Russell Glass is the founder and CEO of Bizo, an online business marketing platform. Based in San Francisco, he founded Bizo in 2008 and and has led the company’s growth from inception to nearly $40 million in annual revenue run rate in five years. Follow him @glassruss.
Who is your hero?
What’s the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
Surround yourself with great people. The hardest thing about being an entrepreneur is that you’re only one person and there are only 24 hours in a day. In order to scale and build great things, the single most important skill is hiring and bringing other great people along for the ride. The thing is, you can hear that advice and even try to implement but still get it wrong. It’s not about skills or experience in most cases. It’s about culture and personality. I continue to work on ensuring that each and every person we hire has the right cultural traits such as intelligence, entrepreneurialism, self-motivation, honesty and a genuine drive to be successful. With all of those traits, people can and will walk through walls!
What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?
In line with the advice above to surround yourself with great people, the biggest mistakes I have made have always been around hiring the wrong people and then waiting too long to make a change. The right people accelerate a business in many different ways. The wrong people are a drag on the business, and adversely affect everything from the culture of a company to the ability for others to do their jobs. In my last business I hired a CEO to replace me who had all the right experiences and titles, but was never a cultural fit with the organization. I ended up having to fire him under very difficult circumstances and the company never quite recovered.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
I catch up on news from the industry and beyond. It helps me to get synched with the world around me and get focused for the day. It also helps me clear my inbox since all the news comes in overnight!
What’s your best financial or cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
Everything is negotiable and each dollar you spend is another dollar you have to generate. Be frugal even when you close that big venture round. Not only will this help cash flow but it will also force you to stay focused on doing only the most important things to drive success.
Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
Look around your company and ask yourself if you have the right people in the right roles. If there’s any doubt about any of them, start working on a plan to improve them or replace them with superstars.
What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?
My definition of success is building a profitable company with a great culture that can last and create value long after I’m no longer at the company. We are venture backed, so there are certainly milestones to define success around liquidity for my shareholders and generating return on all of our investments, but I think that a great ROI and liquidity will happen naturally if we focus on being a great self-sustaining organization. Personally, I want to make enough money to be comfortable and be able to fund future businesses, and I want to be able to have a positive influence on other’s lives and careers. If I can make all of our employees more successful in their careers, that’s a lasting legacy that I can feel proud of.