Posted by Samira Asemanfar
When I was thinking of first starting up my own business, all I did was read bios and profiles of entrepreneurs. I wanted to hear what they had to say. So now the tables have turned and I want to share the words of two guys who started a company together called Spaphile. Founded in 2010, Spaphile.com is an online marketing platform that exclusively features discounted services from spas, salons, and other health and beauty treatment centers. They provide users with information about health and beauty as well as deluxe perks such as events and giveaways.
Michael Meschures & Omid Shokoufandeh, both age 24
What led you to start your own company?
Michael: After working at companies in Public Relations and Business Management, I wanted to set out and do my own thing. I met with a friend who started his own business and told me about his run. I realized the risk involved, but was more enthralled about the possibilities and opportunities. As a result, I took a chance.
Omid: Personally, I wanted to be an entrepreneur and start something successful that brings value to people. It also doesn’t hurt to be your own boss!
Tell me about a challenge you faced that you had not anticipated?
Michael: Starting your own business takes time. You cannot expect to make tons of money in the first couple years. It takes a lot of inner drive and patience in order to brand your company the way you envision it.
Omid: I face challenges everyday that I don’t anticipate! That’s probably the most interesting and most challenging part of running your own business - the everyday unknowns. You really have to be versatile and be capable of dealing with every aspect of the company, but at the end of the day you’re better for it and you grow with your company.
To date, what is your biggest success?
Michael: Our company had to pull together a red carpet celebrity event in less than 10 days. We made every minute of each day count leading up to the event and as a result, we were able to execute a really successful event for our client.
Omid: Our biggest success to date is throwing a red carpet event for a merchant as a grand opening attraction. We coordinated gift bags, drink and food sponsors, and confirmed celebrity attendees all with only one weeks notice!
Would you ever work for anyone else?
Omid: Everyday I work for someone and those are our customers!
Michael: After starting my own business, it is difficult to consider going back to work for someone else. However, with that said, I don’t think it is out of the question.
How do you feel your company stands out against other deal sites?
Omid: I think we bring a whole new experience that other deal sites don’t offer. We engage our users online and offline and we do that by throwing free events and giving out free services. We target the Health and Beauty sector and our aim is to be the authority regarding that whole industry.
Michael: Our company is a niche (health, beauty and fitness) and as a result, it caters to a target demographic that merchants want to see in their spa, salon and fitness shops. Spaphile prides itself more on the quality of the customer rather than the quantity.
What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned since you started being in business?
Omid: Always maintain good relationships, you never know when someone might be able to help you.
Michael: You will have a million and one things to do one day and two things to do the next. I think the most valuable lesson I learned thus far is managing my time while prioritizing which tasks need to be done.
If another aspiring entrepreneur were to ask you for one piece of advice, what would you tell them?
Michael: Have a goal in mind and stick to it. Along the way, you may be forced to modify your goal but never lose sight of why you’re doing what you’re doing.
Omid: Be passionate about what you want to do and don’t let outside voices influence you negatively!
Omid and Michael have been friends from childhood and coach now coach soccer.
Michael volunteers as a board member for Sinai Temple’s young professionals group, ATID.
8.21.12 at 10:23 am | As an entrepreneur, mother, friend, lover, spouse. . .
7.11.12 at 12:14 am |
6.25.12 at 4:39 pm |
6.4.12 at 4:50 pm |
5.21.12 at 11:44 pm |
5.3.12 at 1:27 pm |
8.21.12 at 10:23 am | As an entrepreneur, mother, friend, lover, spouse. . . (22)
7.11.12 at 12:14 am | (7)
3.19.12 at 4:24 pm | Adapting a beginner's mind set has huge benefits. . . (5)
January 23, 2012 | 4:07 pm
Posted by Samira Asemanfar
Lately, I’ve been learning about the difference between organic value and forced value. The difference is huge, but lies in the question: why? I met with a friend and very successful entrepreneur: Aaron Hageman, president of DDI, Inc. We shared our business challenges and opportunities, talked, analyzed and learned quite a bit in a 3 hour meeting last week.
