Donald Contursi | Crain's

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Donald Contursi

Background:  

Lip Smacking Foodie Tours provides a variety of walking tours of some of the best restaurants in Las Vegas. During the company's tours, guests receive full VIP treatment and an assortment of dishes at several different restaurants.

The Mistake:

Focusing on people who don't want to believe our product is amazing.

I started this 2 1/2 years ago and wasn’t quite sure if it was possible because no one else was doing it. The restaurants in Las Vegas are all very busy and many on the Strip are high-end, so I wasn’t sure if it was possible to do something like what we do.

But you don't know unless you try. So I put it together in my head and tried it out with a couple of tours and people were just raving about it, saying it was the greatest thing they've done here, which is a big statement when you're in Las Vegas considering there are so many things to do here.

Once I realized what a special experience I was able to put together — and how this feedback was overwhelming — I really wanted everyone to know about it. I've never been passionate about anything to this extent.

I reached out to everyone I could think of, and one thing I learned was that not everyone is going to be as passionate about your business as you are. I didn't expect to face that. That was a bit of a hurdle for me.

I was explaining to all different types of people about what we do, how it works, and how amazing it is based on all the positive feedback I received. And I learned some people just aren't going to be behind it. As much as I wanted to shout from the rooftops, "This is amazing, please come take a tour, write about us, tell your hotel guests about us," no one was ever going to be as passionate about it as me.

I just focus on those who support us. It's just better for the business and for my overall mental health.

The Lesson:

There have been just a handful of people who didn't think the concept was a good one, who didn't think you could eat at five different restaurants in a few hours. Or they would say, "I can just do that on my own. I don't need someone taking me around." I've tried to explain and have them see what everyone else sees, but it can be a waste of precious time and energy.

I realized I'm not going to be able to convince everyone, so now I just focus on those who support us. It's just better for the business and for my overall mental health.

I've learned to take a step back, be aware, and be around people who do support us. There is such an overwhelming amount of support in Las Vegas, whether because it's a new concept and people want to see you succeed or because people want to have a new offering and want to see us expand. So rather than focusing on convincing people who don't want to believe our product is amazing, we should spend our resources on other people out there.

As much as I believe in my cause and my product, I've learned to spend my time, resources and energy on getting the word out. If you stay on track with your vision and follow through on your beliefs and really believe in what you're doing, you'll push through and persevere.

Follow Lip Smacking Foodie Tours on Twitter at @VegasFoodieTour.

Photo provided by Don Contursi

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