Look Outside That Myopic View by Applying Life Lessons to Business
In innovation, we often talk about launching an idea but we don’t spend nearly enough time talking about sustaining and growing our ideas, or businesses. In fact, that’s where the failure happens. For this episode of Inside LaunchStreet, I wanted to bring to you insights not just on launching but on sustaining, growing and scaling your brilliant ideas, both inside organizations and as entrepreneurs. With that, I talked to Rob Levin of PrintFly. You may know them as RushOrderTees.com or College.Ink. As their president and a serial entrepreneur, he’s done a brilliant job of stripping away complexity to build a successful and scalable business. We dig into why it’s easy to launch but harder to survive, how knowing what business you are in really matters (it’s not custom tees), and how business is like sports.
Listen now to this episode on Inside LaunchStreet:
[2:10] You might be surprised to learn that Rob recently started competing in Jiu-jitsu.
[4:03] Get introduced to the ‘plus, minus, equal’ Jiu-Jitsu concept. This amazing concept is as powerful in the business world as it is in Jiu-Jitsu. Find out why Rob believes that it if you just train with someone that’s your equal, you will never get any better. This applies to the sports world but also to the business world.
[9:01] Listen in to find out how and why Rob left the financial commerce field and got involved in Printfly.
[12:36] Rob shares some advice regarding how you grow a business and differentiate in a cluttered category. Businesses have to have some different qualities that make them stand out from the competition. Printfly brings some unique qualities to the table. First, they have an obsessive focus on the customer. Second, they own the entire supply chain.
[16:50] How do you communicate differentiation in the market? Tamara and Rob talk about the importance of taking the worry out of the customer’s experience. The customers need to feel the trust. Tamara shares her experience with ordering custom made tank tops for her Crossfit competitions. Most often, she is uneasy and doesn’t trust that the order she’s expecting will arrive. Rob believes that when people find value in what you do, they’re going to buy on something other than price.
[23:03] Rob and Tamara discuss the importance of recognizing when it’s time to shift gears and scale. Rob uses the analogy of shifting gears on a car. It’s important to shift gears without losing what made you unique in the first place. Often business either scale too early or too late.
[25:27] Tamara points out that often the innovator won’t let go and find help. it’s tough to recognize when you’re in a pattern. You have to identify that you’re lacking the skill set, and need to get outside help. Rob talks about evolution. Evolution is not the survival of the fittest. It rewards the ability to adapt.
[27:57] How do you balance the complexity of the day-to-day while keeping an eye on adaptability?
[30:44] Where is customization headed?
[33:40] Tamara shares her recent experience renting a car. Often consumers aren’t voicing concerns and are just dealing with the frustration of business.
[39:38] Rob’s final piece of advice is to go where the customers are. Find out what their problems are and figure out how to solve them.
[43:20] Tamara really loved the comment Rob made that everything looks so easy after the Olympics. The real dedication comes with growing the business and surviving it. In innovation, we often focus on the launching. It’s the staying in business where the rubber meets the road. Tamara challenges listeners to examine if your focus matches the stage of work that you’re in. And she asks for you open your podcast app and leave Inside LaunchStreet a great review.
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