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EPISODE #009

#9 5 Steps to Become More Emotional Resilient with Kristin Harper

Do you know your emotional resiliency? Knowing your weak areas allows you to become a stronger business owner and leader. Kristin Harper shares insights on personal improvement.

www.bizsherpa.co

www.driventosucceedllc.com

Instagram: @bizsherpa.co

 

Speaker 1:

From his first job flipping burgers at McDonald’s and delivering The Washington Post, Craig Willett counts only one and a half years of his adult life working for someone else. Welcome to The Biz Sherpa podcast with your host, Craig Willett. Founder of several multimillion-dollar businesses and trusted advisor to other business owners, he’s giving back to help business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs achieve fulfillment, enhance their lives, and create enduring wealth. The Biz Sherpa.

Craig Willett:

This is Craig Willett, The Biz Sherpa. Welcome to Episode 9 of our podcast. Today we have a special guest, Kristin Harper. Kristin is joining us from Ohio. Kristin is a third-generation entrepreneur. She has more than 30 years business and brand leadership experience from grassroots startups to global iconic brands. After spending over 20 years in corporate America successfully leading brands like Crest, Oral B, Hershey’s Kisses, Kristin ventured into entrepreneurship. She’s the CEO of Driven to Succeed, LLC, a leadership development company that provides brand strategy consulting, market research, keynotes on leadership and emotional intelligence, and career coaching for Fortune 500 companies, entrepreneurs, and rising leaders. Kristin, welcome to The Biz Sherpa podcast.

Kristin Harper:

Thanks so much, Craig. So happy to be here with you.

Craig Willett:

Not only do you do this coaching and leadership consulting, one of the things that you’ve done is you’ve written a book called The Heart of a Leader. Tell us a little bit about why you wrote that book.

Kristin Harper:

Sure. I was going through a tough time at work. We were going through an acquisition. And if anybody knows about acquisitions, they are full of change. They’re full of uncertainty. You just don’t know what the future is going to hold. Having gone through other acquisitions throughout my career, I know that it’s a very emotional time. I know that as a leader, my emotions trickle down to my team, whether they’re positive or whether they’re negative. So having had an experience many years ago where my emotions weren’t so positive and they trickled down to my team, I knew that I needed to keep myself grounded, I needed to keep myself optimistic. So I started jotting down leadership principles that I’ve learned along my career within corporate America, and it turned into a book.

Craig Willett:

Oh, that’s great. I like how you said and shared with us how you worried and you noticed that your emotions flowed down to your team. Sometimes that’s for the positive and for the negative. And really, Kristin, how I met you was through an article written about your 20-question emotional resiliency test on CNBC Make It. I’m grateful that you’d be a guest here today because I took that quiz and quite frankly, I got below average. I wanted to see if I had average emotional resiliency and I started thinking for our listeners, one key to success in business is finding out where some of your emotional weaknesses are and how you can boost or strengthen them. So I’ve read part of your book and I realized that in your book, you really offer some solutions to areas where we might be deficient. As a business owner, if we are more emotionally resilient, we’re more likely to succeed.

 

So I’d like to start out getting to know you just a little bit better today, and that’s the background of how we got to know each other. You started a business when you were 14 years old. Tell us about that.

Kristin Harper:

Yeah. So the business that I started was Krissy’s Cookies ‘n Stuff.

Craig Willett:

Sounds good.

Kristin Harper:

I wanted to buy some Christmas gifts. It was good. I wanted to buy some Christmas gifts, but I didn’t have any money, I didn’t have a job at that time, and I said, “Well, what are my skills?” I was walking to school one day—I used to walk about a half hour each way to school. I passed a grocery store, Big Bear, and I thought, “Hmm, I could bake.” So I created my recipes and identified what products I was going to make. I stopped by Big Bear one day on my way home from school and I priced out what I now know is cost of goods sold, so down to the teaspoon of salt and the tablespoon of butter, et cetera. I made a hundred dollars profit, which was good money as a 14-year-old.

Craig Willett:

That’s great.

