline. They have on-flight meals, a 1st class section, and comfortable planes. SouthWest Airlines on the other hand is low-cost airline. They don’t serve meals while in flight, they don’t have a 1st class section, and they use economical planes that are safe, but inexpensive. Everything about SouthWest is set up to be inexpensive, and everything about Continental is set up to be upper class.

Continental saw that SouthWest was making a lot of money and decided to offer a cheaply priced plane ticket. They set up what was called Continental Lite in order to make some more money. This turned out to be a disaster. Continental lost millions because they weren’t set up to be a low cost provider of flights. In addition to this, Continental managed to confuse and anger their customers because they weren’t sure what type of flight they were getting into.

There are numerous examples like this where the companies went away from their “core competency” and ended up losing big. So although it is tempting, Blossom Baby Clothes will say “no” to clothes that don’t fit well with our strategy. That strategy is to sell the cutest baby clothes on the net.

How This Applies To Life

This principle of trade-offs applies to our lives too! Although we would like to do everything, unfortunately we are physically incapable of doing it all. If you’re like me and you’re trying to start a new business, go to school, and raise a newborn then you might get discouraged sometimes. I’ve found that consciously choosing to make trade offs makes my life much better.

It is so hard to make trade-offs, but just remember what you are all about (what’s your brand) and do the things that matter most. I value my family first, and then my career. Almost every day I have to say to my self, “Self, you’re just going to have to let that item at school go. Your family is much more important and they are really what you’re all about.” I’m definitely not perfect at this, but I can promise you that as you consciously choose to make trade-offs in your life you will be a bit happier. Trade-offs will happen one way or another, don’t let them just happen, choose!