When walking through an airport or shopping mall the aroma hits me before I even see the store. If happiness had a scent I suspect it would smell like Auntie Anne’s soft pretzels. From the first whiff my knees go weak and my brain tells me that I will never know joy again if I pass up this salted, buttery, baked goodness. They are so good that I fully expect St. Peter hands them out at the Pearly Gates.
While I’ve long loved Auntie Anne’s, I never knew the inspiring story of it’s founder. Anne Beiler, a former “black-car Amish” tells Fortune Magazine how virtue and trust helped her become a successful entrepreneur. (She expanded her baked good empire with a loan from a Mennonite chicken farmer who “loved what we wanted to do, and he gave us $1.5 million on a handshake.”)
Beiler says Auntie Anne’s is a modern-day business miracle that never should have happened.
I had no formal education, capital, or business plan. But we practiced what I call the three small P’s. We started with a purpose — counseling and helping people. We had a product that supported our purpose. Then we got the people to do it. The three small P’s, in that order, result in the big P — profit. If you stay true to your values and purpose, you will get to profit.
Here’s her advice for running a business:
Tell the truth, even if it hurts. At one point the franchise department had given a franchisee 10 locations at once, including one I’d promised to someone else. I flew out, explained the mistake, and asked the franchisee to give up that one location. He said no, but changed his mind the next morning because he wanted to work with us and he wanted to do the right thing. The results benefited the whole company.
Give till it feels good. Give of yourself — your time, your energy, and your belief in your employees. We had a profit-sharing plan, and every single employee got part of the profit every year I was there.
Have faith in God. It will make you dig deeper and become a better leader. To overcome adverse circumstances, you have to learn to overcome your own hang-ups, values, and idiosyncrasies in order to value other people, cultures, and ideas.