Business Focus on Bean Soup

Business Focus – The Soup Lady

Business Focus Introduction

In business, especially in small business, the importance of business focus can’t be overstated. In small business the rule should be

first things first and second thing never.

Enter Susan Trivers, the Soup Lady. Last week I met Susan at an event where we shared respective business stories. Susan’s business, The Trivers Consulting Group, is revenue focused consulting practice. As I asked her how she got started, Susan related an interesting story.

The Soup Lady

Many years ago, sometime between when dinosaurs roamed the earth and prior to the explosion of the world wide web, Susan purchased a carryout restaurant. In those days most carryouts were sandwich shops. Serving quick, low quality food. Susan’s business, located in Alexandria specialized in more substantial, high quality meals for the family. One of their specialties were soups and everyday they would serve a cream-based, a bean-based, and a broth based soup. Susan was concerned because at the end of the day she would often have to dump a large amount of unused soup. She decided to fix that problem.

So she decided that she would track and gage soup consumption, statistically and scientifically instead of the gut-feeling methodology used by most businesses.

So she bit the bullet and instead of offering a variety of soups, she sacrificed some revenue to do a little test marketing. She decided to concentrate and map the usage of each type of soup. She started with cream soups… and offered 3 types of cream soups every day. It didn’t matter to her at that time that some of her customers hated Cream Soups…. Susan was going to figure out which cream soups were the cream soup loving customer favorites. She logged all soup usage and when she thought she understood cream soup consumption she moved on to beans and then to broth.

When she felt she had enough data to understand preferences, she eliminated bad selling soups and went back to offering a choice of cream, bean or broth.  Soup sales, greatly improved as did revenue and profitability. Susan moved on to other menu items.

The Lesson

Many lessons here about Business Focus:

A Dog has a 50% chance of catching a hare if it chases one hare. If it chases three hare’s it will catch none.

  1. You can’t fix everything at once. Focus on what’s the most important.
  2. Statistics and science beat gut feelings
  3. Status quo ain’t as good as continual improvement
  4. Some people like bean soup….Who knew?

Many businesses fail due to a lack of focus (See Focus Failure).


Hey Glenny Boy, why you saying nice things about a person who could be a competitor to you?

Glad you asked…

  1. I learned something from Susan and if you don’t love and celebrate learning your brain is dying. Thanks Susan
  2. I’m a strong flavor and not for everyone. Mr Cranky is a bean-based soup… Susan is broth-based soup. Some people like bean soups and others like broth soups.
  3. Because this is a good story for my blog and it helps my SEO

Every business has competitors. None of us offer services that meet the needs or tastes of every consumer. I’m not going to make a person who hates bean soup happy by trying to stuff my beans down their throats. If you hate beans…. and you love broth… check out Susan’s business. Susan and I don’t compete… Susan’s in the broth business and I’m into beans. And in my bean soup restaurant… I offer a free spoonful of beans… want to taste my bean soup and see if you love it or hate it? Maybe you just think you hate beans. Maybe you should try good bean soup before you decide. Maybe my soup is too hot…. maybe it’s too cold… or hopefully it’s just right? Go ahead Goldilocks, go down there and press that little red button to schedule a no-obligation, complimentary, online, 1-on-1 coaching session.