Whether you’re considering a career change or have already ventured into entrepreneurship, the startup world can be a both exciting and perilous landscape. Starting your own business is not a path for the risk-averse, which is why expertise from the front lines is invaluable. This weekend, we attended Los Angeles’s Create & Cultivate conference, where we heard from a string of successful small-business owners. From Parachute Home founder and CEO Ariel Kaye to Alfred Coffee owner Josh Zad, these founders and innovators have us completely inspired. Our favorite takeaway from the multiple panels at the event was the career-driven advice on turning passions into profits and making it on your own. Here’s what every new business owner needs to know.
“I knew I needed the expertise, so I had an expensive team out of the gate. We scaled so much faster,” adds Adams, emphasizing that getting the right team on deck is sometimes more important than saving money upfront.
Zad agrees: “Do not skimp money on talent. Don’t lose out. It can be disastrous to the business. If you find the right team, pay them. It’s critical if you come across someone great to keep them.” Assess your personal strengths and weaknesses, and rely on key hires to fill in the gaps. “The path for me was not in the expertise of the coffee; it was in the experience itself,” says Zad. “I brought on the coffee people and focused entirely on what I like to do.”
Both Kaye and Zad emphasized the value of collaborative partnerships with bigger, more established names to their brands’ success. “Partnerships are all about how are we adding value for our customer,” says Cohen. “The right collaboration will put your brand in front of people who may not know about you otherwise.”
Build your influencer network. Earned media and word of mouth are crucial assets. “Partnerships were huge for us from the beginning,” says Zad. Alfred Coffee boasts a laundry list of local talent, from L.A.-based Compartes Chocolatier to Kelly Wearstler. “One of our first partnerships we had was carrying pastries from a local Brentwood bakery. Initially our apparel was provided by Rag & Bone. We capitalized on other brands that people knew. Once we started to grow, we had a name of our own.”
Have a startup? We want to know about your business, so introduce yourself and your passion project.