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The Entrepreneurial Spirit is a series of interviews conducted by Catalyst
Co-Working with local entrepreneurs and small business owners. Our goal is to give local entrepreneurs some insight and advice into starting your own small business.
Interview with Greg Harvill of Jolt Java
Q: What were the biggest initial hurdles to starting your business and how did you overcome them?
A: My biggest hurdle was skill development. I had never been a barista. So I had to learn the coffee trade, the equipment, and the tools. My second hurdle was inventory control, or as I call it “chasing the inventory”… as you grow you don’t have a predictable consumption and use pattern, my supplier and roaster are in Yakima and I didn't want to compromise my product…there were a lot of frantic late night calls to my roaster.
Q: Whom do you seek advice from for your business?
A: The previous owner gave me a lot of training, and my roaster worked with me a lot. For the first month of business I worked along side a friend of the family who worked as a barista in town for a long time. She was invaluable.
Q: How do you approach marketing your business?
A: It sounds cliché but my favorite way of marketing is word of mouth...when you make great products, people talk about them, so making a great product in a timely and consistent fashion, will get you consistent customers. Secondly we use a lot of Facebook. Luckily my wife has 1000 friends so through parents and kids and coworkers we’re able to reach a broad demographic of people. I have an 8 year old friend of the family that insists on going to jolt because it is the best Italian soda he’s ever had. And we recently went viral on Snapchat with our “Ellensburg Sunrise”!
Q: How do you come up with your signature drinks?
A: A lot of it is happenstance. A customer came and I made her a drink, and then she came back and worked on the flavors with our barista and together they came up with the sunrise. She was actually the first to post it to Snapchat. We named it the “Ellensburg Sunrise” to connect it locally, and thought it would be a fad... its become one of our most popular drinks!
Q: What did you learn from the worst boss you ever had?
A: Nothing is guaranteed...but on a more positive note customer service. Again it sounds cliché, but focus on the customer and customer demands...people aren't just coming to you for the product. They come for friendliness, service, and consistency from 5:30AM-5:00PM Monday through Friday.
Q: What do you do to recharge when you’re feeling drained?
A: As a business owner, recharging comes pretty naturally. If you don’t recharge, your business will suffer, when you are owner/operator you have to recharge at the end of the day. Recharging is organic, its do or die. I also recharge just through the pride of ownership, watching the business grow, and watching the customers who come back everyday to support us.
Q: So you’ve been open for 6 months now. Is there anything you would have done differently now that you know a little more?
A: There isn’t a whole lot. You know, I had done my homework on the property, spoken to the previous business owner. The only thing I wish I had done is researched the age of the assets. I had been going there every day so I knew everything worked...some of the equipment will have to be replaced in a few years.
Q: Is there any advice you could give to someone hoping to start their own small business?
A: Find the passion in the work. I love coffee and am a nerd at heart, you know there are over 1400 chemical reactions that go into the making of coffee...so it was easy for me to find the passion. If you find the passion in the work it will sustain you. Also make sure you have a market. I have friends that have the passion, great ideas and creativity but fail because there is no market. Be patient, work hard, don’t compromise on your standards, and hunker down and don’t expect to get paid for awhile.
Grow your small business with LinkedIn by using these seven proven tactics.
There are nearly 30 million small businesses in the United States, but only half of them will make it past five years. To ensure your small business is in the successful half, we encourage you to capitalize on the various ways LinkedIn can evolve your business.
With LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, you can generate leads, produce sales, and hire top professionals to fuel your growth. Here are seven ways to grow your business using LinkedIn:
1. Create a LinkedIn Company Page
We’ve found that LinkedIn members are 50% more likely to buy once they’ve engaged with your business on LinkedIn. But they can’t connect with you if you don’t have a LinkedIn Company Page. According to Forbes, only 57% of companies have pages. The remaining 43% are missing out on a free opportunity to generate leads, talent, and, ultimately, revenue.
If you don’t already have one, create a LinkedIn Company Page. Personal profiles don’t have the same marketing, advertising, and recruiting features as Company Pages, making them less effective at promoting your business. As you create your page, think about the kind of impression you want to create among potential customers and employees. This will help you select the right photos and messages to use on your page.
For a step-by-step guide on how to create an above and beyond Company Page, view our LinkedIn Company Page Best Practices.
2. Promote Your Company Page
Once you have a Company Page, announce it to your clients, employees, and personal network. This will help you gain your first followers, who in turn will help to promote your Company Page on the content you post to it.
Promoting your page on other platforms or via email is also a great way to grow your audience. Here are some simple ways to get the word out:
● Announce the launch of the Company Page on your personal LinkedIn profile
● Encourage employees to follow the Company Page by making it a part of your onboarding process—Social Media Today reports that content shared by employees receives eight times the engagement as brand shared content
● Link to your Company Page in the footer of your marketing emails or newsletters
● Embed a Company Follow button onto your website so visitors can easily follow your LinkedIn Company Page
3. Share Content Regularly
The more you post, the more people you can potentially reach and convert. Best-in-class LinkedIn Company Pages are consistently updated to ensure that visitors have plenty of new content to consume and share.
To get started, try posting at least once per week. It’s not uncommon for companies to post three or more times per day. Post whenever you have something worth saying. Posting consistently shows Company Page visitors that your company is active on LinkedIn. Use LinkedIn’s Company Page analytics to see your top performing updates, your best times to post, and which members of your audience are the most engaged. With this information, it’s easy to make data-driven decisions to optimize your Company Page content.
