Darius Somekhian – Co-Founder & CEO, Synergy Specialists

Darius Somekhian is a business development strategist who partners with travelling dental specialists and helps grow their professional careers in dentistry, one dental office at a time. He started out working in the dental industry at the age of 18 from the trunk of his car. After growing his company to over $15 million in annual revenue, then transitioning to being on the corporate side, Darius has cultivated an incredible rolodex of relationships in the industry.

Co-founder and CEO of Synergy Specialists, a disruptive model matchmaking specialists to dental practices. Contracted with over 240 dental specialists nationwide active in over 160 dental practices. Darius has also connected with multiple well-known manufacturers and distributors to form SynergyFormulary, a buying club for dental supplies which unites hundreds of practitioners to form a financial shield against the the rising costs of running a dental practice in today’s economy. He has landed dozens of contracts with multiple manufacturers and well-known distributors to secure a lower cost on all of the everyday, commonly-used dental supplies an office utilizes.

How did the concept for Synergy Specialists come about?
Synergy Specialists came about when I was working for a dental supply company that had bought us out of our private distributorship, and I was noticing a lot of my friends at the time who were graduating from specialty programs in need of work, so I took it upon myself to create a unique Specialist Agency which helps travelling dental specialists consolidate their schedule, while the practice consolidates their chair time as well. Patients love it because they don’t have to travel to an unfamiliar remote practice.

How was the first year in business?
First year in business, we had no clue what we were doing. Luckily, we didn’t make many costly mistakes in the beginning. However, we truly understood our scalability as things grew bigger.

What was your marketing strategy?
Lots of digital marketing, email, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Honestly, we tried a million things like spraying a marketing machine gun.

How fast did the company grow during the first few years?
The company grew rapidly. We actually won the Inc. 5000 award for being one of the fastest-growing companies. From years two through four, we doubled in size each year.

How do you define success?
Success is defined by your reputation, happiness level, balance, and of course for any entrepreneur, success is defined by the time you invested to what you have accomplished in the growth of your startup. I’ve seen a few variations of a “wild success.”

What is the key to success?
I think the key to success is persistence, organization, and having the right management and spouse behind you at all times.

What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
Don’t trust everyone. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there and always look out for yourself!

What are some quotes that you live by?
Some quotes to live by are “If it’s not broken, then don’t fix it” and “Do it perfect or don’t do it at all.”

What are some of your favorite books?
Good to Great and Losing my Virginity by Richard Branson.

When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
Sometimes, you have to think like a boxer. If you go down for the count, get back up and start swinging again.

What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
The advice I would give a young entrepreneur is to keep it simple, keep costs low, and have a pulse for what’s going on with accounting.

Bryon Beilman – Co-Founder & CEO, iuvo Technologies

Bryon Beilman is co-founder and CEO of iuvo Technologies, Inc. which he and colleague Jeff Ouellette started in 2007. With more than 25 years in IT and systems management, Bryon brings a broad set of technical and business skills he has developed while working for small, large, government and startup organizations.

Bryon is an industry leader and as CEO has responsibility for Sales, Marketing, and Business Development at iuvo Technologies. Bryon has a degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Colorado, Boulder and has been a contributing author on books and conference papers, and is a regular contributor to the iuvo Blog.

How did the concept for iuvo Technologies come about?
I had worked in the startup world, particularly for semiconductor and systems companies. Startups are awesome because your skillset grows so quickly around a lot of different topics. Some of them succeeded while others failed. During my last startup, it was a struggle getting more funding and getting the deliverables out. I realized that they were not failing because of the IT systems that I had built from the ground up, but for other reasons out of my control. I wanted to control my own destiny. I then contacted an old colleague, Jeff Ouellette, whom I had worked with before to gauge his interest in starting an IT Services company that would be based on our ability to execute. He was interested and we started planning iuvo Technologies.

The other driver was my experience at the time interacting with another IT service company. I was shocked at how poor they were and how much they charged for the poor service.  I knew that businesses deserved better IT and a better value and I knew that we could provide it.

How was the first year in business?
We started in January 2007 and began building a good customer base, particularly around startups, rather quickly. Our first year, we had enough work to hire three full-time staff. If you recall, in 2008, the market crashed and most companies tightened up their spending. Despite that, our revenue grew 125% that year and has continued to grow every year since. We have been on the Inc. 5000 fastest-growing companies in the US for the last four years and the Boston Business Journal‘s Fast 50 (fastest-growing private companies in Massachusetts) for the last four years as well.

