Company Culture Is Essential — Employees and Customers both matter most. The old notion of “the customer is always right” at the risk of employees and profitability is one that we have to abandon when we are building sustainable, expansive, great companies. We have to turn our focus inward to ensure that the employees and stakeholders are in alignment with the goals and work, and are inspired by their daily experiences. We have to ensure that our businesses do not sacrifice culture for profits. They can and should work in tandem. When you look at company culture, the way you treat your customers should match the way you treat your employees. In today’s environment, employee loyalty and longevity is one of the biggest assets. I take every single one of my team members seriously, take the time to listen to their needs, and regularly check in on how they are feeling about the work they are doing. People matter.
If you are noticing that you can’t keep a staff member, an assistant, or a key leader position filled, check yourself. You are doing something wrong.
As part of my series about the “How To Take Your Company From Good To Great”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Entrepreneur, Educator and the CEO of The Optimist Daily, Summers Mckay.
Summers McKay is the CEO of The Optimist Daily, a news publisher that uses a multimedia approach to offer formulas for success to its audiences, which spans over 250,000 active, engaged, Optimists every week. The Optimist Daily aims to create an optimistic, mobilized, and solutions focused global society, making the world a healthier place for all.
Summers has been building successful, DO GOOD DO WELL, businesses for over twenty years. A U.C. Berkeley grad with an MBA from UCLA Anderson, Summers brings a unique set of skills from both her robust education and intense practical experience creating brands, running companies, and leading innovative teams.
As the CEO of The Optimist Daily, Summers is responsible for overseeing audience growth and expansion. Summers led the relaunch of OptimistDaily.com, which has successfully garnered over 150,000 visits per month, over 80,000 users on Facebook, and a highly engaged daily mailing list of over 32,000 subscribers with industry busting Open and Click Through Rates on over 160,000 emails sent weekly. Summers has managed to increase site traffic by over 500%.
Summers has run successful crowdfunding campaigns, launched global brands, and continues to lead personal development groups, and create strategic plans for nonprofit and for profit organizations.
In addition to offering her expertise to her fellow entrepreneurs at Noospheric, Summers ran her own company, Love Summers Company, LLC. Love Summers Company won the 2015 Audience Choice Award at the Silicon Beach Fest Startup Pitch for their app concept, the Make Love More App. The company’s product line was led by an organic allover body lubricant called Coconut Allover Lube, and the podcast series LOVEGASM.
Prior to joining The Optimist Daily, Summers served as Chairman of Santa Barbara Entrepreneur, where she led strategic masterminds and executive development groups including Santa Barbara Entrepreneur Advantage, and served as Executive in Residence at Noospheric. She founded UCLA Anderson EDGE, offering rigorous business education to graduate and undergraduate students. A lecturer for UCLA Anderson, and instructor for UCLA Extension, Summers offers her clients and students a rigorous and tactical path to growth.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Weeding my parents’ garden as a kid in suburban Colorado gave me my first lessons as an entrepreneur. Every summer my mother would set my big brother and I to work weeding what seemed like the most massive garden ever imagined. Between that, the swim team, riding our bikes, and playing at the nearby creek — we were always busy, worked hard and learned the basic skills for helping things grow. Productivity was a fundamental requirement of my childhood, and I credit my grit and determination to those formative years. Along with that grit though, came wonder — that sense of awe when you see a project through and watch a garden flourish.
After becoming disillusioned by the pressures to focus on the negative, I abandoned my career as a reality television producer to pursue my passion of building businesses that do good AND do well. I got my MBA at UCLA Anderson and embarked into the mission-driven startup world. Like most entrepreneurs, I’ve left a fair amount of attempts in my wake, some more successful than others. I had a successful blog business while in graduate school — due largely to first mover advantage — and then fell flat on my face with an organic coconut oil based lubricant business, due to resource constraints and overall overwhelm with the sexual health and intimacy industry. I’ve since worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs crafting business plans, pitch decks, and ran a successful single shingle consulting business. That’s how I encountered The Optimist Daily.
I came to lead The Optimist Daily after consulting with its stakeholders on the viability of the business for several months. We recognized the unprecedented opportunity of a highly passionate audience, committed to the share-worthy positive stories, the solutions focused orientation, mixed with the extraordinary commitment of more than 5% of the company’s audience voluntarily paying a monthly subscription fee. There was something very special about the rough early days of The Optimist Daily that made it clear the business, with the right tending, could flower into an unstoppable force for positivity. It’s been a fantastic journey so far, and we are only just starting out!
