By Kevin Eichelberger, founder and CEO of Blue Acorn
Starting and growing a business is an emotional journey. The road is paved with great successes and also great failures, and it’s not for everyone. However, I’m not here to inform you of the risks. Chances are, you’ve already extensively weighed the pros and cons of going into business for yourself. In the years since my initial foray into entrepreneurialism, I’ve identified a few factors that guide my decision making. While I don’t believe there are any set rules to starting your own business, and there’s certainly no one-size-fits-all step-by-step guide to doing so, it can be beneficial to consider what’s worked for others.
Learning never ends
As Blue Acorn has expanded over the years, the needs of the business from its CEO has changed. The role of the founder/CEO of a company of three employees is very different experience than leading 25 people, and the experience continues to evolve as a business grows to include 50 employees, 100 employees, or more. Whatever your skill set, always continue to seek learning opportunities and new ways to improve in your role at your organization. As you learn more to supplement your skills, you can apply the new knowledge to help you grow and manage your business.
When the timing is right, seize the opportunity
I was drawn to the world of ecommerce because it’s always changing and innovating. After developing and managing my own online business, I identified an opportunity to help other companies. There weren’t many companies purely focused on solving ecommerce problems. There was a gap in the marketplace of industry service providers, and my unique approach to using technology to maximize online revenue was in demand. Blue Acorn was the direct result of wanting to pursue my passion and my personal business aspirations. Perhaps more importantly, I discovered the opportunity at the right time and ran with it. While I continued to work my day job for a while, I took the leap into pursuing Blue Acorn full time when the company began to gain momentum.
Leverage your community
Charleston has incredible resources for starting and growing a business, as do many other cities throughout the country. Find a local incubator or accelerator program and use the available assistance to your advantage. Network with like-minded individuals and support each other through successes and failures. Better yet, find a mentor who can coach you through those highs and lows, because you will have many.
Don’t do it
I say, “Don’t do it,” but what I really mean is that it’s a really difficult journey. If you’re not 100 percent passionate, committed and devoted to what you hope to accomplish, don’t do it. If you don’t 100 percent believe in what you’re trying to create, don’t do it. Starting, running and growing a business is emotional. If you make a lot of decisions based on your emotional reaction, you’ll make bad decisions. There will be problems and failures every step of the way, but if you are able to solve those problems logically and separate out the emotion, you’ll be paving the way to eventual success. Whatever it is you decide to pursue, do it with everything you have and in every way you can.
Kevin Eichelberger founded Blue Acorn in 2008. Prior to that he held various positions in the software industry, including customer relationship manager, web developer, and online marketer. In addition to being Blue Acorn’s CEO, Eichelberger plays an active role in expanding Charleston’s technology community. He is a mentor and advisor to several startups through the Harbour Entrepreneur Center and served as a board member of the Charleston Digital Corridor Foundation. You can find Eichelberger, a business-savvy technologist, evangelizing about data, optimization and eCommerce.