By Rev. Darcelle Runciman
The power of our thoughts and how it relates to what we can achieve is astounding. I am going to briefly touch on the things that helped me take a thought of owning a business to creating a multi-million dollar company. It all started off with a dream, a dream of leaving my job at the time to move into something exciting and new. As one never to sit still for very long, I was ready to see if I could make it in the business world. I had worked in many great companies and management roles, and knew people really well so I thought why the heck not!
What I didn’t know was that being an Entrepreneur and small business owner can be tough work! But I was going to find out about that very quickly! So here is the quick version…. Started with a bit of money, got investors, had a vision, had a solid system, build the company with mediocre employees, then learned how to have great employees and really build a team environment. We were the first in the areas we chose and filled a need, took action and advertised like crazy and tried new things. We showed the customer we cared, valued our staff and investors, and had TONS of ups and downs until we got it right! It took many years to build it up to what it was and the biggest hurdle and success was finally selling it and letting it all go.
Now this business after year 2 was making great money, and investors were happy, however there were times when things were tight and economics, unforeseen construction, renovations, staff turnover really caused downturns in the business. Trust me there were many struggles as well as many great opportunities for money to be made. The main problem for my partner and I was that it was something we no longer wanted. We realized that it was not our passion and that the industry had a stigma that would take many more years to change. The industry was being regulated and we were what seemed to always be proving that we were indeed a legitimate company helping people and really valued our integrity and ethics in the business. Our vision was to help people and make money however this was not the business that would complete that for us. So regardless of the financial gain we decided to sell and move on to do it again in what was our individual passions.
So what are the lessons learned that you as a small business owner can take away from all of this? Let’s look at it in a list form for easier learning;
- I was a small business owner with BIG Thinking!
So let’s look at BIG thinking. I had a vision for what I thought a business should look like and I worked towards putting in place all the right things to make it happen. The right backing, finances, business plan because we were going for financing, and we looked at what the competition was doing, who were they serving and where was the need. We had a vision of being a million dollar company right from the start and kept that vision strong in our minds.
- I had a Solid Systems.
Then it was onto how would we run the company? How is it to be structured? Should it be a partnership or a corporation? What systems could we use that would ensure that we did not lose our shirts. We looked at what kind of system we could run under and developed a back end database program to track and take care of our clients. We made sure we had a solid policy manual (which was also developed further over the years) that would explain how we wanted the company ran for our employees so that they understood what we were asking of them. Then we ensured we gave solid, consistent training and that each office was a replica of the next. Call it a cookie cutter method if you will.
- We took Smart, Deliberate, Quick Action when needed.
Being able to adapt to changing market and not wallow in problems is vital for an entrepreneur. Working smart, having good systems and taking deliberate action was an important factor to being able to keep up with the giants in the industry. We advertised and marketed like crazy and did some amazing things like huge billboards and pre-event marketing that had clients lined up at the doors on opening day.
- We were able to solidify great relationships.
We created communication with the competition where we shared ideas and information within limits. We created additional product sources and had great relationships with who we were working with, and those relationships helped give us credibility in the industry. We kept the philosophy of win/win ever present in our minds.
- We stopped trying to do it all on our own. Let go of Ego.
When we started to learn that in order to run a successful company we needed to trust, and let our employees do what they were best at doing, that is when things began to fall into place. We had to leave our egos at the door and understand that we had taught them, and that even though they needed us still, we had to loosen the strings in order for them to flourish and show how much they valued the company, and what they were doing. We used the skills of each employee and they grew better for it.
- We showed we cared, and added value to our customers.
We encouraged our customers, showed them we cared, gave referral bonuses, talked with our customers, advertised and made them feel like they were not alone. We heard more stories about people’s lives then I will share here, but what it did was let people from all walks of life know that they were valued as people.
- We understood the numbers.
We had done our business plan and knew what we needed to grow. We had a balanced framework with our product, our marketing and our financial operations. Whenever we lost touch with that again, it showed. Understanding where you stand, and what you need to achieve your end goal is important and really the key.
- We were great problem solvers.
Being a great problem solver is important. Issues come up in any business and knowing what you will do and seeing your end result helps make it easier to predict how you will react and what steps you can take to rectify the situation.
- We were always learning and watching our industry.
We knew what was changing in the industry, we focused on what was working, and we made sure if we could that we were the first. We showed value to our customers even though our price may have been different than others.
- We had perseverance.
We stayed our course, and were committed to the business. Sometimes this was a difficult thing to do but in the end overall it was a success because we did have perseverance.
Now, did we always do the right thing? No absolutely not! But we did have the ability to see the mistakes and attempt to fix them. Did our employees always love us? No not always, but we did care about people and did our best to create a team environment where they felt included and valued and when we let that slip, it showed in performance from the team. The success we had with this business was an important lead in to future success and has allowed me to now help others in their journey for fulfillment in their lives through my company Strategic Biz Builder. The best lesson I learned? How to ensure that you do what you love and how there is a peace that will be within you when you follow your passion.