This Entrepreneur Turned His Obsession With Tiny Details Into a Big Business
We've all asked ourselves who is going to win at the Golden Globes, but did you ever ask yourself who makes the Golden Globes?
The answer is David Moritz, whose company Society Awards creates the statues and trophies that emotional artists cling to for dear life at events including the aforementioned Golden Globes, the Clio Awards, Dancing With the Stars and the American Music Awards, as well as luxury business awards.
How did he get his start? Studying English literature and going to law school, obviously. OK, maybe not so obvious. "While studying the finer points of English literature as an undergrad at NYU, I was also running a successful events promotion business," Moritz told Entrepreneur. "By the time I graduated law school, I had started, run and sold a bar-lounge. The prospect of going into a law firm just didn’t feel right."
What did feel right was channeling his self-described obsession with details into creating a luxury brand where he saw a void in the awards and gift packaging arena. "There was no branding, no differentiation and no care for the fine details that built an experience," he says. So he set about changing all that. Here's how he did it and his advice for starting your own passion project.
Be ready to work harder than ever.
"Our society glamorizes startup culture, but that can disguise just how gritty the process is in practice. I spent the first year as a company of one, even as I gained major contracts. The team grew after the first year, but I kept that group tight and lean and continued to manage most facets of the business for several more years. It was valuable experience because I gained a deep understanding of all aspects of the business, including design and marketing, but I can see how that could overwhelm someone. You need to be really invested and know when your business has reached the stage that you should be handing off certain responsibilities. That was an important lesson to learn. It can be particularly hard to start that process when you feel so attached to this business you’ve built."
Hire motivated people.
"This is not an easy task; it’s a matter of becoming really good at reading and understanding people in the interview process. In the end, though, it saves your business a lot of money and a lot of time. When you hire motivated people, you just need to keep them motivated and inspire them. Otherwise, you’re wasting time on a futile task, trying to bring people up to your level."
Take lots and lots of notes.
"Starting out as a one-man team, I had to find ways to be as efficient as possible. I was our whole sales team, and I needed to keep track of a growing client base. I committed to taking thorough notes in a CRM for every project and account and always creating follow-up tasks for everything. This system prevents anything from falling through the cracks. I’m very serious with our sales team about the importance of note-taking. When a client calls, we have a wealth of notes from all past conversations, and anyone would be able to easily jump in. It’s a small but constant bit of up-front work that pays off in the form of seamless service and happy clients."
Find a niche and become an expert.
"No business today can thrive without differentiation. A unique product is part of the equation, but unique voice and point of view are almost just as important. We set about creating the luxury awards brand that these prestigious custom trophies deserved. Once you’ve identified an industry or product you want to work with, the next step is to become an industry expert. Consume as much information as possible. You should know what the industry looks like: trends, winners and losers, alternative products, production processes. Once you know what’s out there, you can start to ask yourself the important questions. I was questioning why the details weren’t sharp on a lot of the custom awards from competitors. We had to develop our own production methods and quality standards because there was just nothing on the market yet that lived up to my expectations. This meant employing some unconventional processes from other industries, and I had to learn about those as well."
Read. A lot.
"You’ve heard this time and again, but reading is so important to success. It opens your mind to draw parallels in a way that no other activity can. It’s this connection of seemingly unrelated ideas that make the most successful thinkers and creators in our society. There isn’t a lot more to say about it because you’ve already been told you this by Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Mark Cuban, Phil Knight, et al. If you won’t listen to their advice, you probably won’t follow mine."