Matt Tormollen, Executive Vice President/General Manager, Avalara, Inc and serial entrepreneur, shared his experiences and gave solid entrepreneurial advice to the UMBC community.
If you missed this informative and exciting workshop be sure to listen to the unedited audio of the workshop available below.
Matt began introducing himself and talking about his experiences as an entrepreneur who is 4/4 is startups with successful exits, which is pretty impressive! Below are 8 tips/principles of successful companies he shared.
Tough personal decisions separate winners and losers
Sometimes in order to be successful an entrepreneur needs to “reshuffle the deck” and bring in new people. This can sometimes require them to make tough personal decisions especially if this means letting go of people you’ve worked with for a long time. It is important to set expectations for all your employees while always thinking of the future of your company and what’s best for it.
Define company culture from day one
It is important to establish a company culture early and live up to the mission and core values. If you can live your brand your employees will follow suit. It is also important to consider this culture when hiring. If a potential employee does not fit the culture they should not be hired.
You are a leader ALL the time
When you are an entrepreneur you are a leader all the time and all eyes are on you. You control company moral and set the mood. You can never have a bad day or your employees will follow suit.
Be careful when sharing intimate information with internal people
It is important to have an open dialog with employees but you also need to be careful with what information you choose to divulge. This is where mentors and outside consultants come in. They give objective feedback to problems you wouldn’t get otherwise. There are many organizations that help entrepreneur establish mentoring relationship. An example is the Young Professional Organization.
Exude positivity and resilience
Sometimes this is difficult but it is necessary. Matt’s main saying is that you must “make lemonade out of lemons.” There will always be challenges that arise and you need to make sure you can stay positive throughout these challenges.
Have personal accountability
Integrity and personal accountability are some of the most important things to have as an entrepreneur. You need to be able to finish what needs to be done in an efficient manner. And if you can’t then you must be confident enough to ask for help.
When it came to product development Matt suggested asking yourself questions like what value am I bring to my customer, how you can introduce it into the market, and how do I quantify the value of my product to make a profit? After you answer these questions you can concentrate on financing.
After you answer these questions you can concentrate on financing. Bootstrapping, when you develop the product yourself, is how you can make the most money since you do not have to share profits with investors. However, if you need investors you need to consider two things. You should always be in control (meaning you own more than 50% of the company). You also want to ask yourself, what can I get out of this relationship besides money? You must not forget that an investor is also a partner.