Kristin Harper:

So that continued throughout high school. Shortly after that, my piano teacher called me over and she said, “Krissy, I need you to come right over.” So I rode my bike to her house and she said, “I’m actually pregnant, and I am 32 weeks pregnant.” Her doctor thought it was something else, but it was actually a baby! So she said, “I need you to take over my piano students.” So here I was at the age of 14 teaching piano students from age four all the way into the 80s. So I did that throughout—from eighth grade all the way through graduating high school. So those are my two introductions into entrepreneurship after working with my mom for many years, who is an entrepreneur as well. I loved the freedom, I love the sense of fulfillment, and I loved being able to create my own schedule, and I love making money.

Craig Willett:

Yeah. I think that’s great. Sometimes the emotional fulfillment of owning a business is even greater than any of the money that you can make. Now I’m impressed. As a 14-year-old, you went to the store—now my background is a CPA—you went to the store and you priced out how much your cookies were going to cost to bake?

Kristin Harper:

I did, ingredient by ingredient because I knew that I had to make a profit margin, right?

Craig Willett:

That’s right. So where did you get the money to buy your supplies for your first batch of cookies?

 

Kristin Harper:

That’s a good question, Craig. My mom used to pay me to write out invitations. So she—Princess House crystal for over 20 years and so she used to do in-home parties. When she was double-booked, I would actually do the parties for her. My dad would take me to the other hostess’s house and I’d be in front of a group of women and strangers talking about crystal. So I made money, $5 at a time, handwriting those personalized invitations. So it probably came from either my savings or from that money that I was able to earn from my mom.

Craig Willett:

Oh, great. I’m dying to know one other thing. What’s your favorite cookie flavor?

Kristin Harper:

Oh, Snickerdoodle.

Craig Willett:

Oh, wow.

Kristin Harper:

I love Snickerdoodles.

Craig Willett:

You would get along with my wife, Carol. She loves Snickerdoodle as well. I think it’s a great cookie, but I’m a little bit more partial to oatmeal raisin. Do you have a good oatmeal raisin cookie recipe?

Kristin Harper:

I do. For sure, for sure. Quaker Oats does it every time.

Craig Willett:

So how did you do it? How did you go from being a cookie entrepreneur and piano teacher to becoming a global vice president of a Fortune 15 company?

Kristin Harper:

Yeah. I will say, certainly a lot of hard work. Secondly, results. And that is one mistake that people often make is they confuse effort with outcome. So driving results and then documenting those results, so it’s clearer what my worth was. I will also say, Craig, taking risks and sometimes traveling the road less traveled. For example, when an executive recruiter called me, I was working at Procter & Gamble and had been there for almost nine years. An executive recruiter called me and mentioned The Hershey Company. Certainly, I’ve heard of Hershey’s chocolate, but never heard of The Hershey Company and certainly hadn’t heard of Hershey, Pennsylvania, a 10,000-person town that is the sweetest place on earth.

Craig Willett:

There you go.

Kristin Harper:

I took a risk, and I went to Hershey and had an amazing career there. I spent five years there in Global Innovation. My last assignment was Director of the Hershey’s Kisses brand and what an iconic global brand to have had the privilege of working on. So I will say hard work, results and outcomes, and taking calculated risk.

Craig Willett:

I think that’s great. Results and outcomes are really important because like you said, being a business owner, a lot of time people get into it—right—to make money, but they also do it so that they can have the freedom and flexibility. Sometimes, the flexibility and the freedom outweigh the effort and sometimes lose focus on the results. So I think I started a business because I wanted to be judged based on my results, not on the number of hours I spent doing something, because I felt I could be more productive or more innovative than someone else. So I think that’s a real key for entrepreneurship. I appreciate you sharing that with me. You’re kind of unusual to be an entrepreneur but also work inside a large company. What was that like to have the “I can start my own business, do my own thing,” but then, “I have to work within this corporate environment?” Tell me a little bit about what that was like for you.

Kristin Harper:

Sure. So throughout my time in corporate, I spent 20 years at Procter & Gamble, at The Hershey Company, and then my last six years at Cardinal Health, which is a Fortune 15 healthcare company that is global. So working in those industries, generally, I had some type of entrepreneurial endeavor going on many of those years—not every year—but the thing that I had early on was called Warm Spirit, which was basically a home party plan with self-care or wellness products. Similar to my mom selling crystal, I would go into women’s homes and sell lotions and sugar scrubs. It was a very uplifting environment and certainly the money was good, but what I got from it was building confidence, making new friends, meeting new people, and just the positive environment around being empowered.

