Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jim Barnish, CEO of Orchid Black, located in Tampa, FL, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Orchid Black scales growth, profits & exit value for founders & their B2B tech companies with at least $3M in revenue. I also host a business podcast - "The Dirt" - which stars founders who have been through (and in many cases still are going through) the entrepreneurial journey - the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Tell us about yourself
Simply put, I am OBSESSED with helping founders grow their businesses and realize massive increases in the value of their business when it comes time to exit. I've been obsessed with this ever since I got recruited to work in my family business at the ripe young age of 15. From my start in the family business until today, I spent the last two decades working as an entrepreneur, operator, venture capitalist, and consultant. Throughout these years, I had an incredible amount of hard work and failure - failed revenue enhancement, poor cost optimization, lack of product-market - essentially a lot of wasted capital and time.
No matter the role I had in/on the business, all of the growth stage tech companies I worked alongside experienced the same growth/value obstacles, which boiled down to the 5 pillars of value creation - Strategy, Talent, Product, Revenue, Operations. All of them seemed to hit an inflection point, and all of them required outside expertise to navigate this inflection point. Eventually, I navigated my way through 50+ transactions as an operator/investor and $1B+ shareholder value. Ultimately, I felt like there needed to be a better way to reach these successes without all failures along the way. I spent my recent years identifying/documenting a path to make SaaS companies worth so much more by identifying levers to unlock growth and value in tech businesses. I often state that I will be helping founder-led tech companies in this capacity for the rest of my life!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
It is building a world-class team that has driven more than $24.8M in combined value creation.
Here is a great example for founders/CEOs who are wondering how they get their growth unstuck. We were called into a software company by a founder who bootstrapped for 10+ years and built an amazing business but was flatlining. He wanted to exit in the next year and spend his time advising other startups and enjoying life. Because he had low new logo growth, the valuation wasn't close to what he wanted. He tried his usual ideas to generate sales, but it wasn't working like it used to. His next 12-month forecast was only getting worse, so he called OB for help. We ran our Value Creation process on his company in a couple of weeks, and the founder had a roadmap on how to increase his exit value > 50% in 12 months. He was so pleased with the work we stayed on to help run the business. We were so confident in our plan and the founder that we sacrificed cash and took equity instead. In 7 months, we guided them to a $36M exit which was a 55% increase in valuation. Everybody won big.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
An entrepreneurial journey isn't easy - it's painful, ugly, and usually entails things people down want to hear. We have all hit a low point while running a business.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Being CEO of a startup is a tough & lonely job, so please surround yourself with other founders, mentors, and most importantly, a team that believes.
- Distribution first, product second.
- Nail it before you scale it.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
We started Orchid Black to serve founders looking to get 'un-stuck,' grow and create wealth. Founders that didn't fully realize what needed to be done to maximize the value of their business and exit. Our successes in partnering with the right founders and companies have allowed us to achieve tremendous growth over the past few years. Which has, in turn, allowed us to serve more founders…
We are doubling down on this growth over the next year as we expect to have several major exits, fueling these profits right back into the company to help even more founders achieve the exit and legacy they deserve…
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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