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
I like to remind every entrepreneur that they will give up 2,000 times — and then wake up and start all over again. The commitment required to be an entrepreneur is not a commitment to succeed, but instead one to get back up again after you fail. For me, my mission has always outranked my product. I am on a mission to help good things grow and to prove that doing good can do well. I am on a mission to upend the notion of shareholder capitalism at the cost of stakeholder, environmental, and community abuse. That keeps me going as an entrepreneur when the projects themselves face challenges.
When I was launching my organic intimate products business, I made a very bad call. I spent every last dollar I had in the business bank account, and frankly in my own bank account, on an inventory of flushable wipes with coconut oil, from an untested, untrustworthy supplier. When the product arrived, the logo wasn’t even printed correctly on the package, the product clogged toilets, and the wipes smelled like all the chemicals I had expressly forbidden. I sat in my garage looking at this pile of terrible wipes with tears of frustration and anger streaming down my face. It was so bad, I couldn’t even give them away.
And of course, soon thereafter, my parents asked me when I planned to get a real job. I think most entrepreneurs are asked that question at some point.
I had raised a fair amount of money from a crowd-funding campaign and while I knew that my big idea was a complete failure, I wanted to do right by all my investors, so I retooled.
I came up with another version of the product and went into production “cottage industry” style. I’ve since shipped out hundreds of jars of an alternative product which turned out to be very well loved. I took the core ingredients from the first failed product, mixed them together, and re-imagined an all over body lube we called CAL (Coconut Allover Lube).
The product did very well and I still get requests for it today. Ultimately, competing in the intimacy business was not my true calling and I closed the business. That failure and subsequent modest success was just what I needed to remind myself that a defeat is just a door to another opportunity, a way to innovate, and a way to find a solution.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
We had some fits and starts with The Optimist Daily when I first started working on the business relaunch. I won’t call it the funniest mistake, that might be the one that left me in tears amidst piles of bad sex-wipes, but one of the most important mistakes and lessons I learned was when I did not listen to my instincts and hired a vendor that was too good to be true.
When we were relaunching the company website, we received bids from dozens of design companies and some were outrageously expensive. Our chief investor wasn’t sure about the high cost and I knew I needed to find something better. Then, a bid came in at 10% of the price of all the others. I knew there was no way that the vendor could pull it off, but made the mistake of sharing it with my investors. I thought it was entertaining — and admittedly, I didn’t feel I yet had the authority to just toss it to the round file. Like many entrepreneurs, I was neck deep in imposter syndrome.
You can guess what happened next…. Of course, that was the bid the investors encouraged me to try to make work. Why wouldn’t they want to save 90%?!?!
We lost about 9 weeks of productivity trying hard to make the less expensive vendor work and ended up with a system that needed more repair than the one we had left. It was a huge frustration. Frankly, our investors looked to me as the responsible party for the decision. When you are the CEO, the buck stops with you. Hindsight is 20|20 but I know now that not following my instincts is often a risk. I like to remind entrepreneurs to lead with instinct supported by data and consider both with equal measure.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
As a media company, The Optimist Daily is an extraordinary organization. We have focused our mission on upending the media model and disbanding the notion of “if it bleeds it leads” in favor of developing a new mantra — Solutions for a better tomorrow. One of the most exciting things that has happened for our company has been the increase in subscribers, traffic, and social engagement during the Coronavirus Pandemic and global lockdown. We have seen increases of nearly 500% despite the chaos in the world!
What draws people to The Optimist Daily during these unprecedented times is a collective sense that we all need optimism. We all need solutions. Instead of getting sucked into the couch in a doom-scrolling desolate field of tweet rants, people are hungry for ideas on what can be next. When the landscape of social and news media is largely negative, inflammatory, and not focused on how things can get better, people respond. They want and expect something better both in how they spend their time online and how they envision their future.
At The Optimist Daily we cover relevant news, breaking news, even emotionally challenging news — and we do it with a focus on: what is the solution, what are the innovations that can change outcomes for the good, and who are the people with solutions focused mindsets!
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
I cannot understate the value of strong team relationships and collaboration to get through the most trying of times. Find a collaborator with whom you can share utter transparency, who can bring you out of your rabbit holes, and someone who will listen to you have your “rage” fests and be willing to talk you through the worst days.
