Sarah Ware is the founder of Markerly, a platform that connects brands to bloggers and advertises content to over 300 million people monthly. Sarah lives and works in Menlo Park, CA and formerly led a traveling sales team at LivingSocial. Follow her @waresarah
Who is your hero?
What’s the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
If you incorporate other people's ideas into your project, they will feel more invested in its success.
In other words: Don't be blinded by the excitement of your own ideas. Letting other people plant their own seeds in your pot will make them more likely to want to water.
What's the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?
We've learned that thinking you're prepared to scale when you're not can be a big mistake. We onboarded a very prominent publisher out of nowhere and started to collect too much data to process. As a result, we slowed down their site. We moved over to a CDN to ensure that never happened again. Think seriously about scaling, and how to be prepared so that the best-case scenario doesn't turn into a negative event.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
I think about my goals for the day and assess my schedule to make sure I'm prepared for my team and client meetings. I usually brush up on notes and write down my thoughts on questions to bring up or points to hit on during conversations, too.
What’s your best financial or cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
Our biggest mistake was wasting money on a designer and an explanatory video when we hadn't found an exact product-to-market fit yet. We thought that having a designer and video would convert for us and it didn't. We ended up changing our site a few months later and then the business model shortly thereafter. So we threw all that money out the window. Don't spend money on those things until you are sure you have product to market fit!
Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
Ask questions. A lot of questions. I ask very silly questions sometimes because I can't stand not knowing something. Never be scared to ask, because chances are you won't remember to google every question later on. Ask on the spot and you're guaranteed an answer. There are no stupid questions. Questions through discussion are much better than googling the answer because they allow for further conversation and more learning opportunities.
What's your definition of success? How will you know when you've finally "succeeded" in your business?
When new brands demand the standard that we've set when advertising through content campaigns, that means we have been successful.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.