“I believe entrepreneurship is a way of life, and an opportunity driven behavior, whose aim is to improve the lives of fellow human beings.”
Mirza Tihić has been the CEO (Chief Entrepreneuring Officer) of Bey Designs since September 2015. They produce innovative, sustainable gifts and novelties. Their first product, the New York Cube (NYCube), made it to Forbes’ “Top Ten Gifts for Travelers” list, 2015. This is just one in a series of Mirza’s successes.
He is a co-founder and member of DoB for North Side Learning Center, and a Consultant for Tihic Construction LLC. since 2002. He has been an Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship at Syracuse University since 2010, where he served for 2.5 years as Director of Program Support Services, with the Institute For Veterans and Military Families (IVMF). In that role, Mirza worked nationally and internationally to provide ongoing support to IVMF’s program graduates including veterans and military families. You can read more about that in a great piece that he wrote for SU.
You’ll notice in our interview that Mirza has risen from humble beginnings, and has overcome much adversity. He has great role models to look to and surrounds himself with great people! His is a story of strong values and an impeccable work ethic. He believes in going above and beyond to contribute to the betterment of society, and it’s truly evident in the many honors and awards that he has received over the years. Most recently, in 2015, the Whitman School of Business Management (SU) awarded him the 2015: Dedication to Entrepreneurship Award. Finally, it should be noted that Mirza earned his PhD. in Cultural Foundations of Education from Syracuse University. We are honored to share his success story with the world.
Company Name: Bey Designs
Title: Chief Entrepreneuring Officer
Hometown: Syracuse, NY
What early experiences in life, cultivated your entrepreneurial spirit?
I grew up in an entrepreneurial family in Bosnia & Herzegovina and as result of the war in 1992 I became a refugee. As refugees my family did numerous jobs and I learned that no matter what work you do, as long as you do it honestly there is honor in that and people value honest, hard work. I was fortunate to immigrate to USA end of 1999, the land of all opportunities, and have been inspired by my parents as the move to the USA was their third start from zero. Coming to the USA my parents made many sacrifices in order to enable me and my sister to have access to better opportunities. The journey from Bosnia to USA has been an amazing journey and has enabled me to be nimble, adaptable, and entrepreneurial.
Why did you start your business(es)?
I believe that entrepreneurship is way of life and it is an opportunity driven behavior who’s aim is to improve the lives of fellow human beings. The companies I have started and am involved with all create both social and economic value. For example, Bey Designs produces gifts that are made of recycled wood, hence it is a sustainable product that also creates economic value to everyone involved in the creation to the sales.
What entrepreneur has most inspired you?
My father. He has been the inspiration through practice as well as offering advice and guidance. He has been the greatest supporter of all my efforts and someone who believes in me. Further, he was well accomplished by the time he was 30 years old and lost everything over night to a war. He restarted the life in Germany and after being well established there as well – for the sake of providing better opportunities to his family – moved to the USA to restart the life and give his family access to the American Dream.
What is the biggest obstacle you have overcome thus far in business?
When raising funds for this venture, the biggest obstacle was the rejection and negativity of people (which can affect one’s attitude) and believing in my idea and/or effort. Surrounding yourself with a great team and listening to your customers has been a rewarding experience and is motivational in keeping things moving forward.
What have you learned from failure?
Failing is OK. Reflect on the failures and try to avoid repeating them.
How does your leadership style foster your company’s culture?
I believe everyone has value and everyone can bring something to the table. I encourage innovation, enabling my team to try things out and figure out what works and what doesn’t. It makes them better and it makes the company better. Investing in experiences is a long term investment that makes the company more innovative, nimble, and adaptable to current trends and market demands/gaps.
What are your top 3 responsibilities as a leader?
Making sure the team is doing well, staying motivated and equipped with the right tools to accomplish their goals. I raise funds and make sure we have a healthy cash flow. I include everyone in the strategy development and keep all on track as we move toward the strategic objectives and goals.
What internal process do you use to guide your decision-making?
Checks and balances that are used in line with the goals and objectives that were set on an annual basis. Sort of a dashboard with key milestones and metrics that are tracked on weekly basis.
How do you define success?
Success is non-linear. And the definition of success for me personally is maintaining good and healthy relationship with my team as well as the customers, considering that I believe everything we do is about people. It’s ALL about people. If I can help my team grow and add value to their lives, where they feel empowered and enabled to grow and achieve their goals, that is success. A happy team produces and/or offers great customer services, which in turns creates more value to the customers as they interact with our company and use our products.
Which book has inspired you?
What do you think is the coolest technology out there, and why?
3D printing, as it revolutionizes the way we produce…i.e. saves time, labor, and materials and increases efficiency.