Taking “Tickle Water” to the Market
A lifelong love of sports has trickled into every aspect of my life. When I decided to take the entrepreneurial leap with my first company, Tickle Water, I applied everything I’d learned from competitive athletics to my business venture. I’m still learning as I go along, but the nuts and bolts of good sportsmanship have enhanced the way I approach my business.
It all began with a simple request from my son, however, the path to creating Tickle Water has been anything but simple. The concept was born just two short years ago at a holiday dinner with family and has since flourished into a small but rapidly growing business.
In that short time, Tickle Water has become one of the most exciting, rewarding, yet most challenging things I have ever done (second only to motherhood). What started with a “cool name and a good idea” is now my passion, my obsession, and my crusade – all of which I believe are critical motivations if you are to become a successful entrepreneur.
When my son Jayger – my co-founder and muse – was two-years-old, he often saw me drinking sparkling water and always reached out for the bottle with his little hands. One day I gave him a taste and told him it would tickle his tongue because of the bubbles. Well, he took his first sip of carbonation, giggled and said, “tickle water!”
A few months later we were enjoying our family Thanksgiving dinner when Jayger asked me for some “Tickle Water.” In passing, my sister-in-law said, “What a great name for a kid’s drink.” Suddenly, it hit me!
And so the process began. In just 2 years we went from that concept to being in over 250 stores, sold online through Amazon and TalDepot.com, featured on ABC’s The View, sold in over 400 Homegoods stores and expanding rapidly in the Northeast. So how did I (we) get there so quickly, you ask?
Well, I relate a lot of my entrepreneurial success to sports. I grew up in a family where sports were encouraged.
Now, I’m grateful for learning to apply these tools with Tickle Water and to have the chance to share these basic tips to build a strong company with other entrepreneurs:
1. Exhibit teamwork and be a Team player. Competing in any sport, even individual sports, requires learning to play well with others. In business, you are not going to like everyone you work with. However, learning how to work together will allow you to achieve the best results.
2. Discipline yourself. Sports really taught me how to become a self-disciplined (and responsible) individual. No one else is gonna do the hard work for you. And if you don’t put in the practice or the effort for yourself, you will never see results nor will you make improvements.
Discipline is essential for even the most basic concepts in sports, and that rule of thumb translates to everything in life. It comes down to preparation – showing up to practice or a game on time and remembering all of your game gear, shoes, practice clothes, etc.
Running a company, one must show up prepared. There are so many unexpected events thrown at you every day. If your head isnt in the game, you will lose the match.
3. Learn how to handle pain. Sports and athletics are challenging. Hard practice, sweat, tears, pushing yourself can really hurt – until it’s over. When the final score is tallied, you reap the rewards of the pain. And that is how you improve.
It’s the same in business. There will be painful challenges, hurdles and setbacks. You must learn how to move through the negatives and learn from these mistakes.
It’s also important to remember that the pain doesn’t last forever. It’s three minutes of pain in a half-mile sprint. Or 30 minutes of pain in a boxing match. But then it’s over! Nothing lasts forever, and if you push though the pain to the other side, you will be far greater for it.
4. Remember that athletics and sports are 90% mental and 10% physical. That may be an exaggeration, but your mind has the power to push your body further than you may have thought you could have gone. If you tell yourself you can do something and you believe it, you probably can.
Again, I see this in my entrepreneurial life. Some days seem simply overwhelming. But if I can take a step back and collect my thought or ask for help, I can often push past the nearly impossible moment.
5. Learn how to win – and learn how to lose. You aren’t going to win every time. And if you don’t win, don’t be a sore loser. Hold your head up high and learn from your mistakes. Figure out why you lost and how you can do better next time. Getting upset and angry with the other opponents solves nothing. And getting so disappointed in yourself that you don’t want to even try again gets you nowhere. So the important thing is trying again.
And if you win, don’t be arrogant. It’s ok to be excited and proud. But there is a difference between that and letting winning go to your head.
6. As clichéd as it sounds, do your best and be happy with your best. There will always be someone faster, smarter, leaner, stronger, prettier, etc. Work on being the best you, rather than focusing on being better than everyone else.
There will always be a company that had better margins or sold for a higher multiple of valuation. My goal is to build the best Tickle Water product, brand and organization that I can.
7. Practice makes better. Not perfect. No one is perfect. But Practice will make you better. Keep working at it, whatever that it is. The very best athletes or CEOs didn’t get there overnight. They worked at it.
8. At the beginning, don’t be afraid to try different things. It is rare that the first thing you try is a perfect fit. You have to try different skills and different sports to find out what you like and what your gifts are.
For example, I tried Track and Field in HS, but I didn’t have the speed or power for long jump. Instead, the coach put me in long distance, and I did well in the slower long distance races. After five years of practice I won a running scholarship to college and became an All-American runner in cross-country.
Exhibiting the bravery to try something new made me recognize what my talent truly was.
As a business woman, I thought I’d start my career in art or fashion or hospitality. But in my 20 years in the workforce, I discovered my greatest passion – and my talent – are rooted in my very own entrepreneurial journey.