My colleague and partner in The Optimist Daily leadership, Chief Content Officer Kristy Jansen is extraordinary. Without her partnership, I would not be able to keep pushing in an industry so determined to do the exact opposite of what we do at TOD.
Burn out is inevitable in any career, but when you are working against traditional structures, and focused on a mission driven Do Good Do Well business, there will be a lot of resistance.
Whenever I find myself approaching burnout here’s my go to steps.
- Rant it out. — Is it anger, frustration, or just exhaustion — identify what’s going on.
- Remind yourself of your goal. — Remember that the goal is not the path. Redirecting your tactics to overcome current obstacles is often required.
- Take a break — a real break. For most entrepreneurs, the idea of taking time off sounds crazy — but it is imperative to reset.
- Make a plan to get back on track. When you come back from your break, don’t just jump right back in. Take time to identify the next steps, the important tasks. Ask yourself repeatedly, “Does this get us to the goal?”
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I have been incredibly fortunate to have talented mentors, investors, and collaborators through all the chapters of my entrepreneurial journey. It’s definitely hard to choose. When it comes to The Optimist Daily, no question our Impact Investor, Rinaldo Brutoco gets the lionshare of my gratitude. When Rinaldo and I first met a few years ago, he was looking for someone to help take The Optimist Daily from good to great. It was a small organization with a dedicated readership, but it had not yet found its wings or a path to critical mass. Rinaldo is a brilliant guy who wanted nothing more than for his passion project to turn into a fruitful business. Care and feeding and patience and faith are required.
Rinaldo had the courage that most investors don’t have. He elevated a 9 month pregnant entrepreneur in her 40s to a primary leadership role in his organization. I was named CEO of The Optimist Daily ten days before I gave birth to my baby girl. This was an extraordinary act of courage, aligned with The Optimist Daily’s philosophy and our business mission. At the time, he had a lot of people in his ear telling him it was a bad idea, but he and I both knew it would drive us harder and further than resetting.
As partners, Rinaldo and I have been through the ringer and he has been exceptionally committed to helping us keep focused on the company mission and goal. Rinaldo and I both have a farming/ gardening mindset when it comes to business. The right soil, the right seeds, the right feeding and watering, and the patience to let the business grow can work.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. The title of this series is “How to take your company from good to great”. Let’s start with defining our terms. How would you define a “good” company, what does that look like? How would you define a “great” company, what does that look like?
A good company is one that provides for its employees, customers, and stakeholders in a way that is sustainable and equitable. A good company has to provide goods or services that customers want at an effective price that can support the team. A great company is one that does that, and more. It is a purpose or mission-driven business that will improve the world for years to come. A great company is one with a culture that expands and empowers its employees and customers, seeing all as part of the ecosystem of a positive future. A great company walks the talk — from their brand, to the products they sell, to their company culture.
Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to lead a company from Good to Great? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Establish a clear Vision, Mission and Purpose
In order to return every day to the wheel of entrepreneurship, you need some anchors both personally and for your company. Start by crafting your Vision (what the future looks like if you accomplish your goals), your Mission (how you will execute those goals), and Purpose (why you are on this journey).
Take time to develop them for yourself as a leader and an individual, then work with your team to build the company statements.
2. Company Culture Is Essential — Employees and Customers both matter most
The old notion of “the customer is always right” at the risk of employees and profitability is one that we have to abandon when we are building sustainable, expansive, great companies. We have to turn our focus inward to ensure that the employees and stakeholders are in alignment with the goals and work, and are inspired by their daily experiences. We have to ensure that our businesses do not sacrifice culture for profits. They can and should work in tandem. When you look at company culture, the way you treat your customers should match the way you treat your employees. In today’s environment, employee loyalty and longevity is one of the biggest assets. I take every single one of my team members seriously, take the time to listen to their needs, and regularly check in on how they are feeling about the work they are doing. People matter.
If you are noticing that you can’t keep a staff member, an assistant, or a key leader position filled, check yourself. You are doing something wrong.
3. Hard conversations lead to thoughtful solutions
I make a list each week of what the tough conversations I know I will have and then I jot down potential ways they can further our goals. Entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint — and you will have really challenging conversations with your investors and stakeholders along the way. Learning how to deliver challenging news: not so great financial reports, tech and operations failures, or customer dissatisfaction is imperative. Managing emotions and focusing on the solution mindset is a well-learned skill. Remember, the tough conversations are where thoughtful solutions can blossom.