What was your marketing strategy?
Our marketing in the beginning was to just have a website, make relationships, and grow by referrals. Only in the past two years have we embraced SEO, marketing automation, and things like trade shows in a light manner. This year, we hired a full-time marketing leader to really invest in those areas.

How fast did the company grow during the first few years?
Our three-year revenue growth from 2007 to 2010 was 387%.

How do you define success?
Success is creating a great company. A company that employees want to work at, and customers love working with. If you focus on culture, customer service, and service delivery, revenue and profit will follow.

What is the key to success?
Hire the right people and make sure they are smarter and better than you. Give them the roadmap and autonomy to do what they think is right and move roadblocks out of the way for them.

What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
Believe in yourself and never be satisfied with what you know or what you can do. Continually learn and grow.

What are some quotes that you live by?
There are many quotes that I like, however the simple one is “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”

What are some of your favorite books?
I am an avid reader of business books. A few of my favorites are:

The Start-up of You by Reid Hoffman
Good to Great by Jim Collins
Traction by Gino Wickman

Tell me about one of the toughest days you’ve had as an entrepreneur.
The toughest time is when you need to let a person go. At iuvo, we take hiring very seriously. You need to fit into our culture and have a few key traits to work with our clients at our level of satisfaction. It is always difficult to terminate people, but if they are not a fit or if business conditions change, we need to do what is right for our business and client standards.

When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
I try to focus on what is important. I am actually more motivated by adversity than I am success. I am a problem solver – all of us at iuvo Technologies are. If there is a problem I want to solve it, and if something is challenging, it is an opportunity to learn from it and become a more capable leader.

What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
Find a good mentor, have coffee, and meet up with them whenever you can. There are so many people who love to share their knowledge and the relationships you make can be invaluable to your growth.

Jeff Kupietzky – CEO, PowerInbox

Jeff serves as CEO of PowerInbox, an innovative technology company helping companies monetize their email newsletters through dynamic content. Before joining PowerInbox, Jeff served as president and CEO at Oversee.net, managing worldwide operations and building Oversee’s owned and operated portfolio of domain names into one of the world’s largest, establishing the company as the leader in Internet real estate. Under his leadership, the company diversified into lead generation, building several high growth and high margin businesses. Before that, Kupietzky served in leadership positions with X1 Technologies, Digital Insight (Intuit), Siebel Systems (Oracle), and Loudcloud/Opsware (Hewlett-Packard). Jeff began his career as a consultant for McKinsey & Co., developing business strategies for software, insurance, and banking clients. A frequent speaker at Digital Media conferences, he has also been featured on CNN, CNBC, and in many news and business magazines. Jeff earned an MBA with high distinction from Harvard Business School and graduated Summa Cum Laude with B.A. in Economics from Columbia University.

How did the concept for PowerInbox come about?
My prior company monetized domain names and we had a small unit providing a shopping comparison experience for travel. Although it was a small site, we noticed that over 80% of the value was coming from its email list, which kept growing and becoming more profitable. I recognized then that there would be an opportunity to invest in the platform of email and make it even more productive for publishers. When the founders at PowerInbox invited me to come onboard, it was clear that we shared that same vision, so it was a natural fit.

How was the first year in business?
Very challenging. Like many startups, we actually tried several product iterations in the first few years trying to find that perfect fit for our customers. That ultimately led to the current solution that has proven to be successful.

What was your marketing strategy?
Our philosophy was, and still is, that if you build the best product, it will essentially sell itself. Rather than investing a ton of money in marketing and sales, we focus on product development, on R&D, and rely heavily on word of mouth. Our customers are the best evangelists for our product because it works to deliver the results they need.

How fast did the company grow during the first few years?
Very quickly. Thanks to our team’s relentless dedication to customer service and product innovation, the company has grown over 7,500% over the last three years. And in the past year alone, our customer roster has grown by over 50%. On the product side, we’re delivering millions of pieces of live content, in real time, to millions of subscribers at thousands of publications.

How do you define success?
Our success is defined by our customers’ success. We achieve our goals by providing a service that is valued by our partners and that generates a positive outcome for all our stakeholders—customers, employees, partners and investors.

What is the key to success?
Relentlessness in the pursuit of success. I don’t give up. I keep working, studying, and brainstorming how to solve a problem until I have the answer. And the entire team here operates in essentially the same way.

