Vishal Agarwal is the Founder and CEO of ItaCheckmate.com Inc. Follow him @itsacheckmate.com.
Who is your hero? (In business, life, or both.)
One of my business heroes is Jeff Bezos. Recently, I read The Everything Store and it really made me admire the vision he had. His 1997 letter to shareholders is the stuff of legends.
I’ve also really admired Steve Jobs, especially after reading his biography. Apart from iPhone, his single biggest achievement in my view is how he gave us the ability to download one music track at a time.
In life, my hero is my brother who single-handedly raised me. I was pampered even though our family was going through a tough financial time, and I did not even know it. Knowing what I know now makes my admiration grow larger for what my brother did to give me this upbringing. It’s why I’m here today.
What’s the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
Make decisions. Being indecisive is cruel to everyone involved. So no matter what position you are in, after carefully considering the facts before you, make a decision and move forward. Do not leave a decision pending.
What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?
Never get desperate and make a bigger financial commitment than you can afford.
Many times in our business we need that “one” thing, and someone comes along and offers it at an exorbitant cost. We think it will pay off in the future, even though it literally wipes out our entire cash balance. Don’t do it. You don’t know the future. What you do know is the present.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
Read. Business day or not, the first hour of my day is spent reading a book. I’ve made this a sacrosanct practice and it has really helped me develop my reading habits. When you pick up the right book, you look forward to this hour.
What’s your best financial/cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
Build a remote team and defer getting an office for as long as possible.
A remote team does not necessarily mean off-shore or cheap talent. Get the best talent from wherever you can using freelance online platforms. They may not be cheaper than hiring in your same city, but if selected right, they will be more committed, giving you more value for your money. Plus, you won’t have to incur the office expenditure. Hurray to working in your PJs!
Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
Nothing. There is no real “one” thing right now. For me, hard work is an ongoing thing and one that we should never let go of.
Take tough decisions: it’s the tough decisions that we keep postponing for later and the ones that harm us most. Execute and move forward. It will give you butterflies in your stomach now but you will sleep better later. If there’s an employee not working out, let him/her go before it’s too late.
What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?
I think success is not a destination, it is a process. As long as I continue to work hard, diligently and honestly and make those who believe in me proud, I’ll continue to succeed. When you make those one or two important people in your life proud, that’s when you succeed.
Respect from my employees is something I value tremendously. When my employees show their extra dedication and pull the business back up if and when we go through tough times, because they believe in me and in the company, I will consider that a success.