If you’ve ever dreamed of founding your own company, this could be the moment to give the idea some serious thought.
Although it might seem counterintuitive, recessions can be a surprisingly good time to start a business. You have access to a larger-than-usual pool of talented, unemployed individuals and plenty of opportunities to hone your problem-solving and critical thinking skills — traits invaluable to any entrepreneur’s success. And then there’s the fact that starting a business can be its own reward.
“The best part of running a business is that we get to do work we love with people we love,” says Emily Soccorsy who — along Justin Foster — cofounded branding agency Root and River, which is based out of Industrious Fashion Square in Scottsdale. “The times when we’ve faltered or doubted is when one or both of those weren’t true.”
Ready to take the plunge? Here are four pieces of advice essential for anyone looking to start a business.
Find your calling — and stick to it.
If you’re struggling to figure out how to put your ideas into action, you’re not alone. People often ask Soccorsy and Foster how to start building their brand. “Our first answer is always this: Go inward,” Foster says. “The root system of your brand is inside of you in your mission, beliefs, standards, and vision.”
When creating your brand, consider your personal experience. Eric Kuhn started his company, Industrious partner FoundersCard, to create a community and series of benefits for entrepreneurs. Kuhn was able to identify this unfulfilled need in the market after reflecting on the challenges he faced as an entrepreneur.
“It always struck me as unfair that it was only the top executives of the largest companies that received the best perks and benefits. Having experienced the unique challenges of starting and running several companies, I always felt it should be entrepreneurs who receive these amazing privileges,” he says. “When we created FoundersCard, we were determined to make that a reality.” Kuhn has kept true to that initial vision. Today, FoundersCard provides some 50,000 entrepreneurs with more than 500 travel, business, and lifestyle benefits.
Kuhn encourages entrepreneurs and business owners to stay close to their customers at every stage, especially as they grow. “It’s critical to make sure that your product or service is and remains highly relevant in a world that is constantly changing,” he notes.
In addition, Kuhn believes it’s critical to maintain an unwavering personal commitment to your customers and their needs. “Everyday, since the inception of FoundersCard, I personally read as many customer emails to ensure I understand what is truly going on.”
Invest in your team,
Taking the time to build and develop a solid team from the start is not only useful in overcoming the initial hurdles of launching a business, but also is vital in sustaining it. “Recognize [that your business] will not be built alone. Invest in a partner or a solid support system and coach them to be direct, kind, and supportive of you,” says Soccorsy. “You will need all of their input and support to sustain yourself.”
Furthermore, Kuhn notes that finding the right employees at different stages is an important challenge that will ensure your business is set up for success in both the short and long term. “It’s incredibly helpful — and a lot more fun — to surround yourself with high quality and talented people,” he says.
Kuhn also highlights the importance of hiring people who are just as motivated about your mission as you are: “We place a premium on employees that we implicitly trust and are passionate about our mission.”
and your space.
Soccorsy and Foster emphasize the value of investing in a workspace that they’re proud to host clients in. “Having a partner we can rely on to provide both us and our clients hospitality and love makes all the difference for us,” Foster says. “The [Industrious] staff has been warm, kind, attentive, and caring, not just to us, but also to our clients, who often spend a day in a conference room collaborating with us.”