What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
That success may take longer than you expect, so don’t give up. Today, we see so many so-called “overnight successes” in the media—those seemingly come-from-nowhere, suddenly-a-unicorn kind of startups. The truth is it takes a lot of work, and people often underestimate just how long it will take, so they give up too soon. Who knows how many great companies we may never know about because they gave up too soon?

What are some quotes that you live by?
Yogi Berra quotes are the best. One of my favorites is: “If you find a fork in the road, take it!” He meant it literally, giving directions to his house, but that’s a powerful notion if you think about it. When you need to make a decision, the worst thing you can do is let it paralyze you into taking no action. Pick a route and go.

What are some of your favorite books?
I love history books, especially biographies.

Tell me about one of the toughest days you’ve had as an entrepreneur.
It was a day that I didn’t win a deal with a big partner. I’d flown out to see them and a lot was riding on their positive response. When I did not get the deal, it forced us to re-consider those efforts and ultimately find a new path.

When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
The belief that success will come in the long term. Just stick with it.

What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
Besides stick with it and don’t give up? Seek out mentors and others to give you feedback, and don’t give up if you don’t have overnight success. Also, don’t forget to have fun and enjoy the ride!

Abby Leibowitz – CEO, Call Experts

As CEO of Call Experts, Abby Leibowitz plans and implements growth and sustainability strategies for the business and guides all. Since joining Call Experts in 2006, Leibowitz has held several different positions in the company as she has built and transformed the company into an international corporation. Leibowitz’s most recent work includes developing solutions for customer experience mapping in relation to customer digital journeys, focusing on AI and automation.

Leibowitz holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the Citadel and a Bachelor’s degree in English and Government from Franklin and Marshall College.

She is a member of the Canadian Call Management Association (CAM-X) and the Association of Teleservices International (ATSI). Under Leibowitz’s leadership, Call Experts received the Award of Excellence by both organizations for several consecutive years. Also, Call Experts has been recognized in both the 2016 and 2017 Roaring Twenties lists of fastest-growing companies in South Carolina by SC Biz News, and seven times in the Inc. Magazine 5000 List of America’s fastest-growing companies. In 2010, at age 26, Leibowitz was named to the list of “40 Under 40” as recognition of outstanding leadership in the Charleston business community by the Charleston Regional Business Journal. She currently serves on various local non-profit boards as a committee member and is involved in local organizations benefiting youth leadership.

Leibowitz is a native of Charleston, SC and has two perfect children – ages 4 and 6.

How did the concept for Call Experts come about?
Call Experts grew out of a traditional family answering service company that was started in the 1980s. Call Experts had a different name when I joined in 2006. We are that traditional answering service company on major steroids. Since 2006, we developed our solutions to encompass several communication methods for many different industries.

How was the first year in business?
The first year in business included many frantic days and long days. There was constant assessment and reorganization. I would take employee calls 24/7 and use every management technique I could think of to organize and plan the future. A lot of it was just about reacting to the fire of the day and then hoping I was not too tired at night to work on a plan to stop the fire for the next one. I went from company role to company role creating it and working the role as our organization grew and reorganized. The only role I have not worked to-date is IT Manager, but there’s still time for that…

What was your marketing strategy?
At first, there was none. I probably didn’t even know that term. I went to business school after I was already two years into running the company. I learned so much more from being deep within a real company with actual employees and real customers (one of the customers was even the business school I was going to) than I did in the classroom. I realize now that most of the initial marketing strategy involved relying on good luck and trying to stay above water. Then, it was simply to be the first person to answer any inquiry and establish a relationship of trust and responsiveness that we hoped would turn into a sale. After about a year, we created a proactive sales approach that included SEO, expanding into other states, and utilizing some purchased leads.

How fast did the company grow during the first few years?
The first few years were up and down. It was up from some attempted acquisitions, then down as we unloaded them, and then up again slowly over the years and then steadily since then.

How do you define success?
There is personal success as a leader and then there is the success of the business. My personal success is defined as being able to do what I want to with my time and money because I have established reserves of both. Also, to be able to pick up the phone or email someone to make something happen because of the good will and connections I have established. Business success is when we do what we said we would for customers and then add value on top of it, while retaining happy employees and not losing money. It is the most rewarding to know that we provided something unusually exceptional that really met a need for our customers.

What is the key to success?
Attitude and staying flexible. You also need to ask “why” a lot. There is also not only one key. Work hard, constantly reassess, stay open.

