Guest Columnist

Column: Business takes a little hope and a lot of strategy

Guest columnistApril 21, 2014 

From the time I wake up until the time I fall asleep, hope is an integral part of my day.

I hope there’s no traffic. I hope my flight leaves on time. I hope my client likes the plan I pulled an all-nighter to finish. There is one characteristic that all of these “hopes” have in common – they are all completely outside of my control.

I have nothing against hope. Hope inspires us. Hope fuels our imagination. Hope gives us something in which to believe.

But for all of the good feelings that hope conjures up, when it comes to business, hope alone is not a strategy for success. Too often, smart, hardworking business owners fall prey to the seductive nature of hope. But there are the lucky ones – the business owners like Karen Albright, who start with hope and build something exceptional.

Albright, CEO of BodyLase Skin Spa, a medical spa in Raleigh and Cary, took a leap to expand her company. Her vision was to be recognized throughout the Triangle as the leading medical spa for the enhancement of self care, self-esteem and well-being.

“I knew that my business growth would necessitate multiple locations. So when the opportunity arose to acquire another business, I acted quickly,” Albright said.

BodyLase opened in Cary in 2004, just two years after the opening of its first location in Raleigh.

She admits that although she didn’t have her plan formally on paper, the intent, desire and passion to expand the company were there.

“Hope is a necessary ingredient, but it’s not the only ingredient for success,” Albright said. “You must have the vision and the strategy. All of it has to be included.”

Albright didn’t have a specific timeline for the expansion, though she said the sooner she could grow, the better.

The expansion however, wasn’t smooth, and she faced challenges – including making the customer experience consistent between the two locations; ensuring the consistency of the BodyLase brand; integrating the two locations with technology, talent and customer management; and finding ways to balance her workload between the two spas.

“In hindsight, a formal written strategy would likely have made the expansion process smoother,” Albright said.

Strategy often reveals not-so-obvious and sometimes uncomfortable truths, but it’s the way business owners can forge a path to achieve wildly important goals. Strategy is about channeling our emotions and directing them toward what makes business sense.

Despite the process, Albright said she was able to keep her focus on the end result, make a decision that was in line with her vision and expand successfully.

In both life and business, we all hope for things to turn out the way we want. But if a goal is worth pursuing, it’s worth the time and thought to develop a strategy to get there.

“It’s important that you don’t lose hope when you don’t immediately succeed,” Albright said. “Because failures test your hope and often provide the best lessons.”

Olalah Njenga is the CEO of YellowWood Group, a Raleigh marketing firm.

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