4. Integrity is Imperative
This touches on the points above. As a leader, you must give your team the opportunity for 100% transparency, and honesty as well as practicing it yourself. By leading with integrity and presenting a calm forum for collaborators, you will get the very best work out of people and the most out of your relationships. Integrity as a leader leads to increased productivity for the team. They know they can count on you and therefore can count on their contributions and concerns to matter. We work really hard at The Optimist Daily to eradicate the archaic CYA (cover your ass) culture of days gone by. Instead, we allow for what I call Outstanding Accountability. Everyone has ultimate ownership of their tasks, are responsible for exception and meticulous completion, and if anything gets in the way of that, they can put the breaks on the entire team for a course correction. When mistakes happen, when bad news must be delivered, when something has gone wrong — integrity allows for improvements!
5. Remember, the goal is not the path
A lot of entrepreneurs and leaders get stuck in the day-to-day of the path they first choose. There are obstacles and they work incredibly hard to get through them, but sometimes the best way to get through them — is to simply go around them. Choose a new path.
At The Optimist Daily, we found ourselves in an interesting situation during this recent election cycle. Our primary channel of marketing was simply cut off. Facebook, which counted for 90% of our marketing budget, would not run our ads. With our marketing outlet cut off, our business Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) looked terrible! Instead of trying to work with Facebook to get our ads turned back on, we looked at other ways to generate leads, reach new readers, and convert the readers we had. While we won’t likely go entire months without spending our marketing budget again, in the month where it was cut off, we actually delivered equivalent results for the month on KPIs that mattered more towards our goal then our path.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. Can you help articulate for our readers a few reasons why a business should consider becoming a purpose driven business, or consider having a social impact angle?
Fundamentally, a business without a purpose, a higher vision, or a “do good do well” social impact directive will never be a great company. The machinations of industry are what they are. You can run a perfectly fine business without a greater vision, but you will never be counted as one of the change makers, thought leaders, or the world’s most meaningful contributors. An authentic, meaningful, and measurable impact is essential for a business to achieve out of this world success..
From a sheer statistical perspective, the research 100% supports the idea that longevity, loyalty, and capacity for high growth is greatly enhanced by mission driven companies. This goes back to the notion that the employees, customers, and stakeholders all play an essential role in success. The intrinsic, emotional connection that people feel with the places they earn and the places they spend their dollars is as valuable as the extrinsic benefits they get from the products themselves.
While the Millennial generation is often stereotyped as the generation that most demands this intrinsic value from their employers and the brands they buy, at The Optimist Daily we are honored to see this preference is not isolated to those born from 1980–2000. In our experience, our most avid supporters, readers, and sharers of the Optimist Daily’s solutions based journalism span all ages. I think businesses can’t count out the expectation that Boomers, GenXers, Linksters and beyond also demand a higher purpose with their purchasing power.
Now, let me be clear — you MUST deliver exceptionally on both the mission and the product. A half hearted effort on either side will quickly alienate your customers and employees. You can’t slap a meaningful mission on a sub-par product, or a half assed mission on an exceptional product and expect people to buy in. Authentic, meaningful, and measurable impact is essential for business success.
What would you advise to a business leader who initially went through years of successive growth, but has now reached a standstill. From your experience do you have any general advice about how to boost growth and “restart their engines”?
Growth feels fantastic as an entrepreneur and so does sustainability. Often those things don’t happen concurrently, but it is important to recognize the value of both. Growth requires financial input and an outlay of resources. It does not happen without it. Growth also does not happen without risk. The first thing I would suggest is that the leader ask if growth at the current moment is imperative — or if the KPIs they are using to measure business success have perhaps worn out their welcome. Perhaps, you may see that your business has matured into a chapter of sustainability. This may mean that the goals can change for a time. If however, growth remains the focus — then it’s time to retool the inputs that accelerate growth. Look at your marketing budget, sales team, customer support, and consider reallocations of resources, identify new markets, figure out where and how you can find additional capital, resources and relationships to grow your product offering and new market penetration.
