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Being an entrepreneur right now means slapping within the face, says this co-founder

July
14, 2021

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In this ongoing series, we share advice, tips, and insights from real entrepreneurs who find themselves in the business battle on a daily basis. (The answers have been edited and summarized for the sake of clarity.)

Who are you and what is your business?

My name is Steve Werner. I'm a small town kid who turned into the U.S. Marine and then the tech founder. My co-founder Phil and I started both Lawn Buddy and Blyss. Lawn Buddy and Blyss are software tools used by tens of thousands of business owners in the craft industry. We provide them with tools to efficiently manage and track their business and to send electronic invoices to their customers from their computers and / or smartphones.

What inspired you to develop these tools?

Our “aha moment” arose from initial growing pains. We started Lawn Buddy in 2016 as a marketplace for homeowners to connect with professional lawn care companies. After a year of growth, we've learned that hiring landscaping jobs is an unsustainable way to support the service industry. They needed more tools for sustainable growth. We found that every business owner we worked with loved the fact that they could keep track of their jobs / assignments, tweak their routes, and deposit funds in just 24 hours. So we decided to turn the gig economy on its head. We decided to repackage all of the tools we had developed to manage an on-demand business and make them available to business owners on the platform. This enabled them to expand their business with office management and billing tools more efficiently.

We continue to look for more aha moments by staying in constant communication with the business owners on our two platforms. Because of this, we're building an effective tool based on real, unmet industry needs.

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What was your biggest challenge during the pandemic and how did you move to overcome it?

The biggest challenge we faced during the pandemic was to maintain the high level of growth and use the existing but increasingly scarce resources to recruit much-needed staff. As more and more people have been vaccinated, this is less of a problem.

What advice would you give to entrepreneurs looking for funding?

When it comes to fundraising, my first piece of advice is not to. Not unless you really have to! Obviously, it's difficult for high-growth companies to scale without outside funding, but if you can bootstrap, do so for as long as possible.

If someone is looking for outside capital, I advise founders to examine their potential angel investors / venture firms as if they were a partner. Not all investors are created equal. When it comes to choosing someone to sit at your cap table, avoid the pitfalls and heartbreaks of making sure they fit you and your company. Look for investors who are familiar with or have relevant experience in your industry. Financial capital is one thing, but financial and intellectual capital will help you outperform your competition. You can find most of these people or investors with a simple pitchbook or crunchbase search.

How do you prepare for a pitch?

When preparing for a pitch, you should know your audience. I spend hours researching before a pitch. This helps me tailor my presentation / conversation to the metrics and facts that are most important to the audience. It also shows that I did your homework. Cut off the fluff too and get to the point. It smooths the deal creation process, and a seamless deal creation process creates trust between partners.

Similar: How this 18-year-old high school student built a six-figure consulting company for social media

What does the word “entrepreneur” mean to you?

It's about being resilient and never giving up. You will face several obstacles on your path to success. Staying focused and working on the problem at hand will make all the difference in the future. You will also be surprised at how much fruit can come to fruition with some persistence and hard work.

What do many budding entrepreneurs think they need that they really don't need?

Founders think you need a lot of cash and an Ivy League education to start a successful business. Both have their value, but nothing can replace drive and hard work.

Which productivity tip do you swear by?

I recently discovered how important rest is to your productivity. I am often so busy moving things forward that I forget to take a breath. When I have a good work-life balance, I do my best, both in the office and at home.

Which business book do you always recommend and why?

I love all of Simon Sinek's work and his latest book, The Infinite Game, is amazing! Must be read! Another favorite is "Winning the War In Your Mind" by Craig Groeschel.

Related: You can't build relationships if you can't remember their names. This entrepreneur solves that.

Is there a specific quote or saying that you use as personal motivation?

Our staff would say that my favorite thing to say is, “Let's slap us in the face today.” While it may sound animalistic, it's a great reminder that we have to get up every day and give everything we have. Tomorrow is not guaranteed so live life today as best you can!

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