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9 Entrepreneurs Explain Their Biggest Accomplishments in 2015

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Owning and running a business is tough. There are many ups and even more downs. It’s always good to take some time when there are “wins” to celebrate them so we decided to ask some entrepreneurs for some of their biggest accomplishments this year.

1) Shark Attack

After four tumultuous years of building my startup with the wrong partners, lots of bad decisions and some major rookie mistakes, I was determined to find a way to take my business to the next level … and what better way than to apply to ABC’s Shark Tank. In September of 2013, I found myself walking down that scary shark infested hallway into a stare off with 5 of the harshest millionaire investors in the world. I’d never been more nervous in my entire life. When I proclaimed I was going to change the population with my reverse engineered online dating business, serial entrepreneur and Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban, rolled his eyes, called me delusional and immediately snapped, “I’m out.” Billionaire investor, Kevin O’Leary, demanded that I quit my “hobby” and shoot my business—my passion– like a rabid dog. After getting shot down by all five Sharks, I looked them in the eye and said, “Trust that you’ll all see me again.” Although those final bold words of mine ended up on the cutting room floor (adding insult to injury), in the 48 hours after the broadcast, Cheekd.com received a record breaking 100K unique visitors and our inbox filled up with thousands of emails insisting that the “Sharks” were “out of their minds” for not investing. Since the Shark Tank aired last February, I became even more focused on my goal and found the missing link from years before. I’ve gotten a CTO on board who’s helped facilitate and finance the new face and technology behind the new Cheekd. The newly launched dating app allows users to solve missed connections with a new technology that was not available when the patented Cheekd idea was launched in 2010. It was only a matter of time and I’m thankful I didn’t take the Sharks advice to quit and move on. Rebuilding the new Cheekd has been the biggest accomplishment in my entrepreneurial journey. I’m on a ramp right now and I’m finally ready to fly!

Thanks Lori Cheek, Cheekd!

2) New Location

The biggest business accomplishment I have made this year is opening up in Seattle, Washington, and Dallas, Texas. As a small business owner, I struggled through 2014 with managing multiple locations in the field of marketing consulting. The reason being that marketing is a people business ­and the people that represent your brand need constant contact, which is hard to do as your business gets bigger and bigger. Given that I am the founder, many employees still look for regular chats with me, even though they may have managers. It’s hard to get around to everyone and grow the business at the same time. Somehow, this year I have worked out how to do that, but it has taken a lot of failures in order to achieve the positive result we have today.

Thanks to Mellissah Smith, Marketing Eye!

3) Hitting Our Goal

January is typically a slow month for our business. Each month we have a sales goal we strive to reach as a company, and just as every other month, we aimed a little high (so we had something to work for) but not so high that it was unrealistic. We almost never hit our January goal, and this year we went above and beyond. I attribute our success to our constant emphasis on good customer service and the new forms of marketing we’ve been trying out- such as paid Facebook/Twitter advertising, SEO specifics, and press releases with a new service. We celebrated with a big catered lunch, and plan to meet our February goal as well.

Thanks to Deborah Sweeney, MyCorporation!

4) Growth

We grew. We hired more people. We made more money, but most importantly – we saved people’s dreams! The restoration business isn’t just about repairing the damage after a disaster, it’s about giving people a fresh start at living the American dream in the homes they have worked hard to buy, raise a family from, and grow old in. We take pride in knowing that our services have helped give people back their dignity, peace of mind, and the place to hang their hat.

Thanks to Idan Shpizear, 911 Restoration!

5) Social Media

We have had great results from conducting social media giveaways on our Facebook page. Not only have they helped us expand the followings on all of our social media channels, but they have also given us the opportunity to really engage with our customers on a very personal, 1:1 level. When customers comment on our giveaway statuses and posts, we always respond back and have a fun and insightful conversation with them.

Thanks Grainne Kelly, BubbleBum!

6) Facebook Ads

Facebook ad campaigns have been extremely successful in helping us grow our customer base. Because we are able to target people with our ads according to certain demographics, locations, and whether or not a person is already a fan of Isabelle Grace Jewelry, we are able to reach the exact people who are more likely to become new customers or repeat purchasers. We also always make sure to include a special discount code for Facebook fans in our ads as well, which has resulted in many new fans and customers.

Thanks to Claudia Montez, Isabelle Grace Jewelry!

7) Book Deal

I was offered a book deal with Penguin Random House, the world’s largest publisher. I achieved this because, after owning a business that served the corporate arena for two decades, I completely reinvented myself in 2003. I gave up my business and began teaching the prosperity laws that I used to overcome my “lack” consciousness and become an entrepreneur. My Feel Free to Prosper teachings have since earned a large international following. I learned that if we follow our heart and use our knowledge and experience to help others, our destiny will be revealed and we will be guided to our life’s purpose – at any age.

Thanks to Marilyn Jenett, Feel Free to Prosper!

8) Growth

Our proudest accomplishment, so far, in 2015 is our 70% Year over Year Growth after the successful relaunch of our website just in time for the holidays and surpassing the $3,000,000 trailing 12 month revenue mark – not a bad start to the year! We’re now drawing salaries and profitable and getting company paid benefits. How we did this? #1 fierce commitment to customer service = lot of fans, #2 successful website redesign, #3 growing niche industry (pickleball).

Thanks to Anna G. Copley, Pickleball Central!

9) 2 Things

(1) I was a contributor to a recently released book “Selling On The Green: the art of building trusted relationships and growing your business on the golf course”. My contribution outlines the lessons learned about business and life from growing up playing golf. In addition, it features how I build relationships for clients and myself by playing in charity golf tournaments. A blog I wrote, Lessons from the Links, was included in addition to a podcast interview. (2) My own book is coming out this year! It includes poems I wrote throughout my life beginning at age 12. I never felt heard growing up and didn’t think anyone could understand what I was going through so poetry became my therapy. I never intended for my poems to be read until I encountered friends going through similar circumstances. It’s no coincidence that I tell stories for a living as a Public Relations professional. I know the importance of stories and the need to feel heard. This book is a full-circle moment for me as it will help empower individuals to share their stories. Whether it’s through writing, painting, music or dancing everyone has a story someone in the world needs to hear.

Thanks to Tami Belt, Blue Cube Marketing Solutions!

About Gresham Harkless Jr.

Gresham Harkless is a Media Consultant for Blue 16 Media and the Blogger-in-Chief for CEO Blog Nation. CEO Blog Nation is a community of blogs for entrepreneurs and business owners. Started in much the same way as most small businesses, CEO Blog Nation captures the essence of entrepreneurship by allowing entrepreneurs and business owners to have a voice. CEO Blog Nation provides news, information, events and even startup business tips for entrepreneurs, startups and business owners to succeed.

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