Five Pieces of Advice from One Company Owner to Another
Written by Kimberly MacArthur Graham on November 3, 2014
This year marks an exciting anniversary for Layer Cake Creative: 5 years! I feel fortunate that we have not only survived the “fatal five,” but we are thriving. There were lean times in the early years, but we are growing by all measures and I’m incredibly proud of that. Of course, like any smart business owner, I give full credit to my amazing team. To briefly digress into marketing speak, but my staff – like yours! – is the collective carrier of our brand standard. If they are awesome, so is the brand experience. This makes for happy clients, a growing customer base, and all the right stuff.
The inestimable value of a great team is but one lesson learned of many – and I’m still learning every day.
If you’re thinking about starting a business, or you already have, I applaud you. To help you grow your company while staying (relatively) sane, here are 5 pieces of advice – one for each year of the Cake.
1 – Seek the very best advice you can, and follow some of it. | Seek the counsel of people you admire and whose standards match your own. Being in the same industry may be less important than having similar ethics, personality, or values. Ask your mentors tough questions, be open to tough feedback, and take the time to make tough choices about when to follow others’ advice and when to follow your gut.
2 – Follow your vision, but remember that vision changes as you age. | As your firm grows, your financial goals will evolve – and so should your vision for the company and your position within it. When I started Layer Cake, my vision was to offer fully integrated marketing services, but I did not necessarily anticipate offering digital services, which now are an important part of our revenue stream.
3 – Hire people you admire. | Employment is a two-way opportunity for learning and growth. Hire people with the potential to outshine you, push them to become even better, and make it worth their while to stick around. Learn from each other as you mature and don’t forget to have some fun along the way.
4 – Respect all resources. | Create a culture of mutual appreciation that extends from your team to include customers, vendors, industry partners, competitors, the media, etc. This attitude applies to the bigger (but shrinking) community and natural environment outside your doors, too. Resources from fossil fuel to goodwill are finite, so call upon them wisely and help replenish them!
5 – Take care of yourself. | As a business owner, you will often put your needs last. Work will be all-consuming at times and if you’re lucky, it will also be exciting, enjoyable, and interesting. But if you aren’t careful, it will become the worst job you’ve ever had. Pay attention to your physical and mental health and reward yourself with much-needed time away. You know it’s true for your employees, so don’t forget it’s true to you, too. Life balance and unplugged time off just might be the most important key to your – and your company’s — survival.