Story from ASR BIZ-June 23, 2008
BEST ADVICE ON GROWING YOUR COMPANY
My first job out of college was working in the production department of Surfing Magazine, and one of my many duties was to collect ad film (you can see it was a long time ago—we actually used film) from our advertisers. I can’t tell you how many start-up clients came in big—with spread ads—only to be canceling their contracts a few issues later. Point being—these little guys would come in huge, with no budget, hoping to grow their brand, only to go under a few months later. So, when I was at the Group Y function last week, and Rob asked the panelists what the best piece of advice was in growing a company, I was interested to hear their answers. . .
SkullCandy Chairman Jeff Kearl said, “Surround your company with smart people.” He made a big deal about this, pointedly saying don’t hire anyone off the street just because they are cool or used to be pro. He said that SkullCandy is really careful on whom they hire, and it sounds like the potential employee has to go through some rigorous interviews. Jeff also brought up the point of not being afraid to get advice from industry leaders. He routinely calls people such as Paul Naude from Billabong, asking his opinion on SkullCandy expansion ideas. Of course not everyone has a black book full of CEO’s numbers, but it shows that networking and getting yourself out there is not a bad idea.
Dan Levine, president of RVCA says, “Own your backyard before layering on new regions, territories, and accounts. Conquer the 60 mile radius from where you are based and branch out from there.” This advice can be seen in the success of companies such as Volcom or Nixon. Volcom is synonymous with
Newport Beach—one of the first things Richard Wolcott did was get the locals on board with the Stone, the brand grew underground from there. Nixon owns Encinitas—it seems as if everywhere you go, there’s a Nixon logo somewhere. They even sponsor the surf forecasts on the lifeguard towers—genius.
The last piece of advice came from Bruce Beach, co-founder and CEO of Electric: “Running your company should be a passion—you love it and have fun doing it. Once it becomes a job, get out. In good times and bad, keep looking at the vision.”
Bruce’s advice is my favorite—it’s something we should all stick to, whether we are the CEO or the grunt making deliveries. Love what you do.