Rob Biederman is the co-founder and CEO of HourlyNerd, the leading technology platform delivering elite business talent. Prior to founding HourlyNerd, Rob was a private equity investor at Goldman Sachs and Bain Capital, where he focused on the health care and high technology industries. Originally from New York, Rob attended Princeton University and graduated from Harvard Business School. Follow him @BiedermanRob.
Who’s your hero? (In business, life, or both.)
In business, Bill Belichick. In life, my sister.
What’s the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
Mark Cuban told my co-founder and me, “Get out of the office and go sell stuff.”
Early-stage founders (particularly graduates of Harvard Business School) can have a real tendency to focus on higher-level questions (strategy, etc.) too early. It can be easy to fall into the trap of feeling like you need to architect the perfect business on day one. But what matters most for raising early money is establishing traction — getting actual dogs eating the dog food. We hit the streets and just started talking to any customers who would give us the time of day. At first, that was small businesses, but over time, we were able to prove incredible success for them and move up the chain.
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 didn’t invest in graphic design early enough. No matter how great your product or service is, folks won’t take it seriously (especially in 2015) unless the visual experience is clean, beautiful and elegant. We (and we bet other founders too) under-invest in visual aesthetics early on, because it feels like a “nice-to-have” rather than a “must-have.” And it’s impossible to benchmark the revenue or engagement you’ve lost, because your site doesn’t look good. But in truth, there’s no area where a new hire can have a greater impact.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
I reserve the first hour of the day for the single most important thing I need to handle that day. I’m working on the most important topics when I’m freshest, and if there are surprise fire drills later in the day, at least I’ll have taken care of the biggest items. Plus, the rest of the day is a cakewalk at that point!
What’s your best financial/cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
Focus intensely on budgeting for one or two quarters ahead, and completely ignore the period thereafter. You have no idea what your business will look like, so it’s just a waste of time.
Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
Focus all of your effort, cash and hiring on the limiting factor in your growth — the bottleneck, the limiting reactant. Once you’ve solved it, move on to the next. Keep pouring on more of the missing ingredient.
What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?
Fundamentally, we are changing the lives of the Nerds on our site. I define success for our company by the amount of economic opportunity we’ve created for them to work for great companies in whatever manner they think is most attractive. We love giving them the flexibility to live the lives they’ve imagined.
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.