Many first time entrepreneurs and micro- investors spend a lot of time attempting to define that “one thing” that will make a business successful. To me, that is another archaic hog wash notion. Is it marketing, spending money on PR, adding a new product? What do we have to do?!?!? Well, everything — in a measured, managed, and strategic way.
At The Optimist Daily we continually remind our readers that solutions are not silo’d. There’s a wonderful synergy when things work together and new ideas and new inputs collaborate in a holistic way. Above all — remember that what you did yesterday for growth will absolutely not indicate what you need to do tomorrow.
Generating new business, increasing your profits, or at least maintaining your financial stability can be challenging during good times, even more so during turbulent times. Can you share some of the strategies you use to keep forging ahead and not lose growth traction during a difficult economy?
Having the stomach to get through the worst times as an entrepreneur requires more than just grit, it also requires planning and strategic use of resources. And a fair amount of long-sighted optimism! Whether it’s a cottage industry business or a Series B funded startup, there are times for expansion, reinvestment, and growth — and there are times for holding steady. At The Optimist Daily, financially we approached the pandemic, political uncertainty, and the chaotic environment that was affecting our entire audience with a very measured hand. Recognizing that user behavior was unpredictable and we had no idea what subscriptions or readership would do, we held back on expansion of marketing dollars and instead invested on the home front. We shored up our analytics capabilities, kept our editorial team gainfully employed, and while there is inherent risk in any startup, we minimized our risk exposure by ensuring we weren’t taking any huge leaps of faith.
What has been most fascinating about this period has been seeing what a renewed internal focus could do for our company. Our team was more creative and innovative. Our content got better, we launched a daily podcast series, launched a thought-leader essay series, and began expansion into video content. We asked our audience their thoughts and instead of focusing on just new audience acquisition, we improved our relationship with our existing audience. We saw an expansion of both free subscribers and paying readers.
When there is uncertainty brewing, (more than just the usual startup uncertainty) it is a good time to focus inward as a team and improve your relationship with your core customers. You can improve CLV and keep cash-flow steady which can help you get to a better economic chapter.
In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?
This one is pretty simple. Most of the time, leadership greatly underestimates the value of relationships with team members. We have a two-way review system at TOD and encourage our team members to share their thoughts with leadership on a regular basis. This pandemic has required team flexibility, autonomy, and a whole lot innovative, outside your job-description kind of thinking. The partnership I share with my Chief Content Officer, Kristy Jansen is a critical part of that culture. Our relationship and the relationship with every one of our team members is important. TOD team members were ready for the challenge and felt safe taking on new roles. They trusted that we’d offer training, coaching, and mentorship to the best of our abilities and always back their plays with our investors as we evolved. In uncertain times, employee stability, loyalty, and innovation are essential. Underestimating their value during the good times can lead to a scary wake up call for leadership when the going gets tough.
As you know, “conversion” means to convert a visit into a sale. In your experience what are the best strategies a business should use to increase conversion rates?
When a company is desperate for a sale, the customers can sense it. When they are getting hammered with repeated “on sale now” messaging, customers tire of the upsell and tune out. I’ve seen this happen many times in online marketing efforts. However, it’s a fine line…. Because if you never ask for the sale, you’ll never get it.
What we use at The Optimist Daily to drive conversions is a combination of audience engagement and targeted asks for our readers who are our most loyal. We let the data talk to us and we watch behavior. We recently launched a “pay reminder” — a popup — asking our readers to contribute. We intend for The Optimist Daily to remain free and in order to do that, we need for those readers who share our mission and also have the means, to support us with paid subscriptions! We’ve watched user interaction with the pay-reminder and watched the demand flow as we really value a positive reader experience. We’ve tweaked our messaging in response to behavior. I would recommend any company be meticulous in listening and watching in order to increase conversion. More “asks” don’t always mean better sales. Better asks deliver better sales.
Of course, the main way to increase conversion rates is to create a trusted and beloved brand. Can you share a few ways that a business can earn a reputation as a trusted and beloved brand?
Authenticity is the most valuable asset for any brand. Return to those core company values and ensure the products, the team members, and the customer experience all align. Prioritization of the relationship with all stakeholders increases trust in any brand and will extend and improve customer engagement.
Great customer service and great customer experience are essential to build a beloved brand and essential to be successful in general. In your experience what are a few of the most important things a business leader should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience?
When you call or email our customer service team at The Optimist Daily, you reach some of the most dedicated people you can imagine. Our customer service Team Lead, Maureen ensures that everyone who reaches out is acknowledged quickly and any issues are resolved in short order.
