Investor and serial entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk has been an entrepreneur his whole life. The kid who started a lemonade stand at age seven and sold baseball cards for thousands of dollars as a teen grew up to launch Wine Library, one of the first e-commerce platforms for alcohol in the country.
He’s now CEO of VaynerX, a modern-day media and communications holding company, and hosts a daily global top 100 business podcast, “The GaryVee Audio Experience.”
Here, the sought-after public speaker and five-time New York Times best selling business books author is sharing his tips for small business owners.
Keys to success
Vaynerchuk, who was born in Belarus, thinks being an entrepreneur is part talent, part hard work.He compares building a successful business to training for and playing sports.
“I could be a much, much, much better tennis player if I played tennis every day,” he says. “I have some natural ability; however, I don’t think that would have been enough to get me on the tour.”
He says successful entrepreneurs need to have humility, lack of fear and an enjoyment of the game of building a business.
The biggest advice he has for entrepreneurs is to be patient.
Patience “is the delta,” he says. “Everybody wants things so fast.”
The problem is we all see news stories about the overnight success of a start-up and think that could be us. But he says for 99 percent of people, it’s going to take a decade to build a meaningful business.
“The biggest reason most entrepreneurs fail is because they want success too fast,” he says. “They raise too much capital, they want headlines, they want people around them to think they were successful versus actually being successful.”
He concludes, “Long-term success comes from long-term behavior. Be patient, be slow, bring value. Run the process.”
“I believe the most hidden barrier to a successful business is the communication between the founder or CEO of the business and her or his employees,” says Vaynerchuk, who believes the most important tech tool for small businesses is something we’ve had for years –the telephone.
“Businesses need to communicate more with their employees, whether that’s texting or calling or Facetiming,” he says, explaining it’s essential to connect with employees, whether you have many or just one.
He also advises small business owners to stay passionate about their work.
“If it’s not growing as fast as you want it to, then you’re obviously not as passionate about the business as you thought, because the passionate part is in the process, not the success in the short term.”
He says sometimes entrepreneurs go from doing the work they love to doing paperwork or other behind-the-scenes tasks. If needed, slow down the growth of the business so you can do the actual work you’re passionate about.
Remember how Vaynerchuk launched Wine Library on the web? That was an extension of his father’s local liquor store, “Shoppers Discount Liquors,”in New Jersey. It was the late 90s and Vaynerchuk knew the Internet was a big growth opportunity. He was right, growing his father’s company from $3million to $60 million during his time with the company.
Vaynerchuk, who’s also CEO of VaynerMedia, a full-service advertising agency, watches technology and says artificial intelligence, especially voice, is the trend to watch.
“I genuinely believe that Alexa, Google Home and Apple HomePod are going to be massively important to businesses because they will become a new version of Google search or the Yellow Pages,” he says, noting, “People will be finding businesses and doing business with people through voice.”
He encourages businesses to strategize about how voice technology can help them and their customers. While it could be too expensive to invest in now, don’t be naïve to it.
Vaynerchuk is all about building a personal brand. Back in 2006, he started “WineLibraryTV,” one of the first long-form episodic video shows on YouTube. He produced episodes almost daily for five years.
With a combined 12 million social media followers, he knows the value of the various platforms. He urges all businesses, large and small, to use social media, especially for advertising.
“The marketplace is underpriced,” says Vaynerchuk, who thinks Facebook and Instagram ads are a bargain for entrepreneurial and small businesses to reach their audience.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.
“I’ve micro-failed every single day,” advises Vaynerchuk, who says it’s more important to come back from failures. “I overcome them because business is like sports: just because you made a mistake on this play or this drive, or even the first pass, it’s not over.”