What Makes a Great Business Owner: Entrepreneur MBA Podcast 1.5
David Mammano is an entrepreneur, speaker, and coach from the Avanti Entrepreneur Network. He is the host of the Avanti Entrepreneur Podcast. David has years of experience and close to 200 podcasts on the entrepreneur journey. He is a great business coach and business owner. David talks on the Entrepreneur MBA Podcast with host and Managing Partner of Financing Solutions, Stephen Halasnik about What Makes a Great Business Owner.
Birthing of Giants
David and Stephen met in 2007 at MIT’s Birthing of Giants program for entrepreneurs. The program brought several business owners together from all over the world. The cohort grew into a strong group of business leaders through classes, speakers, and hearing from each other’s unique journeys.
Twelve years later the brotherhoods and sisterhoods from the group are still strong. There are plans for the cohort to meet and several of the members still see each other at other speaking events or conferences. David and Stephen were – and continue to be – advocates for entrepreneurs to continue their path of learning and networking. Being an entrepreneur can be lonely and frantic – especially during the formative first years. Having a network of like-minded peers to learn with and grow fun can be just as important as the content of programs like the Birthing of Giants.
Not as many people have had the opportunity to talk to business owners, entrepreneurs, and business consultants like David has. From the nature of what he does, David is able to get a sort of perspective on commonality with highly successful companies and highly successful business owners.
David had a few recommendations and thoughts from what he has seen over the years that might be helpful for a successful business.
Attitude and Resilience
The first recommendation was attitude and resilience. David noted the incredible roller coaster of being an entrepreneur. He nailed his first company; created a multi-million franchised organization. And then the digital revolution crushed it. After he kept moving forward and stayed positive through his faith in his ability to really buckle down.
Faith in one’s ability to get the work and keep moving can be hard, especially if there are signs that it’s time to give up and the business is putting a strain on personal relationships or the home life. David said it was hard to answer the question of when it is time to give up. There are a lot of people who should probably give up. However, there are also the issues of entrepreneurs and their “workability” post trying to grow a business and being able to take orders from a boss. His best suggestion is a hybrid – compromise by having a job or some other form of income while growing the business.
Stephen pointed out the risk reduction in this suggestion. It’s probably a good idea to have a “side hustle” while trying different things with the business. Entrepreneurs need to be tenacious and constantly re-evaluating and looking to try different things. Both Stephen and David commented that it’s not always worth it and not always realistic, though David did make a great point.
“The world is changed by unrealistic people.”
Solving a Problem
David’s second point was more of an observation. Many entrepreneurs create by finding a problem in the market and trying to solve it or finding a whole/niche that isn’t currently occupied. Stephen pointed out that solving a problem within a market is probably a more successful model than opening a business to compete in an existing market, even if the competition did make Stephen great at what he does due to the competitive nature of success in those markets.
Agreeing with Stephen, David mentioned that small businesses are different and act differently. They can be successful by serving a niche with a smaller number of customers. Bigger companies aren’t always successful trying to implement their way of operating or the Wall Street Journal tips within the smaller, more niche settings. There are just different issues and different problems. Where in one instance a bigger company might think to use their bigger resource pool to throw money or people at a problem, a smaller company might get more creative with systems and processes to think of a solution.
Nothing happens without the Seed
Bringing in his book, Make Love in the Workplace, for his third point, David recommended taking the time to implement a focused strategy on building up and investing in the team. By team, David is referring to the employees. An engaged workforce is really important and David said that the team, not customers, should be number one. If a business owner treats their team well, that team will treat the customers well. He used a farm as an example. If the entrepreneur is the farmer, then the seeds are the team. Those seeds grow into a plant, which is the product. The customers pick that product.
Nothing happens without the seed.
Wegman’s, a grocery business, was one example from David of a successful business that treats their team as important to the success of the business. They can succeed because they have been very successful in engaging their workforce and that ripples to everything. This was a lesson Stephen learned and applied to his business because, as he said, it is hard to be proud of a company that people aren’t proud to be a part of.
David’s next point was a recommendation on systems and processes. Or “best practices” as Stephen said his team calls them. It is hard to stop during the whirlwind of birthing a business to try to write down the systems in place necessary for the business to combat burnout and knowledge loss during turnover. Once those systems are in place, it is easier for the business owner to ensure they are continuing to “pump the water” by engaging with clients, an extremely important task for any business owner.
For David’s – almost – final point, he suggests not to be afraid to say no. An entrepreneur can help create the laser focus needed to be successful and stay within their niche by taking Warren Buffet’s advice to say no 99 out of 100 times.
If it doesn’t align with the next few quarter goals, say no.
Before leaving, this episode’s guest was asked about his own vision for his latest company – Avanti. David sees the organization growing from a more local 80 member group to a living business model of 150 members with $200K-$300K a year in income, franchising or licensing into other cities before moving to global events and chapters all over the world.
He had one more thought for successful businesses before going off-air. Create value. Focus on the mission, the value, the team. And success will find you.