Justin Jarman is a startup utility player. He’s been involved with a number of startups in varying capacities. Some of these companies include: Youbetme, Mobli, Signnow, Kinvolved and Keen Home. He is now the Entrepreneur in Residence at NYU Poly’s Incubator. He’s currently working on Youbetme. Follow him @JustinJarman.
Who is your hero?
Without question it’s Bill Murray. That man embodies what it means to constantly evolve professionally and do it with panache. (If anyone out there can make it happen, I’d be eternally grateful if you could arrange for me to meet him!)
What’s the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
You will doubt yourself during this journey, and that is completely fine. What will kill you is when you let that doubt prevent you from taking definitive actions.
What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?
I’ve been involved in a number of different industries so I’ve seen how multiple things can go wrong. First and foremost, I drew a loan from a hedge fund that turned out to be a predatory lender, which ultimately crushed my business. We received a purchase order that would have dovetailed into low seven-figure revenues and would have given us the ability to pay the hedge fund back, as well as put us in the black and turn us into a financially self-sustaining company. We spent two years building that company and it came crashing down in a two-week period. My hair started to exponentially thin.
The lesson I learned: don’t always take the first money thrown at you, despite things being tight.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
I really enjoy my first hour, though I will say it’s a bit unorthodox. I start by trying to discover some new music — I’m a huge music fan — via Pandora or Soundcloud. I’ll spend roughly 15 minutes on music, followed by reading a few articles on the website IFLScience (I’m a wannabe science nerd), and I’ll close it out by reading news or informational publications on a form of business that I’m not familiar with. This equation works perfectly for me, as it gets me in the right mindset to think outside of the box. The interesting thing is that l usually come across something during the day, from that hour I spent in the morning, and am able to apply it in some form or another.
What’s your best financial or cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
Watch out for “biz dev consultants” who want a retainer. Obviously that’s a general statement, but entrepreneurs who have started a company, or who are currently doing so, have probably encountered some form of the “biz dev” consultant who will “introduce you to their network” or “help you raise money.” Avoid these people like the plague. Someone who is successful in this capacity does so by actually delivering results before compensation.
A tip that is a close second is to make sure you hedge your risk when doing business with outsourced service providers. Never pay the full service fee upfront, and instead outline payment schedules that are tied to milestones or deliverables, rather than a simple time frame installment schedule.
Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
This is something I’ve only recently come to embrace and it’s still a bit “taboo:” Make sure you stay physically healthy, but more importantly mentally healthy. The entrepreneurial lifestyle can take a toll on you. If you’re not operating on a full tank, you’ll have a hard time getting to the next level. I have business partners in multiple ventures as well as friends and family who are business owners. A lot of people look at us and see the highlight reel of our lifestyle, and not everyone sees the behind the scenes. It’s mentally wearing and sometimes you need a trusted source — outside of business — that you can talk to in order to help filter through all of the emotions, stress and chaos you’ll encounter on this crazy entrepreneurial journey.
What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?
I wish it was as simple as saying, “If my mom thinks I’m successful, then I’m successful.” But that’s just like hearing your mother say you’re the most handsome man in the room. My best response is that my personal success is always evolving. It’s important to recognize and celebrate your wins when they happen, but I don’t think that any of us want to settle there!