Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Zain Jan, Co-Founder, and CEO of Better Earth Solar, located in Tampa, FL, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I'm the CEO of Better Earth Solar, one of the fastest-growing solar companies in North America. We serve homeowners who are tired of paying through the nose to legacy energy companies and who want to save massive amounts of money on their utilities while at the same time switching to a cleaner energy source.
Tell us about yourself
My parents were first-generation immigrants. They worked their butts off, but my family still grew up poor. My mom also suffered a stroke which forced her to stop working and racked up some bad hospital bills, which didn't help. So I got into sales because I wanted my parents never to have to worry about money again. I worked in a number of different industries before starting as a solar sales rep in Boston. After a few years there, I moved to California, where I went all out with my first solar company, Sungrade Solar.
With Better Earth at nine figures and climbing, I could easily sell it and call it a day. But that's the furthest thing from my mind. Ultimately I want to make a massive impact on the planet. And while I'm not going to limit myself to solar energy, I've made a lifetime commitment to the industry. I want to inspire the world to create a better earth for everyone.
My plan is to achieve this impact through the solar industry by reducing carbon emissions, helping real people save money and own their power, and providing a source of electricity through philanthropic efforts in less fortunate communities throughout the world. My goal is to reach as many humans and countries as possible.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I'm very proud of having scaled Better Earth to 9 figures in under two years. Especially without resorting to sleazy business practices. Keeping everything as ethical as possible has always been a big focal point for me. I feel good knowing that we work hard to give our customers the most bang for their buck. I've also made sure our employees are always in a high-quality work environment that allows them to thrive as individuals and rewards them for their effort.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
It might sound hoaky, but I prefer to focus on solutions instead of challenges. Your perspective shapes your reality, so I believe in the power of a positivity-oriented mindset. When I'm confronted with a challenge in my business, my snap reaction is to view it as a growth opportunity. I think, "Here's something that's not working as well as it should be. Which means if I fix it, everything will be running even more optimally." I'd say getting into that mindset alone is pretty challenging. It's easy to feel overwhelmed when you're putting out fires every day. But by focusing on solutions, you enable yourself to grow much more quickly.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Speed of implementation. Don't waste too much time strategizing and perfecting. At a certain point, you're going to hit diminishing returns. Once you have a solid plan, execute it and start generating results. Keep an eye on it, and if it can be improved, then make some tweaks. But don't spend months in the development phase trying to make every little detail perfect. Get it done, and get it out there. Then, on to the next step. That's how you make progress.
- The customer is king. Go above and beyond for your customer. Throw in a little something extra to make them feel truly valued. Do that, and they'll be happy to help you beyond the sale. I have my reps send our customers gifts. I have them babysit their dog. I have them do everything in their power to make the customer understand they'd have to be stupid not to sign with us. Then I have them make the installation as simple and stress-free as possible. After all that, the customer is more than happy to give us as many referrals as possible - which we then turn into more solar deals. Rinse, wash, repeat. You can never do too much for your customers.
- Positivity. It sounds like a throwaway tip in a Forbes article, but this is a major one. A positive mindset has the power to transform your business. And I'm talking both about your own capabilities as well as the environment you create for your team. Look at problems as growth opportunities. Celebrate your reps' wins, even the small ones. Be the kind of boss you'd be happy to have. When your team sees you maintaining a positive attitude, they'll trust you more, they'll respect you more, and they'll want to do a better job for you.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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