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Q. What do you feel made you the most successful and thrive in such a cut throat competitive business world?
Continued effort over multiple years, keeping an ear to the marketplace, and listening to my customers. The business world isn’t really cutthroat as long as you choose to go after markets that have growing demand with a quality product. Choose the wrong industry or go in with a poor product and you can work your butt off for years for nothing but a good lesson.
Q. Which business savvy attribute or acquired skill do you think came in most handy?
Three things would tie for most important abilities. Being able to find a partner that complimented my skill-set, being able to build a quality team, and knowing how to properly position a product in the marketplace.
Q. What would be the biggest ‘real world from one young person to another’ advice you could give to other fledging young entrepreneurs? Give us the real deal.
So you want the real deal? Well, simply put there are four keys to becoming a successful and wealthy young entrepreneur.
Get experience. If you are not sure what you want to sell take a job with (or intern at) an entrepreneurial company for a short time. Working at an entrepreneurial company is the absolutely best way to see what other needs the marketplace has, build contacts, and learn the ropes of building a successful company. Having such an experience will significantly increase the chances that you will succeed in your own business. I worked in an entrepreneurial company my senior year in high school that went from zero to one million dollars in sales over the course of fourteen months. Without that experience I would have only half the knowledge and abilities I have today.
Have a bias toward action. I see so many aspiring entrepreneurs young and old alike who have a business idea but never get moving. They are afraid to get out there, stop planning, and start doing. Imagine that you are at your friend’s house and you want to drive to your house, which is four miles away. You’re paralyzed because you’re waiting until all the stop lights along the way are green before you start on your journey. It’s obvious you’re never going to reach your destination. While you would run into a few red lights and stop signs along they way you’ll get there a lot quickly than if you did not leave until all the lights were green. This is easily applied to the reality of an entrepreneurial firm. When I started my current company Broadwick two years ago I knew relatively little about the market, did not have any funds, did not know any of my current employees, and did not have any contacts in the industry. While it is important to do proper due diligence and planning, don’t do too much. Get started today and as you proceed you’ll gain new contacts and knowledge that will snowball you up the learning curve toward your eventual goal.
Know it won’t happen overnight. You must have a long-term viewpoint in everything that you do. Write down your goals and go after them. Just have a holistic understand that building a company to one million dollars in annual sales is going to take years of 80 hour weeks. You’ll have find a need in the marketplace, create a top-quality product or service that fills that need, position what you sell in the marketplace (often an overlooked step), and build a solid team. Even if you do all this it will take 3-5 years. I meet so many aspiring entrepreneurs that want to become a millionaire but refuse to make the contacts, gain the experience, and do the work needed to make this possible.
Know the principles of building wealth. While money is not the main motivation for many entrepreneurs, it certainly is a motivation for most. If you personally would like to make a significant amount of money you have to understand three things. First, don’t go into debt to buy personal pleasures (boats, nice cars, vacations). Second, if at all possible, before you get married and have children make sure your monthly passive income (income you’ll earn whether you work or not) is greater than your monthly expenses. Finally, build businesses and then use the excess cash flow from your businesses and the capital gains from a liquidity event to invest in early stage private companies, ventures in emerging markets, and other cash producing assets such as real estate.
Q. Please give an example of what your daily routine must be like.
8am – Wake up
9am – Arrive at office
1am – Leave Office
2am – Go to Sleep
My day is usually spent managing my employees for Broadwick and Virante and making sure they have everything they need to do their jobs properly, in planning meetings, speaking with potential clients, overseeing work completed for clients, working to better position our products and services in the marketplace, reviewing financial reports, answering emails, and interviewing potential hires. I’ll get the majority of the proactive work I do each day done between 6pm and midnight. 9am to 6pm is spent as a manager.
Q. Do you get to do the fun college things or do you sometimes feel like you are 40 because of all the real world corporate stress?
I do sometimes feel like I am forty and not nineteen, but I wouldn’t say I’m missing out on a thing and would not say I’m stressed. I love what I do and was much more stressed in the college world than the business world. I certainly have done the ‘fun college things’ and still do occasionally. I’m having much more fun living the dynamic life of a CEO of a rapidly growing company. I feel that rather than limiting what I can do, being a business owner and the personal financial freedom that has come along with it has increased the fun I can have. Plus, I have a wonderful girlfriend who keeps me sane and young.
Q. How have you handled the stresses of term papers and corporate business at the same time–with a 3.7 GPA!
Well, my first year in college this was rather difficult. I simply had to make choices with respect to priorities. You can’t be running a business, be a full-time student, get good grades, have an active social life, sleep, and eat. I focused on the grades and the business, though it was a delicate balance. For some successful young entrepreneurs grades are less important and they can focus on the business. One of my goals, however, is to get a Masters in Development Economics at Oxford or Columbia, and thus I need to have very good grades. As such, I made a decision in May 2003 to take a year off of school while I built Broadwick and Virante. Now that the companies are established enough to have a good team behind them and we have proper procedures and systems in place I will be returning to school this August for my junior year (I had enough credits to ‘skip’ my sophomore year). I’ll be taking a 12 credit hour load this semester. All my classes will be 8am to 11am so I’ll still be able to be at the office most of the time and work 50-60 hours each week.