Blog: Karim Motawi

Co-founder and vice president of Motawi Tileworks, Karim Motawi is half of a brother-sister team that turned their custom tile garage startup into a $2 million business.   An entrepeneur and innovator, Karim explains how new ideas can bring small start ups big help.

Post No. 1

It's ok to ask for help. As a group we small business owners can be an independent  lot, sometimes too independent.  We like to do our own thing and think we know best, which is half the reason we are small business owners in the first place.  Within our companies we are often seen as the guy with all the answers, the buck does stop here after all.  Well, I have found that folks like us sometimes have a hard time admitting we are in over our head.  We can't be the guy with all the answers all the time, even if we want to be.   So being able to ask for help is an important skill.

I have found that asking for help has helped our company greatly. The time was July 2001, just before 9/11.  We had just moved into a new building and were a little house poor and the economy was slumping .  Then 9/11 happened.  We were in trouble. We had no formal training in how to organize a manufacturing system and we were on the ropes. I went looking for a solution to our woes and while reading a book on lean manufacturing came across Jeffrey Liker, a U of M professor and an expert in the field. I asked for help.

What I ended up getting was a Ph.D candidate who was looking for a case study on how to apply lean manufacturing systems to small companies.  Bingo! We ended up spending 3 hours a week for the next three years with our new friend implementing a Toyota style system in our studio. We got in over our heads, we swallowed our pride, and asked for help.  I highly recommend it.