It’s easy to be inspired and excited by entrepreneurs and visionaries who encourage people to think different and innovate. But innovation doesn’t have a finish line — one simple change isn’t enough, and it can be challenging to maintain excitement through the long process of testing and evaluating that must take place in order to learn and innovate.
“As an entrepreneur, this was the biggest lesson I had to learn. Sometimes you have to follow your gut and what the market says and what it’s telling you in order to play the long game.”Brit Morin, Brit + Co.
When the world changes, retail changes with it. That means moving outside of comfort zones, something Brit Morin is no stranger to. “A startup entrepreneur does that every day,” she told attendees at NRFtech in San Francisco. The founder and CEO of lifestyle and media company Brit + Co, Morin described herself as a child inventor who moved to Silicon Valley at 20. She spent time working at Apple and Google, including a stint at Google TV, and eventually launched Hello Brit — a millennial answer to Martha Stewart, a place where women could learn to make and do things using technology.
“What I learned through that time was how to just start,” she said. Morin was debating everything — the name, the website, the look and feel of the business, the strategy and business model. “But we had to just start, get feedback and understand what people liked about it.” Hello Brit offered content on a variety of topics like weddings and home décor; it also offered products like software that let users build their own wedding websites. The business was growing, and the data showed that women loved the content — so Morin decided to focus on content. It meant changes to the company’s workforce: Some engineers and team members wanted to build a tech company, not a content company. “But I knew this was right,” she said. “I knew this was the direction we needed to go.”
The company rebranded as Brit + Co, built on the idea of creating a community around experts who can teach and inspire users every day, and grew quickly. The advertising model was proving to be the most successful part of the business, and the company followed it, allocating more resources to advertising and partnering with Target on branded collections. “These were hard decisions to make,” Morin said. “It meant letting go of a bunch of different people, different teams, restructuring every few months. This is the natural journey of a startup, but again, the market was telling us where to go.”
Check out the official event recap, including slide decks and videos.
The changes aren’t over for Brit + Co; in April Morin published a post on Medium announcing yet another chapter for the company. “As an entrepreneur, this was the biggest lesson I had to learn. Sometimes you have to follow your gut and what the market says and what it’s telling you in order to play the long game.”
Managing change is challenging enough; leading a company through change takes experimentation, adaptability and open-mindedness. “If any of you are going through something challenging, facing friction for your team,” Morin said, “you know the right answer. It’s in your gut. … You know what’s inside your heart. You know where the road is leading you. I hope you follow your gut and your instincts.”