Who is your hero? (In business, life, or both.)
My grandfather, Henry J. Walter. He was a Holocaust survivor and arrived in the U.S. after the war. His story of survival throughout the war is nothing short of amazing. Through determination, ingenuity and sheer will he beat all the odds. He arrived in the U.S. with $5 in his pocket and built a life for himself, epitomizing the American dream. He worked his way up to a VP of Clairol without even a high school education. Throughout his career, he was named as an inventor or co-inventor on over 40 patents, some listed here, including the tweezer, the hand-held hair dryer, and the steam curling iron.
What’s the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
My grandmother, Harriet Andorsky used to always say, “Be proud.” It translates to so many areas of life and business. You do your best work when you’re proud of the work you’re doing. And if you’re not proud of the work you’re doing, you’re probably in the wrong line of work. It’s a great litmus test for just about anything.
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 once wired a good chunk of change to the wrong person and they thought Christmas came early. Luckily, they were nice enough to give it back. My advice? Before you click “submit,” make sure you’re paying the right person.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
I swim. Honestly, I don’t do it enough but when I do it starts my day off right. I arrive in the office relaxed and with a clear train of thought.
What’s your best financial/cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
Cash is king. Find a way to build recurring revenue streams into your company. Find a way to sell your service or product on a subscription basis rather than for a one-time fee. Having booked revenue coming into your company at set intervals will make scaling and staffing your company that much easier and your company that much more valuable.
Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, just get moving. Stop planning and waiting to launch your company. If you’re waiting for the stars to align and the “ah-ha” moment to arrive when everything is perfectly in place to launch your company, keep waiting…because it is never going to come.
I have yet to meet a successful entrepreneur who wasn’t strapped for resources, time and money. As Sara Sarasvathy, a professor at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business said,”… entrepreneurs by definition are brilliant problem solvers under conditions of extreme uncertainty and limited resources. They are able to work with the resources given to them and create something awesome.”
What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?
This is a question I’ve wrestled with for a long time. My answer used to be very goal-oriented, but I’ve started to realize that this becomes an endless trap of never being satisfied. You set a goal, you achieve it and then you’re immediately chasing after the next goal to achieve. Rinse and repeat. Success for me is fulfillment from the work I am currently doing. I still have goals, but now success isn’t something to be achieved. It’s rather something to be experienced on an on-going basis.