As a business owner it is one thing to know what you do and how you do it [and to be good at it], but you also need to know why you do it. When you know why you do something your company’s value is organically communicated to your customers. When you don’t know why, you constantly have to force it, explaining to customers the what and the how.
Similarly, when you tell an employee what to do and they don’t know why they are doing it, they most likely will not perform up to par. If they know why, they will find a way to get the result.
The lesson: ask yourself ‘why’ before you start the ‘what’ and ‘how.’ If you know the why, your staff and customers will know too.
January 11, 2012 | 1:13 am
Posted by Samira Asemanfar
Intangibles are hard to measure. Period.
As a business owner, it is an ongoing challenge to measure subjective components such as customer service or a positive work ethic. Things like sales are easy - they go up and they come down. Black and white. Duties like cleaning, answering phones, responding to emails, showing up on time, obeying dress code policies, following step by step directions… all easy. Either you did it or you did not do it. Black and white.
Intangible, subjective components of any business are difficult to measure. And if you are anything like me, when you can’t measure something and get a clear cut result, you just don’t want to deal with it at all. Author Douglas Hubbard gives a great example in his book about government agencies that often completely overlook areas of their operations because they have no measuring tool. As a result, aspects of their operation greatly suffer. [“How to Measure Anything: Finding the Value of Intangibles in Business” Awesome book!]
I’m not here to tell you that there is a magic way of putting a quantifiable value on something like customer service. There isn’t. But just because you don’t have the right measuring stick, does not mean you should simply ignore or overlook an area of your business until you find a magic measuring stick. Good practice would be to engage in small and simple acts of observing, monitoring and/or questioning. This will, more often than not, lead to incremental improvements in any unquantifiable business aspect. There is just no simple way to score something with so many different variables. Don’t be so hard on yourself.
Similarly, I find that people tend to often times ignore or put off aspects of themselves or their personal lives that they can’t really organize in a tangible manner. For example, there is no way of putting a time, value, or number on things like grieving a loss, analyzing your feelings in a relationship, caring for yourself, forgiveness, compassion…. I can go on and on. Just because you don’t have a measuring stick for yourself and your emotional health and well being, doesn’t mean it should get overlooked. Give yourself simple and small doses of attention and see what kind of shifts you can create for yourself in your personal life.
If you have small and simple ways to measure the intangibles in your business or personal life, share them with me! I would love to learn.
January 2, 2012 | 11:00 pm
Posted by Samira Asemanfar
Rich by Webster’s definition means ‘having abundant possessions and especially material wealth.’ Socially we use it to indicate that one has a great amount of money. But when you think about it what does money bring… it brings more choices. The option to choose from a larger pool. It takes away many limitations. When people say, “I want to be rich.” I wonder if they mean they want to have more specific options or if they just arbitrarily want a certain amount of money. It’s a good question to ask and here is why.
When you go after a goal that is very clear it is easier to attain. The test would be to pretend that a stranger was asking you to perform what you are asking from yourself. In imagining the stranger asking you to complete the task, do you say, “sure!” or do you stop and think “what exactly does this person want for me and why?”
Example: a stranger asks you to put a box in their trunk. This is very clear. As a person walking by you may actually help them. But a stranger if a stranger asks you, “can you please organize my boxes?” You will most likely be confused. You may even laugh and say, “yeah right!” He may mean put one box in the trunk, but he was not clear.
Be clear with yourself about your intention… use the stranger test.
In redefining rich, if you want more choices, ask yourself which choices you deeply desire that are not an option for you at the moment and make those your intentions. If you want more more money for financial security, ask yourself what financial security means to you and what it looks like. If you simply walk around all year saying I want to be richer [and in most cases in LA, skinnier]... you may still be saying that in 2013.
When setting intentions for this new year, really define what it is you are asking for. May 2012 bring you joy and may you bring yourself your best strategy yet!