Andrew Kucheriavy is the founder and CEO of Intechnic, a leading web design agency with locations and clientele in North America, Europe and Australia. He is also a published author, blogger and recognized visionary with functional expertise in web development, marketing, e-commerce and business development. Kucheriavy’s team has worked with some of the world’s largest brands, including Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Disney and Sony. The ROI or “Results on Internet” approach Andrew pioneered has helped companies worldwide reach their full potential. Follow him at @intechnic.
Who is your hero? (In business, life, or both.)
Steve Jobs is my hero. I’ve always been fascinated by Jobs’ passion to make a dent in the universe. He was a visionary with a true sense of purpose: He was all about making a difference. You can see it in every product Jobs released and in every business decision he made. There are many smart and passionate people in the world, but very few leave the kind of legacy he did. This is what made Jobs unique: his uncompromising drive to create not only products, but experiences that improved the lives of people. He was following his dreams and in the process he changed the world.
I’m also going to say James Bond, since people who know me would be upset if I didn’t mention Bond as one of my heroes.
What’s the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
The best piece of business advice I’ve received came in the form of a question from my friend Sasha Berson, who is now the president of Intechnic. During a casual conversation while on a ski trip prior to coming on board, he asked me what I do. The answer seemed so obvious that I stumbled, especially since he knew exactly what I did. I told him that I build websites for businesses. But after several rounds of back and forth, it struck me that I had nothing else to add. This was a life- and career-changing moment for me. All these years I had been building websites without a mission or sense of purpose. I was focusing on delivering the product, not the results. I wasn’t improving the lives of my customers and I wasn’t helping their businesses.
This message has stuck with me. I felt as though I wasted time in my career, so I started looking for inspiration and I found it in Steve Jobs. A few years have passed, and we no longer build websites. We now create online business tools that deliver ROI, or what we passionately term “Results On Internet.”
What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?
Besides not having a clear sense of purpose, I would say the biggest mistake in business is hiring the wrong people. Wrong employees will drain your time, energy and cash. They will cost you a lot more than the salary you pay them. Some studies show that one bad employee in a group can bring down the productivity of the entire group by as much as 30 or 40 percent. I’ve seen examples of losses five times that of the employee’s annual salary. If you compare this to the opportunity cost of having a good employee who can produce an output many times their own salary, the costs of having a bad employee are staggering.
In addition to that, most recruiters say that replacing an employee will cost you two and a half times their salary. In other words, hiring the wrong employee can essentially cost 10 times their salary. Make sure you hire the best candidate, and when you have doubts about an employee, start planning their replacement.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
My business day starts as soon as I wake up. I first review my schedule. My daily schedule is packed solid, and I usually plan it a week in advance. During my workout or over breakfast I think through my daily objectives and set priorities. By the time I get to the office, I’m ready to hit the ground running. I know exactly what I’m going to do, and when and how I am going to do it. This makes my day a lot more productive.
What’s your best financial/cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
Learn to depend only on the cash on you have on hand. This teaches fiscal responsibility, which is particularly important for startups. Having a line of credit is a must for any business, but if you are routinely spending more than you are making you will inevitably encounter problems. Learn to plan your finances so that you use credit only when you can quickly repay whomever you owe — check-in-the-mail type situations — or for calculated investments with a clear return, such as acquiring additional resources to fulfill an order.
Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
I recommend developing a 40-second elevator pitch that focuses not on you and not on your products or services, but just on the benefits to your customers. Say why it matters to them. Make it memorable, dramatic and inspiring. Watch Steve Jobs’ presentation videos for inspiration, and when you think you’re ready, repeat and rehearse even more until your delivery is effortless.
What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?
For me success isn’t a destination, it’s a journey. Success is when you do what you love and love what you do — and you produce results in the process. I feel successful every time I make a difference. Nothing gives me more satisfaction than watching other people and businesses benefit from something we created. The bigger the difference, the bigger the success. And I don’t mean this in monetary terms: You will never feel successful or accomplished if money is all you care about. Money is a byproduct; it may come with success, but not necessarily because of it.
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