If you missed last week’s post, the first in our series of entrepreneurship advice, no sweat—it’s here. But don’t let that stop you from diving in! Enjoy past two in our three part series featuring entrepreneurial tips from some of the best and brightest in our community.
There is a very good chance that things will not go the way you planned, and that’s okay
I launched Cardero Clothing in October 2015 with the plans of an e-commerce store that would start selling accessories then suits and dress shirts, with monthly subscriptions coming soon after that.
I launched it, and crickets.
I quickly realized no one wanted my amazing products. I had to find new ways to market and get outside of my comfort zone. I switched to a local, in person model. It started to work. From 2015 to today, I have made countless pivots in my business which have taught me, grown me and strengthened me as a person, let alone a business owner. If it doesn’t work, step back and ask the hard questions.
Derek Burbidge, Cardero Clothing
I wish I knew when and how to say “no” earlier on.
Like many young entrepreneurs, I started my business and was full of energy. I was ready and willing to work as hard as I needed to to make my clients happy.
I had one client that took advantage of that (knowingly). They recognized that I was somewhat naive and I was put in a difficult position of accepting some very unreasonable expectations, brutal payment terms and just a general lack of respect for me as a person and supplier to their business.
I wish I’d said “no” to that client from the get go. Thankfully, I had some good people in my network that gave me some perspective and encouraged me to end that relationship. Lesson learned… the hard way.
Kevin McLeod, Yardstick Services
Take yourself seriously in regards to pricing
Qaid Jivan, TalentMarketplace
I wish I knew how much outreach and networking is involved in owning your own business
Having watched my father run his own construction business while I was growing up, and work just seeming to appear through word of mouth, I never really understood how much legwork was required to establish a good business pipeline and prospective client list when owning your own business.
It’s certainly been a good experience over the last decade or so, and I’ve definitely expanded my network and even made a few friends along the way! The other nice thing to discover that generally speaking everyone is happy to help you achieve your goals, and wish you well along the way.
Mark Olsson, MacGregor-Olsson Consulting
I wish I knew earlier to work to my core competence and partner with others for their core competence rather than trying to do it all myself
I had started a sportswear design company. I wanted breathable fabric that was flexible, came in great colours and didn’t feel like the stiff goretex available at the time.
So I started researching patents to figure out if there were other solutions beyond layering teflon on nylon to achieve that kind of fabric. I thought I would have to start a manufacturing company to create that fabric.
At the time, I was 25 and a founding member of the Association for Collegiate Entrepreneurs. I had the opportunity to pitch my idea to Arthur Lipper, a highly successful investment banker. His first question to me was, what part of this project was I passionate about. I said the design of the sportswear. He asked me, “Why are you trying to do things you are not passionate about. Let others invent and make the fabric. Partner, don’t do everything.”
A big light bulb of relief went on for me that day. I called Dupont and talked to the Tyvek team and they sent me a lot of fabric samples. I made my sportswear with it and satisfied the design itch.
Lorraine McGregor, Spirit West Management
That there will always be peaks and troughs
Take the slow times to do business development, networking, read, get inspired and go for bike rides in the forest. When it gets busy again—and trust that it will as long as you keep doing good work for good people—you’ll be in a better mindset and able to give energy, creativity and expertise to every client.
Sally Bell, White Spaces
How long it takes to get traction in the market
I wish I knew now long it takes to get traction in the market place—pretty much a year to start getting revenue from new clients sources. And I wish I new my elevator pitch when I started out. It would have shortened the first year revenue hole.
Collin Jackson, CEO-R Consulting