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7 Ways To Enjoy The Process Of Starting Your Own Business

Find your passion, take your time, and hold on. This and more tips for starting your company from an entrepreneur with 30+ years experience.

Entrepreneurship is an amazing ride. I’ve had the satisfaction of building a communications company that teaches leaders all over the world how to communicate. We now have 40 employees and revenues of many millions. Our instructors regularly travel the world and it has been an exhilarating experience that has far exceeded our greatest expectations.

But not all companies flourish. Many remain small, with no employee other than the owner. Most are short-lived: In the U.S. only 50% of small businesses are around more than five years, and only 25% survive 15 years or more.

How can you create a successful business and enjoy the ride? The following seven pointers will help you, as they helped me in building our company:


Start with something you love—you’ll be spending a lot of time with the business so you have to love its product or service.

Before launching The Humphrey Group, I (Judith Humphrey) had been a PR specialist in several large companies, working with executives, preparing their speeches, and helping them become inspiring communicators. This gave me a buzz, and I was excited about what a business could deliver in the field of executive communications.


Eight years before I started my company, I dreamed of launching my own business. During those eight years I honed my skills, developed strong relationships with top executives and their firms, and strengthened my reputation. I even piloted my business by offering in-house seminars to executives.

I prepared for so many years that many of my friends began to say, “She’ll never do it.” But all that thought and careful planning increased the odds that my company would flourish as it has.


Have an idea that creates a new space in the marketplace. It’s a concept elaborated in the book, Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant. -read ‘What is a Good Content Marketing Strategy?

So what was my big idea? It came to me when I was at lunch with the actor Marshall Bell, who was in Toronto to help train executives to present with greater flare and conviction. We were both lamenting that executives could be better communicators if they had our combined skills. Suddenly it dawned on me that we could start a company in which I would teach executives to create strong scripts, and Marshall would show them how to bring those scripts to life.

The idea of The Humphrey Group was born in that conversation. And we created a new space: leadership communications.


Be prepared to pour yourself into the business. I have always had a deep passion for what I do. Our clients see that, respond to that, and want to work with us because of that absolute conviction.

Judith Humphrey is founder and Chief Creative Officer of The Humphrey Group, a premier leadership communications firm headquartered in Toronto. She is a communications expert whose business teaches global clients how to communicate as confident, compelling leaders. - Photo Courtesy The Humphrey Group. 

Judith Humphrey is founder and Chief Creative Officer of The Humphrey Group, a premier leadership communications firm headquartered in Toronto. She is a communications expert whose business teaches global clients how to communicate as confident, compelling leaders. – Photo Courtesy The Humphrey Group. 

My dedication took the form of late-night work in the office–I lived on candy bars monogramed with “H” for Humphrey that we bought for client events. And I made myself available to clients any time they wanted. I’d prepare speeches or rehearse executives any time of the day or night, weekdays or weekends. They always knew I was there for them, and we hired employees who showed the same devotion to our clients.


You need a sales mind-set to be successful. It’s not enough to offer a service: You must sell it. In those early days, as I drove to work through the financial district, I’d say to myself, “There’s a potential client…there’s another one….and another.” I saw life through a sales lens. I was convinced that anyone who had our training would be better off. In fact, I saw our training as a gift to clients. That made it easy to approach them.


I’ve always hired people who shared my passion. I looked for authentic and strong communicators. I didn’t work through search firms or draw up elaborate job descriptions. Some individuals I met at parties or networking events, and I would ask them, “Would you like to work for The Humphrey Group.” Many of these women and men have been with the company for decades and have been dedicated employees and brilliant coaches.


Once you have established a business, hold on to it until you are ready to exit. If you’re like me, you will get offers from folks who want to purchase a portion of your company—or all of it. I have had at least three such offers—for 100%, 50%, and 10% of the company. If I had sold to those potential buyers while I was still building the company, I would have had to share decision-making and would not have reaped the return I got when I was finally ready to bow out as I did two years ago.

Keep control of your company and hold on to your equity until you no longer want to be in the driver’s seat. [1]


Another Expert said;

Many experts are certain that successful entrepreneurs are the ones with the most inspiration (passion and dream), while others will assert that it’s about more perspiration (working harder). In my experience, both are always required in heavy doses. There are no “can’t fail” shortcuts or “get rich quick” scenarios.

That’s why all those so-called million dollar ideas I hear about as an investor don’t get me excited, and entrepreneurs find that working twenty hours a day often generates nothing more than sweat, instead of the desired sweat equity. Moving a dream into reality requires balancing on a tight-rope of passion supported by unending efforts to move heaven and earth to make it happen.

For success under in this challenging and stressful environment, it’s important to recognize every small element of success to keep your inspiration alive. Here are five key ones to celebrate:

    1. Enjoy the feedback from every satisfied customer. This is the confirmation that your product or service fills a real need in the marketplace. Talking to real customers is the best way to keep your inspiration alive, as well as the best way keep on track with changing trends and future innovation ideas.

    2. Note the growth of your team and your own leadership.Overcoming obstacles and learning is one of the biggest inspiration for most entrepreneurs. Similarly, it will be very satisfying to see the productivity increases from your leadership and mentoring. Enjoy watching key members of your team grow from followers to leaders.

    3. Celebrate the ability to pay yourself a salary. Having enough revenue to finally give yourself a salary is an inspiring event, and one that you should savor. New business models that provide an ongoing revenue stream, or a secondary stream from advertising, raise your margins and can give you some additional satisfaction.

    4. Watch that patent provide a real barrier to competitive entry. Re-live that moment of inspiration that resulted in an innovative design and implementation for your product, and is now providing you with a sustainable competitive advantage. This may also be the moment when you get your first big acquisition offer, rather than a clone appearing.

    5. Appreciate the media accolades and peer success feedback.Enjoy that first video interview at an industry conference, or the newspaper story which enhances your startup visibility and credibility. Feel the inspiration from peers asking for your secret, or peers trying to model their efforts after yours.


At the same time, you can never let up on the work and the sweat required for continuous innovation, exemplary customer satisfaction, and staying ahead of competitors:

  • Marketing is a never-ending challenge. Even with the perfect product, your customers won’t even know you exist without marketing. Surprisingly, word-of-mouth and viral efforts require more work and a larger budget than you would expect. You have to react quickly to changes in the marketplace, and adapt to new customer requirements.

  • Managing cash-flow personally and continually. Cash-flow challenges must be part of your daily workload, especially if the business is growing fast. This is a task that you should never delegate. Keeping expenses down must always be top priority. One approach, which is even more work, is to keep tasks in-house rather than outsourcing.

  • Increasing customer focus and loyalty. Using the new social media channels for customer interactions and feedback is a great boon, but it requires daily attention and work to respond to customer requirements, fix satisfaction issues before they escalate, and build the level of loyalty required to make every customer an advocate to friends.

We have found that if entrepreneurs can sustain the inspiration, even the hard work becomes part of the fun and satisfaction, leading to success. All of one, without the other, is not sustainable. How well are you doing in that balance between inspiration and perspiration? [2]


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References Sources:

[1] Taken from 7 Ways To Enjoy The Process Of Starting Your Own Business written by Judith Humphrey for Fast Company.

[2] Taken from How To Enjoy Your Business Dream As Well As The Work Written by Martin Zwilling, Founder and CEO of Startup Professionals, For Forbes.

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