Building a brand and creating a name for yourself can take years. Hours, days and months go into creating momentum around your company, with the hope that one day your brand will be so widely accepted that when people think of the products you sell, they think of you first. With such a long journey ahead, where do you start?
First, let me ask you this- when you think of skateboards, or the leader in skateboarding, who comes to mind? I’m betting money the name Tony Hawk wasn’t far from the tip of your tongue.
Tony Hawk is arguably the most widely recognized skateboarder worldwide, with a net worth of $120 million. Given his empire of skateboards, gear, video games and more, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that everyone from pros to those who prefer walking on solid ground can recognize his name. So how did he do it? How did he take skateboarding, which was nowhere near as culturally accepted in the early 90s when he began, and turn his passion into a movement with momentum? He stuck with what he knew, and hired people who knew the things he didn’t.
Sounds simple enough – hire people who complement your weaknesses with strengths. For Tony, this is the most valuable advice he has for small businesses. In order to keep control of your brand and represent it well, you need to hire people you implicitly trust. Even if you have final approval of everything, (which he insists you should), it’s essential to create a team that will fill the holes of where you may lack, while still being precisely on the same page as you as far as present and future branding go. That’s how he and his partner created a movement. They stuck with what they loved from the beginning, and when larger companies proposed offers to buy them out, they didn’t waver. Had they sold, Birdhouse would still be a name in the skate market – but would lack Tony’s persona and ideas that made it so successful. If you do sell, Tony advises to make sure you still have say in the direction of the brand. Otherwise, the brand will become different from what you envisioned, but your name will still be attached.
Tony Hawk’s massive success is proof that if you are passionate and resilient, you and your brand can create a wake of momentum that will be felt by many. For the featured article accompanying the video, check out Entrepreneur.