Who is your hero? (In business, life, or both.)
For business, Marcus Lemonis. His sharp and analytical style, love of entrepreneurship, appreciation of people and ability to elevate himself into a business icon are incredible testaments to his values and abilities.
What’s the single best piece of business advice (unorthodox tips welcome!) that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
“People First.” My mentor and business partner is obsessed with the value of people, and he puts people ahead of everything (including profit!). Without that influence early on, I wouldn’t have the empathy and emotional intelligence I possess today. Although “People First” has meant missing some short-term opportunities to make revenue or minimize expenses, I’m a happier, more fulfilled entrepreneur knowing that my values are in the right place for long-term success.
What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?
Going small to start. I spent many of my early years working my way up the ladder in terms of clients and abilities. If I could do it again, I would spend time building a world-class brand on paper, taking it to the clients I had big solutions for, and pouring my heart out until I got a “yes.” We’re getting to be big now, but I wish I had had more confidence in the beginning to sell, even though I had nothing to back it up but my own passion.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
Check email. My email serves as my master to-do list, which helps me keep everything I’m working on in one dashboard. I even email myself a super prioritized to-do list every night so that it’s the first email I open in the morning. I try to tackle that list, usually three or four items, before I do anything else and before I get sidetracked by meetings and the typical daily surprises. That way, I keep the most important things moving forward no matter what comes my way.
What’s your best financial/cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
This is a tough one. When starting out, it’s important to hoard cash like it’s the Great Depression. It’s also important to take risks and deploy cash strategically so you can grow. Both of those statements are true, and there is no magic formula to balance them out. If I had to offer one tip that’s saved us more than once: Don’t weigh your business down with fixed costs, like a spiffy office. With every new office we open, we start in a shared space or even a personal home, and it’s never gotten in the way of winning business. On the contrary, it’s helped us ride through some downturns by being flexible.
Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
Join the right networks. It’s amazing what you can do in life when you know the right people. Go find them and get to know them.
What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?
To me, success looks like a winning monopoly board, with lots of strategic businesses and assets that keep me mentally active, emotionally fulfilled and financially stable. Most entrepreneurs will tell you to focus on one business; I say spread out your investment strategy and have fun playing the game.