Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Mart Rovers, President of INTERPROM, located in Phoenix, AZ, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Since its inception in 1997, INTERPROM's core services include coaching, consulting, and training and education. Initially for IT organizations and later for other parts of the business. We specialize in areas such as business relationship management, service management, change management, and information security management. We help mature the organization's practices in these focus areas. Resulting in business performance improvements and their bottom line. Our customers, or business partners as we prefer to call them, are of any size and industry, mainly in the United States but also from around the globe.
Tell us about yourself
Initially, we saw an opportunity in the field of service management. Having been "doing" service management in the corporate world for more than a decade and not knowing that it was called service management led to the idea of packaging this practical experience into business opportunities other businesses could benefit from. Little did we know then that the service management industry would turn into a multi-billion-dollar industry around the globe.
With a crowded service management market, the need arose to diversify. Other lines of business were added over time. Business relationship management is our latest one. And our most successful today. Both service management and business relationship management are capabilities any organization should be proficient at. The need for it is universal. And experiencing how much better off people, teams, and whole organizations are by adopting and adapting the best practices put forward is highly motivational for me. It is the best "thank you" that I can wish for.
I have become very passionate about both areas of expertise. So much that I am volunteering a lot of my time to non-profit communities and organizations promoting and supporting individuals and organizations. I have authored and co-authored books as another form of sharing and giving back. And at one point even owned my own non-profit organization, along with several other passionate volunteers. This passion that catches on is what makes it all worth doing every day.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
While growing my company may seem the biggest accomplishment, the non-profit organization that I was referring to earlier, is what still puts a smile on my face. For many years, we organized a local event that was attended by 250 participants. With 20+ speakers, keynotes from highly regarded research firms, 20+ sponsors flying in from all over the US, and a team of 20+ volunteers, we were able to ask for no attendance fees, broke even year after year, and became the largest local event in our space ever organized for eight straight years. Giving back to the community was our main driver. And life-long friendships were a "by-product" that came from it.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
As a business owner, originally, the focus was on growing the business by adding more team members, initially with more like-minded entrepreneurs and later with passionate subject matter experts. Your focus shifts, obviously. Particularly when the organization grows from a handful to 70+ team members. For example, from no reporting lines to management levels with support staff. Or with only a few paychecks to worry about in the beginning, to supporting breadwinners of whole families.
About 15 years ago, I decided to change the company structure. And go back to a small team of entrepreneurs. It resulted in enabling everyone to pursue their passion in our fields of expertise. And let go of the need to grow the number of team members. Growing took on a new meaning.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
My recommendation for anyone starting a business today is to do some soul-searching first. What is your passion? Or even your personal purpose. And then ask yourself, how can you turn this into something unique? A service or a product. You don't want to be a copycat. You want to be number one. And go for it. In today's highly connected and online world, it has become much easier to tell everyone what you have to offer. I would definitely watch as many episodes of Shark Tank. And pay close attention to aspects such as presentation, passion, promotion, and value proposition.
When it comes to running a business, find team members who possess outstanding leadership skills to evolve culture, drive value, and build partnerships within the organization and with business partners internal and external to the organization. This allows for a solid foundation to then grow the business. This is best done by capturing the creativity that every team member inherently brings to the table. Passionate people who are purpose-driven flourish best in an organization with a purpose everyone is in alignment with.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
It takes something to get something. Do your homework first. Learn, observe, read, self-reflect, and educate yourself first. And then "do" pursue your passion or personal purpose. It only takes one business partner who believes in your service or product to get you going. Work will not feel like work anymore when you are pursuing your passion.
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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