In addition to posting often, here are a few more stats to help you boost engagement:
● Posts with links receive up to 45% more engagement
● Images see an incredible 98% increase in engagement
● Posts that have relevant “best-of” lists get almost 40% more amplification
When a post gets good engagement, consider promoting it to a wider audience with LinkedIn Sponsored Content. Take the Sponsored Content Tour and discover how Sponsored Content amplifies your best content.
4. Showcase Thought Leadership
Seventy nine percent of buyers say thought leadership is critical for determining which companies they want to learn more about. To get started with thought leadership content, try to provide a unique perspective on your industry, product, or organization. Sharing your opinion on the future of your industry or creating a definitive guide on your product are just two ways to demonstrate your expertise and position your company as a credible partner.
For more ideas and advice on expanding your brand’s authority, download our Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to Thought Leadership to learn more.
5. Target Sales Prospects
LinkedIn has over 500 million users to date. That may seem like a lot to sort through, but LinkedIn also provides you with tools to identify and target your ideal audience.
LinkedIn members are more likely than other social media users to keep their profiles up-to-date, making it easier for you to find the right people. Use LinkedIn profile data to search for LinkedIn members based on geographic location, education, experience, and even connections. Once you’ve found prospects using the search feature, visit their profiles. Their endorsements or recent profile views might surface additional qualified prospects, too.
For more ways to reach your ideal audience, learn how to advertise on LinkedIn.
6. Build an All-Star Team
LinkedIn has helped 75% of job switchers make informed career decisions, making LinkedIn a top recruiting network. What are candidates looking for when making those decisions? Our research shows that 66% of candidates want to see company culture over everything else. To take advantage of this preference, consider enhancing your Company Page with a LinkedIn Career Page.
Career Pages allow you to target audiences with a personalized look into your company, culture, and jobs. They give you dedicated Life and Jobs Tabs on your Company Page that attract and engage relevant professionals.
In addition to creating Career Pages, encourage employees to share job postings and “day in the life” content as well. This gives visitors a genuine idea of what it’s like to work for you and adds to your authenticity. If you have a few employees who lead the pack in sharing content, consider linking them to your Company Page’s Life Tab. Their shared articles and recent updates will automatically populate, providing visitors with up-to-date information. Watch our video below on how to use the Life Tab to attract the right talent for your company.
7. Hire Freelancers
You’ve probably had an employee who took on a task outside of their domain. You might have even done it yourself a few times. While the effort is commendable, learning on the fly can also be detrimental.
Fortunately, finding the right talent for the task at hand isn’t as tricky as it once was, even if you can’t afford the salary of a full time employee.
LinkedIn ProFinder enables you to post your projects, receive free proposals, and hire trustworthy professionals all in one place. ProFinder will even pair you with local professionals to ensure you have the best freelance experience possible. With 172 professional services available on ProFinder, it’s easy to find the perfect professional for any task.
LinkedIn vets all the professionals on the platform to ensure they are qualified and leverages your network to find freelancers your connections have used, so you’re never in the dark about who you’re hiring.
By using freelancers, you’ll get access to outside perspectives & broad experience of professionals of all kinds, from creating websites and designing logos to managing your books or crafting your marketing strategy. Plus, with none of the management overhead of a full-time employee, you can focus solely on the job at hand.
Join us for Catalyst's very First Joint show!
Quora is a Q&A site where you get to ask your most burning questions to some of the world’s top entrepreneurs like Fred Wilson and Marc Cuban. This site allows the commenters to up-vote other’s questions ensuring that the best questions get answered.
Started by Sarah Lacy, PandoDaily houses a band of bloggers who came from the TechCrunch, with well sourced posts, and exclusive interviews with some of the tech industries top entrepreneurs.
Penelope Trunk is a three-time entrepreneur with loads of experience to share. She shares this small business advice through the telling of personal stories and anecdotes, ensuring you are getting the nitty gritty advice you crave.
4. Steve Blank
Author of Four Steps to the Epiphany and Entrepreneurship Professor, Blank walks his readers in a step-by-step fashion through his all of his points. He covers topics from big business and innovation, to the role of a founding CEO. Many of his posts include graphs and useful “Lessons Learned” summing up the most important points.
5. Small Business Trends
Small Business Trends, founded by Anita Campbell, is a comprehensive blog and resource for the news, research, and how-to’s of small business. Each post packs useful and current information for anyone dreaming of their own small business.
Jeff Cornwall, Chair of Entrepreneurship at Belmont University offers the advice that he teaches for a living. He focuses many of his articles on entrepreneurial finance and ethics, while consulting businesses on growth and the struggles of the start-up process.
7. The Scott Adams Blog
If you’re looking for advice with a bit of humor behind it, Scott Adams’ (creator of the Dilbert comic strip) personal blog is the blog for you! His posts, focused on human behavior in business, are thought-provoking, funny, and often surprising.
8. Small Business Brief
Small Business Brief, founded by Robert Clough and Jennifer Laycock, was listed as a Forbes Favorite for 2010 Small Business Blogs. Its posts focus on finding the important information for small business owners and compiling it into one place.
9. Church of the Customer
Looking for real life documentation of small business success and failure? Church of the Customer is for you! Authors and management consultants Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba use their blog, named a 2010 Favorite for Best of the Web Small Business Blogs by Forbes, documents these stories so you can avoid making the same mistakes.
Last but not least is Wise Bread. Wise Bread is written by a collection of entrepreneurs who specialize in budgets. Each post offers tips on how to manage your finances, cutting costs, and how to do big things on a small budget.
Well, there you have it! While you probably still have that urge to google, we hope we cut down on some of that research time for you!
Now get out there and #getworkdone
If you're still feeling the research itch, check out this site for more blogs!