Dawn Strobel is the CEO and co-founder of Go By Truck and is changing the paradigm in freight transportation. Go By Truck’s online freight technology gives freight access opportunities previously unavailable in the freight industry to its thousands of united small trucking companies throughout the U.S. while America’s small shipping businesses receive low free market freight rates and a full suite of traditionally laborsome services now automated and free. Follow her @DawnStrobelGBT.
Who is your hero?
In both business and in life (at the risk of sounding too politically correct) my heroes are our military men and women. When I think that things are tough or when our company’s message is met with resistance, I remind myself that my job is easy in comparison. Where they can overcome, so can I; it’s not about me or what I think people should or shouldn’t believe in or fight for. Instead, it’s my job to live with purpose and to leave the world — and in my instance, the transportation industry — in a better place than I found it. With the sacrifices made by those who have fought for our freedom, I ask myself every day if I’m living a life they would be proud to die for.
What’s the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
I’ve had the opportunity to learn so much about business from a great mentor who is now my current partner. Although it has taken me several years to accept, or more accurately to truly understand, some pieces of his advice, the most resonating piece has certainly been “There’s no one else to be but yourself.”
When you’re busy being 100 things to 100 people, you’re easily shaken. When you know who you are, what you believe in and the things you’ll fight for, you’re a rock. Making better decisions, acting cooler under pressure and being ready to take on anything — all of these are essential to running a successful 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?
Without a doubt the biggest mistake I’ve made in business is holding on too long. There is such a thing as being overly invested in your company, and that comes when you’re in so deep you can no longer be objective. We’ve all had that project that was our baby. But in my case, I could have reared an actual child, put them through college and set them up for life when all was tallied before I opened my eyes to the fact that I needed to let go. I luckily ended up selling the business and took my battle scars with me to my next endeavor, where I’ve never again allowed myself to put on those blinders.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
I organize! I’m admittedly an organization freak, but it truly sets my day on the right path. I know exactly what I need to accomplish, what I want to walk away with from each meeting, the information I intend for my team to have by the end of the day and the information I need from them in return.
If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll certainly not know when you’re there.
What’s your best financial or cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
Understand value. As a startup, you clearly can’t afford the six-figure gurus that you really want to have on your team. However, you can still get a great return on human capital if you’re focused on those who have your “must-have” qualities in large supply.
Seek out those who are the best you can feasibly get, but focus in on the key qualities that you can’t live without to get your company off the ground. Though when you can afford better, get better. Immediately.
Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
Find balance. Take it from a workaholic; when you’re in too deep you can’t get perspective. It may seem as if working those 18-hour days for weeks on end is the only way to get everything done. However, there’s a point at which you’re hurting your business and yourself more than you’re helping. Taking a day off is still hard for me, so I won’t suggest something that I don’t do myself (even though it’s probably advisable). But take a walk every few hours, go outside of your office building for lunch and dinner, or get into a group where you can share ideas outside of your own internal circle.
What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?
Everyone has their own definition of success. Although I’m not running a charity and I know money is important to everyone, I don’t get out of bed every morning for the money. In my eyes, reaching X percentage of market share or Y revenue goal is not where I’ll stop and tout success. Our business succeeds when we see the tide turn in our industry. When small carriers are getting back into the industry and when the price of shipping falls rather than climbs year over year. And when being an American driver is restored as a prideful occupation and free market principles become the standard in transportation.