Jon Bradford, CEO of Colab, specializes in sales and strategy and is very fortunate to lead a remarkably talented team. He likes to get involved with companies at the earliest of stages; take a problem, identify simple steps to solving it, and outline/design an application that will provide a solution. He’s co-founded several Internet companies and run a venture studio focused on revenue generating mobile and web applications. Follow him @jonnydreams.
What is the first thing you did to turn your current business from an idea into a reality?
Started it. I’m pretty proud to always be referred to as a “doer.” My partner Squid and I had sold our previous company two months before and found ourselves on vacation for longer than we had planned. I realized that we would inevitably succeed and/or fail again as long as we continued to be entrepreneurs. We decided to start a business that would hopefully solve that problem forever. We came up with Colab.
What is the scariest part of being a young entrepreneur and how can others overcome this fear?
Success. There are many milestones along the way that feel like great accomplishments: raising another round, hitting profitability, doubling the size of your team, etc. With the exception of an exit, all of these accomplishments bring on more stress and more responsibility. It can be especially hard to handle these new challenges with little to no previous experience.
Were you ever told not to pursue your entrepreneurial dreams? Who told you that, what did they say and why did you ignore them?
Actually, not really. Growing up my dad climbed the corporate ladder to eventually become an executive at his company. He told me as many times as he could, “Jon, If I had worked 10 percent as hard for myself as I do for my company, I would have made 10 times more money.” The argument was pretty convincing. All I ever told people when they asked what I wanted to be when I grew up was “an entrepreneur.”
What is the No. 1 thing you wish you’d known starting out and how did you learn it?
For a long time I was scared to hire too many people. Now that I’ve gotten over that, I’ve freed myself up considerably to do things that I do best.
What do you recommend all new founders do for their business — or their personal lives — that will help them the most?
Have a life. I used to think that if I ran out of things to do, then I wasn’t working hard enough. There is only so much to do. Overexerting yourself really only dilutes the good work that you put in. I now address whatever it is I need to do, make sure everyone else can too, and go home. I get the same amount of work done in a 40-hour week as I did in an 80-hour week but am making twice as much money per hour.
How do you end each day and why?
Inbox zero! Nothing is more satisfying to me to swiping through my inbox and deciding what’s not important, what can wait, and what I need to do before I leave.
What is your best PR/marketing tip for business just starting up?
Promote your product(s), not yourselves.
What is your ultimate goal? What will you do if/when you get there?
I think most people who know me would agree that I’m a real entrepreneur’s entrepreneur. I love enabling others to accomplish their dreams. When that can be my sole focus I will have accomplished my ultimate goal.
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.