 

So balancing those two, one of the things I realized is there was a time when I was going for a promotion within that network marketing company. I worked my tail off that month, Craig. I did get the promotion, but I decided at that point—and this was many years ago—I don’t want to work that hard every single month. Of course, it’s not just about my results and my effort, it’s about motivating teams. I had a team of over 200 people across the country who were also selling these products. So it was fulfilling, but I decided, “I don’t think I want to work that hard anymore.” So I made a decision to focus pretty much exclusively on my day job, on my corporate job.

 

So the bottom line is that it’s difficult to balance both a demanding full-time job as well as entrepreneurship. So now that I’m a full-time entrepreneur, it is very time consuming to be an entrepreneur. I don’t know what it is about time that’s different as an entrepreneur, but it’s probably because I don’t have all of those systems and supports set up and the infrastructure with other people. I certainly have an infrastructure and operations and support like a CPA, and an executive assistant, and a marketing team, and a publicist, but there are so many other activities that are required as an entrepreneur. So it can be difficult to do both and do both effectively.

 

Craig Willett:

I agree with you on that, but what I find with entrepreneurship is the freedom to do what you want to be doing. Sure, you may spend more time at it, but you’re doing what you enjoy. You have to admit in the corporate environment that often you’re doing things that they want you to do to meet their objectives, not necessarily what you think is the most productive. While you have support staff to delegate some of that to, at least you can say, as an entrepreneur, “I’m choosing today to spend, instead of working eight hours, I’m going to spend 12 because I enjoy it so well, and here’s the results that I’ll get from it.” So going back to what you said.

Kristin Harper:

Absolutely. One of the things that I don’t miss about the corporate environment is the organizational politics, which can be so exhausting. I don’t miss the slow decision-making. Sometimes working with clients, it’s a process to get from that awareness stage to the decision to purchase, so that can take some time. There are a lot of things I don’t miss about the corporate environment that I absolutely love about entrepreneurship, and that freedom is one of them and the purpose is another.

Craig Willett:

I totally agree. Well, when I read part of your book, it said that you say to people that they should accept the invitation. Now I have to admit to my listeners, I was really good at this at one point in time in my life. It led me to do all kinds of things, including testifying in Congress a number of times back in Washington, DC. But I got so busy and the business got so big, I stopped accepting a lot of invitations. Tell me why you tell—why you recommend to people they should accept invitations.

Kristin Harper:

Yeah. I’m going to say that at my core, I’m a marketer and I’m a Brand Builder. One of the things about marketing is there’s something called the customer journey. It starts with awareness and it ends with a purchase and then loyalty and repeat. To get from awareness all the way through repeat business, it requires multiple touch points, multiple points of engagement. So it’s all about building relationships and that’s where emotional intelligence can really make a difference.

 

Actually, I had an aha moment about a week ago. A friend reached out to me and their company is interested in partnering with some historically black colleges and doing some career interviewing, and recruiting, and investing in scholarships, et cetera. So he knows that I serve on the board of Florida A&M, which is my alma mater, and he asked me to connect them. So I connected them, long story short. So I saw him about a week ago and he said, “Oh, do you want to join our call?” The person that I connected him with the VP had set up a call with deans, and all the different people that they wanted to talk to. I’m like, “Not really, I think you’re good.” So I could pick up the cues that he was imploring me to join the call. So I had—

Craig Willett:

Maybe he wasn’t as comfortable without your help.

 

Kristin Harper:

Exactly. So throughout the course of the conversation, I said, “You know what? No, send me the invitation. If I can join, I’d love to join.” That was an aha moment for me and it was because I was picking up those organizational cues and those cues from him that that was my reminder to say yes to the invite and find a way to say yes. Now to be clear, Craig, every—and here’s the other bit. I’ve pitched to him and his business some other opportunities. By connecting him with my alma mater, there’s nothing in it for me, but I pitched to him some other opportunities of how my business can serve his business. So I had to re-shift my mindset to, “This is a potential client. What’s the harm in me sitting on an hour long call to nurture that relationship?” So every person is not necessarily a potential client and doesn’t warrant that same level of investment, but if it makes sense, I’ve found that generosity usually yields a return on investment. So we can’t be too generous with our time, but where it makes strategic sense we should say yes to the invite.

