Elk Brewery and Jeff DeLongchamp, President of ElectionSource

The Place – Elk Brewery: A modern beer garden with years of planning behind it, Elk Brewery in Grand Rapids opened in 2014 and was an immediate West Michigan microbrew hit, eventually leading to a second location in Comstock Park. Elk is known for its fun approach to fruit-infused ales, ensuring there’s something for everyone.

The Leader – Jeff DeLongchamp: Jeff is the founder and CEO of ElectionSource (among other companies), a service provider for managing elections, election data, and related security. As you can imagine, his industry has got a lot of attention lately, which raises an interesting point: How do you sustain an early or unexpected business success and use it for the long-term benefit of your organization?

How to Keep Early Successes Going Strong

1. Spend Time Storing Up Resources

Entrepreneurs know how difficult it is to spend resources correctly during the first years of a venture. It’s a good idea to spend time hoarding a certain amount of resources so that you have a pool to draw from when you hit a moment of success. That way you can spend freely to scale up and take advantage of the opportunity without plunging too far into the red.

2. Expand Your Team

Grow, grow, grow. A period of strong success cannot be maintained unless you have the right team to help out. Even with all the automation available today, success is best supported by expanding your team with excellent outside talent. Watch Episode 1 of Hops and Handshakes to further discuss why your team needs to be passionate about their success.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Obsess

Success usually means working hard. It means putting in the extra-long hours, spending the weekends at work, and doing everything you can to take advantage of the moment. You shouldn’t do this forever, but you should also be prepared to turn all the dials up to 11 for a few months to capture that key opportunity.

4. Seek Out Industry Advantages

Jeff had a welcome boost due to federal spending on election tech after 2001. Windfalls like these aren’t easy to predict, but it’s important to keep an eye on the broader business environment: Watch for government or industry standard changes that could benefit your company.

5. Look to Where Your Customers Need to Go

It’s a good idea to let your customer “lead” your success. Look at their needs before you think about your own ambitions: Success will continue only if you anticipate where customers want you to go in the future.

6. Understand that Success is Born from Mistakes

Mistakes are always going to happen. The key is to “fail fast,” learn from the experience, and improve your model – every time it happens. This allows you to shore up past successes and prepare for new periods of high activity without getting overwhelmed by the unexpected.

For more information on the ins and outs of ElectionSource, the history of modern elections, and the stories of two entrepreneur friends, check out the full video!

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