Who is your hero? (In business, life, or both.)
I really admire Michael Bloomberg, both for what he’s done as a business leader and for his contributions as a philanthropist.
What’s the single best piece of business advice (unorthodox tips welcome!) that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
Don’t be afraid to veer off the typical pathway for fundraising and growing your business. Every business is different, so consistently following “best practices” is generally not a good practice. With so much well-documented advice out there today from venture capitalists and other entrepreneurs, take it all in but view everything with skepticism. You need to figure out the “best practice” for your own unique business. Only you can figure that out – not an outsider.
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 are three big mistakes that I made early on in my journey as an entrepreneur:
- I hired unqualified early employees because I felt pressure to make some early progress. I would have been much better off waiting to find the right talent.
- As a non-technical, sole founder, I waited way too long to find a technical business partner. That should have been my top priority from day one.
- As a former lawyer, my instinct was to protect my ideas about how to reinvent the relocation industry. Instead, I should have been sharing my ideas with anyone who would listen to gain advice and refine my strategy. Ideas aren’t actually that valuable for most startups – it’s all in the execution.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
I tend to stay up very late at night working from home on investor relations and strategy. Therefore, I come into the office on the later side, usually between 10 and 11 a.m. By the time I arrive, there are many emails waiting for me and it takes me that first hour to respond to the urgent ones. I hate slowing down my team, so I try to respond quickly to internal requests for advice or help. My team is familiar with the late night/late morning routine, so they send any urgent requests in the morning during my first hour – we’re in a great rhythm! After that first hour, though, I try not to check my email again until much later in the day.
What’s your best financial/cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
For technology companies that aren’t cash flow positive, your cash is your lifeline. You need to accomplish certain key milestones before running low on money so that you’ll be well positioned to raise more.
The biggest cash flow mistake is actually wasting time on things that don’t move the needle to help you raise more money. Time is money, and you need to spend nearly all of your time accomplishing the milestones that will enable you to raise more money. Don’t take your eye off of this for even a day. Spending time on other things increases your risk of going broke.
Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
How about two things?
You know those people at your company who you know – deep down – aren’t a good fit or are causing problems? Time to let them go.
Also, you know how – deep down – you need someone amazing to take either your sales, product, marketing or engineering to the next level? Time to go find and fiercely recruit that person.
Your success or failure is just a function of the people around you.
What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?
I believe that success is achieved when your business does two things:
- changes an industry for the better
- makes people happy (both your employees and your customers).