Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Michael Kleinberg, CEO of Mesh Digital, LLC, located in West New York, NJ, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Mesh Digital is an inexorably human-centered Business for Business (B4B) management consultancy that bootstraps, accelerates, and reboots Digital for clients to enjoy the benefits of modern business. From the shallowest customer touchpoints to the depths of the back office, we mesh the complex digital changes that are needed to deliver amazing digital experiences tailored for our clients. Clients love our work because it’s anchored in understanding their needs, our real-world industry experience, our hard lessons learned, and our creative ideas, strategies, and solutions that drive real impact for their stakeholders.
Although our work is often industry-agnostic, we have exceptional depth in several sectors where we can bring decades of expertise, know-how, and direct experience to address industry-specific challenges, including Financial Services, Payments, Global Banking, Healthcare, Travel & Leisure, and Industrial Manufacturing.
Tell us about yourself
After wrapping up 20 years on the industry side of the table as a global executive, I pivoted to management consulting after receiving an MBA, ultimately founding Mesh Digital, and began helping clients transform their businesses by leveraging the convergence of Business Strategy and Technology Capabilities. This convergence is what we at Mesh call Digital, where digital capabilities, combined with the best strategies for people, structure, processes, and ideologies, form the backbone of a modern business to differentiate in its market and drive outsized returns. It’s this impact of Digital Technologies that create a Digital Effect that we at Mesh have had the benefit of taking advantage of in our prior careers as industry leaders and the same effects that we get excited about bringing to our clients as part of every engagement.
After the acceleration of Digital adoption during the global pandemic, fortunately, most companies now view digital capabilities as a strategic differentiator. However, the highest performing companies made throughout the pandemic bolder investments in digital strategies and technologies. We’ve found that Digital-savvy leadership has helped set top performers apart, which we believe will be even more valuable in the future. The Mesh team and I bring a unique blend of real world, pragmatic experience, and excitement to our clients to help make their customers, partners, and colleagues successful, helping them accelerate their businesses powered by Digital.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
In March of 2020, we had just wrapped up helping define the strategies and bootstrapping of a novel Colleague Experience Management (CXM) strategy for a large super-regional bank. We co-created with the client their vision, mission, and strategic goals, defined their governance structure, set objectives and key results (OKRs), built out insights and analytics engine, helped them restructure, created personas, journey maps, and service blueprints, and developed a set of three-year digital product and capabilities roadmaps. Then the world changed just a week later as the COVID-19 Pandemic took hold in the U.S. The client was faced with a rapid transition to work from home for the entire 11,000-employee workforce that they had never planned for previously.
Fortunately, in partnership with our client, Mesh had taken a provocative stance on helping define the bank’s digital strategies that empowered their colleagues to work from anywhere. With the tools, they needed to perform their roles irrespective of location. All are backed up by solid data as proof of the value of this approach. Our client was able to simply accelerate the three (3) year plan we developed into a nine (9) month plan and deliver on their capability roadmaps. Six months into the pandemic, the SVP responsible for the CXM organization stated that “Mesh’s strategies saved their business and were a resounding success.” Empowered, happy colleagues, in this case, made for a successful client, making Mesh successful as well. It’s a great example of how and why Mesh is a B4B firm and why we are who we are.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
It’s all too easy to think about how difficult it can be to build the sales, marketing, and business development engines or to attract and retain quality talent with the right mix of skills, experience, and interest in driving your business forward. Of course, each of these is a small business and startup challenge, not necessarily unique to any one firm, but it’s really the enormity of it all that’s the biggest challenge. Much of the time, too, working through those challenges is spent by yourself building the firm and capabilities to scale and be sustainable. Even with nurturing a professional network and often engaging with peers, the journey itself is a solo journey with yourself. There’s no network nor platform that can replace or remove the introspective sole searching nature of founding and building a firm.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Burn bridges behind you and ensure you’re in it to win it (but don’t burn your network). If there’s only a way forward, your chances for success are much greater. Commitment and fortitude are needed to ensure your firm’s success.
- What got you here likely won’t take you where you need to go. The same skills, experiences, and success you’ve had in the past won’t likely be the same equation to make you and your firm successful. You’ll need new skills, thinking, strategies, partners, and tactics to be successful.
- Hold your ideals tightly, but not so tightly that they get in the way of being successful. There are times that it makes sense to let go of or adopt different ideals, strategies, or beliefs in how or what your business needs to be to move forward.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Starting, running, and growing your own firm isn’t an easy journey, but it can be a rewarding one. But it’s also an emotional journey, and it’s a great idea to ensure that you also have a strong personal support system of family, friends, and colleagues that have your back while you follow that journey. Having a framework such as this can make your experience richer, more rewarding, and even fun along the way.
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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