Meet Karl Bechmann
If you completed your higher education in Canada, you might be familiar with Karl’s work. In fact, you might not realize how critical he’s been to your late night escapades. Karl Bechmann and his friends began Cruel in 2013 during their university days, starting the company initially as a lifestyle and events platform. Between 2013 and 2016, Cruel put together and executed over 1100 events in university markets across Canada, spanning across most of the country. Although lacking focus as a business at first, the Cruel brand developed into something special for tens of thousands of young people.
Since then, Cruel has developed into a multi-faceted creative agency, specializing in content and experiential marketing. Their clients include the likes of Snapple, Jagermeister, Canada Dry, and many more.
We wanted to know what insights Karl would share with his younger self. Our favourite takeaway was his thoughts on how to make money. Here is what he had to say:
A 20-year-old me slinked into the theatre with my friends to see The Social Network. I was taken aback by how easy it looked. All it took to become a billionaire was a genius intellect, a badass attitude, and a few cases of beer. I watched keenly as Zuckerberg mowed down the modern tech industry, chalking up a win for us millennials. As I left the theatre that night I wondered what kind of entrepreneur I might be. I thought to myself quietly, could I have that kind of prosperity? And yet, the story of the overnight success turns out to be a cultural fender benders, of sorts. Some business owners have become successful in short periods of time, and savant business people exist with incredible ability. But most businesses take years to flourish into something that looks like the original vision, including mine. Here are some reflections that might have helped me out.
Dear Karl, It’s all about the moment
Your small business will progress through crucial, yet individual moments — meeting an investor, finding a new client, or developing a creative breakthrough. Each big moment creates a plateau, over time connecting in a string allowing you to jump from platform to platform. When asked what qualities an entrepreneur might have, most people could form a good answer. It seems less obvious, however, when asked how to develop key moments. These moments can be few and far between, and are mostly brought on by chance rather than actions.
But a path to success is clearer if you see your business as a game of raising your probability towards these moments happening.
Important moments don’t happen overnight, and there’s always an element of chance. Perhaps you meet a person that got a mandate from their boss to track down a contractor exactly like you. Or conversely, maybe that person can’t work with you at the juncture when you met, although would love to if the timing had been different. In the first instance, you were fortunate that the person’s boss had passed them that message. It was in your control, however, if you were any good at what you did. If you weren’t, the opportunity probably vanished. In the second situation, you could have been the absolute best at what you did; it wouldn’t have mattered. But if you are extremely proficient at your craft, that person might tell someone else about you. Regardless of which situation transpires, focus on what is in your control. When that moment does arise, be prepared for it.
Networking will help you, but don’t lose sight of your attributable business skills.
Once you realize that you’ll experience many brushes with opportunity — some successful, some not — the numbers game becomes more apparent. If you continue to work on your craft and continue to meet people, logic dictates that eventually, you’ll garner one (or many) of these coveted moments.
Trust the Process.
To me, adversity is working through misfortune. You had everything in place, and the plan didn’t come to fruition. When things don’t go your way, it can be frustrating to think that your luck was poor; or worse — you didn’t do a good enough job. Just because a bet didn’t pay off though, doesn’t mean it was incorrectly placed.
Well, not in the sense of learning from them; you’ll stop emotionally buying in. With this change in focus, you’ll discover that the best tool to metre your emotions is to forge a relationship between yourself and your work. The sooner you can stop viewing your failures as an indictment, the sooner you can develop a healthy business model. Mistakes aren’t only natural, they’re essential. This way of re-framing adversity stimulates learning and allows you to develop competency.
Success can feel random at times, but in the long-term, it usually isn’t. Probability is kind to well-built companies and eventually catches up with you if your offering is weak.
In the first few years of your business, you might find yourself getting excited about each opportunity regardless of how crazy it seems. Don’t get caught up on the prospect of large, short-term successes. This noise creates distraction, at times leading away from core competency or an existing business plan. When you focus on process, you raise the likelihood of a serendipitous occurrence. You might not be sure if you’re on the right track, as you haven’t experienced success — but stay the course.
The Entrepreneur that I look up to.
Charm, intelligence, and charisma are important qualities. But so are trustworthiness, patience, and work ethic. When I first started my business, I had assumed it was only the former that mattered. Nowadays when I talk to other entrepreneurs, I find myself being drawn more to people with the second set of attributes. I have no doubt my social skills and relationships have helped me, but my business would be nowhere without diligence and focus. There comes a point in every business when you can no longer fake it with grandiose plans of overnight millions.
Learn how to make money the hard way, and expect a long road ahead.
The real irony of this story is that no article, especially not this one, can prepare you for running a business. Mistakes are inevitable, and that’s kind of the point. Make mistakes, make them loudly, and learn from them. Most importantly, face adversity directly and stay true to your business model. Focus on a long-term plan that results in success over and over, not a short-term home run attempt that lacks depth and value. If you can maintain focus on your craft, your big moment will come sooner rather than later.
Thank you Karl Bechmann for contributing to Influence Digest. Make sure to check out Cruel Inc on social media!