We know that “business as usual” is no longer an option in today’s ultra competitive and disruptive marketplace. As fellow entrepreneur Seth Godin, one of my favorite authors, writes we need to “poke the box”—or take initiative and “invent the status quo.”
The book, which I ask all of our employees to read, encourages us to do something we’re afraid of. Taking these words to heart, I’ve worked hard to empower my employees. We act courageously and always ask ourselves: “What would I do if I wasn’t afraid?”
In a recent Gallup/Inc. survey, determination, confidence, and risk rank as three of the 10 traits that best characterize entrepreneurs. As I read the September issues of Inc. magazine, where they focus on the companies named to the Inc. 5000 and the entrepreneurs behind them (I’m proud to say that Jornaya was included), I began to reflect back on my own experiences starting a data-as-a-service (DaaS) company.
Similar to entrepreneurs before me, I set out to solve a problem. At the time, in 2011, there were many issues in the lead generation space. Marketers knew very little about the quality of the leads they were buying. So, I set out to help improve transparency, increase compliance, and enhance optimization of the B2C lead channel.
Today, with just over 75 employees, Jornaya is connecting marketers with consumer behaviors to deepen relationships. The consumer insights we provide help organizations ensure the interactions they’re having with consumers are more timely and relevant, which ultimately increases revenue, improves campaign conversions, and reduces acquisition expenses.
But we’re just one of the 30.2 million independent small businesses that are helping to provide solutions by solving the problems only small businesses can. We’re also helping to grow the U.S. economy and employ more than half of all Americans. In fact, small businesses create about 2 out of 3 American new jobs each year, or 1.9 million net new jobs. (Source: U.S. Small Business Administration, 2018 Small Business Profile)
The Right Outlook to Survive & Thrive
Developing an entrepreneurial mindset is a critical piece of running a small business. Through this lens, we encourage and nurture innovation. We spark the creation of new ideas, and the production and sale of new products all with our vision in mind: Make the comparison shopping experience better for the end consumer (which, in turn, helps our customers grow).
Being an entrepreneur, small business owner, leader, champion—whatever name you give it—is not about sitting on the sidelines watching. It’s about doing what it takes, respecting others, and being accountable to achieving your mission.
As the Teddy Roosevelt speech inspired, it’s about daring greatly. I’m reminded of the sentiment every day as I walk through our Conshohocken, PA, headquarters. The words are inscribed on our walls: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. … If he fails, at least fails while daring greatly …”
To dare greatly requires the support and dedication of an outstanding team and forming solid partnerships with like-minded customers. Together, the two can build great value and flourish. As my team and I celebrate being named to the Inc. 5000’s list of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies, we will, without a doubt, continue to challenge the status quo.
Ross Shanken is CEO & Founder at Jornaya.