Jacob Layani is the CEO of CrownTV, an industry leader in digital signage with offices in New York, France and Toronto. Their cloud-based dashboard lets you schedule and display content from any location on one screen or hundreds. CrownTV’s constantly evolving apps enable businesses to access the largest variety of content and communicate more efficiently and effectively on digital display. They creating engaging experiences for Mercedes-Benz, Redken, Century21, L’Oréal, Westfield and hundreds of other businesses worldwide. Follow him @yaacovla.
In business, my hero is Fredrik Eklund, New York City real estate broker and Bravo TV reality star. His story reminds me of my own; leaving Europe at a young age with no family and no “connections” — only with the American dream and the willingness to do whatever it took to succeed. Fredrik somehow managed to learn fast on the job and eventually became one of the top luxury brokers in New York City — one of the most competitive cities in the world (if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere).
In life, my father is also my hero. He’s one of the most talented dealmakers and successful entrepreneurs. He came from nothing, his parents were immigrants and didn’t have any business knowledge but he managed to learn how to make things happen no matter what — and I think that’s one of the most important qualities to have as an entrepreneur.
What’s the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
I was told to work hard, figure things out by researching, and not be afraid to ask questions. I acquired the skills I didn’t already have by attending night school courses. Life is a learning process.
What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?
The biggest mistake I’ve made is not being patient enough — I wanted for things to happen very fast. You have to first learn, then apply what you’ve learned to make it happen. Everything is a building process and takes a lot of time.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
I like to wake up early, around 6:30 a.m. If I happen to wake up late, I feel like I have wasted half of my day. I usually check my emails since our corporate office is in France, and we communicate that way a lot. I will then take a shower, get a coffee and start my Jewish prayer. Since I’m an Orthodox Jew, I dedicate an early morning time to prayer so I can concentrate and start my day properly.
What’s your best financial/cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
When we started out, we had a teeny-tiny office with no windows and used our cell phones to make cold calls. My best financial/cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs getting started would definitely be to not be tempted to buy fancy stuff at the beginning. Try to take the money you’ve hardly earned and put it back into your business to build your marketing funnel and generate leads.
Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
Find somebody who can help and support you mentally along the way, because the road is not going to be easy. I tend to think that startups with two founders wind up becoming more successful.
What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?
For me, there is no time where you can truly say, “I’ve succeeded in my business.” Stay humble, always try to improve, and see how can you do better and take it to the next level. There is always a “next level” in everything you do, even for people who are successful — that’s why we see widely successful entrepreneurs opening new ventures, investing or running nonprofits.