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Mar 25, 2018

The Entrepreneur

“This isn’t enough!” Adam said, slamming his fist against the table in the conference room. “We’re supposed to be the best team in the industry, but we’re falling behind all of our competitors. What’s missing?”

“Adam,” Clara said softly, “The four of us are all friends here. We are the best at what we do, but we’re still a new company.”

“Yeah,” Daniel said, “We’ve barely been at it for a year. You can’t expect instant success right away. People will get to know us eventually.”

“When?” Adam snapped, “I need a timeline! All the money and effort we’ve put in, and we’re still in debt working in this cramped office space. When will we reach our success?”

“Don’t give up yet,” Kelsea said, “We’ve got a lot going for us right now.”

“Like what?” Adam scoffed, “What do we have?”

“I updated the website last night, and everything’s running smoothly,” Clara said, “The glitches with the contact page have been fixed, and I think Daniel received a few e-mails this morning.”

“Well,” Daniel chuckled nervously, “Most of it was spam, and some guy from an energy drink company wants to advertise on our website.”

“The site is more than prepared for advertisements!” Clara beamed, “That’s fantastic!”

“So, that’s what we are now? Sellouts that get excited about any advertising offer we get?” Adam rubbed his temples and twirled around in his chair. “We’re a health food company guys. We sell supplements to boost a healthy lifestyle. We offer advice, book resources, weight loss plans! Our company has so much to offer, and no one knows about us! Then you go and tell me about an energy drink advertisement.”

“Adam,” Kelsea piped up, “These things take time. Our social media is gaining new followers every day.”

“How many of those are legitimate?” Adam asked.

“I’d rather not say,” she replied sheepishly.

“We need something more,” Adam said, resting his head on the desk, “Something that can stir up a lot of attention in no time.”

“What about a corporate event?” Kelsea suggested, “We can invite investors, social media influencers, health writers, and maybe create a new product to promote. Everyone likes seeing something fresh and getting an exclusive sneak peek.”

“We don’t have the capital for that, Kelsea,” Daniel said, “We need something simple but impactful.”

“How’s the mobile app doing? Is it done yet?” Adam asked, “Maybe we should pour all our resources into promoting that.”

“There’s still a lot of kinks to work out,” Clara said, “Plus, we’ve only had a few downloads. We’re competing with a lot of health apps out there. We still don’t have something unique enough.”

“You guys are killing me,” Adam groaned, “Does anyone have any actual news? Something good that shows progress?” The room fell silent.

“What if we do a contest?” Daniel said.

Adam perked up. “What kind of contest?”

“Something to get people involved. Fans love feeling a personal connection with the brands they choose,” Daniel explained, “If we can build that rapport, and make our target audience feel like they have a voice, we might be able to spread the word more quickly.”

Adam stood and straightened out his tie. “I love it. What about a mascot contest? People can submit their ideas for a mascot to represent our brand. We’ll open it up to everyone: kids, artistic types, and people who just want to be heard. Daniel, do we have enough money for any kind of advertising?”

Daniel scanned through the balance sheets in his binder and grinned. “Yeah, maybe for a couple newspaper ads and online banners.”

“Perfect!” Adam said, rubbing his hands together, “Kelsea, start working on an online ad campaign to promote our contest. I’ll leave everything up to you in that regard. Daniel, contact anyone you can to help spread the word, and Clara, keep working on our app. Everyone good?”

“Good!” the group chorused.

“Great, now let’s get working!” Adam beamed.

“This would be a lot more dramatic if our conference room wasn’t rented and shared with another company,” Clara sighed, looking out the glass door at the bustling office space.

“Well, scurry out into the hallway, and come back looking busy,” Adam said, and everyone chuckled.

“What are you going to do, Adam?” Kelsea asked.

“I’m going old school,” he said in a deep, gruff voice, “It’s time to go door to door!”

The team ran out of the room and went on to complete their responsibilities. Adam took to the neighborhood with pamphlets about their business Growing Naturally. He made his pitch to anyone that would listen and shouted through the mail slots of those who wouldn’t. All he was asking of people was to look at their website and download their app. There they would find information on all their products, unique weight loss suggestions, and upcoming health courses.

Meanwhile, Kelsea posted on all their social media accounts about their mascot contest. She emphasized that all submissions were welcome, and the owner of the company would choose his personal favorite. The rules of the contest were simple: get creative, draw a mascot, and name him or her. Kelsea couldn’t wait to see how many submissions they got. Daniel worked on spreading the word to their investors, and Clara fixed up their mobile app to reach perfection.

The group reconvened at the end of the day in their office, extremely exhausted, except for Adam. “So, everyone,” he said, clapping his hands together, “Have we heard back from anyone?”

“Barely,” Kelsea scoffed, too tired to sugar-coat the situation, “Daniel had no e-mails returned, Clara keeps running into the same problems, and our social media posts haven’t received so much as a like. It may take a few days for everyone to see them. I’ll keep reposting them, but there’s no guarantees.”

Adam sighed. “You guys aren’t being very positive. Where’s your enthusiasm?”

“It’s hard to be enthusiastic when you do so much work with no payoff,” Clara grumbled.

“Fine,” Adam said, “Let’s go home to get some rest, and meet back here first thing tomorrow. The group shuffled out of the room and said their goodbyes when they left the building.

When Adam woke up the next day, his phone was blowing up with notifications. Everyone in his social circles, and the investors, were raving about how great of an idea the mascot contest was. Adam fielded calls, texts, tweets, and Facebook and LinkedIn messages from all his friends, family, and business contacts. As he walked into the office that morning, he discovered that the other three were dealing with the same thing.

“This is sensational!” Adam exclaimed, “I can’t believe how fast this has taken off! How did that happen?”

“It must have been when one of the social media influencers I follow retweeted my post,” Kelsea said, “She has a YouTube channel and a blog about health and fitness. We went to school together, and we talk sometimes, but she’s never been interested enough to share anything I posted.”

“You finally got her attention!” Clara said, “That’s incredible!”

“Even the investors want to get in on the contest,” Daniel said, “I told them to make anonymous submissions, so we can avoid any conflict of interest.”

“All right,” Adam said, “So far, we’ve heard from people we already know. Is there anything from our target demographic?”

“Not yet,” Kelsea said, “But if we all take to Twitter or something, we can strike up personal conversations with people that might be a good fit.”

Adam agreed, and everyone signed in to connect with their consumers. They spent weeks talking to people about the contest and their products. Soon, their persistence paid off. They received letters, social media messages, and e-mails from people all over the country with submissions. The group combed through children’s drawings, professional grade artwork, and rough sketches for their mascot.

Adam thought they’d never find the right one, and then he opened an e-mail from an old college friend, whose daughter wanted to make a submission. She made a drawing of a bird named Healthy Harry. The bird looked like the ones the group saw in the park where they used to have their business meetings. Adam knew in his heart that was the winner, and everyone agreed.

A few weeks after the contest winner was announced, the mobile app was ready. That launched their product sales, and they had the best month they had all year.

“We did it, team!” Adam said during a meeting.

“We couldn’t have done it without our fearless leader!” Clara said, and the group clapped for him.

“Tonight, I’m going to buy everyone dinner,” Adam said, and everyone gasped.

“You’re going to spend money that isn’t for the business?” Kelsea squealed, “Mark this day on the calendar, folks!”

“Okay, very funny,” Adam said, rolling her eyes, “This is just my way of saying thank you.”

For the rest of the day, the group brainstormed ideas for new products. Then, they went out to a fancy dinner. For the first time in a long time, they felt like they could relax and enjoy their success.

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