Who is your hero? (In business, life, or both.)
My hero isn’t someone who wears a cape. My heroes are the people who work for my non-profit clients all around New England. The work that they do on a day-to-day basis motivates me to make sure that my company does everything possible to support them in their efforts.
What’s the single best piece of business advice (unorthodox tips welcome!) that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
Force your employees to take paid time off. In a startup world where everyone is driven and connected all the time, we’re burning ourselves out on both ends. People need time off to recharge and reset, especially after sprinting towards a goal. I find that my employees are more relaxed, refreshed and refocused after taking a long weekend.
When critical team members take PTO, it also shows how well your team functions. Does the business grind to a halt when one person isn’t there? If so, you’re might not be ready to scale just yet. Remember, this rule also goes for you as a founder, CEO, etc. You need to step away from time to time.
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 tried to scale and expand too quickly. We launched multiple product lines without performing the due diligence of seeing if the market actually wanted the services that we were offering. It led to many late nights, wasted money and a direct hit to my company’s brand.
Yet, even with this setback, our team took a step back, reassessed and attacked the issue until we succeeded. Our team wasn’t afraid of failing; we just knew that we took the wrong approach.
Don’t be afraid of failure. You will break a few eggs while trying to make the next great thing. Just realize that it’s just going to happen and you’re going to learn from it.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
I do a personal two-minute pulse check with all my team leads. This lets me get in front of issues that we might see later in the day and gives me a moment to say “Good morning” to most of my employees.
After that (and a visit to my company’s Bevi machine), I check our real-time dashboards to get an overview of how the business is operating. I dive into anything urgent, and soon enough, it’s already noon.
What’s your best financial/cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
We’re not all as lucky as Tom Haverford on Parks and Rec. We don’t always have angel investors who wait to give money to the next great idea. Start small and make sure your concept is worthy of sinking your own time and money into it. Road test it, sell a few units, and when it finally shows a glimmer of promise, that’s when you go after the investment. After that, scale and innovate.
Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
Trust your employees. And sometimes, allow them to make mistakes. If you second-guess their decisions all the time, you will never scale to the levels that you want to.
What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?
I try not to measure success in profits or revenues; I’d rather focus on how our company is doing better in today’s world. My company’s goal is to deliver 1,000,000 hours of mission-focused training and services to area non-profits by 2025. We’re on pace to smash that number.
We succeed when our mission-driven vertical succeeds. It’s an uphill battle, especially with the funding cuts we’ve been seeing on a federal and state level, but it’s a battle in which we stand arm-to-arm with our area non-profits.