I noticed a trend in my tips: Most of them, and many of my examples of astounding entrepreneurs, deal with folks who have revolutionized an industry, or who have kept up with the times through change and constant improvements to their business model. But what about the success stories that abound of businesses and entrepreneurs who thrive through lack of change? Through tradition and continuity?
My 8th grade son and I had lunch together at one such place yesterday. The diner is called Chef-O-Nette, and it's been in business since 1955. I'd link to it, but the diner doesn't have a Web site. Now located in a recently remodeled strip shopping center, the old fashioned font of the sign is the only outward expression of a timeless interior. But as soon as you walk through the doors, the Formica counter tops, naugahyde booths, laminated, hand-lettered menus with plenty of daily comfort food specials tell a story of the 1950s. It's lava lamp-shaped hanging light fixtures, lattice work and mirrored walls, swivel seats at the bar and window boxes of artificial flowers.
Shea ordered the fried-chicken special and three vanilla milkshakes. I ordered the signature Hangover Sandwich—a cheeseburger with ham and lettuce. Our waitress was fast, and friendly. The entire experience was a step back in time. Around us were regulars, mostly grandmother and grandfather age, who smiled at Shea. When the kids were small, a regular who was there every Saturday morning as we were would give each of my four kids a dime for the gumball machine on his way out the door. Where does that happen? At a place where tradition and sameness—read security and comfort—are the main commodity.
So, to all of you entrepreneurs who are running a business based on tradition and custom, on long-standing core customers, on consistency—keep at it. We need you today, more than ever perhaps. The world is changing fast enough. It's always great to have a place you can go where everybody knows your name, and the Hangovers remain the same.