Luke M. Shueler is a serial entrepreneur with experience in all aspects of business management, marketing and advertising, operations management, strategic planning and startups. He is interested in new business ventures and investment opportunities. He is the owner of Sky High Sports and High Rev Applications.
Who is your hero? (In business, life, or both.)
My hero is Ryan Blair. His story was meant for a tragic end but he transformed from a kid with a criminal record to a serial entrepreneur. At age 21, Blair started his first company. Today he is a multimillionaire. He’s the CEO of ViSalus. He won the DSN Global Turn Around Award in 2010 for actually turning the company around from a $6 million debt in early 2008 to $150 million in revenue 16 months later. Blair proves that dedication, motivation and the right mindset will bring success; it all depends on how badly you want it.
What’s the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
I have learned many lessons as an owner of multiple recreational trampoline parks and business mobile applications/management companies. The thrill of being your own boss is exhilarating and the positive entrepreneurial elements can be exciting at times, but it isn’t always fun and games. Being an entrepreneur is exhausting and takes years of practice and failures. You must remember you have two ears and one mouth for a reason: listen twice as much as you speak. Find a mentor who will help guide the way to success by learning and listening to his or her failures in business. Your personal life may suffer at times: you’ll be working long hours and you’ll be on call for resolving business problems on nights, weekends and holidays. You’ll be distracted almost constantly, thinking about the problems your business is facing, and the financial stress you’ll bear will take its toll on your personal life. Find someone with the business know-how, ask for advice and most importantly, listen and absorb their knowledge. Doing this will save you time and help shape you as an entrepreneur.
What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?
Listen to your gut, trust your intuition and pay attention to that little voice of yours. Whenever I regret a decision I’ve made about my business, I can almost always look back and pinpoint a time when my gut told me differently. I have had several business deals go bad because I did not make the right decision based on my gut feelings. I learned an extremely valuable lesson: ask questions and listen to your gut before you make decisions.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
First, I go through my entire email inbox and prioritize the most important to the least important emails. The most important emails are my top priority to complete. After that, I begin to tackle the most challenging topic on my to do-list and prioritize new things in order to help me stay focused on a day-to-day basis. The simple biggest mistake to make as an entrepreneur is not making and prioritizing to-do lists.
What’s your best financial/cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
First, factor in your first initial startup costs and watch over your inventory and receivables. Once your business starts to grow, so will your need for inventory and receivables. If your business grows rapidly, you should consider setting aside more cash on hand for receivables, inventory and other large expenses such as payroll. Remember that “cash is king.” Occasionally, you may not be able to make payments due to negative cash flow, so it is very important to budget your startup costs with enough secondary cash to cover payroll, preempt outstanding department payments and cover growth. You should allocate an amount of cash to cover these early expenses for three months in case the business is not cash-flow positive. This will leave you with some wiggle room for unexpected emergencies or lack of business.
Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
As an entrepreneur, I have found success comes when you stop playing games; sometimes you will have to sacrifice your social life to focus on your goals. You’ll do some of the work you love to do, but you’ll also you take over every role as an accountant, administrator, supervisor, HR manager and marketer all at the same time. You will become overwhelmed, irritable and angry at times. Remember that your emotions can get the best of you. Nothing ever happens the way you think it will. While your friends are out socializing, you might be stuck in the office working on a project launch that may or may not be successful. But you learn to adapt and prepare for the outcome.
Becoming an entrepreneur does not mean you will be successful but instead refers to the steps you take to reach your goals and sacrifices you make to get there. You need to prepare yourself for the harsh realities in order to realistically plan for the adventure. You will fail at some point. You need to stay positive and get back on that horse.
What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?
I know I will have succeeded on the day I accomplish all of my personal goals and acquire the characteristics to demolish the inevitable business challenges that I will face in the future.
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.