*Please note that Etelesolv changed its company name to Cimpl in 2016.
The limelight seeks the successful...
Wow! Christopher Thierry, the President of our telecom expense management company, Etelesolv, has been having quite the year in the spotlight! Notable has featured him, La Presse has interviewed him, and the Globe and Mail has published two of his articles! And now, Christopher’s thoughts and experiences on becoming a successful entrepreneur have been rather prominently highlighted in How We Did It, a book by Entrepreneur.com's Anand Srinivasan. This book was a labour of love – Mr. Srinivasan interviewed 100 different entrepreneurs and distilled the most useful information into the tome. This is basically a treasure trove of tips for aspiring entrepreneurs! In the event you haven’t had the chance to read the book yet, here’s a quick synopsis of Chris’ advice and anecdotes that are featured in How We Did It, conveniently listed by book chapter!
Chapter 6: How to Get the Very First Customers
Credibility and visibility has to be built! Entrepreneurs have to get the word out about the company, through an evolving marketing process. For those with no real money, it begins with effective networking and word of mouth. And once customers are obtained, the following MUST be observed:
- Customer care: Customers must be treated like gold – they have to be turned into fanatical supporters who will give you repeat business and eventual references
- Goal-orientation: The entrepreneur has to maintain a tight focus on meeting business goals, not just hitting sales numbers – how sales are reached is arguably more important than simply getting the sales themselves
- Flexible pricing
- The remora strategy: Going after all the small projects that the big fish wouldn’t do – perform well on these, and bigger contracts will come!
Chapter 9: Growth vs Revenue - What Comes First?
Growth! It’s the only way forward – growth comes from vision; revenue is just a metric.
Chapter 12: Strategies to Retain Your Customers
Thoroughly engage with clients (especially with real face time) to really gain a solid understanding of their organization. Through this deep understanding, it becomes easy to propose innovative solutions.
Chapter 19: Hiring – Mistakes and Lessons Learned
It’s extremely important to develop a deep understanding of one’s core values; that’s the only way to find and add the right people (i.e., those who share the company’s vision) to the company. The effect is multiplicative: Hiring employees aligned with company culture directly leads to like-minded people finding their way to the company. Basically, owners have to factor in how culture impacts the bottom line if they’re going to benefit it!
Chapter 21: Rejected by VCs. Are VCs necessary?
Having money is obviously important, but wise use of this resource even more so! Entrepreneurs shouldn’t be looking for VC – they need to find mentors. Entrepreneurs have to be willing to work hard, learn quickly, and keep an eye out for genuinely useful opportunities to grow the business.
Chapter 23: Risk Taking for Starting Up
It’s important to recognize the symptoms that one has rationalized the risk inherent to entrepreneurship – it may be exciting to jump in whole-heartedly and without reserve, but it’s always necessary to prepare a backup plan in the event of failure.
Chapter 25: The Lows of Entrepreneurship
Low points in entrepreneurship will likely happen. It’s important for entrepreneurs to be adaptable and to have self-confidence at such times. For those who are, they’ll be surprised at just how much they can change habits, outlook, and company direction; they’ll be shocked at just how many new talents they can draw out of themselves through facing adversity.
There’s obviously much more in the book, and I do hope that the aspiring entrepreneur will invest the time to read through the entirety of Christopher’s insights on how to transform a garden-variety startup into a company with national presence and market leadership. If I had to sum it all up though, it’d be this: Everyone has vision, but it’s hard work and dedication that truly pave the road to a bright future!
- Etelesolv sponsors a fun and educational JS-Montreal Meet
- The Globe and Mail publishes Etelesolv's tips for smooth office moves
- Etelesolv earns Microsoft Silver Application Development Competency