Craig Willett:

Yes, and I found in my career that sometimes I’ve gone to some conventions or seminars and I get to meet other people. It’s amazing when you get to know them that often there’s times where you form a relationship and they call you later and say, “Craig, can you help me with this?” I found that to be very rewarding for me through the years. I can’t count on one hand. I know I can count on multiple hands the number of times that’s yielded business and returns to me just getting out and getting to know other people so that they know you and like you said, your personal brand and what you’re able to do to help people, and I think that’s great. Now you said something in your book that I absolutely love. You said, “Don’t dress for the job you have, dress for the job you want.” Now tell us why you recommend that, and I love it. I’m going to tell a brief story after you do, but I don’t want to steal your thunder. I love that quote.

Kristin Harper:

Yeah. So here’s the thing, Craig. Each person is a brand, and Chapter 1 of my book talks all about your personal brand. I use a metaphor of the Coca-Cola brand of how to apply those branding principles to you. First impressions are lasting impressions. Often, there’s the time when you have gotten to a place of competency, or people trust that your results are going to be good, okay, and that your performance is going to be strong. It’s not performance alone that helps you get to the next level. People have to see you at that next level. You have to operate at that next level. You have to have executive presence that you carry yourself at that next level and that includes how you dress. So it’s essential and it’s often one of those things that—that’s not going to show up on your performance review that you don’t dress the part. So you have to take it upon yourself and/or work with a coach or mentor, someone who can guide you so that you are positioning yourself for the next level.

Craig Willett:

I think that’s great, but I also look at it and apply it to the business-owner’s level. For instance, when I was a CPA, I had a client that came to me and he had a real difficult tax matter. In fact, he was so challenged he had to go through the tax court system to straighten it out. I referred him to an attorney and I went to meet with him to prepare for the tax court hearing. The attorney was wearing boots, jeans, and a t-shirt. When we walked in and my client looked at me—I’m in a shirt and tie—my client looked at me, “Are you for real, Craig? Are you taking me to this guy?” He was a very confident attorney, but partway through the conference in the preparation session, the attorney apologized to my client. I could tell that he could see at that point in time my client was questioning. He said, “Don’t worry. When we go to court, I’ll be wearing a suit and tie.” I thought, “We can’t apologize for how we look. We need to look our part.”

Sometimes we think our part is only in the field where we think we’re on display, so to speak. For the attorney, it was in tax court. I say, anytime we’re in business, we’re on display no matter where we are, what we’re doing. People are observing you. You are a walking advertisement for your business when you’re a business owner.

Kristin Harper:

Absolutely, especially for entrepreneurs. Here’s the other thing that makes me think about, Craig, is your brand, and how you show up, and even your dress, that has a direct correlation to your worth.

Craig Willett:

Yes, definitely.

Kristin Harper:

So if you’re dressing the part, people will probably pay you the part.

Craig Willett:

Exactly.

Kristin Harper:

So there the correlation—

Craig Willett:

There’s a great correlation.

Kristin Harper:

… and trust.

Craig Willett:

Exactly. I’ve always said, “No one’s going to offer you more than what you think you’re worth.” You need to have that in your mind. You have to be the one that perceives you’re of high worth, but you have to deliver with the skills. You have to deliver and everything. I would add, dress how you are. I know I might be of maybe an older generation here. For some of our listeners that are following my podcast, I would say be careful what you post on social media and how you look and what you’re doing, because that’s also going to reflect on you. It can possibly have a negative, especially if you’re in business and someone that you do business with sees something. It might be funny, it might be humorous, but it may not cast you in the best light.

Kristin Harper:

Yeah. That’s why it’s important for individuals to manage your brand and that takes intention in order to manage your brands. So I have tools in the first chapter to help you be really clear about what your brand is about so that you can manage it well.

