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 Greg Solometo and I’m Founder and CEO of Alliance Homecare. We started a private pay concierge home care service 10 years ago after taking care of former New York Governor Hugh Carey for the last two years of his life. This identified a pathway to creating a “best in class” care program for seniors and the mobility challenged. Taking care of an elderly person in your family that you love can be a time-consuming, frustrating and costly venture --not to mention overwhelming. Our system is centered around the care I would like to have given my grandmother when I was watching over her during her experience suffering from Alzheimer’s.
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What does the word “entrepreneur” mean to you?
To me, it means someone who experiences something in life that could be done better and then takes that idea and implements a real and executable plan. Many people have good ideas, but very few have the confidence and persistence to see the project from concept to production to the delivery of results. For those that do, they earn the right to consider themselves an entrepreneur.
What was your toughest challenge and how did you overcome it?
Our toughest challenge was developing the business and going from inception to startup. There are three of us who founded the company, myself and two close friends who were nurses. We all retained primary jobs and built this on the side. We took no salary for the first three years and it was very taxing on our lives and our families. Eventually, we grew to afford our salaries and could transition over full time. During that double duty period, it was pretty stressful.
What trait do you depend on most when making decisions?
Trusting my gut has been huge but I’ve learned to listen more and speak less before passing final judgment on things. I’ve tried to surround myself with smart, motivated people who believe in our mission and goals. When trying to move mountains, you need a lot of people that know how to operate fork lifts.
How has your leadership style evolved?
I listened to an audio book a few years ago called Tribal Leadership that helped pave my thinking. The book analyzes companies and categorizes them into five levels of evolution. Level one is complete anarchy (think prison or old-world DMV mentality) and level five operates in complete harmony. These are the companies that rise above an industry to create their own level of competition and their innovation creates a completely new product not seen before. I think we are operating at level four today. Level five is still on the horizon.
Is there a particular quote or saying that you use as personal motivation?
Theodore Roosevelt's quote: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” I change my motivational quote each year on my email auto signature. I’m due for a new one, come to think of it!
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