In this ongoing series, we are sharing advice, tips and insights from real entrepreneurs who are out there doing business battle on a daily basis. (Answers have been edited and condensed for clarity.)
Who are you and what’s your business?
My name is Matt McCall, I have started 3 businesses in the last 13 years. My latest venture, CrowdVest, is an equity crowdfunding platform that allows small businesses to raise money from the crowd, and at the same time, allows the crowd the ability to take ownership in the companies of the future.
What led you to this idea?
Before mid-2015, only accredited investors (the top 3% of Americans based on wealth) were able to invest in private companies. After the final phase of the JOBS Act was passed it allowed the average American “the crowd” to invest in private companies. The new law is referred to as Regulation A+. I saw this as an opportunity to help entrepreneurs fulfill their dreams of expansion as well as opening up the world of investing in the next big thing to the average American.
What does the word “entrepreneur” mean to you?
The word entrepreneur to me is all about choice. As an entrepreneur, you write your own future. The harder you work, the higher probability of you being successful. I wake up every morning and I decide how I want my life to play out. I can get to work an hour early and stay an hour late and put in the extra work to achieve my goals or I can take the day off and lounge at the pool. That is my choice to make. As you can imagine, the latter is very rare in the early stages of a new company (as I am now working around the clock on my newest venture). But, with success comes the ability to choice time for yourself (as I did when I backpacked through Europe in October).
What was your toughest challenge and how did you overcome it?
My toughest challenge was not giving up. Before becoming an entrepreneur, I had a typical 9-5 job that regardless of my performance, there was a great chance I would get a paycheck twice per month. After starting my first business my financial situation changed. I cashed out my 401k and savings just to make it through the first few months. There was a point in time I considered going back to working for "The Man” so that I could once again eat food that did not come out of a box. Thankfully I was able to stomach a few more months of Tuna Helper and I never gave up on my passion. I overcame this because I believed in my passion and knew that if I went back to my old life that I would forever ask myself, “what if”.
What’s the problem you are attacking now?
When you are selling a service that is new, it is exciting but also scary to most people. While we all talk about change and being on the cutting edge, most humans are sheep and will go with the masses. I am selling a service, equity crowdfunding, that will change the investment landscape forever and how companies ultimately go public. However, to be one of the first companies to go this route creates a fear of the unknown. I am solving this by laying out the benefits to each potential client and how they will be the poster child of how things will be done in the future. And ultimately, I am going to be their guide and assure them CrowdVest will be there for them and that we are in this together. The trust factor will create a lifelong client relationship.
What trait do you depend on most when making decisions and why is that useful for you?
I look at the big picture with all decision making. Too many people make long-term decisions based short-term factors. For example, if a potential client is not able to pay fees upfront, many entrepreneurs will turn down the business because they need cash to fund the business today. However, in the big picture, this very potential client could turn into a long-term revenue generator that could be a client for years. Always look at the long-term ramifications of any decision you make.
How has your leadership style evolved?
As an entrepreneur, you get accustomed to running all aspects of your business in the early stages. You are the sales team, the CEO, and the cleaning crew at the end of the night. Once expansion occurs and others are involved you must realize that as a leader you have to be a successful delegator of tasks. In the early years, I would micromanage employees and realize it was a colossal waste of time. Today I tend to lead by example. I will be one of the first to the office and one of the last to leave, this alone will drive your employees to follow your lead.
Is there a particular quote or saying that you use as personal motivation?
First off I am not a religious person, but I am spiritual, and this is a powerful quote from The New Testament, Matthew 7:7, “Ask, and it will be given you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and it will be opened for you.” This has been my mantra from day one. If you do not ask, seek, or knock, there is no chance of success.