YEC Member Spotlight: Fehzan Ali, Co-Founder/CEO, Adscend Media

aliFehzan Ali is the co-founder of Adscend Media and serves as the Chief Executive Officer. He is responsible for driving and implementing the strategic vision of the Company. Since inception, Fehzan has secured business with high revenue publishers and top advertisers through his deep relationships and experience in the sector. He is an industry thought leader, providing editorial content about ad-based solutions through strategic opportunities.  Follow him @fehzan1.

Who is your hero? 

My parents. They raised me with a foundation focused on morals, values, and being the absolute best I can be. Their entrepreneurial spirit also cultivated mine.

What’s the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?

Above all else, believe in yourself. This is a foundation for both success and happiness. If you don’t believe in yourself, who will? In my earlier years as an entrepreneur, I was filled with doubts. What if I fail? Is entrepreneurship right for me? What will I do then? I created backup plans for my venture, and then backup plans for those backup plans.

In my opinion, that’s a mistake. To be a successful entrepreneur, you have to be fully invested in your business. You have to believe in yourself and your ability to succeed even when you fail, even when you are under close scrutiny. Persistence and determination is the cornerstone of success. The day I really started believing in myself is the day that I became successful. I’ve failed more times than I can count with new solutions and product launches, however, I’ve also learned so much about myself, what I’m capable of, and the value of persistence. Never give up.

What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?

There’s a difference between an entrepreneur and a manager. Most successful entrepreneurs that I’ve met are great leaders and know how to create a product/solution and inspire their vision into the company. Once Adscend reached a size where it required us to hire additional manpower, we went out there and found great talent and delegated a loose set of tasks to each new team member. We continued this process until we realized that we had a very talented team, yet they were all lost and confused on how to help accomplish the company vision and goals.

Therefore, the biggest mistake I’ve ever made in business is a lack of organization/structure of the company. After consulting with my team and other resources, I spent a few months implementing organizational changes based on feedback I received from the team, and it was actually surprising to see how happy our team was with the new changes. The changes led to increased satisfaction in the team and helped us position the company to scale for growth moving forward. Furthermore, I had more free time after the changes to focus on innovation and the company vision.

If you are an entrepreneur struggling with scaling your company or getting started, pay attention to structure! If management is not one of your strengths or if you simply do not have time to set up the structure, hire someone else to do it. As a smaller organization, sometimes the leader has to be the manager as well. This is something you don’t want to overlook.

What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?

I usually spend the first hour of my business day reading up on industry trends and new innovations within my industry. In our fast-paced world, you have to be vigilant to remain relevant and create innovative products/solutions that fills in a gap in the market. This research is important to maintain an edge in the market over competitors as well.

What’s your best financial or cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?

Focus on the bare necessities for success to cut your operating costs. For example, you don’t need a fancy office or a secretary to get started. By running a lean organization, you are able to minimize your risks, reach profitability quicker, and build cash flow to establish a healthy financial foundation for your company. Assess the needs of your company on a set schedule to ensure that you are maintaining a lean, yet efficient organization that scales as needed.

Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?

Keep an open mind and constantly seek knowledge. Never stop learning.

What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?

I personally believe success is more comprehensive than simply financial gain. To me, success means being passionate about what I do, spending time with friends and family that I love, enjoying life in general, helping others, and of course being able to generate an income from my passion.  As for success in regards to just my company, I knew I was successful when I signed up our first large client to my ad network and started generating revenue. It was a snowball effect from there, and we took off. Although that may seem like a small accomplishment to attribute as success, it really bolstered up my confidence, and we soon became one of the consistently top-rated companies in our industry.

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab , a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.

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