Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in finance but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Carlos Agustin, CEO of DNA International Group, located in Ciudad de Mexico, Mexico.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
DNA international group is a conglomerate business group that operates in México and USA. We are present in different sectors such Oil&Gas, Cybersecurity, Telecom, Health, IT, and Fintech. Currently, we are launching our Venture Builder (Orca Venture Builder). The company is based in Austin (Texas). Orca Venture Builder aims to create new businesses and help entrepreneurs to move from an idea to a robust business plan under a structured process. At the end of the process, the best business ideas will be funded by our Family Office, and they will start a new journey as a start-up with all the support of the group.
Currently, the vast majority of our projects are with government institutions in Mexico. Our new strategic plan aims to decrease the dependency on government institutions and improve our positioning with private clients. At the same time, we are executing a strategic plan to diversify the source of our revenue, looking at other markets different from Mexico. Actually, the group is already running a company in the USA specializing in Telecom, and as I mentioned at the very beginning Orca Venture Builder is headquartered in Austin (TX).
Tell us about yourself
I was appointed as a Global Chief Executive Officer in February 2022. Before that, for over 8 years, I have been working in a global consulting company specializing in culture transformation, and this expertise in culture transformation has helped me get this new position. There are a lot of outstanding executives that can lead the company, but there are few with a clear understanding of how culture works and the impact on the bottom line.
DNA international group is a family-owned enterprise. These kinds of companies have specific issues related to the business and the family that should be addressed in a specific way. Most of the challenges that family-owned business faces are related to cultural issues.
Apart from that, before my role in the consulting space, for over 15 years, I've been the CEO of a family-owned business. At that time, I had the chance to face firsthand the most critical challenges family enterprise must address.
What really drives me is to help family leaders get to the next level, preserve their wealth and, at the same time, deliver business results. It is not easy to manage family dynamics, but I know how relevant it is to do it in an effective way and the consequences of doing it wrong. When I talk about the consequences, I like to talk about 3 main dimensions: the "IT" level, meaning the impact on the bottom line (profit, business outcomes, wealth generation, etc..); the "WE" level, meaning the capacity to generate healthy family relationships based on trust, and the "I" dimension, meaning self-esteem, fulfillment and mission accomplishment.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I would say that my biggest accomplishment is setting up the right governance at the corporate level and the family level. In my view, these two dimensions (corporate & family) are independent, but somehow there is needed some kind of correlation exists because one doesn't work well without the other.
I am especially proud of the way I address the process of setting up family governance. Of course, you can focus on traditional family constitutions that mainly concentrate on rules of engagement and other regulations that family members should comply with. You can push them harder and give inspirational speeches..., but you will have wasted your time. Most of the obstacles and risks that come with achieving a successful succession process to ensure generational cohesion and sustainable growth aren't in rules of engagement or other regulations. They are in your capacity to overcome intangible risks. Risks such as competing visions, family disputes, inadequate planning, a failure to engage and appropriately train the next generation, and lack of leadership.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
On the one hand, it is hard to think that your decisions can impact le life of people, their families, their dreams, and their goals, so I always try to be conscious of all these implications when I have to make a decision.
On the other hand, it is hard to know that all that you do will have an impact on your personal wealth, and believe me, it is not the same to manage and make decisions when the wealth belongs to others than when what is at stake is your own heritage...I am not saying you make better or worse decisions; what I mean is that the level of pressure increases...
In the family business setting, there is another layer of complexity that is related to the management of the family dynamics. A family-owned business is a business, but at the same time, there are family relationships, and sometimes (especially when the rules and process -governance- are not clear) is needed to make decisions that impact family members, and it becomes one of the hardest things.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
Most people focus on improving their technical knowledge (the "doing" level) but from my point t of view, what will help you to raise the bar is focusing on the "being" level, and especially, I would suggest embracing these 3 key mindsets:
- Being a learner instead of a knower means always being curious to understand why other people can have a point of view different than mine.
- Being a "player" instead of a victim means focusing on what you could have done differently instead of blaming others when things go wrong.
- Be kind; you never know what people are going through and their personal circumstances....
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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