May 13, 2017
Bootstrapping a startup can be hard. However, what many entrepreneurs that forego funding forget to tell you is that bootstrapping is also one of the most liberating experiences you can have as an entrepreneur. You’re free to investor meetings, financial obligations, and essentially having a boss at all.
Greg Segall is CEO of Alyce, a bootstrapped and globally sold ecommerce agency. His story of success is rooted in his ability to bootstrap his company and build it from the ground up. Take a look at our interview with him below:
Who is your hero in business, life, or both?
Cal Ripken Jr. is my hero. He played the most consecutive games in Major League Baseball history and redefined the shortstop position. Critics told him he was too big to play shortstop, but during his career he proved that it could be a power position.
I looked up to him throughout my childhood, and when I was 13 I finally got the chance to meet him. I was seriously the last in line and he had been standing talking to people and signing autographs for six hours. Even with that, when I got my turn he was extremely friendly and chatted me up (even though I barely could get out a word) and I never forgot how that made me feel. Ever since then I try to live my life with the same consistency and positive attitude. Not only do I admire his persistence, but I admired his competitiveness and I mirror that passion. While I always want to win, failing is a natural part of life and it’s how you do it gracefully, learn from it and be better the next time around.
What’s the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
The simplest advice I can give is: it’s who you know… and more importantly, what you do for them that matters. In a book I once read, there was a story about a CEO who had two jars of marbles. One jar was filled with marbles of ‘things I have done for others’ and the other jar was marbles of ‘things others have done for me.’
Every day, he moved marbles from one jar to the other, with the goal to always have all the marbles in the ‘things I have done for others’ jar by the end of the day. I thought that was a great way of putting it. You should give back to people as much as possible, support them, and give honest feedback and opinions without asking for anything in return. By constantly helping others you will expand your network naturally, and create meaningful relationships and connections for life.
What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?
Thinking I could do it all on my own. When I started my first company I was 22, and thought that I knew (and could do) everything. I didn’t talk to anyone about the challenges I faced for the first few years. That stunted my growth personally and my business. Most CEOs are willing to learn from each other, have business relationships, share customers and grow together. Ironically, most of my competitors CEOs are some of my best friends.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
I spend the first hour of my day playing with my 9-month old daughter. I just focus on hanging out with her. My first hour of “business” is usually spent listening to a podcast or reading articles revolving around inspiration or issues I’m looking to solve. It always gets my mind around some new ideas and thoughts as I’m getting prepared for the day.
What’s your best financial/cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
Understand the difference between scheduled revenue, accrued revenue, invoiced revenue and earned revenue. Nailing these will help you point out your liabilities and the true health of your organization. Really understand what your business’ balance sheet looks like, not just how much cash is in the bank. Inexperienced business owners tend to focus on the cash, but the cash in the bank is front-loaded, and isn’t going to last you as long as you think it will.
What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
Do things for other people without expecting things to be done for you. Network and get out there. And be good to people. The karma that comes back and the availability of resources that will open up to you are infinite. I would’ve been way further ahead in business if I wasn’t so closed when I first started off. For two years straight from 2010-2011 (weekends included), I went to coffee, lunch or drinks with someone new who I hadn’t met before.
What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?
I would say two things: Alyce defining an industry (or at least revolutionizing one) and being able to have made a huge impact on the world. In Alyce’s case, we’re building a culture of giving, training people how to give well, reducing waste and giving back to charity with every gift given on our platform. If we can accomplish this, create a large, tight-knit organization of awesome people all while generating massive profits, that is true success.
This article is courtesy of BusinessCollective, featuring thought leadership content by ambitious young entrepreneurs, executives & small business owners.
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