Sunday, May 19, 2024

Critical Mistakes to Avoid When Starting a Business: Insights from Entrepreneur Kent Lewis

Leaders Perception Magazine is currently running an interview series called – What Are The Top 5 Mistakes People Make When Starting A New Business?

Today, we had the opportunity to interview Kent Lewis who is a CMO at Deksia.

Interviewee Name: Kent Lewis

Company: Deksia

Kent Lewis’s favourite quote: It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future’ – Yogi Berra

Kent Lewis is a seasoned entrepreneur, speaker, and founder of Deksia, a marketing agency that offers a unique onboarding process that includes branding, marketing strategy, and strategic planning. With over 20 years of experience in the industry, Kent has founded and co-founded several agencies and organizations and has been recognized for his work in digital marketing and as a business owner. In this profile, Kent shares his insights on common mistakes made by entrepreneurs and offers advice on how to avoid them.

The Interview

Thank you so much for joining us today! Tell us a little bit about yourself. What is your backstory?

Kent Lewis : I started my entrepreneurial journey when I was in high school, selling candy to classmates. It took me another 15 years, however to co-found my first (of 4) agencies. I found the best time to go out on my own (with 2 business partners) was at the age of 27. My experience (4 agencies over ~5 years) provided critical industry and business knowledge that helped us grow the agency quickly and efficiently. Since then, I’ve founded 2 agencies (Anvil Media & Formic Media), co-founded 2 agencies (Wave Rock, eROI) and 2 organizations (SEMpdx, pdxMindShare) and have spoken, written and taught on the topic of entrepreneurship, business and marketing. I speak ~25 times a year and have done so since 2000. I’ve also been an adjunct professor at Portland State University and teach a social media workshop for SCORE. I’ve received recognition for my work in digital marketing and as a business owner. More:

Kent Lewis, CMO

In your opinion, what makes your company stand out? Any examples?

Kent Lewis : While Deksia’s measurable marketing services (SEO, advertising, social media content, website development) are world-class, what separates us from our competitors is a unique onboarding process that includes marketing strategy, branding and strategic planning. At Anvil (which was acquired by Deksia in March 2022) we needed our clients and partners to understand who they are as a brand and where they wanted to go, and we could get them to their end goal cost-effectively. With Deksia’s comprehensive service offerings, we can help clients that don’t know exactly who they are or where they want to go, via our marketing and brand strategy services. Deksia can take a partner or client from the initial business concept through launch and growth stage with existing service offerings. Historically, we’ve partnered most effectively with agencies and service-based organizations that complement our current service mix, including traditional advertising or public relations agencies, venture capitalists, law and accounting firms.

What are the TOP 5 mistakes people make when starting a new business? Please share advice/examples for all of them.

Kent Lewis : 1. Failing to properly establish the business with the help of a lawyer and accountant. I’ve watched friends and peers create businesses without filing proper legal documentation (i.e. S-Corp, C-Corp or LLC) paperwork with state and federal agencies, leading to legal and tax issues down the road.
2. Having insufficient funds for a proper runway to ramp up the business. I made this mistake with one of my startup agencies, in that I burned through my startup capital within 3 months, and needed to put a good deal more in to keep the company afloat. I recommend putting 12 months of cash away for adequate runway, based on estimated cash burn rate.
3. Inability or lack of interest in building, nurturing and leveraging a support network to help get the word out, secure talent and funding. Your best source of business is your existing network. Put in the time to curate and take care of your network and it will give back, like a garden.
4. Surrounding yourself with experienced, trustworthy strategic advisors. I recommend recruiting an advisory board or joining an organization like Entrepreneurs’ Organization to seek experience shares and advice from people who have been in your shoes and made the mistakes so you don’t have to.
5. Hiring the wrong people, not clearly defining roles or putting them in the wrong seats on the boat. I’m a big fan of Jim Collins (Good to Great) and the concept of getting employees in the right seat on the bus. Unfortunately, a bus is not the best metaphor, as it’s passive in nature, as if employees are along for the ride and not helping get to the destination as part of a team. I prefer getting team members in the right seat on the boat, as everyone has an oar and is pulling together in synchronicity, otherwise, the boat doesn’t go anywhere, people get thrown out or exert way too much energy in the process.

Leaders Perception magaizne would like to thank Kent Lewis for the time dedicated to completing this interview and sharing their valuable insights with our readers!

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