Currently the co-founder and CFO of TheSquareFoot, Aron Susman began his career in the International Mergers & Acquisitions group at Deloitte in Houston. Most recently a Vice President with MDTech, a healthcare technology company, Aron oversaw the company’s financial, accounting and business development efforts. He graduated cum laude from the University of Texas at Austin, where he earned a masters degree in accounting and holds a CPA license. Follow him at @asusman103.
Who is your hero? (In business, life, or both.)
My father. He passed away when I was 25 of prostate cancer. He was the strongest man I have ever met. He taught me not only to be independent and self-sufficient, but also to be completely comfortable in my own skin.
What’s the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
Take the leap. Analysis paralysis is a real thing. If you think too much about it, you will never take that risk. Do not have any regrets. As long as you have no other financial commitments, lay your dreams on the line and have fun. You will be happy you did regardless of the outcome.
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 have definitely made mistakes, but we subscribe to the fail fast methodology. Our biggest mistake has been assuming third-party agencies (marketing and/or development) would give the same level of passion our founders give. We learned quickly that there is nothing like sweat equity.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
Every morning I look through my inbox and calendar to prioritize my day. This helps me figure out what the day will be like and what I need to accomplish (I make a to-do list in Evernote). I also say hello to all the employees and ask them how they are.
What’s your best financial/cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
You are always going to grow slower than you think and spend more than you budget for — adjust accordingly! Worst case scenario, these two assumptions are wrong and you’re in a good place. You do not want to overestimate growth and underestimate expenses; it will put you in a bad place.
Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
Find mentors! The good ones are all quite busy, so when reaching out, you must make it very clear how they can help. They are generally more than happy to assist, but just saying, “I am just looking for feedback” is not very helpful. If you think that there is specific access or information they can give based on the mentor’s background, make a connection, foster it and be direct. The extra sets of eyes, ears and hands are invaluable. However, one could literally spend the entire month meeting with advisors, ignoring the day-to-day responsibilities of the business in the process. This is where time management is key: you must learn which mentors make sense to develop relationships with. We had great success concentrating on spending time with just a handful instead of spreading ourselves too thin.
I would imagine that this likely holds true with anything in life that is designed to help you take something to the next level. There is no secret formula or silver bullet, but access to smart people who have been down the startup path before definitely helps shorten the learning curve. If a company is willing to tap into that knowledge and work hard to “un-level” the playing field, it can be an extremely valuable professional and personal experience. It sure has been for us.
What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?
Success to me is coming to work every day and loving it. I get excited on Sunday nights to come into work for the week, and that is pretty cool. In addition, we now employ 15 people. I love the feeling of providing jobs and helping everyone here grow professional and personally.
BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners.