New contributor Laura Greb interviews Amy Abrams, co-founder In Good Company, a foundation for women entrepreneurs, and co-author of “The Big Enough Company“, a book which encourages entrepreneurs to create companies to suit their own individual needs, rather than assuming a “bigger is better” approach.
Amy is also founder of Artist & Fleas, which creates weekly markets in Brooklyn where emerging artists, indie designers, vintage collectors, and handmade crafters can set up shop, meet others and get in touch directly with their customers while being a part of a weekly, dynamic community happening.
LG: For entrepreneurs just starting out in the industry, what advice can you offer?
AA: Be clear about your goals for the business. First you have the business idea. Then, we strongly suggest that you think about your goals for the business. Do you want this business to make a lot of money? Do you want the business to provide you with creative autonomy? Do you want this business to afford you autonomy over your time? These are just a few of the many goals for your business, and your business can have several goals.
We have found that the most satisfied entrepreneurs are clear about what they want from their business and are able to build their business deliberately with these goals in mind.
LG: First, how did you and Adelaide meet? It’s always wonderful to see partnerships grow and build so organically.
AA: Adelaide and I were introduced through a mentor almost ten years ago. We started working together by co-creating a workshop. We found that we worked very well together and had complimentary skills. Over the years we have been very committed to having our roles in the business reflect our strengths. In addition to having a very successful business partnership, we have become very close friends. And although we work hard, most of the time we have a lot of fun!
LG: Entrepreneurs, as you know, are always looking for the next “pain” as my mentor calls it. How long did it take you to finally publish “The Big Enough Company” and what were you two working on prior to the launch that pushed you to work on it?
We wrote the book in response to the fact that most of the business books that existed had a one-size-fits-all approach to entrepreneurship. Often, they encouraged growing as fast and big as possible.
The entrepreneurs that we interacted with were looking to build a sustainable business that would keep them satisfied over time. The goal of the book is to expand the conversation about entrepreneurship and the many possibilities to create a business that meets your individual needs. We interviewed 100 businesses to demonstrate many examples of successful entrepreneurs who are building their businesses on their own terms. The book was a two-year process from start to finish. In addition to working on the book, we run In Good Company Workplaces, a business learning center, community and co-working space in NYC.
LG: When you’re not networking and building your following and client list, what other proactive ways were you getting yourself out there into the eyes of people?
AA: Although initially resistant, we have found social media to be a wonderful tool to build brand awareness and create important and strategic relationships. In addition, we have increased our speaking engagements and have invested a lot of time writing for many different outlets.
LG: I agree with you and Adelaide when saying, “bigger isn’t always better.” I recently came across an interview regarding the same topic. Are you finding entrepreneur ladies are more in tune with this idea or are they still reaching out on a much larger scale? I really liked your youtube clip.
AA: The title of the book was really designed to speak to this message.
Success as an entrepreneur is not about size but about satisfaction. And satisfaction derives from the business meeting your needs.
Entrepreneurs often feel pressure to follow a certain type of growth path. Often, we come into contact with business owners who do not want to take that path but seek help creating a growth strategy that will make sense for their business goals and purpose.
LG: Do you find this book is a bit similar to Rework written by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier showing entrepreneurs a better, faster, easier way to succeed in business? What is an example of how it differs?
AA: Yes, thankfully there are other entrepreneurs who, like us, buck the conventional wisdom about bigger always being better. What we love about Rework is that it embraces the importance of simplicity and satisfaction. While we share a common audience with Rework, one distinct feature of The Big Enough Company is that we provide 100 stories of real entrepreneurs. With so many examples, it is difficult not to see yourself and your business reflected in the content. Also, there is a strong diagnostic aspect within our book. Both my partner and I are trained counselors and leverage our consulting experience to engage the reader. We made sure that readers could reflect on their own business and evaluate their own growth strategy in real time. We have received feedback from many people that the book has helped change their business for the better!
LG: If an entrepreneur is interested in becoming apart of your team or to volunteer their time (“staff” or “mentor”, etc.) is an opportunity like this possible?
AA: Currently, we do not have any volunteer opportunities available but we would certainly be open if someone had a creative idea of how to become involved. We are a very lean organization and have two on sight staff members and a virtual assistant.
LG: How do entrepreneurs become a member of In Good Company and what does membership entitle?
AA: It is easy to become a member! We recommend that you check out the website and see all of the programs, workshops, classes and events that we offer. There are generally 20-25 a month! All of these events are included in your membership so you can attend as many as you like. In addition, membership connects you to a dynamic and diverse community of entrepreneurs. Annual membership is $400.
LG: Any inspirational entrepreneur stories you’d like to share with us?
AA: Thankfully, there are too many to count! We are lucky to be able to hear and witness many inspirational stories.
One kind of story that we really love hearing is from those entrepreneurs who have become disenchanted with their business but find ways to turn their business around so that they work for them. We share many stories like this in our book.
One entrepreneur scaled back her business; another gave herself a better job within the business; and another started saying ‘no’ to clients that were driving her crazy.
We found these stories inspiring because in each instance, they realized as entrepreneurs they had the power to build their companies so that they met their needs.