We hope you won’t mind this quick break from talking channel insights on the blog to wish ourselves a happy 7th birthday! In honor of lucky #7, we thought it would be fun to write about our other favorite topic, entrepreneurship.
First, a huge thank-you to our clients, strategic partners, and team members, it’s a point of pride to work with many of the same channel executives today that we did 7 years ago. None of would be possible without you. It’s also humbling to remember where we started and what we continue to accomplish to keep Channel Maven Consulting thriving.
Most of our clients are enterprise IT and Telecomm organizations, but many of their channel partners are small, mid-size, even enterprise organizations started by entrepreneurs. In this blog post we’re sharing 7 things I’ve learned about entrepreneurship. For Partners and Vendors with similar lessons, please share! My hope is to continue writing this note on entrepreneurship and compile it into a free eBook.
Lesson #1: Entrepreneurship is a Decision
I come from a long line of entrepreneurs. My great-grandfather owned a gas station after immigrating to the USA and then started his own structural engineering firm. Both of my parents, an aunt…you get the idea. I always sort of knew I wanted to start my own thing but like many, I just wasn’t sure what.
On the other hand, my husband (whom I met in business school where we both focused on entrepreneurship) comes from a long line of…well, not entrepreneurs. Very successful doctors and role models, but not entrepreneurs, yet he and his brother are both successful entrepreneurs.
I’ve spoken with many folks who want to start their own business because they like the idea of it. What a luxury to be your own boss or making your own hours, right?! If that’s your reason, you may be missing the right motivation.
I remember thinking I wanted to do this more than I wanted to do anything else. Having been married for only two and half years, my husband quit his job 6 months earlier to start his own thing, and yet the time couldn’t have been more right. We sold our house, the nicer of our two cars and cut just about every other expense we could in order to make Channel Maven Consulting feasible. I remember asking family members instead of gifts for birthdays and holidays to give me gift cards for work clothes or flights to conferences.
If you’re willing to put it on the line, you’re probably ready.
Lesson #2: Find a Niche
Channel Maven Consulting is focused on a specific niche. Early on, people would ask if we could help market their cereal or their law firm. It certainly was tempting as things were getting off the ground, but that’s not what Channel Maven Consulting is about.
A niche makes you an expert and an authority in your area of expertise.
Lesson #3: Success is Driven by Your Clients
If people don’t genuinely enjoy working with you, your business will not grow. People do business with people they like and if you’re not honest, transparent, humble, and hard-working chances are, they won’t like you as much as you need them to.
Lesson #4: The Company Comes First
If I had a dollar for every time a friend or family member commented on our lack of vacations or the multitude of evenings and weekends spent plopped on the couch with our laptops (romantic, I know)….let’s just say it would add up to a lot of dollar bills!
I was speaking recently with a solution provider who just sold his business. To say he was glowing was an understatement. I asked if he was going to miss it, to which he began to reminisce about the long hours, the financial stress, the HR stress, the keeping clients happy stress. He thought for another moment and said “nope, won’t miss that, but I also wouldn’t trade the experience for the world.”
Lesson #5: You Have To Do it All…Even if You’re Not Good at It
I have yet to meet anyone, entrepreneur or otherwise, who is good at all functions of running a business. In fact, the opposite is true. I’ve seen them run businesses into the ground because they didn’t feel like keeping on top of accounts receivables or let someone else do their books and didn’t notice their credit card information being used for someone else’s fun.
There’s no other position in business where you will do sales, finance, marketing, accounting, human resources, and tactical execution your solutions. If you worked for another business you’d be serving one or two of these functions while others handled the rest.
As you grow you will put an executive team in place that can take major elements of the business off your plate but vigilance is key to ensure the business is being run in the best interest of your clients and in line with the reputation you built. This means continuing to be involved in the less enjoyable parts.
Lesson #6: Surround Yourself with Good People and Empower Them
I’m constantly impressed with our team. They are as passionate about the channel and our clients as our executive team, all of whom “grew up” in the channel. Referring to Lesson #2 (find a niche) you need people who understand and are passionate about your niche. Find them. Let their passion lose in order to facilitate productivity and best serve your entire organization.
Lesson #7: At Some Point it’s NOT About You
Like with a kid, at some point your business will grow to a certain point and it will be time spread its own wings. In the first few years, people associated Channel Maven Consulting with Heather K. Margolis. I can’t say I minded. It was pretty accurate but now we are an amazing, capable team with more breadth and depth to our offerings and we all bring our own capabilities to our clients.
Once again a huge thank you to everyone. No matter if you’ve been with us since day one (you know who you are!) or we just started working together! The Channel Maven Consulting team appreciates your business; input, friendship and we look forward to many more years together! Have a favorite Channel Maven Consulting story or memory? We’d love to hear them!