Blakely Graham is the Co-Founder and CEO of the top-rated enterprise customer onboarding solution on the SalesforceAppExchange: Task Ray.

She’s also a mother and wife who has spent her career building companies and creating products that provide employment for her team and serve the customers who employ her company.

So, what’s her secret to accomplishing all of this?

Simple, serve yourself first.

Blakely recently came on the Chasing Velocity Podcast and shared her 4 keys to success; 3 of which involve taking a long hard look internally and organizing your life in such a way that ensures sustainability for a long haul.

Here are the 4 keys Blakely mentioned:

  1. Create a Supportive System:

    For Blakely, this starts with her husband and family. She shares her vision for their future together and the future of her company and is willing to work hard knowing she carries their support and love with her.

    Secondly, she has a strong business partner. Having a business partner and leadership team who are both trustworthy and transparent in mutual vision and goals for the company. This ensures that the team is pulling in the same direction, and the best possible outcomes are achieved

  2. Build a Business That Works For You; Not Vice Versa

    Even from the earliest days of your company, ensure you’re building systems that will allow you to scale and can alleviate pressure from you directly.

    Having your own business is great, however, it can be a stressful and enslaving occupation if you’re not careful. Rather than having a business that you love and that fulfills your vision for life; you could find yourself employed by the most critical boss (you) who is never satiated.

    Ensure you’re thinking through and creating models that can leverage your time to the highest efficiency, and build in time to pursue the reasons you started the business in the first place.

  3. Strategic Hiring: Values Are The Priority

    In addition to building systems, you have to hire the right people to run the business and collaborate on or execute the vision.

    Hiring is often a difficult step for entrepreneurs, and it can be a business-changing exercise for better or worse.

    Blakely advises hiring first for shared values rather than hiring only on skill set. Her argument is that many skills can be taught if you bring in the right person who has a shared set of values and is willing to bring their energy and enthusiasm in support of the business.

  4. Talk To Your Customer

    Finally, after you’ve spent all of that time building a foundation, creating a model, and hiring the right team; one of the most important things is to talk to your customer.

    Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of creating a product that they want to build or are personally interested in. While this is a fine starting place, it’s imperative you circulate your idea with as many (real) potential customers as possible to find product/market fit.

    This step can be painstaking and frustrating yet rewarding. Often times entrepreneurs will end up pivoting or changing their business entirely as a result of this step. Getting direct feedback is the best possible way to ensure your company is serving the needs of the customers you exist to help and will support the growth of your business.

Blakely is an incredible example of a woman-entrepreneur-CEO who is breaking through a difficult industry and creating products that attract raving fans. It’s clear to see how she’s succeeded with a massive amount of work utilizing these 4 steps to build Task Ray.