There are some “rules” of business success most entrepreneurs abide by. But many also have their own “secrets”—things they do or believe that helped them achieve success. In “Secrets of Success,” a weekly interview series here at Web.com’s Small Business Forum, I ask some of today’s smartest, most innovative, most successful business owners to share their insights and success secrets with you.
Meet: Kory Keogan, the inventor and President of EzClipse. From an early age, Kory questioned how and why things worked and how he could make then better. He traveled the world, working in several different countries, learning a lot about himself and how to appreciate the simple things in life. And he saw that every which way you turn, there are always opportunities.
Kory’s always had an entrepreneurial spirit. While working on his first business, which was seasonal, he needed to do something in the winter and started a painting business, which is still successful today. He later sold majority ownership in that company in order to pursue his passion—now known as EzClipse, which are decorative covers for recessed lighting.
You can find him on Twitter @EzClipse.
Rieva Lesonsky: What did you want to be when you grew up?
Kory Keogan: I wanted to be a dump truck driver. As a kid, I was fascinated by the hydraulics, suspension, the big tires and the heavy loads it could move. Looking back now, it was the start to my creative thinking, always questioning how things worked.
Lesonsky: Why did you start your own business?
Keogan: My first company was reselling boats. I wasn’t looking to start a company at that time but my personal experience of looking for the best deal on a used boat led to an opportunity at my fingertips. I acted on it.
Lesonsky: Did you experience a pivotal moment on your way to success?
Keogan: In the beginning when EzClipse was still in its infancy with only five prototypes, I would meet with potential investors and cold call companies to gain interest in the product. Just about everyone would say, “That is so cool!”
However, getting them to invest or order product proved to be very difficult. Each person wanted the reassurance of knowing someone else liked it enough to invest. I needed to generate reassurance.
The pivotal moment came after I placed the product on Quirky, where the general public can vote on your product’s worthiness. Even though I did not get selected by Quirky, I did receive the reassurance I needed. Not only did I believe this product was amazing, the general public did too.
Lesonsky: What’s the best small business advice you ever gave and/or received?
Keogan: If you are contemplating starting your own business, remember this: it will take longer than expected, cost more than you budgeted and you will work harder than you’ve ever worked before.
I know there are so many great ideas out there that we will never see because people have to take the first step and it’s a scary one. Get that ball rolling and don’t let it stop. I still do something new each day for our company that I’ve never done before. You must be willing to learn if you want to succeed.
Lesonsky: What’s one “best practice” more entrepreneurs should be embracing?
Keogan: It all starts with you. If you want to reach success you must perform at your best every day. This means you should exercise regularly, eat healthy, get proper rest and read so you learn something new every day. This will, for most, involve a change in lifestyle. You may not be able to hang out with your friends as much and you may have to read instead of watching TV. Too many businesses never come to fruition because you need to give 100 percent—every day.
Lesonsky: Do you have a prediction for small business?
Keogan: There is no better time than now to start a company. Forty-plus years ago, big companies ruled the world. They are still around but now you have loads of information at your fingertips with the internet, and due to globalization you do not need millions of dollars to start a company. All you need is a good idea and to be ready for years of hard work.
Lesonsky: What’s your favorite book?
Keogan: The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. For me it was really the first half or so that was really motivating and got me thinking, “How can I take this idea to the next level?” As for the 4-hour part—I think I still have a long way to go!
I also read Success magazine routinely. If you have a business or are planning on starting one, in my opinion, this is a must. Thanks Darren Hardy [for what you did]!
Lesonsky: Is there a quote you find particularly inspiring?
Keogan: “Those who say they can and those who say they can’t, are usually both correct.”
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Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.