Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in leadership development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Doug Thorpe, Founder, President, and CEO of HeadwayExec, LLC., located in Richmond, TX, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Business owners and company leaders call on me to help them improve the way they show up as leaders for their teams. I am an executive coach and business advisor, leveraging 30+ years in executive leadership, serial entrepreneurship, and management. As a former banker, I saw firsthand what good leadership could do for company success and, sadly, what poor management does too. I bring all of my experience augmented with multiple coach training certifications to provide maximum, measurable results.
Tell us about yourself
I was raised as the only son of a hard-working single Mom who quit her day job to start a business. Her motivation fueled my interest in small business. I saw her struggles and victories. I've never lost sight of the value that successful business ownership can bring to families and communities.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
In 2008, I used my knowledge and experience to create a community non-profit to help job seekers who were thrown into career change because of the financial crash. For the next 4 years, the organization I founded coached over 4,500 individuals through their transitions, helping them successfully land new jobs.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Actually, in my humble opinion, there are several. First is overcoming the temptation to chase bright shiny objects. As an owner, you will be faced with many decisions to make about growing the business. Everything has its benefits and costs. Chasing too many options at one time clouds decision-making.
Another challenge is time management. All too often, my clients complain about not having enough time. Time is the one commodity we all share every day. We each have 86,400 seconds in the day to get things done. The difference between successful owners and not-so-successful ones is the way they use their time.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
For starting the business, understand your cash position. Cash is king. Run out of cash, and you have to close the doors. The way you accumulate and manage cash will be the first and biggest hurdle to overcome. Learn how to manage cash at all times. Find someone who can explain a cash flow forecasting tool. A simple spreadsheet works but must be created and monitored. I'd do that first, even before any concern for the other accounting reports you'll eventually want to learn about.
As for the effective and efficient running of the business, create your plan. Think in terms of 4 areas - People, Process, Product, and Performance. I have much more to share about each of these critical pieces. Make the plan structured around 100-day cycles. Map out the next 100 days. Stick to the plan. Learn what you need to learn about the market, your fit there, and the ways to maximize your opportunity, but update the plan accordingly. DO NOT freestyle your operation.
Lastly, growth is not simply about finding more leads. Growth comes from smart management of the opportunity you have. If your people, process, product, and performance are not reliable, scalable, and repeatable, you are not ready for "more leads." You'll just lose more money.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Over the years, I have worked with hundreds of clients looking for ways to be better leaders. The old saying tells us, "people join companies, but quit bad bosses." Don't let that be you.
Work on investing in your leadership ability. Get a coach. Explore practical, common sense ways to become a better leader. In fact, I've named my podcast "Leadership Powered by Common Sense." Hop over there and check out the guest stories.
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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