Murad Sabzali is a serial entrepreneur and integrated marketing communication strategist and the co-founder of Chempetitive Group. Follow him @msabzali.
Who is your hero?
My mother. Runner up, Bruce Wayne.
What’s the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
“A good answer today is better than a great answer tomorrow.” Being a data-driven person, there is always something for me to over-analyze. I play my own devil’s advocate disguised as a contrarian. I can quickly get lost in my own head. However, what really drives me is seeing progress and little victories, every day.
So, to keep my crazies in check, I try to focus on moving in the right direction everyday as opposed to fixating on details that may or may not be relevant in the end. I tend to accomplish a lot more this way.
What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?
Don’t project your entrepreneurial spirit on friends. In other words, don’t get into business with your friends. Some have it and some don’t. What’s easy for me is extremely difficult for others.
Being an entrepreneur, my brain is wired differently. In many situations, you have to be ready to shoot first, then aim. This can be unnerving to many people. And if you get into business with these people, assuming that the “spirit” rubs off, you are kidding yourself. Ultimately the disconnect will grow and lead to drama, loss of profits, missed milestones, unhealthy drinking therapy sessions, and the loss of a meaningful relationship.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
I’m a multitasker and email is my greatest weapon. The first thing I do in the morning is catch up on all my email accounts. During the day, I am in and out meetings. It’s really hard for me to send meaningful responses. So I use the the first hour to provide thorough responses on mission-critical items, provide direction on key projects, micromanage where I need to, and talk trash where it makes sense.
What’s your best financial or cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
Do not throw anything under the rug! It will be waiting for you and present itself at the most inopportune time. As entrepreneurs, we often play the long game, thinking that we can back fill, which is fine and great. But when it comes to finances, live in the now. Define monthly financial goals, set profitability targets, have a very strong handle on all your costs, and do not sugar coat anything. The numbers are what they are. Regardless of how awesome your idea is, if you can’t capitalize on it, then all you have is an awesome idea and not 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?
Regardless of what stage your business is in, be completely self-aware. Know what you know and what you don’t. Know what you’re good at and what you’re not good at. Know what you want to do and what you don’t want to do. Finally, know what makes you happy. Because even if you’re rapidly expanding and making a lot of money (assuming that’s important) if you’re not happy, then it’s just not worth it.
What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?
This one is tough. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t hugged that much as a child, but at this point, I do not feel that I have “arrived.” True, I have accomplished a lot and I have financial security, but I do not feel I have truly succeeded. To me, “succeeded” is like an end point and I don’t seen an end in sight. I see success as being a very dynamic concept as opposed to one that is static. I guess as long as I am truly happy doing what I’m doing, I’m successful. How about that for a non-answer?