What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
That you actually can eat an elephant if you go one bite at a time.

What are some quotes that you live by?
“Learn how to respond, not how to react.”

“May your choices reflect your hopes and not your fears.”

“Don’t overestimate the world and underestimate yourself.”

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”

“Reality is negotiable.

What are some of your favorite books?
Good to Great by James Collins

Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Tell me about one of the toughest days you’ve had as an entrepreneur.
We had a day where our service was potentially going to be compromised. Every back up plan that we had in place was failing. Things that had been tested stopped working. New solutions and ideas would work for a minute and then stop. The team was looking to me for direction at every turn about what to try next. Everyone seemed almost paralyzed. It was nearing the time when we needed to make a real decision about what to do – how to reroute customers and what to tell them. We figured it out with about five minutes to spare, but it was a time where I felt the true weight and responsibility of my role and realized how much truly relies on my decision making skills. As much as we plan for what could come up, there will be times where you have to quickly rely on experience and bring it all together to do the best you can in that moment.

When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
That when I look back on this time, I will remember how I dealt with this moment and aim to be proud of my behavior in a situation, regardless of what happened to me or how others acted. The present time moves by so quickly that I can let the future be the judge, not get caught up, and keep moving forward. I can also recognize easily what truly matters in life and put things into perspective quickly to focus on “Okay, now what can we do next?”

What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
Start examining your thoughts when you feel limited to dig into what happened in your life to make you think that was the prevailing truth. If you dig deep enough, you can rewrite your life rules to propel you through what you want to accomplish. The older I get, the more I realize that opinions and judgments I had in the past are constantly turned upside down – so it is best to just stay very open and positive from the onset. Do you remember what it was like to be a judgmental teenager who thought old people were lame and we knew the right way to live? Well, remember that and never let yourself be that stuck again. Learn from other people’s mistakes if you can instead of making your own, but also accept that sometimes you will never learn unless you do it. Also, just go for it. If you have an entrepreneur’s spirit, you will regret more the things you do not do than the ones you do.

Rob Braiman – CEO & Managing Member, Cogent Analytics

I have a long-standing reputation as a “serial entrepreneur” and I’ve spent 15 years working directly with business owners to improve strategic planning, operations, growth, and profitability.

I founded Cogent Analytics after spending over 10 years as a senior business analyst helping to improve and build main street businesses across the country. The company has now been ranked for two consecutive years on the Inc. 500/Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies in the country and #5 in the state of NC.

I have personally engaged with over 1,700 businesses across the United States and I continue my work to further the interests of other business owners like myself. The mission of Cogent Analytics is to bring tools of better management, organization, and profitability to privately-held, small- to mid-sized businesses, and to deliver our services with integrity and transparency.

Cogent’s primary objective, in every interaction, is to put the interests of the client first. In support of that directive, I’ve built a company culture based on a code of honor, courage, wisdom, faith, perseverance, and loyalty. The foundation of my value system started in the U.S. Military as a young man serving with SOCOM, and my deeply-rooted personal code is what I demand of myself every day; and is what I ask the employees of Cogent to embrace. Service to others under this code is at the very core of the entrepreneurial spirit and of which is a foundational pillar at Cogent.

I support former military members during their transition to civilian life and It’s a privilege to help them discover the value of their military experience as they seek employment and find success in the business world.

A husband of 24 years and a father of two, I stand committed to my family, my community, and to my employees and clients.

How did the concept for Cogent Analytics come about?
I had been in the industry for more than eleven years working as an analyst for another consulting firm. I was doing quite well with them, however, I saw things that needed to be changed as far as their policies, how they treated clients, and their overall business philosophy. I did not agree with the way they conducted business and could not abide by their way of doing things. I knew I could do a better job in delivering a service that was based on integrity and transparency, both of which were lacking not only in this previous company but throughout the industry. I always believed that there could be a small business consultancy that put the interests of the clients first, and I wanted to build a team of individuals that could honor that basic mission. I wanted to serve clients the way I would like to be treated, and I knew that if I stood by that philosophy, then I would stand out in the industry and be successful. But more importantly, the small business owner would be treated fairly and would receive the genuine help and advice they deserved. There is no better feeling than knowing that you helped turn a business around, saved a family from losing their business, or helped a couple regain some life balance in their relationship. Small businesses are the backbone of this country, and they are probably one of the most underserved segments in our economy. I am honored to be able to help serve other people.

