Who is your hero? (In business, life, or both.)
My hero in business is Kat Cole, group president of Focus Brands. She hasn’t lived the typical path to success, but she has crafted her own way. She has continuously had the courage to push through her background and accolades to forge a path that she designed for herself. Moreover, she is always willing to share her insight with others. Her precise demeanor inspires me. Every time I hear her speak, I am filled with a bigger dream for my life.
What’s the single best piece of business advice (unorthodox tips welcome!) that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
The best business advice I can give is that your network is your network. Many new entrepreneurs think the right strategy is going at it alone until they are successful enough to get help. However, getting advice from those who have already traveled the path can allow you to skip some pitfalls and speed up growth. Also, your network can introduce you to key vendors, candidates and/or mentors. The quicker you start this process, the quicker you are able to leverage the knowledge of your network into your business, which is a competitive advantage.
Your network can include people in your professional, social and community service circles. Just because you engage with people in one or more of these areas doesn’t mean that they can’t have valuable input into your latest venture. Thus, share what you’re doing with everyone you know and pick and choose what’s helpful to you and your company.
What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?
My biggest mistake happened when a bad referral turned into a bad business decision. When I transitioned from corporate America to full-time entrepreneurship, I didn’t know what was in store. A good friend connected me with a woman who had many accolades, including a Ph.D. from Harvard. She was looking for a co-founder for her existing company. After completing my six-month due diligence process, I decided to go all in.
I sold my house in Washington, D.C., quit my management consulting job, and moved to Miami just to find out weeks later that the financials, client base, and legal documents were all misleading. At first, I was stuck trying to fix the situation as I invested so much money and time to be there. But I finally realized that a sunk cost doesn’t require you to stay in a situation. Being mindful gave me the strength to get out of the situation and start a new company in Atlanta.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
When I wake up in the morning, I start with my morning meditation and work out. Next, I look at my Evernote file for what I’ve blocked time for in the morning. Typically I start with creative and strategic tasks and push off client meetings and checking emails to later in the day.
What’s your best financial/cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
When you’re just getting started, you need to calculate how long it will take for a customer to pay you for your product or service. Next, you must budget all your expenses for that amount of time plus a buffer. Many entrepreneurs don’t think of managing cash flows when they start their business.
Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
I recommend all entrepreneurs find an accountability partner or business coach. These individuals will keep you going even when you want to stop. They know your goals and are invested in making sure you manifest your dreams.
What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?
I believe a person reaches success when their life is harmonious. According to entrepreneur and author Tim Ferris, wealth is defined by what you do, where you do it, when you do it, and with whom. As such, controlling all of these elements in life creates ultimate wealth.
I believe that success requires you to be in charge of your wealth and mindful of all of your decisions. My move to Atlanta and subsequent business decisions were in part to satisfy the four W’s of wealth. My mindfulness training, including my yoga certification training in Thailand, was intentionally planned so that I could find mindfulness in every moment. Though I still have many goals to achieve, I feel successful because I live a harmonious life.