Spend time in places where you are uncomfortable

imgres-2I have been making the rounds in Los Angeles meeting companies that I am invested in out here.  It is really nice to have an in-person meeting in their hood vs mine.  I am also going by the offices to meet with the team.  I admit that I do not do that often enough in NYC.  It is truly about time and I believe that I do know how I best serve the companies that I invest in and although it would be great to meet everyone it is not always that easy.

I was at an office this past week and we were talking about entering unfamiliar territories.  It reminded me of some incredible advice I got years ago.  Not sure who gave it to me but it has served me well over the years.

When I was an assistant store manager at Macys in New Rochelle I was responsible for a third of the store.  My territory was all of women’s apparel and cosmetics.  It was really the ultimate job.  I absolutely loved having six managers report to me.  I got to teach them the ropes and that included everything from analyzing their businesses, getting rid of dated inventory, turning their floors around daily, speaking with their buyers, doing scheduling, etc.  It might have been one of my favorite jobs ever.

I was a cosmetics manager and an assistant buyer in Young Collector which is essentially moderate priced women’s clothing.  I understood cosmetics from a management perspective in the store.  I understood Young Collector as a buyer.

The advice I was given was simple.  The person said that you will more than likely spend all your time in cosmetics because it is comfortable and you understand it.  Don’t do that.  Spend as little time as possible in cosmetics.  You can get done what you need in that area in very little time because you already know it.  Spend all your time in the areas that you nothing about.  Put yourself into places where it is uncomfortable.  You will learn from that and in the end you will come out on the other end more knowledgeable and seasoned about a lot more than you did walking in.

Great advice that can certainly be applied to start-up businesses.  Entrepreneurs who get product should push themselves to spend time in sales.  Entrepreneurs who get sales should push themselves to spend more time in product.  In the end they will be smarter about their business and the people who are working for them