Recently, Tigris’ very own President & CEO, Serena Holmes, was interviewed on Rogers TV for the program “In Your Business”. Naturally, this got our wheels spinning. We decided to take a brief pause on creating content specifically tailored towards events and start a broader conversation. We thought sharing lessons on how to become an entrepreneur would be helpful, especially to those looking to start their own business or trying to weather the storm caused by COVID-19.
If you did not already know, Tigris has been in business for 16 wonderful years. Starting in 2004, we quickly expanded into Montreal the following year. By 2006, we continued a path of great growth with the opportunity to expand nationally. A big shock came along in 2008 however when the company’s founder and Serena’s business partner decided to leave Tigris.
While it seemed daunting to some, Serena looked at the situation as a tremendous opportunity. Interestingly, Serena knew how to do the work but was used to working “in” the business, rather than “on” it. That being said, she and her partner had already spent 4 years building Tigris’ brand. In addition, they had developed a great reputation in the industry. So she persevered.
Since then, it’s been a journey filled with continual learning and development. We’ve experienced a lot from starting at the “ground level” and working our way up. From a client’s perspective, we understand what elements are important for a successful program. On the other hand, we know from first-hand experience what temporary staff value from the companies they work for. Most importantly, Tigris recognizes that it’s only as strong as the people who work for us and those who manage them.
If you’d like to read more about Tigris’ beginnings and Serena’s story, it’s available on our site under company history.
When asked what made Serena choose to become an entrepreneur, she says, “I often tell people that I never chose to be an entrepreneur, the career path seems to have chosen me. I even call myself the “accidental entrepreneur”. One thing just led to another”. However it may have started, whether chosen or thrust upon her, she’s been doing it successfully for over 15 years. So, we’d like to share with you her top 3 lessons learned on how to become an entrepreneur.
The first lesson we’d like to share is the power of mentorship! Understandably, many entrepreneurs take on way too much. Launching a business is no easy feat. But, we’re here to remind you that it’s okay to ask for help. More importantly, ask for help from people who have been where you are. It will help you reach your goals more efficiently. For example, Serena did Tigris’ bookkeeping for the first 10 years! Can you believe it? Looking back, neither can she. As you can imagine, it was incredibly time consuming. It was one of the first things her mentor told her to stop doing so she could focus on more important tasks. Fun fact, Tigris’ sales ended up doubling the year she delegated this!
The second lesson we’d like to share is the importance of targeted online marketing. Some might say, we learned this the hard way. In 2012, Tigris faced one of it’s biggest challenges to date. We lost our biggest client. At the time, more than 60% of our earnings came from them. Recognizing the position this put us in, we began investing in our online presence. Digital marketing was the key driver in attracting new business. It took approximately two years to bounce back but by 2014, we were strongly back on our feet. You know what else? We’ve continued to grow consistently ever since.
Our only regret is not investing in SEO sooner. Back in 2005, Serena had met with someone who recommended it. However, at the time, we didn’t even have a website! We had built a great reputation for ourselves in the industry and primarily had a referral-based business. If we had listened and truly understood the power of SEO, there is no doubt, we would have invested in it much sooner. Since we began utilizing it in 2012, our leads have grown by 100 year over year. When we started in 2012, we may have had 100 quotes and last year we surpassed 700.
Last, but certainly not least is focus. In terms of focus, what we’re discussing goes beyond concentration and motivation. It’s about shifting your focus onto what’s truly important. Prioritizing high value activities. We hinted at this in the first lesson. When Tigris’ CEO was doing our own bookkeeping for more than 10 years. Remember, you are only one person and there only so many hours in a day. Surround yourself with those who support your goal and delegate those smaller tasks. It’s very easy to find reasons as to why you’re needed in the office. Get out of your comfort zone and prioritize your time, your sales will thank you!
With prioritization in mind, it’s important to keep those high valued tasks top of mind. For example, we’ve always been very quick to communicate with our clients. We want them to know two things. First, how important they are to us. Second, that we are an agency they can depend on. To tell you the truth, we’ve won a lot of business simply because we were the first agency to respond. This is especially important when you’re in an industry, where services are often requested at the eleventh-hour. Even if you aren’t able to complete the task, a quote for example, right that moment. It’s important to acknowledge their request and commit to a time when you can have it to them. You’d think that’s a given, but we deal with a lot of different types of vendors ourselves and unfortunately, it’s not.
As a bonus lesson, we think it’s really important not to let yourself get too stressed and try not to take anything too personally. We could tell you stories that would blow your mind. If you let it get to you, it’s going to eat you alive.
Given the current climate, it’s hard to determine what the future looks like for Tigris. It truly depends on how long the pandemic impacts our industry. However, we are trying to stay positive and optimistic. Hopefully if things blow over by the fall or at the very latest, the beginning of 2021, so we can get back to what we do best.
Reflecting on the lessons we’ve learned during our 16 years of business has helped us persevere during this time. For instance, Serena’s always kept a keen eye on the finances. She looks over our operations budgets at least 2-3 times a week. It’s helped a lot during this pandemic to stretch our retained earnings. In the meantime, we are doing our best to remain positive, creating content and taking the time to update our proprietary documents and website.
If you’ve felt inspired by this blog or would like to discuss anything further. Please feel free to share, drop a comment below or email us directly at [email protected]