Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Matt Tidwell, CEO of ThinkThru, located in Nashville, TN, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We are a technology-enabled instructional design agency with a single focus on helping brands build training experiences customers love. Through our signature frameworks, we help B2B SaaS and product teams write, design, and produce profitable online training and remove the overwhelm that comes from creating customer-facing multimedia, courses, and platforms. "Customer Education" is a term that’s still relatively new in many circles, but we’ve been creating educational multimedia, courseware, and customizing learning systems for technology brands for just over seven years. Our clients are typically product teams looking to:
- Increase Customer Success with software or product features, functionality, and services.
- Reduce churn and retain customers longer through maximized product usage.
- Reduce the overhead associated with support and professional services.
Tell us about yourself
I’m a natural problem solver, curious person, and tech enthusiast. I’m also a husband and father with a growing family - so starting my own business was a “scary” proposition at first. But, once I realized that “we” (originally “I”) are solving a real problem for tech companies in nearly every industry and also helping their customers through creative solutions, our business model is really a win-win for everyone involved. The business started almost by accident, but I had reached a ceiling at the consulting firm I was working at.
Many of the providers I was supporting had amazing (and complicated) technologies that just needed a way to bridge those knowledge gaps in the product (and industry) in order to really increase customer demand. So, after speaking with a few of the providers, we agreed to contract out the work initially and ended up building customer training programs and certification programs that generated 6, 7, & 8 figures in training revenues for them.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Hiring that first person was a big moment for me. When you have dollars coming in and become overwhelmed by “all the things,” bringing on another person that “gets the vision” is really a big step. I think so many business owners delay that first hire for far too long (I sure did), but it also increases your accountability because you have someone else to take care of as well.
Now our team is fully remote, in multiple time zones around the world. I’ve had team members say the way we manage schedules provides the flexibility for them to be great moms and dads, in addition to building great training products, which is the thing that I’m most proud of.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The loneliness and self-doubt that comes with being the “only one you know” trying something like this. Early on, I faced depression and anxiety due to the pressures of needing to “make it work,” but I did find that investing in a performance coach, meeting regularly with other business owners, and finding things that are simply fun to do in your business, helps maintain sanity and mental health.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Make sure you’re actually solving a real problem. The more real, the bigger the problem, the more valuable you can be in the market.
- Realize this is a marathon. Not a sprint. I wish I could go back and get the Christmas Eves and Thanksgivings worked away because I felt the pressure of deadlines and commitments as a small business. Looking back, I just missed out on moments I’ll never get back. Our company still grew, and clients still paid us.
- Don’t overthink. In fact, be naive at times - the more hopeful and optimistic I am, the luckier I get. This all stems from “doing more” and “researching less” generally.
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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