For a two-person startup, the idea of reaching the 25th anniversary of your company seems like a distant dream. It’s hard to imagine constructing your own building and surpassing revenue projections you once considered difficult to obtain. Taking risks, accepting and learning from failure, and meeting challenges head-on are only a small part of what it takes to drive a company forward. There are also many other valuable lessons that can be applied to any business looking to hit that quarter-of-a-century mark.
Be aware of weaknesses
Understanding your strengths and building on those is significant. However, it’s equally important to know where you struggle. Being a business owner means not only understanding those weaknesses but knowing how to navigate and mitigate them as well. The best way to do this is by surrounding yourself with talented people. They can overcome any challenge and be a source of inspiration.
This is one of the reasons Seven Corners continues to call Indiana home. Indianapolis has been a great place to grow our business, mainly because of the vast pool of talented people that live and work here. We’ve had great success recruiting team members who are talented and committed to making a difference through their work.
Risk is a necessary aspect of creating a successful business. Some of Seven Corners’ greatest successes came from taking risks that competitors hadn’t taken yet. For example, years ago, when we were still a 10-member team, we were one of the first companies to launch an online purchasing system for travel insurance. Prior to that, customers submitted paper applications with a check or credit card information. Today, that process sounds ancient, but at the time it was wildly innovative. Taking this risk — including development cost and time to transition and train staff — set the standard high for us and our industry. Risks can be beneficial when approached in a productive and strategic way.
When you’re starting out, it’s common to focus solely on growth and expect it immediately. The idea of increasing revenue or hiring additional people is an ongoing goal, but it’s important to keep sight of other business objectives as well. We grew dramatically despite a few management and structure issues. However, when we addressed these concerns by developing our C-suite and leadership structure with a focus on strategy, we saw an improvement in productivity and long-range planning for success.
Think 10 steps ahead
For those thinking of testing out their own entrepreneurial ventures, it’s important to always think five to 10 steps ahead. Consider various scenarios and create plans for next steps, in case business doesn’t proceed according to your initial plan. This minimizes a reactive approach and allows you to take a more proactive approach, which is beneficial for you and your company.
Be present with your team
It’s important to stay connected with team members at all levels. I make a habit of walking through the building periodically to check in with teams, so I can understand their perspective. This can be more challenging to do with larger teams, but it is always worth the extra time and effort. Creating these connections builds morale and a stronger company culture, which leads to a more engaged workforce.
As we continue servicing more than a million customers each year — from Indiana and across the globe — we will continue to learn from our early lessons and those that are sure to come next.
Justin Tysdal is CEO and co-founder of Seven Corners, Inc.