• Brass Tacks

Making Big Decisions


Running our own business has been a series of steps.......if not leaps, into the unknown. There have been the giant leaps like quitting our jobs and starting Brass Tacks and the baby step decisions like what to charge for a product or service. While we could never know exactly how things would turn out, our decisions have never been made without following a certain "protocol."


Here are the 5 questions we ask ourselves before every major decision and sometimes even for a particularly nagging small decision.

1. What's the Worst Case Scenario vs Best Case Scenario?

Let's take a trip down memory lane to September 2016. Brass Tacks was operating out of two locations. Our original store front location and a warehouse on the opposite side of town. We were paying $3000.00 a month for our two leases combined and it simply wasn't working. Unfortunately, we were also only a year and a half into a three year lease that we would need to pay to get out of.

Long story short - We found a building that we thought was perfect for us and went back and forth about the pros and cons of leaving and staying for a couple weeks. It wasn't until we sat down and figured out the financial worst and best case scenarios for each option that we realized just how STUPID it would be for us to stay. Now it wasn't easy. We had to put all of our profits from October 2016 - January 2017 into savings. We would need to be able to afford the lease buy out and double rent for 2 months. The good news, the savings in our rent alone would make up for the buy out of our old lease and double rent payments within 6 months.

2. Do you have a plan for success and failure?

We decided to quit our jobs and start Brass Tacks in early October of 2014. The rest of October, November, and December of 2014 was spent researching, planning, securing bank loans, and asking ourselves how do we make this work? We had a plan for just about everything - except what if we fail? It was my husband Bobby who put it out there. "Ken, what happens if it doesn't work? What about everything we've worked so hard for?"


Now, Bob-O is definitely the worrier in our marriage, but he had a point. Let me tell you it wasn't fun thinking about what could go wrong. It forced both Andrea and I to think about that worse case scenario. There would be loans to pay off, leases to buy out, and new jobs to find. To be honest it wasn't until I really thought about what failure would mean that I knew I was 100% committed to giving it a go. I was dedicated from that moment forward, really knowing what was at stake and what failure would look like.

I often feel like there are a million ways our business can fail, but being an entrepreneur means trusting yourself and your instincts enough to move forward even if there might be a risk.

3. Is fear of the unknown or failure the only thing holding you back?

Are you not doing something simply because you are afraid? Don't be shy, we are right there with you. Brass Tacks should have hired a part-time employee back in 2016, but here we are in 2018 FINALLY reaching out to somebody other then family to help out with store hours.


The plan is to have somebody working all store hours by the end of the year, but it's scary!! For multiple reasons

  • what if it doesn't work out

  • what if we have a really bad month and can't pay them

  • what if this changes our awesome work environment?

WHEW, freaking out just thinking about it. All of those above things could happen, but we NEED to do this. If we want our business to grow, we need that time to focus on other aspects of our business that will help us grow and give up control on the parts of our business that don't need us.

4. Will this help you in the long run?

Making the switch from being a consignment and resale store to a venue focused on bringing locally handmade artisan items and fantastic events to our customers was a decision that from the moment we started talking about it felt like the right direction for Brass Tacks. As Andrea's lady crush, Jenna Kutcher, would say it's about being intentional with everything you are doing. We have goals and this is a step in the direction of achieving those goals.


At the same time we are making the decision to not offer services and products we have in the past, because they aren't going to help our business in the long run and they don't match up with our intentions. Example - no more painting kitchen cabinets, committing to not taking up new skills (you know how we like to do ALL THE THINGS), and cutting back our open hours so that every trip to Brass Tacks will be an EVENT our customers won't forget.

5. What's your gut saying?

For the most part - we just know. That gut feeling that THIS decision is the right one accompanies many of the decisions we make. Unfortunately, we don't always listen. We've been known to get the gut feeling that "NO WE SHOULDN'T DO THIS" and then do it anyways.


On the tail of our first big event (we staged Andrea's entire home in Sun Prairie and had an open house event where everything was for sale........including Andrea's home). The event was amazing and went really well. We were then quickly offered two more homes to stage.

From the get go we felt slightly uneasy. There were a lot of difference from our first event to the houses we would be staging and hosting the events in. The biggest difference being the location of the homes. But on the heals of such a successful event, we pushed those feelings aside and charged forward.

In the end, we lost all the momentum for hosting these large scale staged home events, didn't make enough money to cover our time being there for the sales, and wasted SO MANY hours of work I won't even attempt to add them all up.

If your gut is telling you no, LISTEN.

And there you have it, the 5 questions you can ask yourself to help along with those giant leap business questions. We hope these help take you and your business to that next level - they've definitely helped us along the way!


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