Steve Ramsey is the co-founder and chief strategist for RelyLocal, a company that enables ambitious entrepreneurs to start a business that promotes stability and growth in their own communities by encouraging targeted consumer spending. Simply stated, RelyLocal is a nationwide community-based campaign that is rebuilding the U.S. economy from the ground up, one local business at a time.
With more than 150 RelyLocal campaigns successfully launched thus far, the company is in full-on growth mode, recruiting qualified candidates who want to make a difference in their own communities and educate consumers on the importance of local businesses to a healthy overall economy.
Hard-working professionals who want to start their own profitable and rewarding business making a real difference where they work and live and who are true small business advocates NEED apply!
Asked to share some words of wisdom and encouragement with BusinessOpportunity.com’s Entrepreneur Exchange readers, Steve had this to say in response to the following questions…
How does someone know if they have what it takes to own their own business? Tell us a bit about how you made the decision and why.
I’m not the typical character in your average modern business success story. It wasn’t until after I had failed at running someone else’s struggling business model that I realized how much more successful I could be running a business of my own. Entrepreneurs need to be compelled by an almost overwhelming force of some sort. Call it passion, or drive or even a calling. It is different for everybody and every business, and can be anything from innovation, greed, tradition, ego or even just plain old fun. To be brutally honest, in my case, the original motive was mostly anger. Anger over the local economy and what was happening on Main Street across the country. So I decided to try and do something to change it!
What was the biggest challenge you faced in your first six months in business? How did you meet that challenge?
For us, it was actually about effectively managing growth. And by that I mean not getting too excited about our first few sales. It took a lot of patience and self-control to not take every dime that was coming in the door and just quickly put it back into the business to "fix this" or "build that." However, we built our business model as an open-source community effort, so we really had to sit back and get to know our partners and what their needs were across the country (rather than "forcing" our ideas onto them).
What is the single strongest piece of advice you would have for someone just starting out in business for themselves?
Hope is not a strategy. I've heard the words slip out of the mouths of powerful fortune 500 executives―to board members, to brand new RelyLocal owners… "Well, I just hope things turn around soon..." Hope? Really? What kind of hands-off, powerless approach is that to take to address a problem or reach any goal? To me, strategy is to "fight,” while hope is to "flight." Don't let yourselves or your customers get bogged down by this mysteriously crippling "hope." Plan to succeed and you will...
Hope is for sappy romance novels. Strategy is for business. Hope is for the powerless who aren't in control of their own fate. Realistic goals and action plans are for proactive and successful leaders!
What would you say is the one thing that new business owners forget about or overlook when they are just planning/starting out?
Most businesses I see starting out will fail simply because they don't have any plans at all. It's like they've gotten used to their audible GPS telling them where the next turn is going to be. If you are going to start any business, you had better have short-term (next month), medium-term (next six months) and long-term (12-18 month) plans in place before you ever put a sign above the door. Would you wander off into the wilderness without a map, knowledge and the supplies needed to survive? Of course not!
What marketing strategies have you found to be most successful in growing your business?
It's all about boots on the ground for us. We don't have the millions of dollars that companies like Groupon or SuperPages have to advertise. Instead, it's just good old-fashioned hard work with real people who love their communities. The true power of RelyLocal is in our partners across the country. Sure, we had a good idea and provide all of the tools and support to launch a successful RelyLocal campaign, but the real work is done by our amazing partners.
What is it about the business/industry you are in that made it so attractive to you?
I was tired of seeing local businesses closing left and right, while all of the attention in the media was going toward the big banks and national chains. Without a healthy Main Street, there is no such thing as a healthy Wall Street. It's that simple.
What did you do before you decided to become your own boss, and how have those skills helped you in your current business?
I've done everything from scooping ice cream and teaching windsurfing to managing retail stores and leading a successful non-profit. It's all related, and it's all about customer service and hard work. If you take care of the customer, the rest is easy.
What is/are your favorite motto and/or quote when it comes to business? Any final words of encouragement and/or inspiration for the budding entrepreneur?
For me, the most important thing of all is the ability to just work hard―on your own or as a team. To work with partners, vendors and clients. To work long hours, odd hours, all hours. To work to fix broken ideas, work to build new ideas and even work to kill flawed ideas! Just work! In short, if you aren’t willing to put in the work yourself, you will fail. You can’t expect someone else to build (or live) your dreams for you.
More about RelyLocal:
RelyLocal is helping individuals with a passion for encouraging the sustainability and growth of local businesses in their communities to start their own successful businesses helping them to be more profitable. The company provides a proven business plan and all of the ongoing support you’ll need to get your business started and to make it a success.