I find we all are on a journey of learning as we go. Sometimes I wish I wrote down more of the lessons learned so I can look back and see the progression of ideas and stumbles over time. If I look back at some of my most profound business accomplishments, they were all sparked by reading the experiences of others who took the time to write down their lessons learned. I decided to do this more often and post them here. This is my way to give back to others looking to skip ahead, blaze their own trail and pay it forward .
The concern is perhaps others won’t find these learnings profound “enough”. However, I’ve learned that sometimes the idea doesn’t need to be unique, but rather seeing others doing it, gives you the courage that it is possible or less intimidating.
The two biggest mindset shifts I’ve had were made possible by two people. The first was 12 years ago when I read the Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris. The second, was a year ago after watching a video speech by Bill DAlessandro, at a Ecommerce Fuel conference. Ironically, they are opposing views but were exactly what I needed to hear at the time I heard them.
Tim Ferris was way ahead of his time when in his book, he laid out a conceivable idea that successful businesses don’t always need to be massive workforces located at the top floor of a high rise in the city. In fact, the internet was making it possible to build successful businesses with zero employees and a set of automated tools that had recently become more common. It seems so obvious today, but back then, this was a groundbreaking idea.
I paused and asked, “Could it really be possible to build a business from anywhere in the world without any employees, and automate the operations?” The answer was yes. I know that because I did it for 10 years.
It was BlueKube’s first product, Porch Potty. I’m proud of what Porch Potty has become for so many loving dog owners, as well as what I learned about business along the way. The experiment was successful, but it had its limitations. The company could only grow so big before reaching a ceiling that was difficult to break through. Something was missing. It felt like our teenager was ready to head off to college, but was sleeping in the basement eating take-out.
It was time to grow up and change the scenery. Throw out the rule book and set a new vision for BlueKube.
That’s when I heard Bill give his talk at Ecommerce Fuel Live. He too was a disciple of Tim Ferris. He also felt Tim’s advice was the right advice for that time. However, there comes a moment when the bird feels its time to leave the nest.
The rule I needed to break was the “zero employee rule”. It was time to build a team of awesome people that love our business and find fulfillment in growing a company that lets them learn and grow individually. That changed me. I wanted that for Bluekube. I decided to bring all outsourced work in-house.
In our first year after I made that decision, we grew from 1 employee to 11 employees. Our team is the best group of people to work with each and every day. I love it. It’s rewarding to see all of us grow together, as individually, and as a company.
The lesson learned is: We are a species of thinkers and doers.
We also need connection to others and our work is a big part of our sense of fulfillment. Building brands and successful businesses is better when it’s a team sport. I’m proud of our team and look forward to each day working with them.