Leon Chen of Tiff's Treats on Blissful Ignorance and "Do-Overs"
1. What’s the one thing you wish you had known when you first launched Tiff’s Treats?
I am actually glad I didn’t know anything when we first started. It is true, ignorance is truly bliss. If we had known how tough it would be, all the ups and downs and all that we would have to overcome, I’m not sure we would have ever gotten started. I guess if I had to answer this question directly, it would be that I wish we knew how rewarding it would all be, so we could enjoy every moment of it. Looking back, it’s been so rewarding to grow a team and build a company, but only looking back. While we were “in it,” there isn’t an appreciation for it.
2. If you could have one do-over, what would it be?
We had one Austin location in 2006 when we decided to expand and instead of opening more Austin stores, we opened a Dallas location. If we had it all to do over, we would definitely have opened more in Austin first, before going to Dallas and then opening all the Dallas locations at the same time. Managing multiple locations is difficult and we really made it more difficult than it had to be by making Dallas our 2nd location. The result would have been the same, but without all the headaches associated with managing multiple locations in multiple cities when the infrastructure was still very immature.
3. "Warm cookie delivery" was a new concept without a point of reference. What advice would you give an entrepreneur that is launching a new product concept?
My advice would be that if you’re launching an entirely new concept, don’t listen to other people. We had so many people tell us early on that we would never succeed and there were a lot of negative people we had to tune out in order to make things work. As well, don’t listen when someone tells you that it has to be done a certain way. Many people get caught up with what worked for them, but when you’re trying to create a new concept or industry, you can’t be stuck operating based on what is already out there, or you’ll just create more of the same.