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Growing a business takes time. You may come in with a great idea and expect the whole world to immediately jump on board. Don’t be discouraged when things do not go how you expect. Believe in your product and keep working with it. Growing my website has been one grueling process. My plan was to launch a new version of the website in all the cities around my county within a year. The year is up and I am just now launching into my second location. This, however, does not mean my company has not been a success. To grow it takes money and to get money, you need to prove your business.
I launched my first site absolutely free and still some people were hesitant to jump on board. I thought this would be a quick way to get my name out their and get people interested in helping launch Town My Way into another location. I have spent the last year networking like crazy, marketing my product, and reaching out to new businesses even though I knew I wouldn’t make money from that. The hard work has paid off because now I am starting to grow and will be able to launch in a new area.
Be patient and don’t be afraid to work. Starting a business takes hard work and a lot of people won’t see the value in your product at first. It can get easier. Once people recognize your product and brand, it will be a much easier sell.
Recently it feels like I have been going a mile a minute. Faced with the pressure of heading back to school on Sunday, I find myself trying to do everything possible to expand my business. Sometimes you just need to remind yourself to slow down and take it one step at a time. I have been trying to cram all my work into three days (filling out applications, scheduling meetings, giving presentations, filing my taxes, drafting a deal for a new acquisition, creating financial projections for the other business, developing a new website, designing a clothing line, etc.). No one has the time or energy to do a quality job with all these tasks at once. You can’t rush success!
No matter how many great ideas you have floating around in your head, nothing will happen overnight so you are better off doing things right rather than rushing into things you may not be so sure about. Evaluate all the costs and benefits of your actions and see if it fits into your plan. You can’t neglect the core of your business to try and add other projects to the list. Master your business and other opportunities will come. It is great to have a vision for what you want your business to become, but that vision takes time. Slow down and enjoy the ride.
Never overlook the benefits of having a team. A building will not stand without a strong foundation and your team is your foundation. As a leader you must show strength, courage, and decisiveness but there are many other attributes to help make your business successful. Be approachable. Encourage your workers to come with you for ideas or even for complaints. They know what it takes to make things better you just have to listen. Ideas are created by outside circumstances. Whether those circumstances come from the environment or other people, they do not originate with you. Be open and creative. Set time aside for your team to explore new options and set new goals. See what you can do together to reach those goals. Create programs to reward members for doing a good job and make sure everyone is working towards one common goal. If your aspirations are unclear then your workers could be working against each other trying to achieve different ends. Make sure everyone knows what is expected and promote open communication between all workers. Closing your doors on your workers hurts the work environment.
Yesterday could not have gotten any better. Not only did we sell advertising space on Town My Way but also I was in discussions with acquiring a franchise license that will fit right in with our current company. Six months ago I would never have thought I would be able to take on another project while running Town My Way but by keeping my head up I can see the benefit of adding a new wrinkle to our model. Its time to scratch the old business model and create a new one.
Always look for opportunity and when it is there seize it. You can never expect things to happen because it is your job to make things happen. If you never look for change or something new it will drive you crazy. Your company will become stagnant and it will feel like you are going no where. Keep things fresh and come up with ideas for the future. Even if they are only possibilities and may never happen, it at least gets you thinking.
On top of all this excitement I received an email congratulating me on being nominated for Crain’s Detroit Business 20 in their 20s. This is a huge honor. Some of my biggest mentors have been received this status including Dan Gilbert and Josh Linkner who I had the pleasure of working under this previous summer. I may be the youngest candidate in the field being only 20, but I have Dan and Josh to thank for the opportunities I have been given and the success I have enjoyed. Working at Detroit Venture Partners inspired me to start my own business and help my community. All this excitement has brought on extra work but times like this really make you appreciate the journey. I will continue to work and continue to strive for success. I appreciate all the support and help along the way because none of this would have been possible alone.
Recently I read Josh Linkner’s book, Disciplined Dreaming, and I thought I would share his idea of heads-up and heads-down thinking. To be successful as an entrepreneur you must be disciplined and focused, but creativity cannot be overlooked. Heads-down thinking is staying focused to finish the objectives at hand. But how will this separate you from the competition? Everyone is capable of hard work so you cannot expect to be rewarded just by putting in the work. The most successful entrepreneurs have something that their competition doesn’t. Whether it is their strategy, product, or ideas, something differentiates them from the competition. This is what Josh Linkner would refer to as heads-up thinking.
While most entrepreneurs accept the status quo and keep chugging along, the great entrepreneurs put time aside for creativity. Rather than burying their heads in the books and doing things the same way it has always been done, the most successful entrepreneurs focus on possibilities or how they can be different. Be creative in your thinking and embrace new ideas. Set time aside to brainstorm and come up with something new to add to the business. How can you go the extra mile for your customer that your competition is not already doing? What makes your product so special? Challenge the status quo and question your current practices because there just may be something better.
This project does not just end with management. Look to your team members and build their curiosity. You never know where that next great idea will come from. Be open for change and embrace it. You may have built a successful business but someone is always catching up from behind. To stay ahead you have to constantly come up with new ideas and that entrepreneurial spirit should never die. Don’t think of your business as just another business. Think of it as a bunch of businesses with all sorts of opportunities. Be creative and separate yourself from the competition. Put time aside to let your mind run free.