Recent grad offers career advice

Future entrepreneurs of NKU: Last year, I graduated from NKU with a B.A. in political science and since then have started my own business, opening CrossFit Hustle, the premier strength and conditioning facility in Northern Kentucky. There is so much needed to operate a successful business; I thought I’d share with you some helpful advice:

1. You must have passion.
It really doesn’t matter what you are trying to sell. If there’s a market for it and you can talk about it all day long, people will flock. People aren’t going to buy hockey equipment from a baseball fan. But if you can go on for hours about why Rule 48 banning blindside and lateral hits to the head is going to destroy the game, well you just might have a sale. Pursue what you love.

2. Know your craft.
People can sense when they’re being conned — don’t try and fake it. Know the ins and outs, how your service or product came to be and where it’s headed. This not only helps with sales, but for the construction of your business plan. You can’t sell modems if you know the future doesn’t need any.

3. Branding is key.
I can’t stress this enough. You need to be “that guy/gal.” Be the one that everyone talks about. If you just can’t get enough of designing, put your logo everywhere. Even if the public doesn’t get it at first, when they see come looking for some design work, the recognition factor will play a major part in their decision-making.

4. Get over your fears.
Dollar bills don’t care if you’re too afraid to approach new people, but they definitely depend on new clients. Rejection hurts, but it gets much easier with time. For every nine that say “no thanks,” one will give you an opportunity to succeed. With that one, go beyond their expectations and make them your most important customer (or see tip number 5).

5. Hustle.
This is most important. You’ve got to hustle! Work hours on end getting your name out there. E-mail, Facebook, Twitter, meet-and-greet, film, send thank-you cards, approach the big hitters, hand out business cards, etc. Put down “Call of Duty,” log off Facebook and do something that will benefit your business. If you throw a big net, you’ll catch more fish.

6. Thank your customers.
Every time someone buys your product or uses your service, they are expressing trust in you. Don’t forget or neglect this. Send hand-written cards to people that meet with you but don’t want to do business. They may not be in the need for what you’re offering, but maybe they know someone who is. Five dollars to Starbucks goes a long way.

7. Put your plan in writing.
You know that it’s easier to write a paper with an outline; it doesn’t change when you hit the real world. Write up a detailed business plan that answers any question an investor, banker or client may have about what you do. There’s a second part to this: follow through. What’s a plan if it’s not executed? Nothing.

There is so much more to running a good business, but I hope these seven principles can guide you on a straight track to doing what you love. They say if you do what you love, you’ll never work another day in your life. It’s true. Now go hustle, NKU!

Rich Vos
NKU Class of 2010
Owner of CrossFit Hustle