John Tabis, founder of The Bouqs Company, is a Fox Chapel High School valedictorian, University of Notre Dame Summa Cum Laude recipient, former Bain & Company and Gerber Baby Advertising employee, and UCLA Anderson Fellow.
My start as an entrepreneur grew from a place of great frustration, as most entrepreneurial ventures typically do. That frustration stemmed (pun intended) from the aggravating process of buying flowers online. Something as simple as buying flowers had become a minefield of false promises, cheesy upsells (does anyone actually buy plastic butterflies?) and hidden fees.
My co-founder JP Montufar and I decided to give the online flower business a run for its money. And that, in a nutshell, is how The Bouqs Company, a cut-to-order online flower delivery service, was born.
We've run into some bumps in the road, but we're moving things forward and success is possible because we stay the course. And how do we do that? For me, a lot of it is by following some sage wisdom from a man I greatly admire. And I don't mean professional guidance from CEOs, industry leaders, or "gurus"--I'm talking good old fatherly advice.
Here are three simple pieces of advice my dad (also John Tabis), a retired schoolteacher, a hilarious personality, and my best friend, gave me while growing up. It has helped guide me on my journey through this startup and life in general. I hope it might help you a bit too:
1. Live in a tree.
Seriously, this is what my dad told me to do. And no, he didn't mean for me to literally build a treehouse, or to head out into the woods to find myself. What he meant was: live outside of the box. Rather than conforming to what society said was acceptable, he wanted me to live without limitations. He wanted me to make the world as I would like it to be.
I try to apply my dad's unconventional teachings to every aspect of my life, and I very much so applied this piece when it came time to build The Bouqs Company from the ground up. Rather than launching a business like others in the space, we did the exact opposite. For instance, instead of charging many prices, we charge just one price. Instead of the traditional 5-step supply chain, we're farm-to-table. Hidden fees all over? Nope; we have all-inclusive pricing. Not to mention, we get our flowers from an active volcano in South America--if that's not living outside of the box, I don't know what is.
So as you look to find happiness, or to build a brand that engages an audience and inspires them, just try it: live in a tree.
2. Remember, your words have power.
My dad might not have put it quite as eloquently as Shakespeare--your words are like daggers--but his meaning was clear: our words can greatly affect those around us. An off remark could potentially ruin someone's day, while a bit of praise can make it.
As entrepreneurs and employers, it's our responsibility to create a positive work environment that motivates and engages workers, not one that tears them down. After all, what are we without our employees?
Having an employee-centric mentality in your business can create a strong company culture. And with a whopping 70 percent of American workers disengaged on the job, having a great company culture is key to attracting and retaining happy, productive workers.
When giving feedback to employees, think twice about what you're going to say before you say it. When discussing a piece of work, be honest but fair. At The Bouqs Company, we call this being "Care-Full." Communicate with care--even strong feedback on job performance or a particular error or issue can be presented as coming from a place of compassion. How you deliver direction, criticism or praise can make a world of difference to employees.
Always remember that your words have power.
3. He who hesitates is lost.
This piece of fatherly advice always hit home with me. I mean, think about it. We only have so much time on this earth, so why not make it count and pursue what we love? Otherwise, we really are just waiting to die. And if we don't do it now, we'll probably never do it.
I carried that advice with me, and it played a big part in my decision to launch a new business with virtually zero funding while going up against multiple billion-dollar competitors. I was presented with an opportunity to work with one of my best college buddies, an expert in the field of farming and the flower supply chain. And so, not hesitating, I took that leap. And it's the best decision I've made in my career. Thanks Dad!
Life is about taking risks. You may think you lack what you need to make your dreams come true, but that's what taking risks is all about. The thousands of successful entrepreneurs out there didn't reap such great rewards without first taking risks.
If you see your shot, take it. If you hesitate, you may end up lost.
These lessons from my dad still ring true in my life and my business today, and I firmly believe his words are what fueled my entrepreneurial fire. They can do the same for you by encouraging you to march to the beat of your own drum, think before you speak and chase your dreams with all you've got.