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Lucas Seyhun Of The Farm SoHo On 5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Scale Your Business

An Interview With Ken Babcock

Budget your time. If you’re in the early stages of your business and have limited financial resources, know that you’ll be handling a lot of different tasks all at once. You’re gonna be the salesperson, HR, cashier, and social media manager all at once.

Startups usually start with a small cohort of close colleagues. But what happens when you add a bunch of new people into this close cohort? How do you maintain the company culture? In addition, what is needed to successfully scale a business to increase market share or to increase offerings? How can a small startup grow successfully to a midsize and then large company? To address these questions, we are talking to successful business leaders who can share stories and insights from their experiences about the “5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Scale Your Business”. As a part of this series, we had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Lucas Seyhun.

Lucas Seyhun created TheFarmSoHo, the first coworking space in NYC, back in 2014. Since then, he’s helped countless startup businesses and entrepreneurs, freelancers, tech innovators, and thought leaders to easily scale their businesses. Today, the company has evolved to offer more than just 24/7 coworking facilities, also providing private office spaces and a range of popular event venues.

Thank you for joining us in this interview series. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?

I was born in Istanbul. I spent most of my childhood living in a city similar to New York. One area of my life that helped me mature was the way I was brought up by my parents. They gave me the freedom to solve different problems on my own, which helped me become the mechanic and troubleshooter of my businesses, especially in the early days.

At this point, every ‘problem’ that I face no longer feels like a problem; I see it as a way for me to grow and learn more by gathering knowledge and information, and using challenges as building blocks to be a successful entrepreneur.

You’ve had a remarkable career journey. Can you highlight a key decision in your career that helped you get to where you are today?

Self-awareness is key. When I became more self-aware, I could better understand the difference between working and building a business for the sake of money or doing it because I enjoy helping others.

Every time I wake up and go to work, I know I’ve made the right decision even if this journey of helping others was never easy. My business started slowly. But eventually, everything works out if it comes from a passion. When you do that you’re not driven by all the different forms of fear — fear of failure, fear of not fitting in, fear of making the wrong decisions. Those are some of the decisions that can reflect badly on you as a leader. To be a leader that everyone respects and appreciates, you really need to lead from your heart and mind with the courage to do so sometimes through trial and error.

What’s the most impactful initiative you’ve led that you’re particularly proud of?

It’s hard to pinpoint one particular initiative because I’ve always been proud of everything that I’ve been able to accomplish. But if I had to really choose, it would be TheFarmSoHo. In fact, I’m so proud of it that I’ve even had the logo tattooed on my arm. Now, how many entrepreneurs and CEOs do you see out there putting a company logo on their arm and saying that it doesn’t have a special place in their hearts?

Sometimes our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a mistake you’ve made and the lesson you took away from it?

This one can also be hard to pinpoint because even to this day, I’ll be the first to admit that I still make mistakes. Just a recent example was when I interviewed someone who I already knew was a bit nervous and probably not the right fit for the position they applied for. Instead of showing empathy, I made this candidate more nervous by asking technical questions that only a few people could even answer, when I should’ve looked for ways to find his/her true value and add him/her to the team.

One of my business partners that recommended that person actually gave me feedback based on the applicant’s perspective. I took it to heart and vowed never to make that same mistake again.

How has mentorship played a role in your career, whether receiving mentorship or offering it to others?

I’ve had a lot of people mentor me over the years, but it wasn’t one of those traditional mentor-mentee relationships. Some of my mentors were people from my family, a business partner, or a yelling customer. I wish I could’ve had one of those structured relationships, especially when I was younger. But from the culture where I was raised, there wasn’t much of a platform where you can pick and choose a particular mentor. It was more of a “Good to see you again! Can you tell me who you are and what it is you do again?” type of relationship.

Developing your leadership style takes time and practice. Who do you model your leadership style after? What are some key character traits you try to emulate?

You’re right. Developing into a great leader can’t happen overnight and I’m still learning. I’ve only provided mentorship to people I meet every day by leading by example and training them to be a better version of themselves… Show them better ways of communicating, or a better way of thinking through teaching principles like mind over matter, always following your dreams, and using every challenge as a learning opportunity.

