Scott Selzer – Founder & CEO, StruXure Outdoor

As founder and CEO of StruXure Outdoor, Scott leads by example and never gets too comfortable with his successes. Scott oversees the strategic direction of the company, delivering on record-breaking sales, while overseeing growth in areas such as new products, market expansion, development of sales and marketing strategies, and the development of company culture. After obtaining his teaching degree from Western Michigan University, and starting his career as a teacher, Scott’s summer employment as a remodeling contractor ultimately led him to build one of the premier luxury outdoor structure brands in the country.

How did the concept for StruXure come about?
It all started when I was working part-time as a remodeling contractor during breaks from my full-time job as a middle school teacher. One of my clients asked me to find a solution for creating an outdoor shade structure that could be attached to his house that would still allow sunlight to penetrate into his home’s interiors. I conducted an exhaustive search, and found nothing suitable, so I decided to design and engineer my own product.

How was the first year in business?
The first year was both exciting and challenging. Seeing my design and engineering concepts come to life was awesome. However, figuring out how to sell our product with limited resources was difficult. I could have given up so many times, but I knew that I had a great product and that if I could get the word out about it, people would want it.

What was your marketing strategy?
Early on, our marketing strategy mirrored what our competitors were doing, because I didn’t know any better. But later, I discovered that in order to be best in class, I needed to buck the status quo and do things differently. We needed to stand out from the crowd by finding a better way to go to market and a better way to service clients.

How fast did the company grow during the first few years?
I started the company in 2011, and we grew over 50% the first year, and, in fact, every year since. We know that eventually our growth will flatten out, but we are so proud of what we have been able to accomplish in just eight years.

How do you define success?
I measure success by growth, rather than by reaching goals. You can achieve goals without advancing your business. If you’re not intentional about developing your company, and instead focus on following a routine, then your business will become stagnant. With growth, a lot of great things can happen. At StruXure Outdoor, we grew from two employees to 65, not by trying to reach hiring milestones, but by bringing on good people and developing them so they could help create something special.

What is the key to success?
For me, the key to success is a formula: the right people, the right product, and the right attitude.

What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
I’ve learned so many important lessons in my lifetime. One of the most important is that learning is never-ending. If you think you know everything, that’s when you (and your business) stop being effective.

What are some quotes that you live by?
Some of my favorite quotes are by author Simon Sinek, such as, “Never give up trying to build the world you can see, even if others can’t see it.”

What are some of your favorite books?
As for books, Sinek’s Start with Why is a great read. It actually had a lot to do with how I came up with our company mission statement. I am also inspired and influenced by successful entrepreneurs’ biographies.

Tell me about one of the toughest days you’ve had as an entrepreneur.
Well, there are a lot of missteps along the way in any business, some bigger than others, but I’ve never believed that it’s productive to focus on failures in a negative way. Instead, I look at them as opportunities to make things right, to create improvements, and that makes even the toughest times feel worthwhile.

When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
I look at adversity as a growth opportunity. Not only do I want to keep growing personally, but I want the company to keep growing, and what better lessons to facilitate that growth than those learned through adversity. This approach also helps me to remember that I’m working for something bigger than myself.

What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
You need to start with a really good idea or product and then never give up on it. And you need to be willing to roll up your sleeves and work harder than you ever could have imagined.