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Toms shoes – growing a successful business consciously…

Some of you will have heard of Toms – the shoe manufacturer. Their unique selling point is for every shoe you buy they give provide a free one to a child in need. I just read a book by their founder, Blake Mycoskie. A serial entrepreneur, showing how he did what he did. Here I summarise some of his key points in setting up in business.

1) Find your story (not just facts): Toms was a story as much as it’s a product. Great shoes giving a free pair to a child in need. So, find your story: If you did not have to worry about money what would you do with your time? What kind of work would you want to do? What cause would you serve? If you organise your life around your passion, you can turn your story in to your passion and then turn the story in to something bigger. Then you commit to telling your story to everyone, at every opportunity. It’s not an incidental part of your business but a major focus. Never stop thinking of ways to spread the story. When people ask, “what do you do?”. That’s your opportunity to tell e.g. lifts, holidays, business networking. Gauge whether its having impact and refine it where needed. Also share it with the connectors – the people that can spread it.

2) Face your fears: Many people stop acting when in fear. This is a mistake. But fear won’t kill you. Everyone who succeeds battles through adversity. Read about famous people. The thing that distinguishes success is what people do in such times. Do you turn back? Instead of focusing on fear. Focus on what you can do, what you can control i.e. your ACTIONS. How you react to negative feelings will be the key to Success. Become comfortable with the fear and acting confidently in its face. It will give you more courage for next time. Some tips.

  • No matter what happens, win lose, life goes on.

  • People fear the unknown, but truth is everything is unknown by definition.

  • Everyone makes mistakes.

  • Don’t worry about what others think. (never going to see ex work colleagues etc again)

  • Don’t fall into the victim of best idea freeze (average idea well executed is better)

  • The fear killers. Ways to kill the fear: Remember to live your story and go back to the why? Why am I doing this? When you go back to core motivations, you affirm the authenticity of your project which takes you away from the fear that you’re a fraud. when you live your story, you don’t have to pretend your someone you’re not.

Surround yourself with people that support you. e.g. interns, friends etc. People who excite you and want to grow with you and have aspirations etc. Inspirational quotes as well. Read biographies of successful people. Even on internet summaries. Start of small. Kaizen principle – which says small improvements made every day will lead to massive improvements overall. Reaching big goals become less scary.

  1. Write down your fears and look at them (otherwise imagination goes wild and can be scary. Writing down the fear loses it intensity. Do a what if scenario – left side fear right side. worst possible outcome. Then positive outcome. Seek as much advice as you can. Whether by person or by internet. Most people like to give advice to those with whom they emphasise the most. and who they see a version of themselves. Women to women, man to man etc.

  2. Be resourceful: No need for office. Use interns, Business cards, 4-hour week. See list of websites. Less money is actually more! Reward employees with food and other things even when money is tight.

  3. Keep it simple: Simplicity of product design and simplicity of business model. Design concepts simplicity is the best. e.g. iPod. Unclutter your workspace. Having a clear function design and purpose means your story can be spread easier. whether to investors or new people. Someone must understand it first. Keeping it simply means the message is sticky.


  1. Keep a notebook with you all the time. Don’t need to thing about these things again.

  2. Schedule everything. Allows you to let go of worry. So that you are totally present with where you are.

  3. Combine (exercise with friends with work etc)

  4. Don’t let tech enslave you. E.g.no business at weekend.

  5. Declutter and clean up 1 every 3 months. Clean cupboard also cleans mind!

Write one sentence to answer the questions below:

  1. What is your business about?

  2. What do you want to be known for as a person?

  3. Why should someone hire you?

  4. What social cause are you seeking to serve? If you are designing a product/service, look at it and then decide. What else can remove from the design or service and still keep its function intact?

  5. Build trust: Trust is a fundamental part of any business. It’s the most important part of getting our work done right. A brand succeeds or fails based on whether or not people trust the company with which there about to do business. Includes employees, vendors, customers. If employees are looking out for the company and not just motivated by their selfish reasons. Employees should be friends, so they do favours for each other not just as co-workers. Zappos gives other employees a bonus of 50 a month at the choosing of the employees.

Internal trust you build internally – as a leader job is to motivate your staff, your co-workers, your partners. Job to trust and empower their staff. Enormous satisfaction from feeling we employees are in control of our jobs. Better your employees feel about job, better they perform. Due to knowledge sharing nature then before workplace is much flatter, ideas can come from anywhere. Servant leader. True servant leaders are inspiring. Trust is key and need to ensure whole workplace has this.

External trust you build with your customers, your vendors – key is built trust with them e.g. guarantees or promise to customer. money back guarantees etc. Taking customers of Tom with you to see the shoe drops.

  • Talk openly with staff – show some emotion (joy, paid, frustrations etc) when talking with people and be honest to them.

  • Give away autonomy

  • Trust your employees will grow into their roles. including interns and new staff. not just coffee runners.

  • Customers empathy – heart of customer service is empathy. Make them feel as special as you yourself would want to feel.

  • Giving is good for business. Giving as a core of your business. Give more than money. Think about your own unique skills to give. incorporate giving anywhere you can at work.Give early Don’t get overwhelmed – even helping one person. It’s better to give then receive.

Written by Indy Agnihotri of IA Consulting + Finance, specialists in providing finance/accounting services that generate you more profits and cash. With a happiness and fulfillment mindset.

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