We’re launching a new series of interviews with WordPress entrepreneurs, picking their brains and experience for the juiciest bits of wisdom and practical knowledge.
Today we’re learning from Kori Ashton. She launched her first business at the age of 12 and co-founded WebTegrity with her parents. Being an entrepreneur is in her blood. She’s a proud sixth-generation Texan, and loves to share her knowledge by teaching. You can see her speak—while creating art—at TEDx San Antonio.
You’re not much of an entrepreneur, in my opinion, if you don’t have the guts to ride the bull.
Kori Ashton is going to school us in perseverance and profitability.
When things are hard, how do you know when to stick with it and power through and when to call it quits and move on?
Part of the entrepreneur’s spirit is endurance, preservation and hopefulness. I think it’s in our DNA to dream and be annoyingly persistent. Add that spirit to a Texan’s heart and you’re going to find someone who doesn’t know how to give up. Difficulties are a sign that you’re conquering uncharted areas—either uncharted to you or uncharted to the world even, it doesn’t matter. It’s as though we have this weird obsession to find the more difficult path. We thrive off of glimpses of progress and see them as moments that spur us on to the next.
Truth be told, I’ve wanted to quit so many times. As a Christian, I’ve leaned on my faith trusting God to get me through. A mentor once told me, “It’s OK to quit today, as long as you show up for work tomorrow.” Sleep does wonders. The next morning a new-found determination will emerge and I’m up and going, reengaged.
Sometimes “quit” doesn’t have to be a four letter word with negative connotations. Sometimes quitting a bad habit or quitting procrastination or quitting distractions and finding your focus is a good method of “quitting.” I’ve done that too. [Editor’s Note: We shared 15 ways to quit earlier this year.]
For me, knowing when to stick with it was at times immaturity, ignorance or I’d find some plain ol’ Texas stubbornness inside. Either way you’re not much of an entrepreneur, in my opinion, if you don’t have the guts to ride the bull for lack of a better example. Texans are known for our rodeos. Outsiders look at us and say we’re crazy for eight seconds of hell. We see it as eight seconds of glory that will open doors for bigger, better opportunities to ride larger bulls.
Now this might not seem too appealing to a city slicker, but put it this way: When you’re faced with a challenge that looks impossible, and you’re aware you only have to endure it for a short moment, there’s something inside that says, “I can do that” when everyone else says no way.
Choosing to “ride that bull” is what makes an entrepreneur successful—even if they fall off. Success comes from determination.
How do you make more money–what are some lessons you’ve learned that can increase profitability?
I didn’t grow up in money. I remember as a kid one Christmas when there were no gifts under the tree, and we weren’t sure how we were going to even buy groceries. Those were “rodeos” that I endured growing up. They shaped my thinking and forged my determination. Seeing my parents struggle was part of my passion in starting WebTegrity. They’re my business partners. Sometimes it’s good to have people who have known financial hunger pangs. They tend to be the most frugal and driven.
Profitability comes in all forms, not just money. But money sure is helpful. I’ve positioned myself in an industry with some towering moguls. I watch their steps and try to emulate them. I learn from them and put my own spin on what they’re missing.
Sales 101: find a recurring need and fill it better than anyone else. That simple.
What are the most important lessons you’ve learned as an entrepreneur?
Daily I’m learning. A lot of my lessons I learn the hard way, which isn’t necessarily fun or easy. I struggle every day with self-doubt and hesitations and thoughts of quitting.
But if I could give some advice to the next gal in the chute ready to ride, I’d say determine in your heart what the definition of success is to you, and go after that. Remain focused and realize that the tough times are only temporary. If you can last when others don’t, if you can provide a solution when others can’t, you’ll reach that level of success. It might not be in the timing you had dreamed of, but it will come.