I think the single most important part of customer service is having real people who truly enjoy being in the role of customer care and compensating them well. They are your relationship managers and often the face of the brand. Simply put, do not hire a grumpy customer service person and if the person in that job is not content with their experience, either improve it or find a new role for them.
What are your thoughts about how a company should be engaged on Social Media? For example, the advisory firm EisnerAmper conducted 6 yearly surveys of United States corporate boards, and directors reported that one of their most pressing concerns was reputational risk as a result of social media. Do you share this concern? We’d love to hear your thoughts about this.
Companies must have a social media presence and it must be handled by an experienced social media team. The biggest mistake companies make is not respecting the medium. Giving the newest intern the job of social media manager is always a mistake. Like any communication tool, it is essential to have an expert to manage the company’s voice and brand through the various, prioritized social channels.
One mistake I see businesses often making is that they don’t invest proper resources to back up a social media channel. Let’s get on “Tick Tock” says the senior leader who saw his grandson laughing at a viral dance. Then the untrained team attempts to scramble for a presence without a strategy behind it. A weak version of the company’s brand shows up and meeps along and someone now poorly manages the channel as part of their overall responsibilities.
You wouldn’t buy half a billboard or have your office manager paint it. Don’t do that with social. Choose your experts, identify the meaningful channels for your brand, create a strategy, and then fund it.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
- They are underfunded for the current goal
I am all for grit, moxie, creative thinking and being scrappy, but the peril of the bootstrapped entrepreneur is that they have not established achievable goals based on the resources available. If you only have $3,500 a month in marketing dollars, don’t expect to be making $100,000 in monthly revenue. Scale matters. If you need to, start small, start with a side hustle, but make sure you align your goals with the budget available.
2. They shortchange marketing
I will never stop reiterating the importance of marketing and PR. If you are in a consumer driven business, communication about your product or service is essential, and most entrepreneurs forget that first and foremost — you are in a marketing business. When you are developing your budget and raising capital, assume that your marketing costs will be equivalent to your operations costs. Hire exceptionally skilled media buyers, talented PR professionals and don’t assume you can just do it yourself with a creative Instagram post or two.
3. They act in a vacuum
It’s called confirmation bias…. Entrepreneurs have ideas that they think are brilliant. Entrepreneurs are certain their new widget will be a billion dollar idea. Entrepreneurs then go find people who agree. Entrepreneurs then spend years trying to take the idea they developed and confirmed with a few like minded people to a broad market. Entrepreneurs fail.
As an entrepreneur, it is your responsibility to find people who will challenge your idea, your hypothesis, your marketing strategy. It is your responsibility to ensure that you are not acting in a vacuum and instead are canvassing for perspectives and adjusting your own tactics based on information you learn. It is your responsibility to listen. The idea of the solo entrepreneur is a failed one. If you are “doing it on your own” you are not going to succeed.
4. They base decisions on other people’s opinions
And now, I shall frustrate you with what feels like the converse of point number 3. Here’s the thing though, it’s not. They work together. The process of “not acting in a vacuum” means your decisions will be based on a collection of advised inputs. After talking to enough people about the idea and hopefully being thoroughly exhausted and challenged by those conversations, you can make the decision yourself. You will have an aggregate of opinions and will not be based on any one person’s perspectives. Entrepreneurs must make AND own their decisions — even when they are counter to those of someone you admire or trust.
5. They don’t start before they are ready
And after all that thinking, talking, considering, budgeting — many entrepreneurs just sit with all the data and never get off their duff. Being an entrepreneur requires you to be all in- even when you are uncertain — and especially when you are scared. I’ve seen hundreds of entrepreneurial endeavors fail because the bullish tactics required to get going were more than the appetite of the team. You must start when you are almost ready, when your idea is nearly seeded, and when you are seeing the opportunity growth ahead — and then you course correct along the way. You will not end up on the same path you started, but if you are focused, determined, collaborative and strategic, you can achieve the goal.
Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I want to achieve the vision of The Optimist Daily and catalyze a new era of collaboration, positive thinking, and solutions focused mindsets. I want people to step away from the addiction we all have to negative media and step into the next chapter for our world. Let’s create an optimistic, mobilized, & solutions focused global society making the world a healthier place for all.
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This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!