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Growing a business is an ultramarathon, not a 5k

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The time it takes to grow a business is more like an ultramarathon than a 5k. The startup up world is full of 5k racers that want a fast ramp up,  and quick exit. The reality of it is, these startups rarely grow a profitable business. Rather than focus on running 5k you should run an ultramarathon. Ultras as trail runners call them, are races with 26-48 hour cut offs and range from 25-100+ miles. The time it takes you to finish one of these races is more in line with what it takes to build and run a successful business that generates a profit year over year.
It’s easy to get impatient though when the rest of the startup world is scrambling around looking for investors. It’s easy to fall prey to that. I’ve done it myself. I’m not opposed to investors, and in fact we are looking for investors now, but investors will not cure or solve your problems.

Your primary focus should always be profit! Run your startup in a manner that if investor money went away you could still stay in business.

Just like running an ultramarathon where slow steady patience is key. The same is true for running and growing a business. Bearded Brothers has now been in business for five years, and quite honestly we haven’t achieved the growth that I thought we would by now, but we are in it for the long haul. This isn’t a flip and sell business. We are an Evergreen company, and will be here for years to come.

Food Launcher Coming in March 2015

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It’s a new year, which means new goals, new projects, and new adventures. I feel 2015 is going to shape up to be an awesome year for me. I have decided to take on a big personal project, a side business if you will. The project is going to be called Food Launcher. Food Launcher is going to be a website/blog dedicated to helping startup food businesses get their project off the ground.

I haven’t decided for certain what all the site will have, but rest assured the site will be full of useful content for aspiring food entrepreneurs, such as blog posts, interviews, podcasts, and even a valuable ebook. This project is starting out of my own desire to help other aspiring food businesses launch and get their product to market. I remember vividly still all the frustrations and struggles I faced when starting Bearded Brothers. My goal is that Food Launcher will make it MUCH easier for new food businesses to launch.

So with that said, please sign up for my email list and you will be the first to know when Food Launcher goes live!

Persevere through all your challenges

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Guadalupe Peak

On top of Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in Texas. Perseverance got Zack to the top (with a Bearded Brothers bar in hand)!

Setbacks are inevitable, hard times will come, running your business will never be easy, and will be down-right challenging at times.

Here are a few things to remember when things get a bit crazy:

This is only temporary

The challenging times won’t last forever. Generally challenges come when a huge project consumes most of your time, or your business encounters a problem that it has to address. That project or problem won’t be there forever, so hunker down and power through.

Make a road map

Take a step back and write down everything that has to happen to get you through the turmoil. Then outline everything on a calendar or project management system with key deadlines highlighted with their due date. Failure to plan will just amplify that crazy feeling.

Take some time off (exercise)

This may sound counter intuitive when things are busy and you are working extra hours, but trust me, the relief you will get from getting outside will make you feel a thousand times better. As you probably know (but refuse to remember when times are tough), releasing endorphins helps curb stress. Even if you don’t get out for a run, bike ride, or intense weight training circuit, you can at least get outside and go on a walk. The fresh air will be reviving and you just might come up with some new ides to help you through the challenge.

Challenges make us stronger

Just remember that even though your challenge may seem negative, it’s actually good! I don’t believe there is such thing as a bad challenge. Challenges serve to strengthen us, help us learn and grow, and ultimately make us stronger. Every challenge has a takeaway that we will always remember.

Trust your gut

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We have all made mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes were made even when a sinking gut feeling was telling you it was a bad idea. The reality of it is, and any good seasoned business owner will tell you: your gut is always right.

There have been several times throughout owning a business that I have had a bad gut feeling about something. At times I have listened to the sinking feeling telling me to run the other way, and other times I have ignored that feeling and pressed forward anyway.

If you ignore that voice things just might go horribly wrong. Thankfully I personally haven’t experienced any devastating blows due to not listening to that little voice inside my head (and sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach), everything has been correctable, but not without a bit of pain.

One thing to know about trusting your gut is that you just might leave thinking you might have missed out on something. The reason for that is you didn’t get burned in any way: fear or missing out looms in your head. But, if on the other hand you didn’t trust your gut, you would have definitely felt the negative consequences and regretted not trusting your intuition.

Trusting your gut can be as simple as passing up going with a certain paper supplier or as complex as walking away from a seemingly great business deal. One of the greatest examples of trusting your gut I can think of is Clif Bar. Owner, Gary Erickson, walked away from a $120M deal on the day a contract was to be signed, all because he had a bad gut feeling! Today, Cliff Bar does more in sales annually than that initial offer he received.

Keep first things first

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When pursuing any great endeavor, whether it’s starting a business, or volunteering at a local non-profit, you must remember to keep first thing first.

The first things I’m referring to are not responsibilities related to your work. First things are your family, your friends, your health, and overall sense of well being.

An absent father, mother, husband, wife, is neglecting their primary and most important duties joys in life. I can tell you from experience working 50-60 hours a week on a regular basis is NOT necessary to start a business. Sure, there is a time and a place, but as the norm; well, that should never be the norm for anybody.

Your personal health, family, and even hobbies are ultimately more important than any business you might start or job you might take with a company. If you keep first things first, everything else will just fall into place (see Parkinson’s Law).