It’s hard to believe that it was only one year ago that Apprentice was just a business plan and an official legal document of incorporation…
If someone told me that within the first year of Apprentice’s existence there would be a global pandemic causing economic uncertainty around the world and that still we generated over $200K in revenue and impacted the lives of over 30 entrepreneurs, business leaders, and college students, there is no way that I would have believed it.
I am so grateful and have learned so much over the last year. While it’s hard to put the first year into five insights, the five concepts I describe below combine the hard and soft-skills that I’ve found to be the most important so far.
1. Learn by Doing
A year ago there were so many different options and routes Apprentice could have pursued. We could have been paralyzed like a deer in headlights and overwhelmed by the different routes. I am so happy that we decided to scrap the endless white-boarding and strategy sessions and went for it. There have been countless changes, both big and small, that we’ve made, and I’ve realized that no plan is perfect (and never will be) and that the best way to keep making progress is to figure it out as we go.
2. Take a Step Back
This is without a doubt really hard to do. It’s so easy to get bogged down with the day in and day out tasks. I do my best to make time, whether that’s when I meditate or journal (two with which habits I’m working on being more consistent), and when I do I always feel so grateful to be in the position to enjoy the people as well as the process.
3. Relationships Matter
Whether with my mentor and business partner Dave Kerpen, our amazing Apprentices, or our customers, developing and growing strong relationships is so important. On a personal note, connecting with people, and helping connect people with each other, is the part of Apprentice that I enjoy the most!
4. Context is Key
Growing a business and managing a team is always difficult, but doing it through the first half of 2020 is even more so. The ongoing uncertainty and fear caused by COVID-19 has drastically impacted everyone’s lives in different ways. The disgusting murder of George Floyd sparked an ongoing conversation and support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Being aware of the context of everything that’s going on in the world is so important. One key adjustment that I’ve made is always starting meetings, especially internal meetings, by checking-in with how people are doing. Taking the time to be there and care for one another is always important, but especially right now as the pandemic has had a detrimental impact on mental health.
5. Culture Can be Created Remotely
I am biased because I’ve mostly worked remotely and Apprentice is all remote, but even with that being said, I had some concerns about how Apprentice would create a culture as it grew. A year later, I still haven’t met all of our Apprentices “in-person”, yet am amazed by the connection not only that we have as a team, but also the friendships between the Apprentices.
Again, I am so grateful for everything (the good and the bad) that’s happened and the people I’ve met through Apprentice’s first year in business. I can’t wait to see what the future holds!