By: John Matthews, founder of Gray Cat Enterprises.
It is official.
As of Dec. 5, Gray Cat Enterprises marks the longest consecutive stint in my background for one place.
Gray Cat Enterprises hit eight years, 244 days old on Dec. 5, which now surpasses the time I spent at Little Caesars. It is hard to fathom what started in 2004 has now lasted this long and fortunately, Gray Cat continues to prosper.
So, how long is eight years, 244 days? Well, consider this, four social media tools that I use extensively to communicate “everything” Gray Cat have been around for the following lengths:
LinkedIn: 9 years, 275 days
Facebook: 8 years, 300 days
YouTube: 7 years, 270 days
Twitter: 6 years, 210 days
And no….not comparing Gray Cat to those social media networks, but, it is astonishing to think of a world when those four didn’t exist. Seems like decades ago. Consequently, over the years I have had a number of people ask me “what is it like to start a business?” It can be summed up one way—expect to work your tail off —but with the social media tools that now exist, working your tail off can be far more efficient.
Case in point. In 2004, 100% of my client base was located in Chicago where Gray Cat was originally based. Client business was generated the old-fashioned way— lunches, in-person meetings and face-to-face contact. Shortly after that, a colleague of mine introduced me to LinkedIn when it had only three million customers. Today, with 175 million customers, over 90% of my client base comes directly from relationships fostered on LinkedIn. Consequently, Gray Cat has expanded its client business to 13 states and one European country. The power of these tools enable a small business operator to gain greater exposure without the confinements of geography. In fact, over the years, I have had clients that to this day, I have never met in person. Face-to-face is still vital, but it is just one part of the business relationship.
It has been a terrific first eight years, 244 days and something of which I am proud. My father always encouraged me to stake my own place in the business world with an entrepreneurial venture, so I am sure he would approve at the longevity thus far. Many thanks to all that have contributed to the overall success of Gray Cat throughout the years and here’s to more to come!
John Matthews is the founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises, Inc., a strategic planning and marketing services firm that specializes in helping businesses grow in the restaurant, convenience and general retail industries. With more than 20 years of senior-level experience in retail and a speaker at retail-group events throughout the U.S., Matthews has recently written two step-by-step manuals, Local Store Marketing Manual for Retailers and Grand Opening Manual for Retailers, which are available at www.graycatenterprises.com.