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Do it Right…and They Will Come: Where Passion Meets Purpose

August 25, 2013
Updated April 27, 2015

Harpswell Inn The road was really narrow and winding–with plenty of hills. Sue was vigilantly looking for the sign which was supposed to say “Lookout Point Road.” Our Google enlarged printed map was of limited use. Finally we saw the turn on a curve, drove 100 yards down the side-road, and there it was: a magnificent historic inn, dating back to 1761.

The Harpswell Inn, Harpswell, Maine, (30 minutes south of Brunswick) located on the finger isles which jut out into Casco Bay, may be located well off the tourist track, but it’s very much in demand. It was only by fluke that we had chosen this inn, primarily because another place we’ve stayed at before was booked solid.

The hosts and owners of the inn, Richard and Anne Mosley, greeted us warmly. As much as they were laid back, the Mosleys know what they’re doing when it comes to operating a top-notch bed and breakfast inn. They know their business, how to present a splendid and clean establishment, and yet make it seem like your second home. Sue and I have done many B&Bs and inns, but the Harpswell Inn blew the rest away.

We inquired about the sightseeing adventures on the finger isles, and which restaurant they recommended for supper that evening. Again we lucked out. It involved a 20 minute drive to the end of the peninsula on more winding, hilly road, but the end result was well worth it.

Dolphin1 The Dolphin Marina and Restaurant has been operating since the sixties; however, a few years ago the owners built a new restaurant adjacent to the old one (these photos show the old and the new). As Canadians, we’ve always been impressed with the quality of service and food in New England, having spent 25 years traversing this part of the world. However, the Dolphin was an exceptional experience. Upon entering, we met the owner who was very engaging and friendly.

The hostess made us feel welcome. Our spectacular young female server immediately understood Sue’s food allergies, something that is a hit or miss proposition in most restaurants. Later in the meal, the manager stopped by our table to welcome us and to ask if everything was fine. And learning that we’re Canadians from Ottawa, he asked if we’re Senators fans (of course!) This manager was on the ball.

Sue and I remarked to ourselves more than once during our meal how fortunate we were to have discovered this restaurant in tandem with the Harpswell Inn. Both establishments are gems in a sea of mediocrity.

Dolphin2 What surprised us especially was that we were at the Dolphin on a Monday evening, yet the place was packed with a waiting list of eager diners. Our server, in response to my comment about how busy the restaurant was, replied, “This is nothing; you should see it when it’s busy.”
Yes, it was August and tourists and Americans from far-away places with summer homes help drive the Dolphin’s business. But there are plenty of other restaurants in the general area. And the same applies to the Harpswell Inn–lots of inns and B&Bs in the area.

What distinguishes hugely successful small business owners from the rest of the pack is one overriding trait: They know their value proposition. In other words, they’re crystal clear on their mission and for what they stand. And driving this forward is an acute passion for their business and exceeding the expectations of customers. They love what they do. It’s where passion meets purpose.

Whether it’s the manufacturing of a product, the preparation of food, or the provision of a service, these business owners don’t want to be good or very good, they want to be the best at what they do. They take immense pride in what they do. Pride and passion, combined with a focus on the operations of the business, are a powerful combination.

This is how it should be: the never-ending pursuit of perfection, to borrow from the Lexus tagline.

Mediocrity has no place in business. Competition drives out the weak, and it should also serve as the catalyst to creativity and innovation in a competitive industry. This is not always the reality in the real world, due to certain political and regulatory influences. However, smart small business owners focus on why they’re in business and don’t assume that tomorrow’s world will be the same as yesterday’s.

If you’re a small business owner or an entrepreneur, how are you distinguishing yourself from your completion?


Life is pretty simple: You do some stuff. Most fails. Some works. You do more of what works. If it works big, others quickly copy it. Then you do something else. The trick is the doing something else.

– Tom Peters


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One Comment leave one →
  1. September 11, 2013 8:07 pm

    Very good. We started a ladies only fitness center and are trying to folllow that model. Seems to be working.

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