How was the first year in business?
Cogent Analytics started on April 22nd, 2014 and became an individual consultancy firm with an office space no larger than 1200 square feet. We started with six members in our first year and we grew to 25 or 30 members by the end of December. Of course, we faced several challenges ranging from process development and developing measurements in KPIs, to configuring our financial metrics. We also had to develop the framework for our organization and for the day to day reporting and process both in product deliverable as well as internal management. Our consultancy didn’t even have a website within our first ten days of operation. However, because I had already developed the front end of the business development team and the BDC team, the next real challenge after we opened the doors was finding analysts and project developers that could review companies and do the work.

What was your marketing strategy?
I didn’t have a formal marketing strategy. I view marketing as one facet of business development which includes both the selling efforts, incorporates human resources into the active approach to market, and the marketing meant to support our brand. In our overarching business development strategy, we have both an inside and outside sales team who work collaboratively to initiate a discovery (a comprehensive analysis, both qualitative and quantitative, of a client’s business). However, in regard to a marketing strategy, marketing was woven into every aspect of what we did. My first step was establishing my company name, an official logo, and a strong message of integrity and transparency – something I thought was lacking in other consulting firms. I established our difference from the beginning. These items provided a grounding foundation from which we could build from. It also established me and my company as a viable entity and a trusted service in the minds of prospective clients. From there, my go-to marketing strategy, in the beginning, was literally making phone calls and going from door to door to introduce my service and never giving up. When I was able to help one client, I could usually get two more and so on.  Each client that I was able to help was also happy to refer someone they knew, but most importantly, they trusted me. Additionally, an important aspect of marketing strategy is persistently and consistently adding content and material in all facets of marketing to provide small business owners with solutions. Through the understanding of those solutions, clients will seek us out for assistance, since we produced the solutions, and then choose to do business with Cogent Analytics. It is also important to implement this marketing strategy into the prime markets that we have identified whether it is mature market or expansion market, and we incorporate into our marketing strategy web-based platforms including creating a website, case studies, blog articles, podcasts, or broadcasts. Ultimately, it was the initial message of integrity and transparency that I delivered in everything I did, or said, that provided in the end. In short, my marketing strategy was simply to do what I said I would do and deliver it in the way that I said I would. I “walked the talk.”

How fast did the company grow during the first few years?
We just crossed over our fifth full year in service. We had made, by our third full year, the Inc. 500 list at #233 in the country and #5 in the state of North Carolina. Subsequently, we have made the Inc. 5000 list each year thereafter. The Inc. 5000 list is a measurement of growth, and many people were surprised that any organization could grow at the speed by which we’ve been able to accomplish in such a short amount of time. It was a slow build, and I employed the help of a small circle of six people who could help build our client base faster. But when you measure success by the quality of your service offering, and the quality of your people and processes, then revenue takes care of itself. Currently, we are actively operating in 22 states and we have done business in 27 states. Strategically, over the course of the next three years, we will be in all fifty states by the end of 2022.

How do you define success?
To me, success isn’t measured based on how big Cogent can grow, it is truly measured by the success of our clients. Accordingly, the definition of success is what our clients say it is, based on what we can do on behalf of others. You can see this in every video testimonial or letter. What gets me up and out of bed each day is the knowledge that I am going to help another small business succeed. However, it isn’t always just about the business either. It might involve saving a family from perhaps going under or repairing the strained relationships within a family business, and it extends out to the employees and to their families as well. In the end, it is less about the aspects of business and more about the resulting effects from helping people. For example, I think our greatest success story comes from a client who we first helped in early 2015. When we met them, they were a $5 million company. Today, they have brought us back in to do a whole other body of work, and they have grown to become a $17 million company. It is a rewarding experience when we can profoundly impact the American small business owner to the point where they are not only taking market share under their own accord, but they are running it better, they are more profitable, and they have been able to afford jobs in their communities. This is the impact Cogent Analytics has on not just the business owner, but also on the overall macro-economy. I think small business owners represent a large share of the macro-economy, usually underserviced, and we want to help a client who is underperforming and undercapitalizing and turn them into a performing entity. This leaves an important impact on the overarching community, whether it be in the form of jobs or increasing the equity of our client’s value.

