1. Who is your hero?
I am a combination of my parents and I would be remiss without labeling them, as a team, my hero. I have learned that a balanced partnership like theirs makes any team far more powerful. With some exceptions, I have learned how I deal with others (team building, humor, people skills) from my father. I have learned how I deal with myself (principles, discipline, hard work) from my mother.
2. What’s the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
“Make a decision.” A professor in college told us that most people are afraid to make decisions. If you use your sense, skills, background, and courage to make a decision, you will be ahead of the game. I think this advice has helped me move more quickly than our competitors. It has let me focus my time on actual work rather than dwelling on data or bantering back and forth about options. I tend to think that there usually isn’t just one right decision. Rather there are many from which to draw. If we wait for perfection, we are probably going to miss it altogether.
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?
We let one client cover up a lot of imperfections in our business. Those imperfections were then exposed when that client went away. When you have one big client or customer, it is easy to myopically focus on their needs and extrapolate their needs to other, smaller clients. We knew it was an issue and worked to address it, but we didn’t work on the issue as aggressively as we should have. When the client was acquired by another company many years later, we had to react quickly. And we did a great job. It would have saved us a lot of money, mindshare and heartache if we had been proactive.
4. What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
I first narrow my email down to the items I need to address. I then work out my priorities for the day. Once I am in the office, I make it a point to say hello (often quickly) to team members. I get my computer fired up, drink some coffee and head to my first meeting… and away I go!
5. What’s your best financial or cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
Know how you actually make money. It sounds simple, but I found that after a couple of years in the business I had no idea how we actually made money. I knew conceptually what we “sold,” but I didn’t understand what our customers “bought.” Once my eyes were open to those details, we identified a lot of areas that could be improved.
6. Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
Fill out a job description and scorecard for the role of CEO (assuming that is your job) as if you are going to hire someone else for the position. Then, take a good look at what skills and experience you’d expect from someone in that position. Figure out how you’re going to fill that role. Can you ask for help? Find mentors? Read books? Work to become the leader you would hire for your company.
7. What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?
I will have achieved success when I’m able to seamlessly transition a next-generation, homegrown leader into my position and the company continues to perform well. I expect that Red Door Interactive will thrive well past my lifetime. I want to know that we’ve laid a foundation for the next generation of adaptable leaders who can preserve the culture and take it in the necessary direction for our future.