Q. Kindly give our readers an introduction to your business. Please include what your business is all about, in which city you are located and if you have offices in multiple locations/ cities.
Ans: The corporate office is located in Jacksonville, Florida. We have a national company with agency affiliations across the nation. In plain terms; We make the complex simple. AccountFirst offers and sustains short and long term business solutions for companies that desire to outsource human resources services; specifically in the areas of payroll, workers compensation, ACA, regulatory compliance, and healthcare.
Q. Kindly give us a brief description about yourself (it should include your brief educational or entrepreneurial background and list some of your major achievements).
Ans: A Graduate of the University of Louisville, Lou opened the business in 1985. We’ve developed a national footprint that outsources human resources services; specifically in the areas of payroll, workers compensation, ACA, regulatory compliance, and healthcare.
Q. What inspired you to (start a new business venture) or (to make significant changes in an existing business)? How did the idea for your business come about?
Ans: One of our core principals is to Look Long, having a forward thinking perspective and quantifying future impact. Through these two core principals we were able to adapt a current business model to accommodate an industry challenge and solve an acute need in the high risk high mod workers comp market. This has grown into a Nationwide program.
Q. What three pieces of advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
1) Whatever you do, do it with Passion
2) Combine Confidence with Adaptability
3) Understand the Importance of Solid Money Management
Q. What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
LOOK LONG: Develop Long Term Perspective
We have found the most successful individuals in life, really evaluate the future impact of the decisions they make today. Over time that has been our model. Significant achievements are the result of mindful planning on the front end. This present value mind set helps to develop a long term perspective.
QUANTIFY FUTURE IMPACT
We set priorities based on the potential future long term impact on our lives. Therefore; it’s got to be measured. You can determine how important something is today by measuring its potential future impact on your life.
Investing in faith, family and education TODAY will result in future stability satisfaction and legacy. How do we know? We took the time to measure and quantify the yield.
PRACTICE DELAYED GRATIFICATION
It has been said, “anything worth having is worth waiting for.” Our belief is no truer words were ever spoken. In todays’ real-time, fast food, instant gratification whirl wind, it’s important to embrace the concept of delayed gratification. Living beyond one’s means, taking the easy route or sacrificing the future for the here and now will inevitably bring heartaches at a later date.
Disciplining ourselves to do what we know is right and important, although difficult, positions us on the highroad. It keeps pride, self-esteem, and personal satisfaction in check.
Sacrifices made today will yield exponential future rewards.
Q. How many hours do you work a day on average?
Ans: At this point in my career, I work 8-10 hours a day on the average. In the beginning, when we launched this endeavor, the average was 12-14 hours daily – longer as needed- AND most Saturdays. Weekends usually consisted of church on Sunday, then several hours with the family. This was the routine for the first five years of the current endeavor.
Q. To what do you most attribute your success?
Ans: My passion for the business, coupled with an earned confidence in our ability to adapt to whatever challenges we encounter, anchored with a strong money management skill set.
Q. How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
Ans: I would sum this up in one statement- “New School/Old School.” We utilize all forms of social media paired with a comprehensive and dynamic marketing sales data system to create and establish new clients (New School). Then, thru personal interaction, we develop and foster long term business relationships (Old School).
Q. Where did your organizations funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it? How did you obtain investors for your venture?
Ans: We financed 100% of the organizations funding and capital. We’ve always strived to remain debt free, unencumbered, without having to service debt.
Q. What is the best way to achieve long-term success?
Ans: Have a passion for what you do, combine your passion with confidence and adaptability, and always make sure you have a firm grip on your money management skills.
Q. Where you see yourself and your business in 5 – 10 years?
Ans: Our business plan has our company growing to over $500,000,000 in 5 yrs and doubling to $1,000,000,000 in 10 yrs.
Q. Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
Ans: There isn’t necessarily one company that I admire. Rather than admiring a singular entity, I extend my respect to those companies and entrepreneurs who ascribe to the values and goals we embrace (outlined in this interview.) Those who have earned the respect of their fellow business owners.
