Partnership is not a four letter word.As a fledgling entrepreneur, I wish I had grasped the importance of developing partnerships to help my companies grow faster. Instead, initially I disliked the idea of partnering with others and haphazardly trudged along with the mindset that I wasn’t yet big enough or knowledgeable to entrust the development of my business to strangers.
While my business became profitable within three months of launch, looking back I realised that we could have grown much faster and smarter with additional resources and external alliances. Now I know that if you are the smartest person in the room, it’s time to change your surroundings and get out of your comfort zone. Partnership is the best way to achieve that.
Do what you do the best and outsource the rest.
Inevitably, there will be things you don’t know about when launching a new company. I conducted a ton of research as it pertained to operations, R&D and areas in which I was unfamiliar. I soon found myself spending exorbitant amounts of time planning with little or no true focus on execution. In retrospect, I wish I had outsourced early on and focused on my strengths a lot sooner.
Today across my portfolio of companies, we contract out a majority of our business needs which enables me to focus on the strategic picture, execute quickly and not get lost in the daily doldrums of details. In effect, we save money, reduce time to market, increase our access to expertise and scale quicker with outsourced providers. While it may make sense to keep some things in-house, I’ve learned to “do what we do the best, and outsource the rest.”
Don’t take advice from people who aren’t where you want to be.
I was a people-pleaser to a certain extent. When I first considered leaving Corporate America I was frustrated with unexpected comments about my choice to pursue entrepreneurship. I was so excited about my vision and the possibilities that I would tell everyone I knew about my plans. More often than not, people would ask,”Isn’t that too risky?” I then became frustrated and allowed other people’s negativity to influence my perspective. One day this all changed, as I overheard my boss yelling expletives and slamming her phone on the desk repetitively. Without equivocation, a light came on and I knew that wasn’t where I wanted to be 10 years down the road.
With the benefit of hindsight, I learned that my success in business was directly tied to my personal growth. I had to take more risks, change some of my associations, elevate my thinking and listen to people who were where I wanted to be. The cliché’ — Your life in the next five years will be a reflection of the people you associate with and the books you read, is absolutely true.
Erica Nicole is a serial entrepreneur, syndicated columnist, small business expert, national speaker and Christian thought-leader. As an accomplished entrepreneur she presides over a diverse portfolio of companies. She is the Founder of the internationally acclaimed and award-winning small business news site YFS Magazine: Young, Fabulous & Self-Employed.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (Y.E.C.) is an invite-only nonprofit organisation comprised of the country’s most promising young entrepreneurs. The Y.E.C promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to youth unemployment and underemployment and provides its members with access to tools, mentorship, and resources that support each stage of a business’s development and growth.