Over here at Entrepreneurial Ambitions we know that success as an entrepreneur isn’t given to you: It is earned. For all the talk there is from people about wanting to be a successful entrepreneur, the majority rarely follow up their constant talk with persistent action. It is as if they receive more enjoyment from talking about success, rather than experiencing success. This is a backward mentality but is unfortunately how many “entrepreneurs” operate.
For every successful entrepreneur there is, there are probably a hundred others, if not more, who are failing or operating a mediocre business. Building success as an entrepreneur isn’t a small feat. It will probably be one of the hardest endeavors you pursue in your life. So much is expected of you and you want to step up and deliver, rather than being seen as a failure.
This is why I love to have conversations with individuals who have produced success as an entrepreneur. Their knowledge and insight is valuable information that can be used to help others operate more effectively as an entrepreneur.
My recent conversation was with Jordan French, co-founder of reputation management pioneer Status Labs as well as BeeHex, the 3D food printing award winner and media darling. From this conversation, you will learn how Jordan French developed a business that was named to the Inc. 500 and Fast 50 and how he positioned himself to gain more opportunities as an entrepreneur by co-founding BeeHex.
Becoming Accustomed to the Entrepreneur Process
Jordan French began his journey into entrepreneurship as the majority of us did. He had thoughts about being an entrepreneur, saw an opportunity to build a business, and aggressively pursued that opportunity with relentless drive. Status Labs, widely known as the “Olivia Pope of the Internet” began as a digital reputation management firm that worked through what clients in politics and business called “miracles.” French, along with a sales-focused co-founder started the firm with $86 and $15 budgeted towards the first website. “We were thrifty,” French says.
Seeing a gap in the services offered by the majority of reputation management firms, combined reverse search engine optimization tactics with traditional press to form what he calls “search engineering.” From two people at its outset French built the firm from two to over thirty people with a nearly 1,000% growth rate over four years, earning Status Labs an Inc. 500 and Fast 50 ranking under his tenure as both CEO and COO.
“At one point I was managing several hundred accounts myself in late 2013. We hadn’t yet built a proper account management system and account management team,” says French. “To show that I cared about my clients I had to show that I cared.”
If you have built a business from nothing, you understand the challenges that come with entrepreneurship. Having nothing more than a vision and a few dollars to invest into your business makes it seem like you are fighting against the world to make your venture successful. There are so many sleepless nights, personal sacrifices and frustrating moments that you have to endure. Entrepreneurship is really only for those who are mentally strong enough to keep pushing forward no matter what obstacles they encounter.
“Entrepreneurship involves a lot of trial and error. My motto is never give up. Experiment and find another way when your first option doesn’t go as planned.”
The inability to adapt and be durable is why many individuals fail when it comes to entrepreneurship. They either give up to early, or they never analyze their mistakes and solve them – choosing to do the same things that continually produce minimal or bad results.
In order to succeed as an entrepreneur, you must be open to learning and applying what you have learned. Many would-be entrepreneurs don’t want to learn and it ends up costing them their businesses, or they don’t implement knowledge given to them. The main reason for failure is due people not understanding that non-stop work that is required to build an idea into a successful business. You can’t put in employee hours and expect to produce results – the world of entrepreneurship doesn’t respond to such minimal efforts.
What it Takes to Become a Successful Entrepreneur
Just Google Jordan French you want to see the list of his accomplishments. He began his entrepreneurial journey by co-founding Status Labs, with a slew of profitable, still-running startups under his belt including the “Zillow of short-term rentals” BNB Shield, O’Dwyer-ranked branding firm Notability Partners, 3D printing firm BeeHex and a multi-million dollar real estate portfolio. Status Labs would eventually go on the be recognized on the Fast 50 and Inc. 500 (no. 339), a rare feat for a service-based business competing for that rank with high-growth SaaS and product firms.
” I would work 16-18 hour days. In 2013 I was the only account manager within the company. I would touch base with hundreds of clients per month.”
These are the requirements that come with building a business from the ground up. French recognized that building a successful company required that he be willing to do whatever it took to grow his business. Being active in making contact with clients significantly helped in Jordan’s efforts to grow this company.
“As the number one guy–the CEO and COO–calling our clients, they saw that I cared. They understood I was willing to do whatever it took to ensure we provided them with great service.”
The significant growth that Status Labs experienced came from its existing customers. By being on the phone constantly, Jordan was able to upsell to his existing customers, instead of having to spend money on attracting new customers. Only later would Status Labs expand its marketing budget and as French describes it “growth slowed significantly.”
The ride towards success was a fun time and incredible learning experience. But as an entrepreneur, when you experience success in one field, you want to pursue other opportunities and challenge your ability to build other successful businesses. French knew bigger opportunities awaited him, so he began to explore more rewarding entrepreneurial pursuits.
Success as an Entrepreneur is about Growth
Jordan went on to co-found BeeHex, the 3D food-printing company that has drawn a cult following–and separately a media cult following–around its 3D-printed pizza. French’s choice to enter the 3D food printing industry was due to two factors. The first factor being that it is a relatively new industry, so the ability to retain the position as the leader in the industry is an open opportunity especially with a team of NASA engineers. The second factor being it is a product based business, which means the ability to grow rapidly is much easier to accomplish.
Highly unusual for a hardware startup the company has earned revenues in its first few months of business with paid gigs in New York City, Santa Clara, California and Columbus, Ohio. The media has created a frenzy around the company given the high page views that clips of the firm’s robots earn, with film recently shot by Zagat, Thrillist, Vice Magazine, and Delish. The company was nominated by Vice Magazine for its Taste Talks awards in September, only to lose to Uber. “We were honored to be nominated by Vice,” says French. “And so far, who hasn’t lost to Uber?”
BeeHex has been gaining steady momentum in the marketplace and earlier this year its team was asked to pitch the “sharks” including Robert Herjavec and Damond John on ABC’s Shark Tank. “But the company’s robots aren’t all excitement,” says French. “We get it that there are people who want to see a pizza dough tossed in the air. But there’s a larger market where all people care about is how their pizza looks and tastes. BeeHex offers a compelling buy based off of its speed, cleanliness, and fit for that market.”
As BeeHex and French’s other firms continue to gain recognition and grow, French is seeking more ways to help other entrepreneurs grow their businesses, through his role at startup accelerator Fownders.“Fownders’ founder and Millennial Mentor, Gerard Adams, is red hot right now with a recent TEDx talk and Magic Johnson’s 32 Under 32 under his belt,” says French. “Fownders gives me an opportunity to bring only positive energy to a place that fosters both personal and business growth.”
“Being a successful entrepreneur means that you should be willing to help other entrepreneurs understand the entrepreneurial process. We are all in this together.”