W. Michael Hsu is the founder and CEO of DeepSky, a company that acts as the in-house accounting department for one to ten million-dollar service companies. With knowledgeable accountants, best practice processes, and carefully selected technology, DeepSky helps entrepreneurs obtain, understand, and then internalize critical business numbers to help move the needle. Follow him @wmichaelhsu.
Who is your hero?
What’s the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
Client target practice! No, not shooting them with the dart, but learning about their goals so that you can help them attain them. Listen to what your clients are trying to achieve and to their target goals, not just what they are purchasing from you. That will keep them coming back for more and get you referrals.
What's the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?
I didn't set clear boundaries. It was about 10 p.m. one night and I picked up my phone. A client was on the other line with a series of questions. As I answered them, I realized I wasn’t doing myself or my clients any favors by being available to them at all times. Am I responsive to clients? Yes, of course. That is a priority.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
I’m a big proponent of dashboards — at-a-glance graphics that quickly give business owners a clear picture of where they stand. So, during the first hour of each day, I look at my clients and the DeepSky dashboards to see where we are. That way, I’m more prepared to answer emails and questions from clients and to know where I need to focus my time.
What’s your best financial or cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
Sometimes that is easier said than done. To ensure you get paid, define your terms and make clients aware of them from day one. Your clients need to be aware of how frequently you’ll bill them, your payment terms, and any other related details. Put a system in place to make it happen, and if you have trouble with creating a system, outsource it! Getting paid is too important to risk.
Perhaps this is not the sexiest piece of advice an entrepreneur will ever hear, but it will keep you from being in the poorhouse.
Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
Get advice from someone smarter than you and execute, execute, execute!
What's your definition of success? How will you know when you've finally "succeeded" in your business?
My father retired at age 46. I’d love to BE ABLE to retire young ... whether I choose to is another story.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.