“I believe that being an entrepreneur is just that: being willing to work hard and to take significant risks,” Founder and Owner of Clif Bar, Gary Erickson.
All startups have their own story of the why. The how, the who and the what prompted these individuals to take a risk and create something out of thin air with intense hard work and searing passion.
Raising the Bar: Integrity and Passion in Life and Business explains the ups and downs of a startup company cultivated by one man and an idea. It’s about the startup growth journey from a company going from one person, to ten, to 1,000. It addresses the questions that arise about whether or not to sell and go public, or trust your gut and stay private. It discusses problems of solving the identity crisis that comes with adding new personalities and ideas to a company.
This book is full of incredible entrepreneurial advice, as well as general life lessons. Here are my five greatest take aways for expanding startups out there from Raising the Bar… .
1. Taking on risk is inevitable.
When you’re an entrepreneur there is absolutely no way to get around taking risks. You are going to come across difficult decisions every week that will impact not just you, but your company and employees. As your startup grows, there will be some serious calculated decisions that you’ll need to make in terms of:
Being comfortable with risk isn’t always easy, but it can lead to great success. If you’re risk-averse, try taking small risks for your business to start, and remember, startup failure is only failure if you’ve learned nothing from it.
2. Stay true to your core values.
As your startup grows and you begin to add more people to the mix, identity is sometimes compromised. It’s no longer just you running the show and other people are now heavily involved. Make sure that you have a clear outline of who you are and what you stand for as a company. Make sure the people that you hire reflect those values and understand company culture.
It’s extremely important to always remember why the company was founded in the first place, and the core values it was founded on. As your startup grows don’t lose sight of who you were at the beginning. Capture your principles, teach them and stay true to them.
3. Always find ways to keep the passion going.
Keep the passion going. Don’t ever lose the excitement and dedication that pushed you to become an entrepreneur in the first place. Your employees will notice and your company will be negatively impacted if it happens. Having this passion always gives meaning to what you're doing and brings purpose to the workday. It’s inspiring. In the end it makes people work harder and produce better results.
Sometimes things out of your control come up. You start to feel burned out and question what you’re doing. It’s during these times that you should reflect on why you started the company; it came out of something you love, an idea that you cultivated out of passion. Harness that and get back to work, but as Gary Erickson says, “Don’t forget to take a walk if you need one.”
4. Constantly "think outside the box".
As a startup, you won’t have a simple linear way to do things. You don’t have the cushion of a big corporation feeding you money if something goes wrong. This is where thinking outside the box comes along. You need to be innovative and maybe even a little unconventional. If you need funding, try to get creative about it. Think of 10 different ways you can achieve your goals, instead of one, and pick the best option. You may be surprised what you can leverage.
5. Go beyond just the workday.
Making your day more than just work for you and your employees is important. Giving back to the community or participating in some kind of charity that you, as a business, feel passionate about boosts the morale of your company and workplace. It represents who you are as a company and the culture you’ve created. It speaks to the core values of your business and what you stand for. It shows that the company’s values and the employees are are aligned.
Here at Accelity, we volunteer together each month at Hunger Task Force and participate in river clean ups. We are invested in our local community and show that we care as employees and as a company.
Clif Bar is committed to the environment and participates in various environmental movements and outdoor activities company-wide. They only use organic ingredients and make sure that they go beyond just being a business. This, in turn, creates the culture they desire, and attracts the right customers.
What do you think? Is Clif Bar's growth noteworthy? What other businesses have success that's worth discussing? Let me know in the comments below!