1. Who is your hero?
A hero and long-time mentor of mine is Bernhard Schroeder. He is a former Executive Partner at CKS Partners a large national branding company in the 90’s and early 2000’s.
2. What’s the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
Bernhard Schroeder once told me it is important to “fail fast in order to win big.” Our success is an accumulation of learning from our failures and making strategic pivots in order to not make the same mistake twice. The faster you fail and realize it, the more successful you become through personal growth.
3. What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?
The biggest mistake I made as a young entrepreneur was thinking I could start a business right out of college without working in the business world first. Fresh out of college, I started a software company called PageWorks. With little knowledge of software development and a very blurry vision at best, my two partners and I completed our product, which fell flat as there was not a strategic need for the platform at the time. Defeated, I learned that understanding the actual need of your product or service in the market is paramount before attempting any kind of business.
4. What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
Planning and strategizing always come first each work day. I try to always come into the office with a game plan of at least three things I want to accomplish for each day of the week. Those three objectives become my primary objectives and goals and I spend the first hour prioritizing them. I keep an eye and great focus on those throughout the day as the rest of my business comes flooding in and I have to manage the small ad hoc tasks.
5. What’s your best financial or cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
If possible, don’t borrow money from anyone, especially when you are starting your first business. It is great to find what I call an “ATM business model,” which is a business that you can invest in with minimum capital and typically pays itself off in less than a year. As a result, you become cash flow positive quickly, don’t have to dig yourself out of a financial pit, and maintain your equity within the company.
6. Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their business to the next level?
I challenge entrepreneurs to resist temptation to fight the current up-stream by reinventing the wheel, but instead make improvements. Finding inefficiencies and designing time-saving or cost-saving improvements is a strong foundation for any business idea.
7. What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?
As you begin to become a successful entrepreneur something strange happens… “success” begins to become more and more ambiguous and harder to define. Hitting your revenue and growth goals is an obvious success, and it is important to stop and celebrate those victories, but often times those goals get overlooked with the need to continue growing and fulfilling the vision. Now I feel as my success comes from the company culture and having a happy and healthy company ecosystem. When I truly feel successful is when my employees let me know they are doing well and enjoy coming to work!
8. What is your favourite quote?
“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”