Going solo? Making baby steps away from traditional Corporate America isn't enough. A total paradigm shift may be in order.
It's a pretty well-accepted fact that entrepreneurs typically approach business differently than traditional Corporate America workers.
But many successful entrepreneurs take it a step further and completely flip the script in order to subscribe to a new business paradigm. Would your business benefit from a new way of thinking? Chris Guillebeau, an intriguing entrepreneur, traveler, and writer, offers just such a new formula in his new book, The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future.
When he approached us about featuring Heritage Link Brands in his book, we were immediately aligned with its core principles, which involve the critical role of freedom and value within the microbusiness revolution. We also appreciated that he understood that renegade entrepreneurs--those who buck the system and go solo--can now test, launch, and scale their projects extremely quickly and on the cheap. He eschews some of the more traditional paths to starting your own small business and instead focuses the book on folks who start microbusinesses without investment or employees, and often without any expertise in the area they're pursuing.
There were two ideas that particularly resonated with me, because I've personally experienced just how much they have allowed our business to thrive through its ups and downs:
1. The Power of the Almighty "Side Hustle"
The book encourages entrepreneurs to not limit themselves to their primary business idea but instead to also consider offshoots, spinoffs, and side projects. They shouldn't exist because things are going poorly with your main hustle--precisely the opposite. Instead, Guillebeau encourages us to pursue other passions in the midst of success.
When my wife and I set out on the entrepreneurial yellow-brick road, it was tempting to give up our side hustles--mainly rental properties. There were already so many things on our plate: We'd just gotten married, were pregnant with our first child, and now had a fantastic new opportunity that nobody else in the market had yet moved on. No matter the warnings, nothing could truly prepare me for the level of blood, sweat, and tears that went into our first year of business.
Yet, even with that, I am grateful that we held on to our side hustles. Financially and mentally, it was important to have buffers in place to prevent us from getting thrown off by the inevitable challenges of our new wine business. In essence, I went from viewing our side hustles as optional--glorified chump change--to viewing them as keys to the kingdom. They are integral cornerstones of our financial foundation that solidified the path for us to pursue our passions.
2. Give the People What They Want
Out of the gate, our focus was solely on importing black-produced wines from South Africa into the United States. But consumers soon let us know that they were also interested in enjoying wines produced by indigenous producers in other regions as well. Since we were just getting our bearings with South African wines (and importation!), it was enticing to play it safe and stick to our business plan, especially given the superhigh rate of new small businesses that fold in the first three years.
We had done our due diligence, and it felt a bit crazy to turn our focus topsy-turvy--especially so quickly. But, man, am I happy that we decided to give the people what they wanted, because the people indeed knew what they were talking about! Thankfully, their feedback and purchasing habits matched. And it opened us up to a new plane of valuable large customers, such as airlines and restaurants, that were attracted to our more diverse wine portfolios.
Rather than thinking that the most groundbreaking ideas are for "that maverick over there," it's time to consider that you may indeed be that maverick! Whether you adopt a completely new paradigm, or commit to constantly questioning your assumptions and remaining open to startling new ways of thinking, it could just generate your next big business triumph.
KHARY CUFFE is co-founder and CFO of Heritage Link Brands. In addition, he has served as a marketer for the Procter & Gamble Company where he was responsible for a global multi-functional team. @KCuffe