Andrew Krebs-Smith founded Social Fulcrum, a digital marketing agency that helps high-growth companies scale their customer/user acquisition via “Agile Marketing.” He loves building valuable companies, both for himself and for our clients. Follow him at @andrewks.
Who is your hero? (In business, life, or both.)
Tim Ferriss. He helped me get into entrepreneurship with his book, “The 4-Hour Workweek,” and his iterative philosophy has influenced my agency’s principles (we call what we do “agile advertising”).
I also think Elon Musk is amazing. His story is harrowing and motivating and he builds businesses that are truly visionary.
What’s the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
If you work incredibly hard, you don’t need to be smart or lucky. Hustle trumps everything. Always be aware of your strengths and weaknesses and find people who complement them.
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 started with a broad offering. We tried to be experts in too many areas. We kept hearing from advisors that we should focus, but we didn’t listen. It took us about three years to fully understand the lesson. Once we focused in a very specific area, our business started doubling every six months, and that trend has continued for the last two years. We looked at our skill set, our experience, the market conditions (i.e. new platforms that presented large opportunities and areas of growth), and the customers we knew how to relate/sell to in order to decide where to put our efforts.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
I check emails, drink my coffee and plan ahead for the day. This helps to make sure that I prioritize my day correctly. I’m constantly watching out for the danger of the urgent task that I accidentally prioritize over a non-urgent but extremely important one.
What’s your best financial/cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
Start by building a services business. There is always someone who will pay you lots of money for your expertise, and you can use that to grow your company in a smart, non-dilutive way. More importantly, it allows you to quickly iterate on feedback loops as opposed to requiring product changes. Then you can build internal products, and if you wish, external products. At that stage you’ll have cash flow and can much more easily go down-market.
Try to get your customers to finance your business. I’ve simply asked large clients to pay us 30 days ahead of time on an ongoing basis in the past, and that eased our cash flow in huge ways.
Start working with a good bookkeeping company early on that can help you get the information you need in the format you need, when you need it. We use SmartBooks and absolutely love and recommend them.
Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
Read “Traction” and implement whatever systems you don’t have from that entrepreneurial operating system.
What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?
Success isn’t in the result; it’s in the journey. I love what I do every day, so I’ve already succeeded as far as I’m concerned. That said, one thing that’s important to me in terms of achieving success at Social Fulcrum is being able to remove myself from all operations and truly play the role of leader/visionary full time.
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