I met Victor Garcia, co-owner of Helados La Azteca, during the Business of Food Workshop. I had posed a question to the group, and he responded with this impressively well thought through list of things they hold themselves accountable for – and parameters they must work within – as they grow their bootstrapped business.
I was immediately smitten with the concept of a “do-not-do list” and its opposite approach, as most goals take on a more aspirational, affirmative tone. Victor got the idea from the book Good to Great.
Victor co-owns Helados La Azteca with his parents and brother. While a family business brings its own set of dynamics, this one can be especially challenging at times, as the two sides (parents & children) are at different places in their careers. The parents are looking forward to retirement, so they, understandably, don’t want to do anything to rock the boat until they get there. While Victor and his brother have big, exciting visions for the brand and are excited to keep moving things forward. This list was a way for the four to grow at a pace that keeps both sides happy.
I am so(!) grateful that Victor was willing to share his list with us. Victor said he has been fortunate to receive so much helpful feedback in his career, and he just wants to pay it forward: As business owners, we’re all on the same journey – to make a business stand out; to be successful. We should do all we can to help each other get there.
Victor’s goal? “I just want to bring the flavors of Mexico to the US. To focus on being useful.”
Helados La Azteca's Do-Not-Do List:
For us, opening a second location has been all about our do-not-do list, which has allowed us to slowly create momentum and put us in position to open a third location. The list is as follows:
- Avoid debt
- “Don’t lose money” - Warren Buffet. For us, it also means don’t waste product. This one can be as simple as, “we mistyped and accidentally ordered a 1-month supply of strawberries.” Instead of saying, “oh well, we can just ask the supplier for a refund” and technically not lose money, we got to work and turned our shop into a strawberry paradise. We had six strawberry-infused ice creams, a strawberry slush, strawberry whipped cream, house-made strawberry syrup (which we still do), strawberry drinks, strawberry toppings and more.
- Don’t spend more than 2% of sales on marketing. This forces us to be creative with how we market.
- Don’t sell items that generate less than a 70% margin. This one is a tough one as we have to turn away many products.
- Don’t re-invest less than 50% of the profits.
- Don’t make big (more than 25% of our cash reserves) investments without having strong evidence in favor of that investment.
We have been swayed by Instagram to make "worthy" photos and were really drinking the Kool-Aid for a while. Since reading Seth Godin’s book, This Is Marketing, our business mindset has begun to slowly shift gears from a shouting contest to focusing on our tribe and how we can "wow" them.
Of course, we would love to hear comments and suggestions for our list and mindset.
[Let's start a discussion in the comments below! ????]