5 Things I’ve Learned in the 32 Month Journey of MKG MarketingKerry Guard • April 16, 2014 • 4 minutes to read
It's been 32 months since I embarked on the journey of starting my own company
As any entrepreneur can tell you, starting a company leads you to experience the highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows.
When you're down, it seems like you'll never be able to get back up. When you're up, you constantly fret and worry about when your luck will run out. And taxes and government bureaucracy become company enemy #1 (in more ways than I can count).
It's like this shelf filled with soda's: no idea if or when everything will come crashing down or hold strong through to success.
The fact that we as a company have not only endured these highs and lows but EXCELLED and GROWN through them puts a smile on my face and reminds me how fortunate I am every single day.
Here at MKG Marketing, we take a moment every Friday morning during our team status meeting to recall one thing we are glad or thankful for that week; it can be work or personal related.
So after two and a half years, I wanted to share with the world a few things that I'm grateful for.
Smart Hires are Critical to Early Stage Growth
Last January, we hired our first full time employee in Christian Bullock up in Portland, OR, by way of a few mutual friends who couldn't speak highly enough about his abilities.
And this Spring, we've begun the process of hiring on another absolute rock-star and biological clone of Christian's awesomeness -- Adam Bullock.
Along the way, we've learned one critical bit of information to help us hire absolute rock star employees: reach out to the smartest person you know in that field and ask who they would hire if they had the chance.
Great Companies Don't Happen Overnight
You may have heard this phrase:
Rome wasn't build in a day
Well, the same can be said for building a sustainable business that delivers value to their clients and the world as a whole.
In our case, it took approximately 12 - 18 months to really gain traction servicing the marketing needs of our best-fit clients.
Many start up successes (from Twitter to Facebook to Instagram and beyond) seem to 'come out of nowhere' -- in reality, this thinking couldn't be further from the truth. Twitter co-founder Biz Stone even attests to the fact that success doesn't happen overnight in this Wall Street Journal interview below:
Learning How to Say 'No'
For the first time in our companies lifetime, we learned how to say 'no' to clients last year.
A few examples include:
- NO, we don't want to pitch your business because it isn't the right fit for our company road map or skill set
- NO, we don't want to continue working with you because we're just not the right fit
- NO, giving us more money cannot change our minds on a recommendation we truly believe in
- NO, we aren't the right company for you but can introduce you to a few people who might be better than us at that specific service
In short, we learned how to say NO to new business, bad hires and opportunities that simply weren't the right fit for where we wanted to take the company in 2013 and beyond.
Focus 100% of Your Time on Making Customers Happy
The allure of new business is a slippery slope.
If you don't take of your existing customers and focus on making them the happiest they can be you'll learn hard and fast how much it hurts to lose what you thought was a happy client: it feels like absolute s***, as if you've let them down more than anything.
Thankfully, most of the recent comments we've heard from our clients include happy thoughts such as:
You guys rock!
You guys make my life so much easier.
Thanks for thinking this through and coming back with an alternative solution -- we like this a lot!
If You're Not Growing You're Dying
Saving the best for last (in my opinion!), I wanted to share a couple thoughts about growing a small business:
- Individual growth leads to company-wide growth -- one is essential for the other
- Growth is fueled by opportunity. Invest appropriately in creating opportunity for employee growth, new business growth and industry growth
- Growth is fueled by process; it may not be a sexy topic, but process allows companies to scale their operations and maintain what makes them special
- Constant innovation goes hand in hand with growth; it's that hunger to never settle for 'the norm' and push beyond employee, client and company boundaries to do something better
- Failure is critical to growth -- you can't hit home runs every time you step to the plate. Learn from your mistakes and never make the same one twice.
Calling all entrepreneurs: what did I miss?
For all the fellow company builders reading this article: what do you think I missed? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.