The 12 Month Rule


IMG_5513It has been awhile since I wrote about the “24 hour rule” – letting a challenging or difficult matter sit for a day before responding. Today it is exactly one year since an MBA team presented their PGB report to Carly and me so I’m unveiling my very own, newly created “12 month rule”. This rule allows you – after 12 months – to say how someone’s actions affected you and, more importantly, what you did about it.

In a nutshell, after working hard over 8 months to help an MBA team review and study my business, on May 1st, 2014, I learned the hard way to be careful about who to let into the inner circle. The conclusions and recommendations they presented that day were glib and based on shoddy underlying research. For example, their qualitative research on the wedding cupcake opportunity involved interviewing 8 people, 2 of whom were cousins (!), and the opportunity for our frozen packaged minis was dismissed because they couldn’t find them in the freezer aisle at Mcewens. (Somehow the fact that there was poor signage at Mcewens resulted in the illogical conclusion that there wasn’t a market for frozen gluten free cupcakes – instead of a valid recommendation to get a better sign.)

Even a year later it is frustrating to think about the time and interest my team and I invested in a group who were focused much more on their grade than really caring about our business.

But I will admit that their presentation upset me so much that over the last year I have thrown myself into several projects that have paid off well, including the gluten free mini one and the engagement/wedding/baby shower niche. See the photo above with the latest in toppers and customization we are doing, much to our customers’ delight.

As I write this, I realize I sound too defensive – a small business owner should try not to take people’s feedback personally but rather glean from it what makes sense and just move on.  One thing I know from starting and running a business is that everyone has an opinion. I guess what bothered me about the MBA team is that my team and I took them more seriously than they took us – and as a small business owner with limited resources, that’s a hard pill to swallow.

So that’s my 12 month rule. Feel free to use it.

About the author

Jean Blacklock

Jean opened the popular Prairie Girl Bakery in the financial district of Toronto in 2011. She owned and operated the business until it closed in 2021 as a result of the pandemic’s impact on downtown Toronto. Read more about her background in commerce, law, and entrepreneurship here.

By Jean Blacklock


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