Thursday’s Thoughts: Ingenuity is Hard

Because I don’t have an office outside of home for any of the work I do, I spend a great of my time at coffee shops.  But national chains and local mom-and-pop shops. And I have a few favorite spots that I like to hit up.  One spot I love to indulge in is this place called the Blu Elefant cafe.  It’s on Washington Blvd, about a block west of Normandie.  They started out as this cute, cozy ,eclectic throw back coffee shop with comfortable couches and old books.  Now they’ve grown in customers and size and they serve meals and hosts a number of open-mic nights.  Love it!  But I digress.

Coffee shops are where I meet with clients, recurring and prospects. Collect payments and help good friends out with their graduate school scholarship applications.  But recently, I’ve decided to add another element to my coffee shop rendezvous.  I am a traveling/ mobile notary.  Meaning, for a price, I will go to my client and provide notary services for their convenience.   But what if I had a temporary pop-up like spot every so often?  Y’know, a spot I was at where my clients could actually come to me for a chance?

So last month I decided to launch this little idea of mine called ” Discount Notary Days”.  In the state of California, notaries are only allowed to charge $15 at the most.  We can charge less, if we want, but no one becomes a notary for charity, so chances are, you will be charged the full $15.  Well, I said to myself and myself said “hmm?” (old joke, old joke… gotta watch the Kings of Comedy) what if I offered a reduced price on notary services one day a month on a Saturday, a day I am not working and plant root at a coffee shop for a few hours, say four hours from 9am-1pm?

Great idea, right?  If you won’ say it, I will.

This way I get to increase my chances of find more clients, they find me and I do I want to do — make some money (wish I had the “get ready to rumble” voice) !

My first Discount Notary Day was in January and my second one was this past Saturday.  Oh…my…damn.  Ingenuity is hard.  I see why only a select few people are successful. Things have to fall right into place for it to work out and whether it does or doesn’t, you gotta keep at it.  But they say practice makes perfect, right?

So, the first time I did it, I only advertised a week out, because I had just made up my mind that I was going to start this promotion in January rather than wait to February.  A week’s worth of notice wasn’t enough time to give people a chance to find me or even read the ad.  Where did I post this ad?  I was lazy.  I posted it on Craig’slist, BackPage, and my website.  Again, I had made the decision late in the game.  My bad.

How many clients did I get that day?  None.  But I got a lot of other work done.  I liked that.  And some take away lessons too.

So here comes February.  The mistakes I made and lessons I learned, I was adamant about incorporating them this time around.  The first time in January, I was also a little late getting there by 9am.   Like, 10 minutes.  I’m almost never late.  I hate being late.  Forget about what people say about LA traffic and being late being a norm.  If people want to be on time for something important, there’s a f’n way!  Trust me.  [Exhales].  So, February comes around.  This time I swear I’m not going to be late, because I don’t know the clients I missed if I’m not there, right?  I missed by bus two minutes in January, which was why I was late.  I saw that bastard pass me.  That hurt.  This time I was five minutes early for the bus. Not screwing that up again.

The bus was 30 minutes late!  Ugh! Definitely an FML moment.  

That in turn made me 25 minutes.  Ouch.  Who knows who I missed.   But I was determined to still go and camp out at Coffee Bean for my committed hours.  I am a woman of my word.   In January, there was no way for anyone to know I was the Notary providing discount services.  This time around, I create a removable label that clung to the back of my laptop, so when people walked in, my computer said “Notary Public”.   I sat near the entrance, like I did in January.  I had cash and plenty of singles like last time.  This time, I printed additional Acknowledgments and Jurats, in case they were needed.  I didn’t do that last time.  And I advertised a little more than two weeks out from the date I committed myself to.  I picked the date early so I could incorporate other clients and plans around the date without later having to fumble and possibly cancel. 

My tardiness aside, February’s execution Discount Notary Day was much better in preparation than January’s.  And that made me feel good.  How many people did I get as clients this past Saturday?

None [laughs].

But I felt better.  I felt like I was absorbing everything I was doing.  I felt like I wasn’t just aimlessly shooting hoping to get a hit.  I was paying attention to the circumstances, the foot traffic and my own efforts.  But being successful, even at the smallest thing, takes much more work (and time) than I think most of us realize.  Preparation is half the freakin’ battle.  But successful I am determined to be.  Watch and see.

And so will you be.

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