It’s commonly accepted that life is a journey. But what if you, a small business owner, view it as a quest – that life and making a living were all part of reaching a solitary, stationary goal? What if, despite years of blood, sweat, and tears that goal seemed unattainable? Shawn Nelson, founder and CEO of Lovesac, spoke with our team last month about this crisis to share the lessons he learned as a business owner in the quarter-century his company has been around.
You may have visited Lovesac’s Peachtree City location at The Avenue. The Salt Lake City-based company, known for their luxuriously cozy foam Sac seats, has had its fair share of ups and downs over the years from its start as a small business to now a well known national company, and Nelson shares those intimate details with us here.
The City Menus found that through speaking with local businesses inspires us as a team. Many of those we have interviewed have faced business and even personal hardships that made entrepreneurship seem unrealistic and even foolish at times. Encouragement and strength can be so difficult to find and retain. So in return, The City Menus wants to give back to those business owners with a fiery boost that just might inflame the passions and projects you already have.
In Nelson’s memoir, Let Me Save You 25 Years: Mistakes, Miracles, and Lessons from the LOVESAC Story he shares helpful examples of successes wrought through curious and sometimes painful mishaps in hopes that other budding entrepreneurs will steer clear of them and save themselves time, energy, and capital. In our interview with him, Nelson quickly establishes that successful people may not be as inherently sophisticated as we may believe them to be.
“I learned early on that there was no way to get ahead without reaching. And there’s that phrase ‘fake it til you make it,’ but you know I’ve met billionaires, leaders, and people of clout of all kinds… [They’re] just mortals and they have shortcomings, too,” Nelson says.
He postulates that debunking the idea that successful people just have it in their blood and have never made fatal business mistakes can motivate any business owner to embrace change and learn from their failings and perceived imperfections.
In a podcast by the same name, Nelson interviews various, successful business owners and founders to continue gaining insight into the world of business. From Whole Foods founder John Mackey to Founder, CEO, and Creative Director of alice+olivia Stacey Bendet, the podcast delves deep into tactics that made and hurt their businesses – because Nelson believes that no one can really be successful without grappling with the pain of mistakes. This interview podcast not only divulges these entrepreneurs’ origin stories, but takes time to narrate and explain the lessons they’ve learned along the way, especially the ones that may have cost them their business altogether. The idea is that conversing about fumbles and blunders that cost these businesses so much will ultimately de-taboo them and encourage other entrepreneurs in their own lives.
Nelson admits in the podcast episode “Play Along the Way” that one of his early realizations was that he worked too hard. He discovered during a mission trip to Taiwan that he was so serious about learning Mandarin that others began to think he wasn’t enjoying himself.
“Are you happy?” a woman asked him. “You never smile.”
Blown away that his passion to communicate his faith was being mistaken for misery, he realized that he had to change his approach. He started hanging out with the locals more – something that he had always enjoyed but had too frequently forfeited to study their language in isolation, completely missing the point as to why he was overseas in the first place. He realized that he could learn the language among them, not apart from them. This discovery helped him become close to those with whom he shared his faith. In other words, he was so quest oriented that he almost missed his mission entirely.
Lovesac’s story brings together some of these lessons and more, offering not just simple, blanket advice, but ultimately demystifying the road to, through, and beyond success. By now, you may have figured out that Nelson’s definition of success isn’t a single trophy or title.
“I have set goals and achieved them, but I keep moving the goalpost farther. It’s so cool that I can do that, and that means I’ll never be done. It’s really cool that we’re never finished,” he laughs.
Never finishing the work doesn’t mean that the work was meaningless or altogether useless. To Nelson constant reworking, reinventing, and reshaping means an ever-evolving and ever-improving product, service, and ultimately personal character.
Wherever your business stands today, there are just as many lessons with which to grapple as successes to enjoy. Nelson and his team at Lovesac work toward creating a workplace and product each of which both encompasses their values and helps others. Of course, twenty-five years may not be enough time to gauge the company’s aim at centuries-long longevity. Nevertheless, the vast evolutions the company experiences through its lifetime only reflect the immeasurable metamorphosis of those who persevere through thick and thin.Lovesac’s Peachtree City location stands at 253 City Circle. You can visit the store Monday through Saturday from 10:00 A. M. to 7:00 P. M. and on Sundays from 12:00 P. M. to 6:00 P. M. You can browse their furniture and accessories on their website at www.lovesac.com, or visit their Facebook and Instagram pages.