Today’s guest post comes from across the Atlantic. Straight from Denmark I’m delighted to bring you Steffen Hedebrandt, COO of VintageandRare.com.
Do you know the recipe for transforming your passion into a global business?
Here’s a real life start-up story where someone did exactly that.
As newly appointed Chief of Operations at VintageandRare.com (a company focused on vintage and rare musical instruments) I have learned a lifetime of entrepreneurial lessons within a very short period. I have identified five crucial elements that when combined can transform a seed of passion into a growing and sustainable global business.
These five elements are: passion, persistence, people, SEO, and social media.
My partner Nicolai Schneekloth, the CEO and Founder of VintageandRare.com is a lifelong guitar player, collector and aficionado. He has always been completely captivated by guitars. Their sounds, details and uniqueness fostered and reinforced this enthusiasm which grew into a lifelong passion. This passion impelled him to perform as a solo artist, to become a band member of a national hit band, and a singer-songwriter expressing the grief of the loss of his mother through music.
Today, the same passion has driven him to become the CEO and Founder of long tail company at the tipping point of its full potential. His passion has taken the business there.
What in your life is so captivating that you cannot resist the temptation of getting engaged? What makes you feel energized and stimulated? What makes you get out of bed every day? That is your passion.
Nicolai is trained as a teacher and has since studied educational sociology while touring our country with different music groups, playing his guitar. He has never gathered any apparent knowledge about business nor has he received formal training about how to be a businessman. Nevertheless, as Nikolai unsuccessfully searched for a proper service to keep finding the very best instruments, he decided that he wanted to deliver this service to other guitar aficionados around the world. This became the genesis of VintageandRare.com.
VintageandRare.com has taken shape little by little. Different partners have come and gone as no one really stuck to the vision of creating the best platform for guitar aficionados (well, no one with the exception of Nicolai). He has spent hour after hour persistently striving to create this platform. With no clue of where and how he was going to reach his goal, he has kept striving to achieve something great.
When in your life have you experienced this abundance of energy? What fostered this energy? How can you harness it?
As Nicolai persistently stayed true to his passion, people have continually been attracted and intrigued by him. To put it simply, people are attracted to people who are living their passion, as they want to live their own passion as well. As a result of Nicolai’s persistence he met his current chairman (a very experienced businessman) who was fascinated by Nicolai, his affection for instruments and his vision of uniting the best dealers and builders of vintage and rare instruments on one platform. Their partnership recently resulted in the intake of the first venture capital for VintageandRare.com.
VintageandRare.com has moved into a new era of having to grow the business Nicolai created. The site currently features more than 350 dealers and builders from more than 25 countries. This growth occurred because of Nicolai’s relationships with his fellow instrument aficionados who have agreed to include their shop or hand build instruments through his platform. These people are instrument aficionados like Nicolai, and in most cases they too lack a “business mind.” They do not have their mind set on utilizing the latest technology as a channel for living their passion. Fortunately, they can use VintageandRare.com to help them focus on that passion rather than trying to build a business.
In your life, I am sure you have experienced the same thing. Think about situations where you have met people being attracted to and intrigued by you talking about your passion. See how contagious it can be? See how people get excited when you’re excited? The key is being able to harness that contagious passion.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can have a bad reputation because of all the “gurus” out there who are not as knowledgeable as they’d lead you to believe. Don’t underestimate its importance though. Understanding how Google and other search engines index and rate websites is vital to your growth.
If no one can find our site, the dealers and builders of the fine instruments will never sell anything, the platform will never become sustainable and Nicolai will not be able to live his passion for creating the best platform for music aficionados to buy their instruments from. SEO is a critical aspect of getting found.
What do you know about SEO? SEO is the determinant of how your website spreads (or doesn’t) by being aligned with the search engines people use to find what they are looking for. SEO can determine whether living your passion will become a sustainable business for you (or not).
Social media has completely transformed the business landscape as we knew it. Users have been empowered, the market has become transparent and rumors spread like wildfire – but so do good ideas. Today, you have a tool which 24/7 can locate people who share your passion. These are people with whom your business idea resonates and makes them want to spread your vision to all their friends.
Think about viral success stories you’ve been a part of. What triggered you to share the idea with your friends? You shared it because it resonated with you. If you truly do what resonates deeply with you, others will feel this passion and spread your message. If you’re not using social media to spread those ideas, you need to start. Now.
Passion drives your idea. Persistence makes it a reality. People help it come to fruition. SEO helps it grow. Social media accelerates that growth. These five keys are inherently linked. Are you giving them the focus your idea deserves?
– Steffen Hedebrandt is passionate about entrepreneurship, networking, and personal/professional development. He is currently COO at VintageandRare.com. If you enjoyed his perspectives and are interested in learning more, connect with him on LinkedIn.