Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Sterling Hawkins, Founder of Sterling Hawkins Group, located in Denver, CO, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

I believe that every business and every person has greater potential. I've spent the last decade or so studying, researching, and trialing ideas (first on myself and then others) to create a system to unlock that potential, no matter your age, rank, company type, or title. I now deliver that system. We call it the #NoMatterWhat System to companies and the people running them via keynotes, workshops, and a book titled Hunting Discomfort.

Tell us about yourself

I founded a company with my father right out of college that we sold to a group in Silicon Valley that became Apply Pay before Apple Pay. We grew to over 700 employees, offices all over the world, and a multi-billion dollar valuation. I wish the story had a good ending, but very long and very dramatic story short. When the housing market collapsed, our funding dried up. We didn't have enough organic growth to sustain our size and ended up going bankrupt.

The following years were some of the darkest and hardest in my entire life. I end up playing out a sad country song of a story with no job, no income, and going from a penthouse in downtown San Francisco to my parent's house. And just to make sure I was firmly grounded in rock bottom, my girlfriend broke up with me. My Mom said this thing when I was little that came back to me during those tough times. She said: the way out is through (actually Robert Frost, but to me, it will always be my Mom). And it means to find the results you're looking for.

You need to go through the uncomfortable and uncertain. I put it to the test by doing some of the things that have scared me most in life and business, and it turns out my Mom was right. The way out is through. You just have to go through #NoMatterWhat. But I realized that it wasn't about me at all. If we proactively go after the uncomfortable and uncertain in our professional life and personal life, we don't have to have a rock bottom experience as I went through.

And what drives me is exactly that helping people and companies achieve breakthrough results -- no matter how crazy, outrageous, or how seemingly impossible they may seem -- so they don't have to experience the same kind of pain that I went through.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

My first book, Hunting Discomfort, came out about 2 months ago, and that was a huge accomplishment. But the biggest accomplishment, I believe, is the impact that it's making. Hearing from people all over the world what the book has meant to them, how they see themselves in it, and what they're inspired to do coming out of reading it is incredibly fulfilling, and I wouldn't trade anything for it.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

A lot of being a business owner is hard. The hardest, for me anyway, is being responsible for all of it. Everything that doesn't work with cash flow, clients, the website, or anything else ultimately ends with you. It's your problem to figure out.
The other half of that is everything that goes right is because of your team. And I've learned that the humility and gratitude of accepting responsibility for what goes wrong while praising the team for what goes right is a magic formula for growth.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. The first tip is easy: start. You'll learn vastly more by doing than anything else. Once you start, give yourself the grace to fail, to look bad, and to mess up.
  2. Nobody is good right out of the gate, and unless you're willing to learn from at least a few missteps, you won't grow.
  3. And finally, in starting a business, your focus should be on what you are actually delivering for the client. If you do an incredible job for them and deliver a ton of value, it's going to make growth a much easier climb.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

You're either growing, or you're dying -- you probably already know that. The key is that: if you're growing, you're uncomfortable. Discomfort is a diving rod to growth and results. Seek it out, go after it, hunt it, #NoMatterWhat.

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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