Thinking Like An Entrepreneur (Pt 1)

Rene Rodriguez is a life-long entrepreneur and the President, CEO and Founder of Speaking Roses.  Here he takes a moment to share his thoughts on what marketing approaches and strategies have worked best for him through the years, as well as his most inspiring thoughts when it comes to business and entrepreneurial opportunities:

What marketing strategies have you found to be most successful in growing your business?

A good friend of mine, who was a very successful entrepreneur, once told me that the secret of success was in having information.  Through the years, I’ve interpreted that to mean that it’s important to understand the basics, as well as what is going on in the world today that’s new, whatever that may be ― technology, strategies, new trends or whatever will help your business.

Keeping up with what’s going on in the world today then translates, for me, into speed.  For instance, anyone can spend money marketing their products or services.  But to do it right, that’s a different thing. To do it with the right people is a different thing, to do it with people that have already proven to be successful is a different thing, and  then to do the same thing in a different way is yet a different thing ― doing all of this successfully is what I call speed.   If you have speed, you are seeking and receiving information about what is out there and new ways of doing things all the time so you can build your marketing plan accordingly.

For instance, a few years ago, when we first created the concept of Speaking Roses, we had never heard about viral marketing.  Today, viral marketing (the use of social media to create “buzz”) has become a huge deal for us.  When we started implementing viral marketing concepts and strategies into our PR campaign, the news about our company spread very quickly.  We started getting attention from celebrities like Tom Cruise on the Ellen DeGeneres show and being included in mega-events like the Rose Bowl and the Kentucky Derby; we were also featured in hundreds of different television shows, radio shows and magazines.

Whatever strategy you use, I’ve found it’s extremely helpful to measure twice and cut once.  In other words, you always want to make only one decision. And to do that, of course, you need to be informed about what is working and what is not working.  There are several bloggers and magazines, as well as a multitude of other things out there that will tell you what is going on in the world, how the world is moving today, what the new trends are and what is new in marketing, including ideas for how you can create new demand for your product by looking at what others are doing and determining how you can do the same.  But always make decisions using what I call the aim and shoot philosophy.

There are a lot of entrepreneurs that always shoot, shoot, shoot, but they never aim; they run out of bullets and they die.  Others always aim, aim, aim, but they never shoot, so they die too.  My philosophy is aim, shoot, aim, shoot ― you look at something, you test it.  If it works, keep shooting that way.  Another strategy is to keep looking at ROI.   If it works, keep pushing that button.  Eventually, you may find a different approach that works even better.  Then you keep pushing that button, and that’s the way you grow your business.

Finding different things that you can use in your strategies is challenging.  They’re not always going to be obvious to you at first.  It takes reading, being informed and analyzing to develop what I call the sixth sense of being an entrepreneur.  The sixth sense is that thing you feel when you get an idea and realize, “Wow!  That’s going to happen; this is going to make it!”  If you’re an entrepreneur and starting a business, you can’t delegate the ability to feel right about a strategy.  It’s all about you and your own sixth sense.  If you think you have a good idea, but you’re still missing something…well, find the right partner.  Find the right people to counsel you.  Getting just the right partner, of course, is a different topic unto itself, but having counsel is a great help.  The counsel you get may not be perfect, but you can bet it’s going to be chock full of information, and as we know, the secret to success is having information.

What is your favorite motto and/or quote when it comes to business?  Any words of encouragement and/or inspiration for the budding entrepreneur?

There are several phrases that I love and use a lot, but there’s one that I share and teach more than any other.  A really good friend of mine, a very successful businessman, once told me, “In everything you do, you need to ask yourself this question ― “What is the single most important thing in your business that if you are not doing it, none of the other things that you are doing will even matter?”  It’s an extremely powerful phrase because it helps you to focus and identify that one, most important thing in your business that matters most.  It addresses one of the biggest problems that many people have today.  They don’t know how to focus.

The single most important thing means that you have to do some homework and identify what that is and then work hard toward it.  It is a tricky question, but one you must learn how to identify and then answer.  You also must recognize that the answer to the question can change during the course of a business’ development and growth, depending on the strategies in place.

About Rene:

Rene Rodriguez started his first small business at age 14.  Since then he has started and sold five successful businesses in different industries.  An entrepreneur for more than two decades, Rodriguez is currently the President, CEO and Founder of Speaking Roses, which started in 2002, went worldwide in 2008 and is currently operating in more than 25 countries.

This is the first of two installments Rene will contribute to Entrepreneur Exchange, so come back soon to read about his thoughts on his current industry and how and why he chose it.