Craig Willett:

I love that because there’s a lot of words that you can go through to try to pick how to describe yourself, I think that’s great, and then how you want to appear. I think that’s a great book to work through, and it’s available on Amazon. That’s where I got it, right?

Kristin Harper:

Yeah, absolutely, Amazon, Books-A-Million, Barnes & Noble, a lot of different websites.

Craig Willett:

The Heart of a Leader.

Kristin Harper:

Perfect five-star rated, I have to say.

Craig Willett:

Well, I haven’t rated it yet, but I’m sure I’m giving it five stars. I’ve really enjoyed it. In fact, what brought us together was this emotional resiliency quiz. Like I said, I probably fared just barely above average. I thought usually on most quizzes that I do, I do pretty well. But on this one in being all honest with myself, I really identified some areas that I could work on. So how do you see being emotionally resilient as being helpful in starting a business?

Kristin Harper:

Entrepreneurship and starting a business is full of optimism and uncertainty. It’s full of plans and disruptions. It’s full of potential and it’s also full of challenge. And so resilience is critical when you’re starting a business and when you’re operating a business, because challenges will come. One of the biggest things that I’ve found as a leader—and it’s especially important for entrepreneurs—is to know your strengths and to know your areas of opportunity, and to hire and/or create a support system around what your areas of opportunity are. Because as a business owner, you probably believe like I do—that I can do, or I can learn how to do anything.

Craig Willett:

Sometimes it’s a big mistake.

Kristin Harper:

Absolutely. Time is so precious. And the definition of leverage is hiring experts so you can get to your destination faster. You stay in your lane where you’re an expert; hire other experts and you can get to your destination faster. So resilience is critical because there will be bumps and detours along the way. But if you have that strong belief that you have the work ethic to serve your clients or your customers, and you’re willing to pivot when necessary, that’s the definition of resilience for entrepreneurs and why it’s so important.

Craig Willett:

Well, I think that’s great. I’d never want to discourage anyone from starting a business. I think it represents the ultimate freedom of the Founding Fathers of our country. I think it represents all that America is based upon because it allows us to be individuals and to express our own worth to the world. And so I appreciate what you say. Now, when disappointment comes to a business owner, what do you recommend they do? Because sometimes you may have hired the experts to help, but sometimes you’re going to face disappointment or even failure and you may start looking at yourself and get discouraged. What do you recommend to help build some resiliency so that when those moments of disappointment or reality checks hit—how to bounce back and respond?

Kristin Harper:

Absolutely. I have lots of different strategies around how to not only bounce back, but also bounce forward. And I refer to it in my book as post-traumatic growth. That you can actually come out better than you were before. One is just mindfulness, being self-aware. How do you feel? Another is taking time to breathe, and taking time to slow down. As entrepreneurs and as business owners, we’re often so busy chasing that next deal, servicing our clients and customers. It’s important to stop and take a pulse check. So taking those moments to just think about things is really important.

 

I would also say, when you identify one emotion, it can reduce that emotion’s power over you. So that’s another mindfulness strategy, and I call it emotional granularity. Like being granular with the emotion that you feel. I would also say that there is no such thing as failure, as long as you learn from it. So the example I just gave about saying yes to the invite, afterwards, I was like, “Oh duh, I should’ve said yes right away.” But I learned from it. So there is no failure if you’re able to learn from it. I would also say—

Craig Willett:

And you bounced forward with it because you accepted it—

Kristin Harper:

Exactly.

Craig Willett:

And now it’s leading to other opportunities.

Kristin Harper:

A better outcome. Absolutely. I would also say that sometimes the goals we’re pursuing, at some point, it may not make sense to continue to pursue those goals if we keep running into challenge and roadblock. And so you’ve got to know when to hold them and know when to fold them. And I call that goal disengagement. Sometimes you have to disengage from a goal, create a new goal, and that new goal will bring that additional sense of optimism. The last thing I would share is gratitude—expressing gratitude. Because when you shift your mindset from what’s going wrong and what challenges you’re experiencing to what you’re grateful for or what you’ve learned; when you shift your focus, that’s what magnifies. Whatever you focus on is going to magnify. So those are a few strategies, and there are so many business owners who have faced substantial challenges, but they didn’t give up. They pivoted when it was necessary and they didn’t give up.

