Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Scott Grubb, Founder of Vision to Life, located in Austin, TX, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I was shocked to learn from the SBA that 98% of the 30 million companies in the U.S. have fewer than 100 employees, and nearly 90% have fewer than 20 employees. Vision to Life is a learning community that exists for these entrepreneurs where they can learn about the critical fundamentals of operating a business. I learned most of these lessons the hard way from 15 years as a Founder & COO in the startup world. This stuff isn’t taught in business school, and I know this because most of my consulting clients have MBAs from top universities.
The stress of running a small business or a startup can eat someone alive. These people are all around you in your community and are the backbone of this country’s economy. They’re parents trying to raise their children, adults taking care of aging parents, and life is pulling at them from every direction. When you’re stressed at work, it’s challenging to keep that from bleeding into your private Life and the lives of your loved ones.
I speak from experience from having started & led multiple companies, some of which were successes, others ended up as cautionary tales with some very tough lessons. Just like most business owners experience at some point in their career, I’ve gone long periods of time without taking a paycheck from my own business while funding payroll with my life savings. I’ve also bounced back from these hard times and learned some invaluable lessons along the way that I’m passionate about sharing, which is why I started Vision to Life.
Vision To Life is honored to work with small and medium-sized companies to address operating issues so they can make better decisions, build better teams, and bring their vision to Life. We’re here to help them make better decisions and ultimately enable them to show up in a better way for their teams and the loved ones that rely on them for so much.
Tell us about yourself
I always knew I wanted to captain my own ship, and I’d always had a passion for organizing things. This dates back to when I was seven years old, and my entire room was plastered with Michael Jordan & Bo Jackson posters, cards, hats, you name it. I’d spend hours organizing all of my collection, and that’s something that has never changed. Today, I just apply that passion to organizing companies.
After a 5-year Fortune 50 tour at Dell & Apple in sales, I realized that I wasn’t cut out for life inside a massive organization. It was very difficult for one’s work to have an impact. So, I left my corporate job to start an HR-consulting brokerage firm for blue-collar companies. It was my first taste of entrepreneurship, where I got to eat what I killed or risk starving to death. I loved it, and I never looked back.
As founders, we stepped into nearly every pitfall imaginable and learned many tough lessons the hard way. I learned from all these mistakes since operating small startups and working inside high-performing organizations. Vision To Life is a learning community committed to teaching entrepreneurs about the critical fundamentals of operating a company. This includes creating and living to core values, proper planning, extensive hiring process, and budgeting and forecasting cash flow.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I think my biggest accomplishment has realized that all of my past experiences, especially the challenging ones, have been serving me all along and leading me to what I’m doing now, which I consider my life’s work. Helping other business owners avoid pitfalls is something I’m deeply passionate about, and realizing what my purpose is in Life is something I’d consider a major accomplishment.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Being a business owner can be a very lonely place. There are things that you can’t share with your team in terms of both wins and challenges. If company cash is tight and you’re worried about missing payroll, you can’t share that with your team - it’s on you and you alone to solve it. I’ve been there. Conversely, if you have a very profitable year, that’s also something that doesn’t feel appropriate to share.
Joining an organization of peers & fellow business owners can provide an objective sounding board where you can share the 5% of your Life that you can’t share anywhere else. I joined Entrepreneur's Organization in 2016, leading to tremendous personal and professional growth.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Get clarity on “Where You’re Going”:
Get crystal clear defining where you’re going before you bring anyone else into the mix, if possible. If you’re already operating, you still need clarity on this to lead properly. You need to be able to tell potential hires & prospective customers about the problem you’re solving, how and why you’re solving it, and what makes you different/better than the competition. Failing to plan is planning to fail. Vision to Life is launching a digital course in Q4 of 2022 on getting clarity around all of these questions.
- Define and hire the right team:
The team you build will be one of the biggest, if not THE biggest, determining factors of your success, so don’t take any shortcuts when it comes to the hiring process. Get a solid job description that defines personality traits needed to be successful in each role, paint a picture for them of what success looks like if they’re doing a great job, and use personality assessments (my favorite is Culture Index) to design each role and prescreen candidates for fit, use proved to interview methodologies like upgrading that allow you to learn a lot about a person in a short amount of time. Make sure there’s some sort of interview assignment that’s related to the work they’ll be doing in that role so you can see how they think and problem-solve. Yes, this will take more time than just hiring a friend of a friend that you’ve been told you can trust, but it makes all the difference in the world. Put in the time on the front end, and it will pay off.
- Use tools to create systems & start measuring:
Owning a business is an emotional rollercoaster, so it’s easy to make decisions based on how you’re feeling at the moment. It’s important to have data in front of you to cut through the fog. Having a centralized work-management platform to document everything from company processes, to meeting agendas & notes, to tasks and projects is a great way to un-silo information. Asana is my favorite tool for tracking internal company information & workload, while Hubspot is my go-to for client-facing communication and all-things revenue. Additionally, use data to make decisions. Try to have 10 - 15 metrics that are reviewed weekly during your team meeting, and each number should have a baseline (where you started) and then a goal you’re trying to hit for that quarter.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Yes, everything. I’ve taken all my operational experiences and simplified running a company into four easy-to-understand pillars that make up the Vision To Life framework.
The four pillars are:
- Where You’re Going
- Who’s Coming With You
- How To Get There
- How To Know You’re Getting There
The first question every client asks me is, ‘how am I doing, and what do I need to work on?’ To answer this, our team created a free assessment for any person to answer these questions surrounding these pillars. It takes less than 10 minutes. See where you shine and uncover opportunities for improvement.
Join #VisionToLife, a growing community of founders & owner-operators, to get access to self-paced online courses, live workshops & other content at VisionToLife.com.
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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