The Tampa Bay Wave is an innovative community by entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs. It’s an entrepreneurial hub where tech companies of all sizes come to build, launch, and grow. Part of the Wave’s foundation is its mentors who are industry experts essential to furthering its mission through meaningful, strategic relationships. One way they do this is through forums and events bringing great entrepreneurs together.
This month the women’s vertical, led by our own Robyn Spoto, held an event connecting women entrepreneurs with the Founder & CEO of Honeyfund, Sara Margulis. Sara launched Honeyfund with her husband in 2006 when they were looking for a solution for their wedding registry and honeymoon. The Margulises pitched Honeyfund on ABC’s Shark Tank in 2014 and won a deal with Kevin O’Leary. In January 2018, they relocated their headquarters from Sonoma County, California to Clearwater, Florida.
Although an appearance on Shark Tank certainly helped skyrocket Honeyfund’s success, and each entrepreneur’s journey is unique, the challenges faced while growing the tech company aren’t unlike many others. Here are some common challenges entrepreneurs face and how Honeyfund has overcome them to achieve success and continue to grow 12 years later.
Tech Company Challenges
- Growing. Growth is always top of an entrepreneur’s mind. Previously we’ve discussed some key elements of growth. Once you create, the challenge is growing and scaling a successful business.
- Hiring. Bringing right people on at the right time and connecting with the right people to grow the business can be a challenge but is imperative to get right.
- Competition. Although you may be lucky enough to be first to market, there will always be competitors. Awareness and differentiation are key.
- Outside factors. Like Google search algorithms and targeting options, things change, especially in tech, don’t be surprised when they do and overcome the obstacles. Don’t ignore them.
Lessons from Honeyfund
Stay focused and present
As challenges arise, this may be the most important thing to keep in mind. When you are focused and present, it’s easy to think clearly and see that there are always options. Instead of taking competitors head-on, consider strategic partnerships and other opportunities to overcome challenges and grow your business. Having trouble finding talent for hiring? Consider moving to a different location.
Have strong values
When you have strong values, making decisions becomes easier. For Honeyfund, they didn’t set out to be the #1 honeymoon and wedding registry, they wanted to create a service for people that they wouldn’t have to pay for. Their top value became their top differentiator and allowed them to gain a competitive advantage, especially as they expanded with their crowdsourcing platform Plumfund. Staying true to their no-fee value allowed them to create a business path they didn’t plan for, bringing opportunities for more strategic partnerships that helped the company stay ahead of the competition. Additionally, it didn’t hurt that the more people they helped with Honeyfund, the more people were invited to use the platform, creating their own viral marketing engine.
Stick to your entrepreneurial principles
Don’t make business goals that aren’t aligned with the reason you wanted to become an entrepreneur in the first place. If you are looking for more freedom, don’t commit to sacrificing that freedom and expect successful results. Although many challenges are the same, each entrepreneur’s path to success is different. Honor your own principles and unique path and stick to them, not compromising your principles.
Keep things simple in the beginning
In the beginning, customer feedback is so important. It helps you decide in what direction to focus resources and growth. Consider pilot groups or being at the front of customer service so you receive first-hand data from users closest to your product. On a more practical note, stay on top of your numbers and contracts, especially in the beginning. This helps with the due diligence of potential investors and won’t restrict opportunities to grow.
Sara’s perspective and advice about growing a business is SpotOn. Growth doesn’t happen by luck, it happens with focus, drive, and awareness of opportunity. If you’re interested in learning more about business growth, get in touch with us. From marketing mentorship to digital marketing tactics, we have the experience and connections to help your business grow.