My name is Tiffany C. Wright and I am the author of “The Funding Is Out There! Access the Cash You Need to Impact Your Business” (Morgan James Publishing, October 2014). I am a serial entrepreneur, former business advisor, and a former CFO and COO. My firm, The Resourceful CEOTM, provides products, tools and training to assist small and medium business owners in achieving their cash flow and financing objectives.
- My inspiration to be a business owner came from living and working in Japan as an engineer for Honda and traveling around east Asia alone. I stepped so far out of my comfort zone, I opened myself up to all these different opportunities. I also met and became well acquainted with several Americans who had come to Japan and ended up starting businesses there. I thought, “I can be an entrepreneur based in the U.S., no problem!”
- I am a serial entrepreneur so I have experienced a number of challenges. One big challenge I had in real estate investing was when I moved from investing in small apartments to buying, renovating, and selling single family homes. I encountered issues with general contractors who were not detail oriented, subcontractors who did not perform as stated in their contracts, site security,… What I realized was that I assumed that, because I had taken real estate and finance classes at Wharton, and had been successful buying and holding small apartments, that I knew all there was to know about real estate investing. NOT! Continuing education is absolutely critical. Just because you master a niche (i.e., small apartments for long-term holds), or an operational segment (i.e., funding for projects), does not mean you will not have problems when you try something new. And you must keep doing new things to keep growing, right? So education, especially as an entrepreneur, is life-long.
Hiring a Sales Team
- Another issue I encountered was hiring a sales team. I was extremely good at hiring operational people, but had never directly hired salespeople before. I had to act as the sales person and sales manager when I purchased a construction trade publication. I hired, fired, hired, fired, until I learned enough to finally get it right. I knew I was the problem but it took me a while to figure out what I was missing. I attended sales training and did exit interviews. I finally realized, over time, that sales people need significant support, as in well-defined targets, marketing collateral, near term deliverables, required reporting, team meetings, and so on. You can’t just say, “Here’s the goal. Go get ‘em tiger!” In addition, our entire team was virtual and I came to the realization that, although many sales people spend most of their time out of the office, only a specialized set have the discipline to work 100% from home. I finally turned our sales around and hired two sales people who helped the company grow revenue.