Who is your hero? (In business, life, or both.)
My mom is my hero. She worked many jobs to make sure I had as much as possible growing up. She provided me with the fight that it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.
On a business level, I wouldn’t call him my hero, but I envy what Mark Cuban has accomplished. He started a company that he sold at the right time and turned into an NBA team. As a huge sports fan, this is something I aspire to do.
What’s the single best piece of business advice (unorthodox tips welcome!) that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
Don’t spend what you don’t have. Debt is evil and it leads to bad decisions. I realize some businesses require debt, but I have chosen ones that I could bankroll so that I wasn’t forced into decisions that I wouldn’t normally make. If you do take on outside money, don’t spend it just because you have it. I see too many people who get money and then they feel the need to spend it. If it makes sense, put the money to use. But if you are spending just because you have it then you are likely making a poor decision for your business. Having money in the bank is always a good thing. It provides peace of mind which is invaluable as an entrepreneur.
What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?
Always get everything in writing. I went into a business venture with someone who I thought was a friend. The agreements made between us were never put into formal paperwork. This person ended up embezzling money from me and when it came time to sue him, it was made much more difficult by not have properly signed agreements. What should have been a very easy cut-and-dry court case turned into a very lengthy and costly one. No matter how small the deal or how well you think you know the person you are dealing with, always draw up paperwork. It may seem petty and a hassle, but it’s like insurance: It’s better to have and not need than need and not have.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
My first waking hour of every day is spent reading my iPad in bed to catch up on news. This allows me to stay focused on my business when I get to the office.
My first business hour is spent checking emails and reports to make sure everything is going smoothly and clients are taken care of. If something is wrong, I make sure to take care of it right away no matter how big or small.
What’s your best financial/cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
Avoid taking on debt if possible. When you take money from other people, they can start influencing your decisions. Those decisions can cloud your judgment and you may end up doing something that is not best for you or your business. Also, you rarely get fair value on the equity you sell, especially if you are desperate and need the money.
Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
Study your competition. I have heard people recommend only worrying about what you are doing, but I don’t agree. The world is changing faster than ever and your competition could be leaving you in the dust if you aren’t paying attention. There is so much access to information these days that you can use to your advantage.
What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?
My definition of success has always been being able to do whatever I want to do when I want to do it. I love freedom, which is why I became an entrepreneur. I realized after my first real job that I was never going to be happy in life as long as someone else was telling me what to do and when to do it. Even though my company is still growing, I already consider it a success. I don’t take many days off, but I love knowing that if there is something I want to do, I can do it without worrying. It’s the freedom that I always strived for and it feels good to have achieved.