The Entrepreneur Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in America’s startup scene contribute answers to timely questions about entrepreneurship and careers. Today’s answer to the question “How do you stay inspired to run a business?” is written by Robert Seo, cofounder and CEO of Slidejoy.
When Slidejoy started out, we were a team of five with members scattered in New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Seoul. Slidejoy was a second-mover, facing competitors with bigger teams and more money. The odds weren’t stacked in our favor, but we believed (and still do) that we were going to bring lock-screen advertising to the world. Here’s how we’ve stayed inspired through the crazy ups and downs:
I love my team, not just because they’re great at what they do professionally, but because I know they will be there through thick and thin. To save on costs last summer, three of us lived and worked out of a small, two-bedroom apartment in New York City’s Alphabet City. At the time, there was a lot of uncertainty around our business and we didn’t know if we would survive. So we came together by working day and night to keep Slidejoy going, and I gained confidence in my team that inspires me even today.
Over the last two years, we’ve been lucky to achieve small wins along the way that inspire us to keep going. The first win was recruiting amazing founders. We’re talking about guys with Wharton MBAs, Masters in Computer Science from Stanford, and developers of apps with hundreds of millions of downloads. A couple of months later, we closed our first client, Macy’s (M), one of the largest retailers in the U.S. Shortly thereafter, we launched officially on Google Play, received press coverage in major publications, and were even featured on The Today Show. We won the Wharton Business Plan Competition Grand Prize, and earlier this year, we raised a $1.2 million seed round. Since closing the round, we’ve grown over five times in both users and revenues.
Running a business is tough, but small wins keep you inspired through the grind because they let you know you’re headed in the right direction.
While small wins are great, there has to be a big vision that the small wins are building toward. Slidejoy’s vision is to make mobile phones, apps, and service free. In between the small wins, there are times when I take a step back and think about why I work so hard on Slidejoy. I think about how we’ve distributed over $1 million to our users and how it’s improved their lives (and the economy). I think about how in the not-too-distant future, we will enable people to pay for their phones simply by having Slidejoy on it.
Although we still have a ways to go, our shared vision inspires me to keep going.
There are multiple ways to stay inspired as you run a company. For me, it’s about having great people to work with, being lucky enough to have small wins along the way, and a big vision to work toward.
Robert Seo is cofounder and CEO of Slidejoy, the app that replaces your lockscreen with trending news and ads and actually pays you for it. He’s a Wharton MBA alumnus, Ironman Triathlete, US Marine and a reformed financier.