Kim Perell, CEO of Amobee, will always remember the day her first business crashed. She was shopping for furniture in IKEA when she got the call. Her entire database was gone. All data lost. Since Frontline Direct was a digital marketing firm, that meant she lost the entirety of her business. This was the end of the journey that started with her flying out to Hawaii with only a loan from her grandmother to get her business started. It was the end of her dream of her being her own boss.
She remembered feeling sick, wanting to lie down, but was trapped in the middle of an IKEA shopping maze. She had to walk through each department, wandering from room to room in a daze, as crushing feelings of failure and doom weighed down on her. When she finally stepped into the sunlight, Kim turned to her husband, “What am I going to do?” Was this a sign she should stop, close up shop, return home?
If you have read Kim’s best-selling book, “The Execution Factor,” you’ll know the answer to that question. She went on to save her business and sell it for $30 million, including earn out. In the book, she outlines five traits anyone needs to execute their business. But I wanted to get to know the stories that inspired and motivated Kim when she got started.
After chatting with Kim, here are five life lessons you can use to build a successful business.
1) Find your heartset
You need to feel strongly about what you are doing to be successful. Not everything will go well on your journey to success, so the question becomes: “What am I willing to suffer for?” If you don’t have a personal connection to what you are doing, you should reconsider your dreams. Success is hard work and not for the faint of heart.
You must find the right heartset—along with the right mindset. To find your heartset, ask yourself: What do I love doing? What do I do in my off hours? What am I willing to keep doing even if it doesn’t go well?
2) Believe in yourself
Believing in yourself is essential to your success. Confidence in your ideas has to be greater than the doubters’ disbelief. When Kim decided to start her digital marketing business right after the dot-com bust, no one thought she would succeed. Only her grandmother believed and was willing to loan her cash to start a business.
Your vision has to burn brighter so you can carry on when very few people believe in what you are doing. You have to believe in yourself because to get what you want you’ll end up having to do things you don’t want to do, like admit mistakes to your clients.
3) Have courage
It takes courage to achieve success. When Kim lost her entire database for Frontline Direct, she could have given up and gone home. Instead, she called each client, admitted she had failed their trust, lost all their data, and asked if they would keep working with her.
It was difficult to risk embarrassment when making those client phone calls, to admit making a mistake, and ask for someone to keep trusting her. But it’s courage that keeps you moving forward in times of uncertainty. Too many people give up when they are three feet from the finish line.
4) Accept help
Kim attributes part of her success to being willing and open to asking for help. At every step along the way, she had mentors who helped her get over the next obstacle. One mentor helped her break a limiting mindset.
Kim used to think she had to do everything in a linear fashion: first, start a business, then sell her business, next start a family, and later write a book. But one of her mentors suggested she could do things in parallel. So she started a family while she was building her business and wrote The Execution Factor while she worked as an angel investor, helping other entrepreneurs achieve their dreams.
You can’t do everything yourself, so be open to having others help. Just ask.
5) Ask for what you want
Kim also has some advice for women in business (which also works well for men too). Don’t wait forever for people to recognize all your good work. Raise your hand and ask for the promotion, ask for the special project, ask for the money.
It’s never been a better time to be a woman in business, but women (and men) won’t get anywhere if they don’t put themselves forward. It’s difficult to hear NO, it’s difficult to suffer rejection, but you will never hear a YES, or get what you want unless you first ask for it.
DISCLAIMER: This article expresses my own ideas and opinions. Any information I have shared are from sources that I believe to be reliable and accurate. I did not receive any financial compensation for writing this post, nor do I own any shares in any company I’ve mentioned. I encourage any reader to do their own diligent research first before making any investment decisions.
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