Thursday, January 19, 2012

Tips for Running a Successful Company

In a magazine interview, I was recently asked for my top 10 tips for running a successful company. At first, I almost found it a little humorous...I am the one always reading the blogs and articles from super successful entrepreneurs (like Mark Cuban's 12 Rules for Startups or Tony Hsieh on for their tips. Why would anyone want to hear my advice?! Then, to give myself a little more credit, I had one of those crazy realizations that I have earned this spot. Don't get me wrong, I'm certainly no Mark Cuban, but I have technically built a multi-million dollar business. Who would have known?! I'm just a little girl from Kentucky. I didn't go to Harvard, I didn't even take my SATs! I'm just one stubborn, passionate, blessed, hard-working little momma, but it certainly took some lessons to get here. So, with that said, here are my top ten tips:

  1.  If at any point you find yourself following another company and imitating their decisions, it is time to re-evaluate your business plan. In my eyes, it’s like a ship following behind Christopher Columbus. That’s no way to make history!

  2. Surround yourself with people that support your vision. Entrepreneurship is a lifestyle and is certainly different from working at your average corporation. Your team must be committed to the climb and excited about the destination.

  3.  Be prepared for an emotional roller coaster. It ain’t easy!

  4. Think outside the box. Sounds cliché, but in today’s ever-changing environment, it is necessary to be innovative, creative, and open-minded.

  5. Do more with less. Spend wisely.

  6. Treat your customers and your team like you wish other businesses and previous bosses would have treated you.

  7.  Don’t do it unless you love it. Running a successful company requires massive amounts of time, sacrifice, blood, sweat, and tears. In my opinion, in order to achieve true success, passion is a requirement.

  8. Embrace change and do things differently. Don’t look to the industry to tell you what to do, show the industry what they should be doing.

  9.  Dream big. Without dreams, you have no direction.

  10. Run your business with humbleness and gratitude. Pay it forward, share your blessings, and never take success for granted.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The road to fulfillment

Over the past few weeks, I have been in interview mode, trying to find the next member of our team. I have spoken to many people, some young, some more experienced, some single, some married with children. Over the years, I have found one recurring theme...people on the search for career fulfillment. This is one search that I can certainly relate to, and it has been for me, one of the most important and valuable discoveries of my life. It was the discovery of passion. Passion for what I do daily. Without that passion, I would be one over-worked, under-paid, lost woman. I know how incredibly blessed I am to have discovered my passion at an early age (late twenties), and I am even more blessed that I am able to aid others in the discovery of their own passion.

So, if you are still on your own journey of discovery, this is my note to you...with determination, an open-mind, LOTS of hard work, and most importantly faith, you will find your fit. Sometimes it takes patience, other times it takes intolerance. I knew in my heart for years, that I was not in my right place. I witnessed business is ways that I knew were not only unfulfilling, but also unethical. I listened as my co-workers complained about their jobs, and sadly, I often participated.

I have shared this story in the past, but it is honestly, one of the turning points in my life. I remember vividly sitting in my car, before going into work, making a "deal" with God. "Just give me the idea, and I will give you everything I've got. I'll bust my butt, work 7 days a week. I'll inspire others and pay it all forward. Just lead me to my passion." I knew it was time to make a change, I just wasn't sure what that change was supposed to be. It was with this faith, that I quit my job, and spent three months in search of my passion.

That was December of 2006. In March of 2007 RuffleButts was trademarked and I was set on my journey. I'm not going to say it has been easy, it hasn't. I had NO idea what I was about to get myself into, but I count my blessings daily that I took that leap of faith. I went through some rough times....even ended up on the couch of a therapist at one point. But, I survived, or should I say, I'm surviving! Every day is pure craziness around here, and I wouldn't trade a bit of it for anything.

I spoke with a woman today that took the step of meeting with a life coach. To some, this may sound corny, I think it's genius. Your own private teacher to help you choose the path that leads to passion, what a great idea! This journey is not necessarily one for career, it is one of fulfillment. This may be a role as a stay-at-home mom, or a life as a pastor. It is finding your right fit, fulfillment for your life. For you, it may require a life coach, or maybe a life-changing book. For me, it was a chat with God. No matter what, I think it requires a conscious decision. The decision of discovery, of commitment, and ultimately of fulfillment.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Office Holiday

I must admit, I was SUPER indecisive this year when it came to our office holiday party. Mark and I went back and forth trying to figure out what would be rewarding, bonding, and fun for everyone here at the RBOffices. First it was bowling (so team-ish), then it was a restaurant/bar (so typical), then zip-lining (so cold!!). Then, one night (yes, I do most of my good thinking in the middle of the night), I realized that we are not a typical company and don't have to follow the typical office holiday rules. So, right before we all headed home for the holidays, we shared the news...

This Christmas at RuffleButts, I followed my heart and in doing so, my team was right there beside me. I work with the best people ever!! Instead of spending money on a party, I wanted to do something a little different. First, we rewarded each of our team members for their incredible commitment and contributions by treating the gals to the Spa and the guys to an Amazon shopping spree. I wanted to give them each something that they typically would not give themselves. So, that was part 1.

For part 2, I wanted to do something that was in line with our company philosophy. The best gift ever...the gift of giving. Every RB team member received $50. The catch - they had to spend it on someone in need. There were no other rules.

I didn't realize that this was a selfishly unselfish gift, because in the end, it was the best gift for me!! It was so cool as we went around the table at our morning meeting this week and everyone shared what they did with their $50. It was awesome for me to see my dream coming to life, for RuffleButts to be spreading smiles in more ways than one.  And honestly, because our team is made up of such incredible people, I think they truly would have chosen this holiday gift over any other.

So, my lessons learned this week:
- Follow your heart
- Giving is just as much, if not more fun than getting
- I work with a bunch of awesome people
- Sometimes, but only sometimes, indecisiveness leads to good things

To wrap it up, I'm sharing our "Bad Christmas Sweater Day" picture. Organized by Laura, the lovely lady that packs your website orders with love, it was a fun and festive day here at RuffleButts. And yes, that is me looking like a turtle about to be hit by a car!! Oh, and Cameron looking at me like I'm a nut! I think Kiki (on the far left) should win the award for best (or worst) Christmas sweater...we never did take a vote!