YEC Member Spotlight: Ross Beyeler, CEO Of Growth Spark
A graduate of Babson College, Ross Beyeler has been an active entrepreneur in the technology space since 2005 with experience ranging in digital marketing, business development and strategic management. Follow him @rbeyeler.
Who is your hero?
As clichéd as it might sound, my father is my hero. At 74 years old he’s still working as actively as when he was my age. He’s seen ups and downs in his life but has always been able to maintain a relentless focus on moving ahead and providing for his family. His ability to continue fighting regardless of the situation is always an inspiration.
What’s the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
The single best piece of business advice that has helped shape me as an entrepreneur is the notion of “Learn Before You Earn.” A mentor of mine once said that as a reflection on his own experience as he grew from a young entrepreneur to a more experienced one. Although he did cite that once he hit 30, he felt that many new doors were opened to him that were not previously open, this doesn’t need to be applied only within the context of age. When thinking about entering into new markets or launching new products, I’ve applied this notion as well. By focusing our early sales/marketing efforts primarily on learning about our customers, their needs and their buying process, we develop a deeper understanding of our customers that translates into building products/services that are more meaningful to them. The more we focus on learning early on, the more likely we’ll become successful down the road.
What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?
The biggest mistake I’ve ever made in business was in my first company where we outsourced the design and development of our product. I’ve come to learn that outsourcing can be an incredibly effective way to add scale to an organization, but only if done correctly. In my first company, we distanced ourselves from both the core product strategy and our customers. We provided vague and largely uninformed directions to our outsourcing partner that left too much room for interpretation. Given that our outsourcing partner had no interaction with our customers, it was easy to see why they came back with a product that was far from what our users needed. Going forward, I’ve approached outsourcing as a strategy for tackling highly specific tasks within a project, rather than the core project itself. I’ve also learned that specificity in your directions is critical for a successful result.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
The first hour of my day rarely involves me actually doing any ‘business.’ I’ve found that my most successful mornings include four key things. The first is an activity I like to call BrainRain, which is a modified version of Morning Pages. Almost as soon as I wake up, I grab my laptop and open an old-school text editor where I just let my mind wander for 15 minutes. Sometimes I’ll think of a specific question or specific theme to expand on, but most often I just start typing and see where the text takes me. I find it’s a great way to start my creative juices and gets me in the habit of writing. Second, I have a solid workout. I prefer lifting (which often takes an hour) as the feeling of strength I get from it carries into the rest of the day. Following that is a HUGE breakfast. Typically this includes three eggs, a meat, two veggies, coffee and juice. I often don’t have time to eat lunch, so getting a massive meal like this in helps to tide me over. Finally, after I shower, I take five to 10 minutes to sit and meditate. This is the last thing I do before I officially start working.
What’s your best financial or cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
Create a financial dashboard. Keeping your accounts balanced is obviously a must for any small business. Early on you can easily do this yourself with Quickbooks, until it makes sense to hire a bookkeeper/controller to take care of it for you. Your financial dashboard should include a snapshot of account balances, major outstanding AP/AR and a projected runway of cash flow in the business for at least the following three months. This tool is vital for knowing the real health of your organization. It allows you as the entrepreneur to understand where things are without having to plow through crazy reports or documents that are geared more towards tax filings than running a business.
Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
Teach. The best way to learn something is to teach it. The best way to sell something is to teach it. Teaching your team, partners, customers, etc. is at the core of how I approach business.
What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?
Success to me is building an organization that can continue to grow without my involvement. That isn’t to say I’d actually want to step away from the company, but knowing I’ve built a company that doesn’t require my input means that I have created a truly valuable asset. This requires the right team, the right market position and the right processes to make happen. We’re continually on a journey of refining all three within our company. We will know we’ve struck a chord once I can take a step back and still see things moving ahead.
Originally published by StartupCollective.