Matt McCoy is the Co-founder and COO of Scanalytics, a software company focused on presence detection, with a background in storytelling through consumer insights and big data. Scanalytics’ proprietary offering is the SoleSensor, an intelligent floor sensor, which anonymously measures real world foot traffic. The SoleSensor has been deployed around the world in industries like retail, events, trade shows and the medical space. With a simple plug-and-play installation, Scanalytics has aggregated over 15 million impressions and has been voted a top IoT company for 2015. Follow him at @ScanalyticsInc.
Who is your hero? (In business, life, or both.)
William Morris: the entrepreneur who is noted as the creator of show business, Hollywood and the founder of the most successful agency of all time. A company that would go on to weather two world wars, the Prohibition Era, the Great Depression, blacklists and Vietnam with the focus of giving power to their clients before themselves. Some people may roll their eyes at what Hollywood has become, but the story of creating a brand around talented individuals and their product (being art) I find to be inspiring.
And Batman…people who know me would be upset if I didn’t say Batman.
What’s the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
Business and life advice all at once, from my father: Don’t worry about the things you can’t change. Entrepreneurs have carved a path for themselves and their team, leaving many unknowns in their wake. Some of these things are in your power to control, and others simply are not. It’s vital for a successful entrepreneur to understand the difference. There are many decisions and elements that will contribute to stress for a business leader, but the presence of that stress is indicative that you care. Worrying about factors outside your control will simply bring you down, and you don’t have time for that, in life or in business.
What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?
Encourage criticism and differing opinions. In the early stages it was easier to address naysayers with the mentality that “they don’t know what they’re talking about” or even more perverse, “they’re wrong.” Not everyone is going to agree with you, your strategy or business in general. The “haters” are everywhere, and they could be competitors, clients, teammates or even your co-founder. While it’s important to be confident, it’s also crucial to understand and acknowledge any gaps in your thinking. A good devil’s advocate will help you step away from your tunnel vision, make better decisions and ultimately strengthen your will to persevere.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
I take time to calibrate myself with my schedule and my clients. Every day will bring something new or unexpected, so it’s important for me to prioritize what I need to get done and focus on our customers. Currently, 96 percent of our customers renew or expand their services with us. I think the catalyst to this is our efforts in putting them first, and that needs to happen right out of the gate.
What’s your best financial/cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
Put your team and clients first. That means you, as a founder, may need to “bootstrap” to the point that you need to move to mom’s basement, sleep on a friend’s couch or pay yourself last (or not at all), all of which I have done (thanks, Mom!). If you really believe in your vision and product, then your expenses should revolve around providing for your team and making sure your customers are satisfied.
Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
Get a mentor. Find someone who has experienced a similar roller coaster and has nothing to benefit from your success other than the joy of helping you through it (and a thank-you). Most entrepreneurs would be honored to give guidance and advice to fellow innovators; all you need to do is ask. At the same time, the best way to learn is to teach. You will be shocked by how much you know once you open the dialogue.
What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?
I’ll know I’ve truly “succeeded” when celebrations become second nature. And by that, I don’t mean that the office should turn into an ongoing party (though that would be awesome), but that the company culture is self-sustaining in a way that the team constantly feels accomplished and appreciated. Early on, it is easy to get sucked into the mentality of “on to the next one.” There are so many milestones to be reached and problems to be solved that the company can become numb to the little successes. As we continue to hit our goals and strengthen our team, I will know we have succeeded when we all feel it every day.
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.