Craig Willett:

So I think it takes that. It takes some gut, it takes some fortitude to fight through that. But how do you know when you’re fighting against a losing cause? Because you said sometimes if you keep going up in bumping up against the same roadblocks, sometimes you can be deceived and think that, “Maybe I should give up,” when maybe fighting through might be the best thing. So do you have a way you recommend people take that gut check and step back?

Kristin Harper:

Yeah. So I would say, look at the scoreboard. Whatever is the scoreboard for your business, look at that. Whether it’s the revenue, whether it’s the profit, whether it’s your margin, whether it’s the number of people who have said “yes” to a capabilities presentation. So look at the scoreboard. And it’s important that we keep metrics, especially as business owners, because we could easily be deceived by a lot of activity, but activity doesn’t always produce results. So I would say, look at the scoreboard, number one.

 

Number two, I would say solicit customer feedback—whether it’s your existing customers or clients, or whether it’s prospective customers or clients. And that takes a level of humility to ask for honest feedback, and then to put our guard down and our defenses down so that we can receive that honest feedback without being defensive. So those are the two ways that I would suggest determining if it’s worth moving forward or if you need to pivot.

Craig Willett:

Now, I know why we get along so well. You’ve just described to me what I call The Biz Sherpa scorecard. I suggest that people set a goal and objective, whatever it is for their business, and they spend 80% of their time—delegate the rest. In other words, the things that you can’t do well, give to someone else and focus on what you can do well. And the second thing is, measure every day your customers’ responses. And if you’re not getting anything, get on the phone and call them. And it gives you that opportunity to see, am I hitting my goals and objectives of my services, is my product resonating the way I would expect it to? Because that brings in and of itself an emotional reward to you that you’re not frustrated doing something that you could have delegated, number one.

 

And then in the second instance on the scorecard that I say is to get the customer feedback. If you’re not getting it, you need to go out and get it. And that can be very rewarding in and of itself, or it can help you set the objectives you need to do so that you can score better with your customers. And I think that brings the success. The dollars and cents will take care of themselves after that, because you’ll be happy, you’ll be fulfilled, and your customers will be happy. So I’m glad that you and I can totally relate. And so when I read your 20 questions, I thought, “This is great. I can do better in a lot of areas,” which I’m grateful for because it identified what you call areas of opportunity. I’ll call them weaknesses for me, because I’m okay saying that. I recognize that I have them, and I need to recognize them probably more often.

 

Now one of the things that I like to ask each of my guests is to pull off the mask for a second, not that you have one, but let’s just for instance be real. What is your greatest failure or challenge that you face?

Kristin Harper:

Gosh, I’ve had a lot of failures. I’ve made a lot of mistakes. One that I would say was a great failure is assuming that the same rules applied in one environment as it did another. So I’ll give you an example. I came from consumer packaged goods. In the CPG industry, it’s very typical to work long hours like 10, 11-hour days. I started my career when there were no laptops and used to stay in the office quite a long time. Once laptops were invented, I would take my laptop home and I would pick back up after dinner. So that’s what I was used to.

 

When I transitioned to a different company, that environment was not the CPG environment around 10, 11, 12-hour days and then working at home. So I had been used to that for well over a decade, and I was using that same mentality. What I realized, through 360 feedback from my team, is that I was burning them out. Then I looked around and I realized, “Hmm, I’m the only one sending emails at 10 o’clock. Nobody else is sending me emails at 10 o’clock—not just on my team, but across the company.”

Craig Willett:

Did they recommend you read The 4-Hour Workweek, too?

Kristin Harper:

They didn’t, but that is a great book.

Craig Willett:

Anyway, I’m sorry.

Kristin Harper:

So I will say applying rules from a different context into a new context, so that’s why I believe so heartedly in getting feedback. It really is a gift that people don’t have to give you. Whether it’s asking for feedback from your customers, or clients, or your teammates, even your direct reports and contractors, that’s important. Everybody can teach and everybody can learn.

