How to Channel Your Inner Entrepreneur:
Celebrating World Entrepreneur Day
Koi-Fly Creative Founder and CEO Stacey Grant approaches every single day with energy, enthusiasm and empathy. She cares deeply for her clients and channels her passion for production into every project, every hire and every opportunity. She’s an entrepreneur and a female business owner, eager to share her secrets for success with anyone looking to start a new business journey, or strengthen the one they’re already on.
Stacey answered some questions for INC. Magazine discussing what to expect in entrepreneurship, how to succeed, and why this path to entrepreneurship drives her to work hard every day.
What have you learned as an entrepreneur that you didn’t when you were at a 9 to 5 job working for someone else?
I’ve actually never officially had a typical 9-5 job. I’ve always been in sales or in a creative field where my work hours varied each week. The difference now is as an entrepreneur I have definitely ramped up my time in terms of how much I think about work when I’m not officially ‘on the job’. Since this is my own endeavor and I am passionate about it, I don’t feel like this is “work” most of the time. My heart is in my job and my job is my heart. The journey is non-stop and so exciting!
In the beginning I had trouble finding the time to disconnect. It was like a passionate infatuation that I thought about day and night. Now, almost four years later, I make sure my down time is all about stepping away from the work and really focusing on myself and my family. The amazing people who have joined us on the Koi-Fly team are the company’s most valuable assets and help make it easy to turn things off, especially when I need to focus on other aspects of my life. I always try to make sure they’re happy and satisfied in their jobs, and in return they always get the job done.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started out?
I’m glad I didn’t know how hard it was going to be to get the company off the ground. I’m not sure we would have been successful if I had been more aware of the hardships that come with running your own business. So I went into this business with optimism, and a glass half full hope that we would absolutely succeed. I never focused on self doubt, I just kept on pushing through no matter what.
What’s been your biggest lesson learned?
Hire slow and fire fast. In the beginning, I made the mistake of bringing people on my team before we really got to know them. I have grown to understand which type of job hiring works best for us. Now I usually hire people on a contractual basis and have them work with us for a short period of time to see if the relationship is right for everyone. We’re lean and nimble so every personality matters, and we want to make sure those personalities click all around.
We also have a “no asshole” rule here. I make it a rule to stick to it for employees and clients, too.
I’ve learned it’s OK to charge what you are worth. In the beginning, when we were building our portfolio of work, I would charge less so we could build up our credentials. I got into this cycle initially, so it was hard to get out of it because expectations had been set. Luckily, my team pushed me to trust my gut. I learned that people value what they spend money on, and we all were able to measure success in our very own ways.
What’s been your biggest perk?
I’m my very own boss. That’s always been a dream of mine, but I’ve realized this can also be difficult. Sometimes, I don’t want to make all the decisions so I rely on my dedicated team to help me make some of those choices. I trust their opinions on much of the creative direction for a lot of the work we do.
What myths would you like to dispel?
Entrepreneurs are rich! I still haven’t taken a salary after 4 years. Koi-Fly is my creative baby so it’s more important to put all our revenue back into the company. I want Koi-Fly to continue to thrive and be successful in the production industry, and this approach to profit can help make that happen.
I’ve learned not to expect all the business to come to me. “If you build it they will come” is just a myth. This is work, plain and simple. Every day I get out of my comfort zone. Every day I’m grinding and hustling to get the word out to companies about the amazing things that Koi-Fly can do. If you want to be an entrepreneur you can’t be afraid of hard, hard work.
Is being an entrepreneur everything you thought it would be?
Not at all. I could have read every book on running your own business and I still would not have ever known what I know now. I love every single day working here. I’ve put my whole heart into Koi-Fly because it’s been my dream for so long. That dream, and life here at Koi-Fly, is pretty special indeed.
Have another question about entrepreneurship? Leave a comment below!