I live by the idea that action creates reaction, so I tend to test my ideas early and often.
Lea Richards / Lea is the founder and owner of Pig of the Month BBQ, a nationwide mail order barbecue company. Founded in 2011 as a bootstrapped venture, she quickly learned how to leverage her marketing and PR savvy to grow her business on the cheap. She now shares this knowledge with other entrepreneurs around the country. She has been mentioned in the New York Times, Food & Wine Magazine, Food Network Magazine, and Good Morning America among others. Shout out to her @iheartbbq.
Where did the idea for Pig of the Month come from?
I’m a former corporate slave, so it all started when I made the choice to quit my job and figure out a new life path. I left the city and returned back home to Ohio to figure some things out. It was around Father’s Day, and my dad is a HUGE BBQ lover, so I decided to fly in some “famous” Memphis BBQ. It got here and we were all less than impressed, and my dad made an off the cuff comment that changed my course forever. He remarked, “I bet you could do this better.” So I did.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I’m one of those weird natural morning people, so I start bright and early at 6am. I head straight into work and use the Pomodoro technique to block out the next 6 hours of my schedule. I make sure to never schedule any meetings, calls, etc until after that time so it nothing affects my workflow. I tackle meetings, calls, production issues, social media, etc after lunch for a couple hours before heading home around 2-3pm to take a break and refresh my mind. Getting outside for at least an hour or 2 a day really makes a difference in my mood, so I schedule a long hike with my dog around that time and make a good meal. I end the day with an hour or so of tying up loose ends and scheduling my projects for tomorrow morning.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I live by the idea that action creates reaction, so I tend to test my ideas early and often. If I have an idea for a product I will test it with our e-mail list or in the store before even making it just to see if it will sell. I’ve always found its better to test your initial idea with the market and get feedback before investing too much time or money. Oftentimes you’ll see it from a new point of view right away.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Work from wherever! I love that with internet businesses you can take your work with you and travel. Americans have had the short end of the stick for years with the average American taking less than 1 week of vacation per year. I always feel my most refreshed and most inspired after traveling, so I try and get out for about 3 months per year.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I have an accountability partner. Each morning I e-mail my partner with 3 things I will accomplish that day, and at the end of the day, I have to e-mail again with what I actually accomplished. They do the same to me. It’s not someone I work with, but just a close friend so it’s fun to send each other little notes of encouragement and offer tips each morning. Being held accountable to someone really helps on the days you’d really rather leave early.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
My worst job ever was my first “real” job in finance. During college, I really thought that was what I wanted to do with my life, but after getting an actual job and seeing what my day to day was like I quickly realized that wasn’t the case. This is why I’m such a huge proponent of interning often and early during college. A lot of times the day to day reality is a lot different than the projects you work on in a class.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Ha! I’m not sure it’s good to go down that road. I think you do better once you know better and that’s all you can do. Just keep on moving forward.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Do everything in your company before hiring or outsourcing it to someone else! The best way to hire a job to be done is to know exactly what kind of time, skills, etc will be needed before you start interviewing people. That way you know whether it needs to be a full-time or freelance position, and you can ask questions based on your experience to weed out the posers.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
I’ve used the strategy of strategic partnerships to grow organically with a ton of success. It’s simple; Find businesses that have a similar demographic, but a non-competing product and send them an e-mail asking if they’d like to work together to cross-promote each other to grow for very little money. We work with companies to run joint contests together, e-mail blasts, and social media shout outs and it’s been incredibly effective.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
My biggest oops moment was shortly after I started my business and got featured on Good Morning America Deals & Steals. We suddenly had 3-4 thousand orders in ONE DAY, and I was freaking out. I was so busy and tired that while cooking ribs one day I forgot to set up the grease shield properly and set the entire kitchen on fire! The kitchen was out of commission for 2 weeks, and I had to personally call 2,500 people and let them know their Christmas presents would be late and offer them my sincere apologies and a gift card for good measure. Funny enough, most people were really understanding and nice and ended up being some of our most loyal customers to date. A personal touch and always keeping your customer in the loop go a long way in establishing a relationship.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I will be your first customer if someone creates a subscription box for baking enthusiasts that sends out all the ingredients and instructions to make one showpiece dessert every month. Seriously, please do it!
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I recently ordered a Passion Planner and I’m obsessed. I was never big on writing things down, but the way this planner is set-up really helps clarify my goals for the week/month/year and ensure I’m on track personally and professionally. I also love reading through the old months and seeing how far I’ve gotten since Jan. 1.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
-Klayvio for behavior based e-mail marketing and custom transaction receipts for Shopify stores
-Bench.co for easy online bookkeeping
-AppSumo for e-mail collection pop-ups
-Yopto for customer reviews made seamless
-Majestic SEO to spy
-Fox Type extension to make my e-mails more friendly. I can be a bit direct over e-mail.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
– The classic 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss. His writing style leaves you wanting more, and he offers actionable advice that you can put into place right away instead of theories.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
-Noah Kagan, . I’m a huge fan of actionable advice and he is king.
-Adrienne Dorrison, I never believed in business coaches until I met her.
-The Brilliant Idiots Podcast, Sometimes you just need to refresh and laugh.
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Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.