Lee Tengum

Lee Tengum has a simple piece of advice for business success: Grow your audience

Lee Tengum is the president of 7am Development in Cranbrook.

Lee Tengum is the president of 7am Development in Cranbrook. — Photo courtesy Lee Tengum

Lee Tengum’s company, 7am Development, is supporting local businesses by helping them reach beyond the Cranbrook area to provide their services to a far greater audience. By growing their audience, they can then tap into the connections of their customers and increase their reach.

Tengum projects a certain amount of urgency when he talks about moving businesses forward.

What qualities does a successful business person need in today’s world?

The ability to cultivate and grow an audience for whom their product or service is relevant and needed. Having a business without an audience is a customer base without the possibility of growth.

Finish this sentence: Entrepreneurs need a lot more _____.

Reach—and you need it fast. Grow your audience to grow your business.

What’s a common myth or misconception about entrepreneurship?

The notion that you must keep your ideas secret. Ideas are worthless, and until you share them, they are nothing more than a liability that could end up costing you a fortune. You see these people on Dragon’s Den all the time, the ones that refinanced their houses and poured their life’s savings into developing an idea before they even tried to sell it to a potential customer.

The faster you can let go of the notion that you must keep your idea secret the quicker you’ll get to a product market fit. If you keep your idea to yourself the only thing you’ll ever share publicly is your failure. “Oh look, Steve put his house up for sale…” Remember, if you’re one in a million, there are 1,379 people in China and another 1,325 people in India just like you. Your idea is not unique and there is a lot of competition out there. Execution is everything.

What makes the Kootenays attractive to an entrepreneur?

In our case, with the exception of a few kick-ass local companies, our work is entirely external to the Kootenays. Currently, we’re working for a large hotel chain from NYC, a large coffee chain in China and a telephone service provider from Leeds. We work with these companies on a daily basis and being here in the Kootenays gives us an edge time zone-wise, as we can service everyone throughout the day, and cost-wise, as housing is affordable here. Just don’t tell anyone until I’m ready to sell, please.

What trends have you observed in your community that might impact the local economy in the next five years?

Five years?!? If you’re a business owner you need to take 15 minutes and watch this, right now: Humans Need Not Apply— https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU

Marie Milner

Marie Milner is a writer and photographer for Kootenay Business magazine and several other publications. She appreciates the inspiration that she gets during her interviews and hopes to share that inspiration with you. View all of Marie Milner’s articles

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