Ticket to Ride: Five Tips for Your Startup
This article was published in the Summer 2021 issue
by Dan Rigby, CEO, Vooray
Starting your own business is a roller coaster. You hear it all the time, but it's true, and retail can be particularly rough sometimes. There’s a lot of demand for new colors, designs, and product lines, many “back to the drawing board” products, and a lot of learning from customer feedback. Having a few years under my belt now, I can look back and say there are some definite lessons to be learned and maybe even a few things you can avoid if you’re on the startup journey. Here are five things I’ve gleaned from riding the startup roller coaster:
1- Accountability is crucial to your business.
A growing business requires accountability. I can’t stress this enough. Being accountable to your wins, your losses, and the goals you set. It takes being real with yourself, how you are doing, the results you’re getting. I learned this at my first job, where I had to turn in a call report every day for a sales job I was working. At the end of each week, my daily reports would show how I was tracking for my monthly and yearly goal. I hated to do it and got into a lot of trouble if I ever missed sending it in. Even though I hated it, I learned that holding myself accountable each day produced better results than if I hadn’t. I progressed and was able to grow from that daily accountability more than any other time. Accountability to yourself and your business is crucial.
2- Know who you are as a business.
By this I mean identify your niche and be recognizable for it. Every business has strengths and weaknesses. Knowing who you are makes it easier to identify your strengths and show your customers how your strengths can help them. At Vooray we are a bag company. That’s who we are. In my opinion, we are the best bag company in the world. Knowing this allows us to contend with any bag company out there, and it also allows us to focus on customers that are looking for bags and how we can serve them. Knowing who you are keeps you away from distractions. There are many opportunities you can chase to make money with your business, but chasing a dollar today doesn’t always result in a dollar tomorrow. Knowing who you are and showing the world who you are creates opportunities with the right customers.
3- Push yourself each day.
Starting a business is not just a task checklist. You must be willing to push past limitations and stretch yourself. When I was a teenager, I mowed lawns for a job. It was only a little business, so I made my own schedule. Because of this, I didn’t have to push myself very hard. Mowing the lawns I was responsible for each week was the only requirement. As you might imagine, I was usually mowing all my lawns the last day of the week. I didn’t have to be very driven, and this resulted in little progression or growth. Starting your own business, you won’t be able to have this relaxed attitude. You have to urge yourself each day to do the hard things that will get the biggest results.
4- Be the best at what you do.
Starting your own business is hard. But whatever you do, be the best at it. Even if you aren’t paramount at first, keep working towards that objective and never give up on the desire to be the unsurpassed. When we started our line of bags, we went up against big companies, Nike, Under Armour and Adidas. We were told we wouldn’t stand a chance of selling next to them. We didn’t listen. We focused on what makes the best bags stand out. Because of that, we have had many instances where we have outsold big brand competitors. Being the best at what you do is a mindset you have to adopt from the beginning.
5- Enjoy every minute.
If you are starting your own business, there has to be an underlying reason for it. Hold on to that reason and enjoy every minute of it. At Vooray we laugh, we celebrate, and we drive each other. We work hard to enjoy every minute of what we are doing as a bag company.
There are a lot of things to learn, and no one is perfect at this. There’s no rule book for a startup because each business has its own set of challenges, but honing in on these five things has helped me immensely in my journey. Even after years of experience and growth, it’s still definitely a roller coaster, but it’s worth every minute of the ride.
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*Read the latest issue of Silicon Slopes Magazine, Summer 2021