What is the key to success?
My key to success, and what I impart to business owners, is having a vision and keeping that vision in focus no matter what trials and tribulations you face. Also, sharing your vision continuously with others so that everyone is moving in the same direction and are included in that success. However, just as important is how you achieve your vision. I firmly believe in standing true to conducting business in an honorable and ethical way at all times. When actions speak louder than words, it will always benefit you, your business, and gain the respect of both your team and your clients. The emphasis is not on how fast we can get there, but on whether we are doing it right. To truly find a “Superbowl” team, at the bare minimum, we need to hire and recruit people who can perform to the minimum standard and the overarching mission and goal of Cogent Analytics. This is probably the hardest task of building any business. Mediocrity, or hiring people who don’t necessarily align with a vision or mission, leads to the entire company underperforming. For us, we’ve been very process-driven. At every element of the firm, our process is what drives training, it’s what drives adherence to standard, and it’s what drives the measurables of performance. The long-term benefit is that we can scale the company appropriately without posing a risk to our clients or human resources.

What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
Human resources will rarely see things the same way as a leader’s perspective. People hear the mission and the vision from the leader but will execute based on their own interpretation if the leader is not careful with being consistent with their vision and expectations. Human resources gaps, where people were either mispositioned or put into a position beyond their level of competency, always causes the system to fail. The greatest lesson I’ve learned is how to develop leaders and how to remind leaders that as they develop people, they should be recruiting and consistently training people who can operate on the team, aligned with, and collaborating with, every other member of the team.

What are some quotes that you live by?
More than a quote is my code of ethics that I live by. Born from my military experience, I have carried this through to both my personal life as well as how I conduct business. These ethics are: Honor, Courage, Wisdom, Faith, Perseverance, and Loyalty. Living by these standards, and encouraging them in others, has helped build lasting relationships both personally and professionally. Afterall, “Business IS Personal.”

What are some of your favorite books?
As for books, E-Myth Mastery and The E-Myth Revisited are both great books for small business owners. The books closely reflect what I have experienced personally, and also what most of my clients are experiencing in some form or another. I share the thought with Michael Gerber of making the distinction of working on your business versus working in your business.

Tell me about one of the toughest days you’ve had as an entrepreneur.
I place great trust in my team. There are tough decisions that need to be made every day, but one of the toughest involves people. I want everyone to succeed and achieve their dreams, but one of the most difficult situations to face is when someone breaks that trust. I believe everyone has good intentions, but people can also lose their way and make unwise choices. I also believe in second chances when warranted. One of my toughest days occurred when I had to let someone go who I had placed unwavering trust in, and they broke that trust and acted in an unethical way. The Cogent team is like a family and the overall decision had to be made once it transcended beyond my personal feeling and affected the face of Cogent (and therefore everyone working here). “Walking the Talk” in delivering services with integrity and transparency is what made Cogent Analytics, and this needs to be upheld in making decisions on my journey. It sounds tough in theory, and it is even tougher to execute.

When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
First, I remind myself of my vision and all that I want to achieve. Then, I look around at the growth of Cogent Analytics and the incredible team of people who are also committed to the vision and are 100% fully dedicated team members. I am both honored and humbled. There is both a sense of great responsibility for the team and also a great source of strength that I gain from them as well. My biggest priority is reflecting on the many business owners and extended families that we have helped, and continue to help, who absolutely keep me energized while continuing my journey. Additionally, I am also motivated by the people here who are able to help keep the company moving forward. It is easy to become distracted by an individual who causes strife, as it is usually not the group itself but individuals from within the group who create problems. It is easy to forget that, for the most part, everyone is invested and focused, even when the hardship of the bad individual takes hold.

What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
Always establish a vision: don’t lose sight of it and keep moving no matter what. Keep learning at every turn, stay true to your beliefs, and always act in an honorable and ethical way. Conducting business in this way is more sustainable. This will shine through and ensure your long-term growth and resulting prosperity. Others will want to align themselves with you especially as you attain greater success. Additionally, plan for everything, but most especially working capital. Being able to start a business is rarely the cost of all the assets and equipment that you need to buy and the first people you hire. Instead, the bills you must pay, starting from the first month when you don’t have any revenue coming in, are the true cost of getting started. That’s why most small businesses fail within the first twelve to 24 months: a lack of planning, preparation, and understanding of what it takes to get a business off the ground. Plan for how much revenue you’re going to bring in, plan for how much profit you intend to make, plan on how much debt you’re going to incur, and plan on which people you need to hire. Moreover, plan on what cost or unique expenditures you must make and invest in so that you can do your job. Please learn the financial elements of running a business because this becomes the foundation for everything that you’re going to do.