Who is your hero?
That’s easy: My mom is my hero. My father passed away when I was young. She raised three kids and did an excellent job doing so. I wasn’t easy to take care of; I was a bit of a hell-raiser is the best way to describe it. But she stood by me through the good and the bad. There isn’t one incident that I can recall when I didn’t think to just “call my mom.” That, to me, is a hero.
What’s the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
Be fearless. It may sound easier said than done, but that stands at the heart of being an entrepreneur. If you have an idea or you see a void in the market, take a chance. Create a business plan and go for it! I’m not the first to say this and I won’t be the last, as it really is the best advice one can get. It’s also the most important advice as everything else falls behind that. Remember, being fearless will need to happen more than once. In fact, it occurs most days post starting up as you encounter things both good and bad (though often more bad than good) that will require you to be fearless yet again. Never lose sight of why you started. Never lose sight of that rush you got knowing you were going to create your own destiny.
What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?
A business needs a plan. Not just an initial business plan, but one that maps out the years ahead. I’m used to the renegade model of just starting up and grinding each day as if it’s the last. Always looking for new opportunities, always looking to close deals; although this method may work for a while, it isn’t a recipe for long-term success. Everyone, including those working with you, needs to understand what the future holds with regards to goals and commitments. Map it out, use dates and calendars and assess if you’re hitting those goals month over month. It may sound like this is a “given” when starting a business; however, you would be amazed to see how many startups don’t actually have a plan in place.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
I check emails. My day starts the minute I wake up (which is early). I immediately take 15 to 20 minutes to check email that came in overnight and respond accordingly. I then prepare for the gym, help get my 1-year-old son ready, head to the gym, and then go to the office. My workout is part of my work day. It’s as important as anything else I do that day. Good health is part of the recipe for success.
What’s your best financial/cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
Raise more money than you anticipate needing. It’s that simple. Then, go close some deals. Put as many irons in the fire each week as you can and make sure you’re always following up and closing. And then, of course, watch your spending religiously.
What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
I’m a big believer in the never-ending process of learning. Learn anything and everything that revolves around your business, or your life for that matter. Learn how to manage cash, how to improve your social media engagement, how to find good hires. With that said, read. Read a lot online, stay active and follow great business minds in each category. Taking 30 minute out of your day to read a blog about a specific topic in your category may just provide valuable insight on taking your business to the next level.
What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?
The definition of success for me is a feeling. I don’t believe there ever is a “finally succeeded” state, whether personal or in business. I have always said that you can be successful daily, and you should strive to do that. My level of success is gauged daily by equating how productive and meaningful the day was. I ask myself simple questions such as, how happy are my wife and son? How many deals were closed at the office? Are my employees enjoying work? How many new customers did we wow? If those things are happening with positive results, then my day is a success and I feel it personally. As for the business and whether we’ve “finally succeeded” — to me, it’s the same. A sale of the company at some stage will be a great success, but not the final one. Success should be never-ending.
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.