Entrepreneur Interview: What I learned over 12 years of managing a business
Intro: Chase Hallowell is an entrepreneur I personally know and can verify his story and success but he chose to use this pseudonym for reasons that will be revealed throughout this interview.
Q: Can you tell us a bit more about yourself?
A: I started off in a professional role in the online marketing industry working for a company that was building and managing websites in a certain niche. The company grew at a staggering pace and so did my role and its responsibilities. I moved to mid-management early on in my professional career, and eventually, when the company became the largest and most successful of its kind with more than 100-fold in revenues and employment than we started, I moved on to executive roles.
Several years afterwards, I started my own small business that builds and operates websites in a certain (other) niche. That business is constantly growing and could be defined as successful, by my own standards.
Q: What are your standards for success? Is it a certain dollar figure?
A: For me, success equals freedom. If you’re a small business owner who doesn’t have to worry about each and every month’s income to keep in a positive cashflow; If you’re a small business owner who can afford flexibility and innovation; if you can donate a certain percentage of your revenues to charity and stay afloat with no financial worries… then you are successful in my book. Obviously, everyone has their own definition of success. Some won’t be considering themselves successful until they are moguls of the industry, and some (sadly) will never be able to rest on their laurels and pet themselves in the back. Others, like the current American President Trump, will define themselves as successful regardless of their results.
Q: What do you think made you successful in business?
A: I think that in my case it has to do with my ability to multi-task and my ability to take decisions without hesitating (even though they are sometimes sub-optimal). In an essence, I make an utmost effort to be a leader in the business, not just a manager, and I have a clear vision on what to do and when. For some odd reason, very few people are like that, even with extensive business experience. 99% of all managers and business owners are what I would call “time wasters” or “overthinkers”.
Q: How can someone reading this mimic your success?
A: Not everyone will necessarily be able to become great multitaskers, and as I mentioned, very few are natural born leaders. They don’t have to be either, to have extreme success in business. The most important thing is to capitalize on your own strengths and have the self-confidence to know these are your strengths, while acknowledging your weaknesses and hiring people who are better at you at these areas. From that point on, all you really need is persistence (but obviously, sheering away from overoptimism).
Q: What would you recommend a young aspiring entrepreneur who believes he has a great idea?
A: Well, that really depends. If that youngster has an “idea” in an area he is specializing at, and he knows beyond any doubt that there is nothing like that on the market, and that there is a real demand for it, then there is no better time than today to start. In every other situation, I would strongly recommend to put that idea aside and gain some experience working as an employee to learn the foundations of any business. A lot of young people rush into entrepreneurship too early on, and most of them don’t know even the basics of how to run a company or build a product.
Q: Are you suggesting there is too much encouragement for young entrepreneurs today in the media and elsewhere?
A: Absolutely. 100%. There are way too many so-called entrepreneurs which have close to 0% of succeeding from the get-go. They aren’t experienced enough, and often times aren’t really cut for this line of career that forces you to work a lot and undergo serious pressures. Even worse than that, they don’t have an idea that want to develop into a business. They only have the notion that say that they can make a lot of money and hit the headlines if they build a startup, so they build one, and the media and investors nourish them. Whereas small business owners and entrepreneurs are the most efficient part of society, in my views, these destined-to-fail-inexperienced-entrepreneurs are a burden to society.
Q: Would you recommend business management books, classes, or online courses for entrepreneurs? can this improve the way things work?
A: My answer is yes and no. Yes, because I always believe you should be aspiring to improve yourself and your business and learn as much as you can from people you value, and no because the vast majority of the books, classes and online courses in this field are rubbish. Teaching soft skills is difficult, close to impossible, and it’s common sense at the end of the day. If you’re lacking it, you’re in a problem.
Q: What do you think about financing a business through a non-bank lender?
A: I believe businesses financing shouldn’t be done through banks necessarily. Yes, those type of “quick” business financing can be very expensive but banks will suck the living being out of you if you just need a quick bridging loan for a few weeks. If you need long term cash injection into your business, sell equity or equity-backed bonds. If you need short term cash injections apply for a business overdraft with an online lender and get it the same day, no hassle, no bullshit… but banks are terrible to work with and will end up causing more headaches in the short and long term.