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Table of Contents
Thank you for joining us today. Please introduce yourself to our readers. They want to know you, some of the background story to bring some context to your interview.
Jamie Hickey: I was recovering from a ten-year addiction to painkillers five years ago, and I wanted to find a means to start a new life, so I chose to dive into the realm of SEO, with my first site being a coffee review site. As a result, I’ve written hundreds of articles and designed and optimized coffee shops for local SEO.
You are a successful entrepreneur, so we’d like your view point, do you believe entrepreneurs are born or made? Explain.
Jamie Hickey: This is a question that has been asked since the Industrial Revolution began. Unfortunately, the answer is not as simple as “both.” In most cases, those who succeed at entrepreneurship have a natural talent for creativity and innovation, coupled with a good work ethic. Entrepreneurs may be “born” in this sense of being talented and having potential, but they are certainly made through education, experience, and mentorship.
If you were asked to describe yourself as an entrepreneur in a few words, what would you say?
Jamie Hickey: I am a blunt person with a strong personality. I’m loud and get consumed by my work, but ultimately love what I do. As an entrepreneur, I don’t require management or direction from anyone- if anything, they would need to come looking for me!
Tell us about what your company does and how did it change over the years?
Jamie Hickey: It began as a coffee review site, but a local coffee shop approached me and asked if I knew anything about constructing and promoting websites to boost business. I had never done anything like this before, so I had to teach myself the subtleties of local SEO. As a result, I hired designers and began marketing our services to other coffee shops across the country. I have always thought that identifying a niche is the quickest road to success, so I began marketing our services to other coffee shops nationwide.
Thank you for all that. Now for the main focus of this interview. With close to 11.000 new businesses registered daily in the US, what must an entrepreneur assume when starting a business?
Jamie Hickey: One must assume that they are starting a business in an unpredictable environment where it is tough to know what the future holds.
One of two people is successful in this endeavor. They are sufficiently talented, fortunate, or both. The other 99% are not so lucky and abandon their pursuit almost immediately after launching their venture or give up before completing what could have been a viable path to success. To make matters worse, one will never know which side they belong on without actually following through with the process. There is no science behind entrepreneurship––just guts, perseverance, and hope––and smarts or skills can’t predict success because even geniuses fail more often than not when trying something new that hasn’t been done before.
Did you make any wrong assumptions before starting a business that you ended up paying dearly for?
Jamie Hickey: I had plenty of wrong assumptions. The one which persisted as the worse was that I should work harder. Fifteen-hour days, seven days a week was not enough to save me from lack of direction and lethargy (which led to more failures). With this mentality, it just doesn’t matter how hard you work – you’re going to fail. I had a burnout that affected my wife, kids, and my business.
Work smarter – not harder – right? The answer was yes: working smarter by spending time on projects with clear and defined objectives and tangible metrics led to success. Write down everything you track related to your business/project/entrepreneurial endeavor so that you can learn from the process.
Most importantly, you have to create a healthy work-life balance that allows you to spend time with your family and nurture the relationships that matter the most.
If you could go back in time to when you first started your business, what advice would you give yourself and why? Explain.
Jamie Hickey: To enjoy the process and not to stress about the problems that you can’t control. So I became an entrepreneur to better my life and not be trapped in a dead-end job. Still, in the beginning, I was so stressed and worried about making it successful that there were times when I wished I was an employee at a regular job with limited responsibilities.
That made me depressed and unmotivated, and it wasn’t until I started to practice mindfulness that I began to enjoy my business and started to see real growth.
What is the worst advice you received regarding running a business and what lesson would you like others to learn from your experience?
Jamie Hickey: The worst advice I have received is to spend time advertising. Advertising on irrelevant sites is a waste of time and only gets the word out further about your business. If people are not doing thorough research on you before they decide to purchase, then it’s because they’re not interested.
A lack of interest means that no stretch of marketing dollars will give them that needed perspective or insight into your company’s goods or services. And if they remain uninterested- despite feeling obligated by one too many rounds of aggressive marketing tactics – then don’t battle with them about purchasing!
In your opinion, how has COVID-19 changed what entrepreneurs should assume before starting a business? What hasn’t changed?
Jamie Hickey: From my perspective, the biggest change is how people now want a healthier work-life balance. Quarantine showed people what a slower-paced life is like, we changed to a four-day workweek and offer hybrid schedules to give people the flexibility to work from home or take care of their kids without feeling stressed.
What is a common myth about entrepreneurship that aspiring entrepreneurs and would-be business owners believe in? What advice would you give them?
Jamie Hickey: A common myth about entrepreneurship is that you have to know everything. Of course, you don’t, but it sure helps! The entrepreneur will indeed have more knowledge of their industry than anyone else on their team–but no single person can understand every corner of any given topic.
So what does an entrepreneur do? First, they rely on their team, forming relationships with people they feel are competent in each field of the business so they can delegate responsibility. It might seem daunting at first to hire someone more knowledgeable than you are–especially if it’s a close friend or family member–but it saves time and energy in the long run because you’ll be able to focus on your strengths instead.
What traits, qualities, and assumptions do you believe are most important to have before starting a business?
Jamie Hickey: Thick skin and an unwavering desire to achieve in whatever you do, but the intelligence to see that this isn’t attainable and that as long as you learn from your mistakes, you’ll be one step closer to success.
How can aspiring leaders prepare themselves for the future challenges of entrepreneurship? Are there any books, websites, or even movies to learn from?
Jamie Hickey: There are hundreds of books, movies, articles, blogs, and videos on the internet, but the best thing you can do is find a mentor or coach, pick their brains, and follow their advice.
The fastest way to get to where you want to go is to talk to someone who is already there.
You have shared quite a bit of your wisdom and our readers thank you for your generosity but would also love to know: If you could choose any job other than being an entrepreneur, what would it be?
Jamie Hickey: I would love to become a marine biologist.
Thank you so much for your time, I believe I speak for all of our readers when I say that this has been incredibly insightful. We do have one more question: If you could add anyone to Mount Rushmore, but not a politician, who would it be; why?
Jamie Hickey: Personally, I would add George Washington Carver. The peanut butter he invented revolutionized the food industry by being the first product in many households with the main ingredient that’s not meat or sugar! Plus, he was an extraordinary scientist… though he wasn’t always taken seriously when his research revealed discoveries that went against what society believed to be accurate. Nevertheless, thanks to his inspiration, peanuts are now one of America’s top cash crops and have helped many people worldwide survive famine.
Now that’s what I call a niche.
Larry Yatch, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Jamie Hickey for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Jamie Hickey or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
Disclaimer: The ValiantCEO Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.