Q. How important have good employees been to your success?
Ans : CRITICALLY IMPORTANT! Quality employees who share our vision are essential to success. It is our mission to ensure these team mates clearly understand and embrace the goals of our organization. Without this piece, the organization is doomed to mediocracy at best, or worst case scenario…ultimate failure.
Q. How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
Ans : Rather than how long to stick with an idea, I would suggest we view ideas as the catalyst to developing long term perspectives, quantifying future directions and determining the resulting impacts. Ideas offer glimpses into the future, so we prefer to store ideas for current and future use, not limiting the time that we consider them.
Q. What motivates you?
Ans : Observing the achievement of our core principals as they unfold in real time and the measurable results of our business plan goals.
Q. What are your ideals?
Ans : My ideals are quite basic. In a word, BALANCE. I continually strive for the balance of Faith and Family first which provides the foundation upon which I draw my strength.
Q. How do you generate new ideas?
Ans : Keeping an Open Mind. By allowing myself to be receptive to people and their suggestions, we maintain a healthy and fertile environment for growth. The non-negotiable threshold is this- brainstorming is encouraged so long as it does not go against my core business principles and above all- Faith and Family.
Q. How do you define success?
Ans : Experiencing measurable growth in both my business and the team that runs it, always fueled by the passion.
Q. How do you build a successful customer base?
Ans : By treating our newest client with the same service and attention that we gave the very first client we earned when we started the business!
Q. What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Ans : Having no limits to success while operating within the boundaries of integrity and the law
Q. What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Ans : Without a doubt, the ability to pay it forward and help someone else along the path we have chosen to travel.
Q. What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
Ans : Entrepreneurs make their own dreams come true, whereas people who work for someone else, can only live another person’s dream.
Q. If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
Ans : I would go to Law School. In reality, it is never too late!
Q. How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
Ans : Being an entrepreneur has given me the gift of choice with my family life. It is an individual’s choice though, entrepreneur or not, of how you choose to integrate your career and how it affects your personal life. I have always made family my first priority after God, and without a doubt, that is the primary reason I have achieved the level of success I enjoy today.
Q. What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?
Ans : My greatest fear is also my greatest motivator- fear of failure. I have always managed this by simply working harder and longer than failure does. I will continue to outpace failure- I just don’t have the time to deal with it.
Q. How did you decide on the location for your business?
Ans : The physical location of our business has never been a major factor. In today’s world of technology, it is a non-consideration.
Q. Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
Ans : Not really. The components I focus on are Passion, Integrity & Adaptability.In my opinion, these are the foundation for any successful business.
Q. If you could talk to one person from history, who would it be and why?
Ans : Abraham Lincoln. Despite the fact that “Honest Abe” never slept in the Lincoln Bedroom (when he occupied the White House the current bedroom was used as his personal office) his strength and strategic abilities are demonstrated by the fact he was an accomplished wrestler as a young man. Defeated only once in approximately 300 matches. What I truly respect is his comprehensive brevity. He is quoted, “I’m sorry I wrote such a long letter. I did not have the time to write a short one.” Indeed I would like to speak with the 16th President of The United States of America.
Q. Who has been your greatest inspiration?
Ans : My Grandfather- Working together, he and my Grandmother overcame the obstacles of the Great Depression, raised a family and achieved their American dreams against all odds. Their traits found their way to me and hence I became their living legacy.
Q. What book has inspired you the most? (OR what is your favorite book?)
Ans : The Bible
Q. What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made?
Ans : Not listening to the still voice inside myself. Inevitably, when I have allowed someone else to direct a path contrary to what my gut has told me it becomes a mistake.
Q. How can you prevent mistakes or do damage control?
Ans : The ideal way to avoid damage control is to operate mistake-free. Knowing that is not possible, we strive to stay immersed in our core principles.
Q. What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
Ans : Tournament fishing and hunting. Spending time in the woods, horseback trail riding with my wife and daughter.
Q. What makes you happy?
Ans : Maintaining the Life/Work balance.
Q. What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?
Ans : In the early going I invested significant work hours as previously stated. This caused the Life/Work equilibrium to be out of sorts. Family time suffered. Again, I cannot emphasize the importance of balance and it’s relationship to happiness and success.