Lessons from My Years at the Helm of Bishop+Rook

Unique Perspectives Learned From The Inside

Lessons from My Years at the Helm of Bishop+Rook

Lessons from My Years at the Helm of Bishop+Rook

1024 683 Michael Kraabel

Eight years ago, I embarked on an entrepreneurial journey with Bishop+Rook, a company born from a vision to combine my love of travel, photography, and vintage vehicles. This journey has been an enlightening experience, teaching me invaluable lessons about business, branding, resilience, and the pursuit of a vision.  I didn’t know what to expect when I stepped away from the comforts of my salary and paying clients a couple of years into the journey. but five years on, I’ve learned a lot of valuable lessons.

Embracing Challenges as a Solo Entrepreneur

Running a business single-handedly is an odyssey filled with unique challenges. Without a large team, I had to wear multiple hats – from marketing and branding to strategic vision. This experience has taught me the essence of focusing on activities that yield short-term results and set the foundation for long-term value creation.  Trust those around you to do the things you can’t do so you can focus on the items that give value.  As the sole person responsible for a growing team around the world, I quickly discovered that running a company is no longer about the glory of ownership and independence of decision-making but rather a responsibility to care for those in your care.

The Crucial Role of Service and Transparency

One of my most critical lessons is the importance of service and transparency. In a world where businesses often chase perfection, acknowledging and learning from imperfections has been vital. It’s about being transparent with customers, addressing their concerns genuinely, and consistently striving to provide better service.  I’m still learning how to do this. I fail at this part the most.  Some clients will respect bad news, while others will make you feel like you have failed generations of their ancestors.  I’ve never fully managed to find the right balance in this area.

The Impact of Customers on Business Dynamics

The journey also highlighted the significance of good customer relationships. Positive customer interactions can be incredibly uplifting while dealing with difficult customers can be both physically and emotionally draining. Understanding this dynamic has been crucial in navigating the complex landscape of customer relations. Unfortunately, one bad customer will outweigh anything you have planned for your day or week – including sitting in the back of your head during personal time.

Pricing Strategies and Market Adaptability

Another vital aspect has been learning to price our offerings correctly and hedge against market trends and fluctuations. This skill is crucial in maintaining a balance between profitability and competitiveness, especially in a rapidly changing market environment. With the global pandemic and runaway inflation, we’ve made some good bets, but also missed out on a few opportunities.  Our cost of operations went up nearly 40% over the past two years, largely out of our control.  Staying on top of these trends and forecasting with less optimistic points of view is the best approach.

Staying True to Your Vision

Throughout this journey, staying focused and guided by the initial vision of Bishop+Rook has been pivotal. Amidst daily operational challenges, keeping an eye on the long-term goals ensures that the business remains on the right track. When I started the company, I had several ideas in mind: I wanted to build something that would last, offer a good product at a fair price, and have a workplace where people came to work for life.

Leveraging Technology for Efficiency

Finally, technology has played a transformative role in managing Bishop+Rook. Tools for managing inbound sales leads, coordinating communications, and streamlining project workflows have been indispensable. They have increased efficiency and allowed me to focus on areas where human touch and creativity are irreplaceable.

The past five years at Bishop+Rook have been a blend of challenges and triumphs. The journey of entrepreneurship is demanding but equally rewarding. It’s a constant learning process where every setback is a lesson, and every success a milestone. As I continue this journey, I look forward to embracing new challenges and scaling new heights, always driven by the mission to create value and make a difference.

On a personal level, the support of my inner circle has been immeasurable. Friends, family, and mentors have been there through every high and low. They’ve offered advice, a listening ear, and sometimes, just the right words of encouragement to push through challenging times. Celebrating successes with them has made victories even more meaningful.



All stories by: kraabel