Craig Willett:

I think that’s great. Well, you not only shared with us your greatest challenge, but you shared with us what you learned from it, and I really appreciate that. Because I think in life, those are the greatest lessons that we have and those can really move us forward. If we get stuck and keep focusing on, “Why did I do that,” and expect ourselves to be perfect, we can put ourselves in a tough spot. In fact, I think in your book, you quote Michael Jordan when he says, “Look, I’ve lost this many games. I’ve missed this many shots,” but he was still one of the greatest athletes to ever play basketball and I think we have to remember that. Babe Ruth struck out so many times, but he still hit the most home runs. We have to really be able to accept that on the path to the top, there are a lot of challenges. There are stumbling blocks. There’s roadblocks, but it’s our ability to navigate those that lead us to greater fulfillment and greater happiness.

Kristin Harper:

Absolutely.

Craig Willett:

We can’t expect the smooth ride the whole time.

Kristin Harper:

Mm-hmm, not in business ownership.

Craig Willett:

Well, great. Kristin, is there any other wisdom that you would like to offer to our listeners today that you feel would help someone who’s starting a business?

Kristin Harper:

Yeah. I would just say that the biggest mistake I see people make who are starting a business is that they are enamored with a great idea and have that enthusiasm—which is so great and so characteristic of entrepreneurs—but don’t do the due diligence to make sure that their idea is solving an unmet need. And that is critical. That’s one of the many reasons why so many businesses don’t succeed. Over about 25% fail after year one and only about 50% last after five years. So I’ve put together a program called the Brand Positioning Blueprint Bootcamp. It’s a program that helps you methodically go from identifying your product, service, or idea, identifying who your target audience is, developing and executing some market research, which is essentially focus groups or one-on-one conversations. I’ll lay out the entire interview for you with all of the questions, and what this helps you to do in 60 days or less is validate that your product or service idea is truly meeting an unmet need.

Kristin Harper:

The worst thing that can happen is you invest your heart, your soul, your time, your money, your life savings into a business idea that the market rejects. That is heartbreaking. So it’s better to do the work upfront to get that into a really good place so that you can move forward with confidence or to say, “You know what? I thought it was a really good idea, but the market isn’t responding in the same way. So you know what? I’m going to think about the next idea instead.”

Craig Willett:

That is a great point. In fact, in our seventh episode of The Biz Sherpa, we talked about solving an unmet need or the problem, and who is your target audience, and then testing it. I think that’s really important to do, because like you said, it will prevent a lot of failures and it will give you the opportunity to not only find some ways you can do better at it so that when you do launch, you’re even more successful. So I think your bootcamp is a great idea, and I may just sneak you in on that and take a segment of this and put it in there, because I love your bootcamp idea. I think it can be very helpful to business owners.

 

I think there’s two areas that business owners really need to focus on. One is that they’re emotionally prepared that they’re starting the business for the right reason and not the wrong reason. Then once they have that and make sure they’re personally prepared for the journey they’re about to take. It’s like trying to climb to the top of a mountain, but not packing the backpack, and not taking enough food, and not allowing for the contingencies. But if you pack well, you can meet any challenge that comes along the way.

 

Then the second area really is in the nuts and bolts of the business—understanding finance, understanding your product, understanding your target market, understanding and testing it. So I really love your boot camp. That’s a great idea.

Kristin Harper:

Thank you. Yeah, and you can find out—your listeners can find out more on my website, driventosucceedllc.com.

Craig Willett:

Good. We’ll put that up on the screen as they watch the video, too, and probably provide a link if you’re all right with that on our website.

Kristin Harper:

Absolutely.

Craig Willett:

Well, that’s great. Kristin, it’s been a joy to spend time with you today.

Kristin Harper:

Likewise.

Craig Willett:

I am so grateful for your expertise and the way you’ve been able to, in a very succinct way in your book and through your programs that you do for leadership, be able to put into play some things that I think enhance the success of business owners. So I highly recommend Kristin’s book to our listeners, and I hope you go to our website. There’s a link to her 20-question emotional resiliency test. Keep in mind, I didn’t do so well, but you’re probably not surprised by that.

Kristin Harper:

We’re all a work in progress.

Craig Willett:

We appreciate Kristin joining us today. This is Craig Willett, The Biz Sherpa.

Speaker 1:

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