What we learned growing an 7 Figure business and a 6 Figure business… Oh yea and what we learned after they both failed
Here are 7actionable tips from the learnings of our ups, downs, trials/tribulations…
Cognizance Capital has changed drastically over the past 12–18 months. Our team has tapered off a bit from a pure size/numbers perspective, and our revenue is no where near compared to what we are accustomed to.
No matter where you are in your journey, just starting out, going through a change of products and or revenue modal or doing very well; you’ll be able to take some of these learnings to help grow your own business.
Table of Contents:
- When and how to trust friends, co-workers and partners
- 3 or more sources of income and exposure is always a +
- Focus on 2 tasks, 1 thats drives revenue and the other that builds “brand or long term growth capabilities” for 90 days at a time
- Create a raw form to prove its worth
- Doing the right thing is always the right thing to do
- Pay your tribe more then what they deserve and treat them better then what they expect
- 9–5 jobs creates access to higher levels of creativity
When and how to trust friends, co-workers and partners
One of the biggest issues young startups and young entrepreneurs have is finding, developing and motivating a team. With so many aspects of entrepreneurship clouding their mind, good help is always a need and in most cases to save money they normally elect to hire friends/family.
Problem #1 with hiring friends and family- They normally will always view you as that guy or gal from the neighborhood. The guy or gal that played cards with them in the basement, chased girls and guys, laughed while having extended sleep overs; instead of viewing you as the BOSS, CEO, and leader. This puts you in a position to have a team of people that will only work as hard as their overall perception of you.
Problem #2 with hiring friends and family- Its simply hard to trust the length of time they will either work for you or put in validate effort!
Another big issue is trusting your partners/co-workers once the business is established. As money begins to role in “ego’s” get in the way. People have different perspectives, goals and aspirations with their personal life.
How do you balance/fix this issue?
Simple, always look for other partners, support groups or team members that have the skill sets needed to fill the role that your co founder/co-worker once had. This can be done by massive networking efforts and overall strategy around the relationships to establish. Now some of you reading this may be asking yourself, why, why would I spend time looking for a potential replacement? Thats not the way you should approach it, you view the efforts as being a SMART entrepreneur and looking for creative ways to increase the value of your talent pool!
3 or more sources of income and exposure is always a (+)
PR, Publishing, Keynotes, Conferences, Clothing .. these are just a few ways your brand can benefit from multiple income sources and multiple exposure avenues. In todays world of marketing & business so many relay on their main product or main service for income and don’t realize the vas amount of opportunity their is to expand ones wealth and reach off of the brand of that one simple product.
Under Armor, their main product started with clothing.. but since they understood monetizing options & various sources of branding oppoiunites they created the Under Armor All-American game, sponsored events, created gyms. Under Armor created a lifestyle movement, paradigm and belief around what started as just clothing.
Focus on 2 tasks, 1 thats drives revenue and the other that builds “brand or long term growth capabilities” for 90 days at a time
Noah Kagen, an incredibly underrated entrepreneur and one of the first 50 employees at Facebook asked Mark one day, why don’t we infuse (x,y,z) programs that will drive revenue? Mark answered with a short and conscience statement…. Does that drive us down the road of our focus? Noah said whats our focus? Mark answered “user growth”. Members of our team heard about this story from Noah over 2 years ago, but we must admit its made the biggest impact on our business.
The key for Mark was all about FOCUS, and understanding that their can and should only be 1 area when your building something great “in the beginning”.. now since taking that advice things have changed due to testing, and we have established a new system. 2 level focus, Sales and long term brand building. Sales is obviously a main focus due to survival, a lot of first time entrepreneurs don’t have the upfront capital aka investors that allow them to burn through cash month after month… so sales have to come into the picture more often then not. Now the long term brand building is a component some brands forget about due to the excitement and satisfaction of the income. See Nike, Under Armor, Google, Apple, big companies like these not only made sure the sales were in the picture but they cared even more about putting different functions and disciplines in place to help drive the long term identity of the company. Doing so helps sales and LVT “customer life time value” live on!
Create a raw form to prove its worth
Listen this tip is simple.
Stop being fancy, stop looking for the best developers, the best writers, the best team and just DO.
Now what does that mean your most likely asking… Most of you are assuming you need an investor, assuming the market place will deem your product as below avg., wont appreciate the value your product. You guys simply need to understand that the market place will forever and always be filled with products that have more efficient coding, more efficient design, looks better to the eye; but your focus shouldn't be on any of that. Your focus should simply be on how can you and your team solve the problem your out to solve for 1 person at a time, and make sure the way your solving it is efficient and incredibly valuable.
Lets say you want to create an app that helps athletes save money more efficiently with a drip system. Instead of developing the app and testing the technology , simply put on your biz dev/sales hat on and find 1 athlete, find a attorney and connivence why your theory is impactful and educate them on the process and help the drip a certain amount of money each month. Now that process wont be automatic, but the value is still the same. You have educated the athlete and preformed the task/delivered value at a high level.
The bottom line is to test the true value, worth and desire of your idea … before putting yourself in a horrible situation “time & financially wise”.
Doing the right thing is always the right thing to do/Pay your tribe more then what they deserve and treat them better then what they expect
Story time: Our founder began his entrepreneurial career at the age of 21, by 22 his company was doing well of 7 figures and his life seemed “well from a financial perspective” to be doing well. He maintained anywhere from 15–25 employees all of which meant a awful lot to the company, much more then he expected. So after 18 months of blood, sweat and tears from his tribe they simply asked for a raise. Anthony quickly responded with “NO”. Soon after his immediate answer they quick and went on to bigger and better things. After thinking about his decision and watching the brand die shortly after, Anthony said softly to himself one day “doing the right thing is always the right thing to do, no matter the cost or the time lost”. He realized that they not only deserve the money, he learned that in order to keep amazing staff you have to follow the action steps that keep an amazing staff intact.
Moral of the story, if you know in your heart you should pay more, or build closer relationships, or give each tribe member a week of vacation or simply ask how they are doing each day because its the right thing to do… weather you realize it or not the ROI is huge!
9–5 jobs creates access to higher levels of creativity
The amount of young entrepreneurs that claim to hate 9–5’s, claim to hate to corporate landscape, claim to hate working for the man is mind boggling. With this new found perspective most of them are trying their hand in the motivational speaking world, marketing world or starting the next great app looking for massive funding, not realizing all of those options take time and have a very very high failure rate! See growing up every single member of Cognizance Capital worked a 9–5, even our founder maintained a resturant job while developing his first startup; he claimed the security of knowing his bills were paid gave him a level of creativity and freedom he never knew he could feel from such a shitty enviroment. Here are 3 reasons why 9–5’s can impact your startup for the better and why your creativity levels will in fact increase.
- To become a great leader it takes more then reading a John Maxwell novel, you must feel and understand the difficult nature and landscape of a poorly executed culture; and having a boss helps with that.
- Having all of your bills paid ignites what we call a reward response aka “allows your brain to feel comfortable, calm and at ease.” When building something great you will need high energy levels, and stressing over bills def. is not the best option to deliver that.
- Learning can only be truly activated by doing or being apart of, thus when your attempting to learn sales, marketing, infrastructure, biz dev it helps if you watch how other preform (good or bad). So getting a job in that space helps with understand the core tactics.
At the end of the day jobs can suck and put most in a bad mood, but when your chasing your dream of building the next UBER… you have to realize the upside of maintaining a job and learn how to extract what you need from it.
Hopefully these tips and insights will help you during the rest of your current and or future entrepreneurial career.