Q 1. 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: Choose Growth is an outsourced sales consulting business that specializes in helping SMB’s achieve or exceed their sales expectations. Our number one priority is proving most business books wrong by helping clients increase revenue, improve margins and reduce cost of sales – simultaneously.
We are based in the Greater Chicagoland area and while we primarily focus our efforts locally, given our new virtual environment we can provide virtual services globally.
Q 2. 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: I’m an electronics engineer who quickly moved into technical management, prior to completing my MBA from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey – while living in China. I’ve conducted business on five continents, including eleven years in Asia.
In addition to my geological diversity, I have a diverse industry background – ranging from instrumentation & controls, analytical instrumentation, environmental controls for industrial and utility applications, medical devices, professional services and distribution. I’ve had successes in businesses from startups (emp 38) to Fortune 500 companies.
One of my proudest recent accomplishments was my last corporate role as the China Country Manager for Anixter Int. I entered a business whose revenue had been shrinking YoY for the past three years and was increasingly losing money YoY over the same timeframe. Employee turnover was extremely high – the business was more than 20 years old, but only about 10% of the workforce had been there 5 years or longer.
In my first year we increased revenue YoY and turned a profit for the first time in four years. The second year we achieved 102% of budget and although we didn’t quite hit budget in the third year, we still grew YoY in both revenue and profits. In just those three years, the workforce went to about 70% with five years or more tenure.
This was accomplished through (1) strategic sales plans with a clearly defined target market, (2) training and daily coaching in Value-Based Sales & Pricing, and finally, (3) by showing the team what “winning” looks like.
Q 3. 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: I first heard about fractional sales management while I was still in China. After I left my last corporate role, I started a consultancy supporting western companies to be more successful in China. After returning to the States and doing some networking, I came to realize that far too many businesses were missing the link between strategy (business plan) and execution (forecast).
Q 4. What three pieces of advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Ans: Find a trusted advisor/mentor – they can help tremendously when you begin to doubt your choices and decision-making ability.
Start out as a side gig – something in addition to your main income. This will allow you to test the idea and gain confidence (I never had this luxury).
If you don’t have the luxury of starting as a side gig, either commit 100% or don’t waste your time.
Q 5. What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Ans: Perseverance, willingness to outsource, and know when to ask for help
Q 6. How many hours do you work a day on average?
Ans: Everyday looks a little different. Some days I might work 0 hours (spending time with my family instead), other days I spend up to 15 or more hours working.
Q 7. To what do you most attribute your success?
Ans: Having marketable skills in an area most companies are extremely weak.
Q 8. How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
Ans: I am not a strong networker, and now that’s not really an option. All my efforts now go into the many facets of digital marketing.
Q 9. 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: Having done considerable research, I found available funding through the Small Business Association (SBA). I currently have no outside investors.
Q 10. What is the best way to achieve long-term success?
Ans: Provide a superior customer experience and always be on the lookout for possible improvements.
Q 11. Where you see yourself and your business in 5 – 10 years?
Ans: I would like to have a team of highly qualified consultants working with me who can focus on the day-to-day needs of our clients while I manage the strategy and high-level relationships.
Q 12. Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
Ans: Hands down, Anixter Int. (at least when it was run by Robert Eck).
Q 13. How important have good employees been to your success?
Ans: Although I work primarily with contractors, finding the right one’s are critical – you’ve got to trust they will get the work done on time and properly.
Q 14. How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
Ans: That depends. If success can be easily measured, it’s fairly easy to know when something is simply not going to work. Otherwise I use my intuition.
Q 15. What motivates you?
Ans: Seeing clients succeed and hearing them say “we couldn’t have accomplished this without you”.
Q 16. What are your ideals?
Ans: In business: 1) be honest, 2) provide maximum value for the agreed upon price, 3) again, be honest – yes, it’s that important
Q 17. How do you generate new ideas?
Ans: For my clients, I use my years of success to craft the best solution possible. For my business, I find that a seed gets planted by something I read, see, or hear. A few days later, I typically have something workable for my needs.
Q 18. How do you define success?
Ans: That has changed considerably over the years. Right now, success is being proactively referred by existing and past clients.
Q 19. How do you build a successful customer base?
Ans: Ensure that every customer/client you work with is willing to refer you.
Q 20. What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Ans: Not having to internally ‘sell’ anyone on my ideas.
Q 21. What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Ans: Securing my first client.
Q 22. What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
Ans: In addition to the obvious drive and ambition, risk tolerance.
Q 23. What kind of culture exists in your organization? How did you establish this tone and why did you institute this particular type of culture?
Ans: I am a talented, casual guy who believes that nothing is more important than customer satisfaction – so that is how my business operates.
Q 24. In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur.
Q 25. If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
Ans: I would follow a similar path, but I would reduce the time between my degrees.
Q 26 How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
Ans: As I work from home, it’s been both a blessing and a challenge.
Q 27 How did you decide on the location for your business?
Ans: I’ve lived in the Northwest Suburban area of Chicago most of my life. And therefore, understand the people and the unique challenges they have to overcome.
Q 28 Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
Ans: I think the two keys are (1) finding an underserved market and (2) providing a good or service that can be successful at a small scale.
Q 29 If you could talk to one person from history, who would it be and why?
Ans: Ronald Reagan – how did he go from making movies with monkeys to being one of the best presidents in modern times?
Q 30 What book has inspired you the most? (OR what is your favorite book?)
Ans: My favorite business book is Good to Great by Jim Collins.
Q 31 What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made?
Ans: Early on I wasn’t 100% committed to being an entrepreneur and kept other options open. If you don’t have the luxury of starting with a side gig, you must go all-in.
Q 32 How can you prevent mistakes or do damage control?
Ans: Mistakes can’t be prevented (at least not if you innovate). The best way to control any damage is frequent reviews based on data, not emotion.
Q 33 What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
Ans: I spend as much time as possible with my son.
Q 34 What makes you happy?
Ans: Spending time with my son.
Q 35 What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?
Ans: In the early stages especially, I worked 7 days a week.
Company : Choose Growth
Contact : Rick Struzynski
Address : 1063 Georgian Pl
City : Bartlett
State : Illinois
Zip : 60103
Phone : 224-236-2707
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org