Who is your hero? (In business, life, or both.)
Bill Simmons. He created a lane for himself that didn’t previously exist (writing from the “fan perspective”), then spun out into other creative endeavors years before they became popular (podcasting). I’ve always admired those who are constantly evolving their skill set. He’s done that several times over the past 15 years in the rapidly changing landscape of sports media.
What’s the single best piece of business advice (unorthodox tips welcome!) that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
I think this can be traced back to a founding father, but the advice “The harder I work, the luckier I get,” has always stuck with me. I’ve had great luck in my career. Usually, however, I can trace those breaks back to decisions made, hours worked and relationships built years in advance.
What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?
A few years ago, we went through a complete site teardown: a new platform, design, URL structure, etc. In an effort to save money, I tried to perform a lot of the SEO-related functions on my own. As a result, our timeline was unnecessarily extended and we received Google penalties that heavily affected our rankings.
What I learned: Hire experts who don’t fit your skill set and let them do their job. I was so involved with every aspect of the new site that I wasn’t able to see the benefit of bringing in a professional to perform the tasks I couldn’t. This lesson has been extended to our company as a whole. I’ve defined what my specific skills are that benefit MVP the most and I’ve tried to hire employees or freelancers to do everything else. Recently, we’ve gone through the same process with our operations manager. Overall, this process has strengthened our focus and allowed everyone here to perform at their highest level.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
I listen to the Headspace app, which is guided meditation, for 15 minutes. This allows me to start the day with a clear mind and gives me the patience I need to accomplish everything on my daily action list.
For the next 45 minutes, I review emails from the past 24 hours and drink (multiple cups of) coffee.
What’s your best financial/cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
Look for low-interest loan or grant opportunities offered by your state government. Over our first three years, we secured two matching grants that totaled $100,000. This was money we would have spent on new hires, regardless; instead, we received “free” income that helped move our company to the next level.
Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
Take a half day away from your office each quarter to focus solely on “big picture” initiatives. Create a list of 3-7 action items to drive the business forward. Have that be your focus. Everything else is noise.
It’s easy to get caught up putting out fires and focusing on daily distractions. Creating a simple list that you can refer back to every day will keep you on track.
What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?
When my day-to-day schedule is consistent with what I envisioned when I started the business. For me, that means two things. First, that I’m completely removed from the day-to-day operations and focused 100 percent on long-term growth strategies. To get to our next revenue goal, my focus has to be working on the business and not in it.
Achieving this level of freedom will allow me to accomplish my second definition of success: having a schedule that allows me to step away and spend time with my family. With three small children, a consistent work/life balance is the ultimate level of success. I’m not quite there yet, but we’re installing processes internally to ensure that the company can run smoothly without my involvement for extended periods of time.