I would remember when the COVID pandemic started that we had so much downtime. I told my employees that this is the time when they should focus on cultivating their dreams instead of worrying about what the next day will bring.

Thank you for sharing that with us. Let’s talk about scaling a business from a small startup to a midsize and then large company. Based on your experience, can you share with our readers the “5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Scale Your Business”? Please give a story or example for each.

The first and most important thing to remember when scaling your business is to really understand who your customers are. If you have products or services and have no idea who they’re intended for, you can’t market your product right.

Number 2 is, solve customers’ needs better than anyone else can. With so many alternatives to every business, standing out from the crowd can be a challenge — even more so if you’re just starting out.

Number 3, be an expert in marketing. Even if you have the best product in the world, if nobody hears about it, your business will go nowhere.

Number 4, budget your time. If you’re in the early stages of your business and have limited financial resources, know that you’ll be handling a lot of different tasks all at once. You’re gonna be the salesperson, HR, cashier, and social media manager all at once.

Finally, number 5, be truthful to yourself and others because the truth always prevails.

Can you share a few of the mistakes that companies make when they try to scale a business? What would you suggest to address those errors?

Timing is very important when scaling your business. All your departments have to be fully optimized and have great leaders. We can take building a skyscraper for example. The foundation at the bottom needs to be so well laid out that you can support the entire skyscraper. If you fail to exert time in building the foundation, your business, or in this example, the skyscraper, won’t be sustainable.

Scaling includes bringing new people into the organization. How can a company preserve its company culture and ethos when new people are brought in?

Each department has its leaders and believes in his/her principles. The biggest thing to remember is that we encourage our employees to do what they love only. You can put it this way; if you take a writer and put him/her in a sales position or vice-versa, neither one is going to be very happy in their role.

In my work, I focus on helping companies to simplify the process of creating documentation of their workflow, so I am particularly passionate about this question. Many times, a key aspect of scaling your business is scaling your team’s knowledge and internal procedures. What tools or techniques have helped your teams be successful at scaling internally?

Documentation and manuals are important, but what I’ve come to realize is that no manual is a better teacher than human interaction.

For the tools, I’ve personally used Basecamp. This has been very useful, especially when it comes to human-to-human interface training. Basecamp helped our new staff get a clearer picture of what we’re trying to achieve because as we already know, people learn in different ways. Some like to learn through visuals, some learn better through texts, while others learn better when someone is speaking in front of them.

What software or tools do you recommend to help onboard new hires?

I would personally recommend using Monday and Airtable. But thetool I most highly recommend is that you hire as many tech-savvy project managers as possible. With everything digitized, having people who know how to work their way through the latest technology will help improve your company’s overall efficiency. If they want to use a certain tool, then so be it. Everyone uses multiple tools anyway.

What I would like to do in the future is to get into Clickup. But that’s a different story, probably for one of your future interview series.

Because of your role, you are a person of significant influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most people, what would that be? You never know what your ideas can trigger.

The lifestyle I’m a big supporter of is the rise of digital nomads. It’s people working in a borderless world and not feeling trapped by being stuck in an office. People can make revenue or cover their cost of living by doing what they love most, using a digital device they’re more connected with.

We’re even flirting with a new concept, especially for older digital nomads. We understand this lifestyle is relatively new to them. I want to bridge the gap and help them feel accepted in this type of work set up to really help them find their true passion.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

You can check out The Farm SoHo on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and our official website.

This was truly meaningful! Thank you so much for your time and for sharing your expertise!

About the interviewer. Ken Babcock is the CEO and Co-Founder of Tango. Prior to his mission of celebrating how work is executed, Ken spent over 4 years at Uber riding the rollercoaster of a generational company. After gaining hands-on experience with entrepreneurship at Atomic VC, Ken went on to HBS. It was at HBS that Ken met his Co-Founders, Dan Giovacchini and Brian Shultz and they founded Tango.

Lucas Seyhun Of The Farm SoHo On 5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Scale Your Business was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.