Being a full-time Marketing guy, part-time blogger and perpetual Historical house renovator doesn’t leave a great deal of room in my life for hobbies. That said, I always manage to set aside at least a few hours each weekend to pursue one of my favorite passions: barbecue. And not the “throw a few hotdogs and burgers on the grill” barbecue I grew up with here in the Midwest, but the type of cooking that requires low heat, lots of wood, and a cast iron cooker capable of surviving a nuclear explosion.
So when I had the opportunity to attend a hands-on, immersive cooking school led by the star of TLC’s latest reality TV endeavor BBQ Pitmasters, I jumped at the chance. During my time in class, 3-time World BBQ Champ Myron Mixon from Jack’s Old South taught me a heck of a lot about barbecue . . . and unexpectedly, a little about being an entrepreneur. In this one-of-a-kind article, I will share a few of Myron’s not-so-subtle small business secrets—but none of his secrets about BBQ. If you want those, you can take the class on your own dime.
Small Business Secret #1: It’s OK to Have an Opinion.
As those of you who have watched five minutes of his show already know, Myron Mixon is a remarkably honest individual. To him, there is no point in sugar coating the truth, regardless of who is within earshot. In Myron’s world, bad ideas are not “good ideas that need work,” lies are not “slight mis-statements of fact,” and his food isn’t “award-winning”—it’s the best there is. Period. Unlike entrepreneurs struggling to find an identity and pay their bills each month, Myron figured out customers don’t pay him to ride the fence, spend his life being politically correct, or say what they want to hear. They pay him for his knowledge, and for displaying it with confidence and conviction.
Small Business Secret #2: Don’t Be Afraid to Stay in Your Niche.
Over the past 20 years, people who prepare meat for a living have had plenty of opportunities to put their skills to other uses. But instead of applying his talents to the smoking of vegetables or cheeses or turkeys made out of tofu, Myron stuck to the carnivore path—even as popular diets, lifestyles and organizations looked down their noses at him. And because of the dedication to his niche, today his following is as loyal and passionate as any cooking show star on network or cable TV.
Small Business Secret #3: Don’t Involve Your Family . . . Unless They WANT to Be Involved.
During my 18 years working with small organizations, I’ve seen plenty of entrepreneurs put their companies at risk by taking on relatives who don’t want to, or shouldn’t, be involved. That said, there are times when involving relatives can make a small business stronger, and Jack’s Old South (Myron’s company) is a prime example. Over the course of my weekend at the Mixon home I had the pleasure of meeting Myron’s wife, daughter, and one of his sons—and each of them was thrilled to be involved, and immensely proud of Myron and his accomplishments. Family unity on this level is something most entrepreneurs want, but very few will ever have.
Small Business Secret #4: If You Offer Something Unique and Valuable, People will Find It—No Matter Where it Is.
Does anyone reading this article know where Unadilla, Georgia is? If so, consider yourself one of only a handful of people who do. From where I live the outbound half of the journey covered nearly 10 hours end-to-end, and included one long airplane ride and two different cars. Did I mind spending all of this time and money to attend a 3-day cooking class? Not for one second. Why? Because Myron Mixon and Jack’s Old South offered me something I couldn’t get anywhere else—a chance to see a World Champion do what he does best. The point is, today’s entrepreneurs are so busy making sure they’re represented on Twitter and Facebook and Linked In and Google, they completely forget the key tenant of running a successful small business: offering something uniquely valuable.
Small Business Secret #5: Don’t Forget . . . It’s ALWAYS About the Money.
After all of the world titles, grand championships and hand-carved awards Jack’s Old South has hauled in over the years, Myron Mixon has never lost focus on the goal of running a small business: to earn a living. While small companies across the globe waste months of time and effort applying for awards like “Fastest-Growing,” “Hottest Executive” and “Best Place to Work,” Myron understands that accolades simply don’t pay the bills. During the very first day of class, Myron drove that point home loud and clear with the best piece of small business advice I’ve heard so far this year: “I ain’t seen a bank yet that will let you cash a trophy.”
Small Business Secret #6: Be Gracious with Your Time.
Of equal importance to achieving success is how you act one you actually have it. While many successful entrepreneurs convince themselves they are “too experienced” to waste their time working with beginners and amateurs, Myron embraces every opportunity to pass on his knowledge, his experience and his secrets to people who know less than he does. And not only does Myron demand that students in his class learn something, he will continue to teach and answer questions on breaks, and long after class has concluded. Being a successful entrepreneur involves not only being a professional, but being a passionate advocate for what you do—to anyone who will listen.
Comments? Questions? Feel free to reply to this post. Otherwise a Retweet (button at the beginning of the article), Stumble, Digg or Facebook mention (button bar below) would be greatly appreciated. And for the foodies who are reading this article, I have included a picture of Myron’s award-winning beef brisket, which I made this past weekend using his secret recipe-easily the best thing that’s ever come come out of my backyard.
Also, if you have any questions or would like some information regarding the Jack’s Old South Cooking School run by Myron Mixon, please feel free to either email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, or post your question here. I look forward to hearing from you!