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.
Scott Rydberg: Location: New London, MN. SKR Group, Inc. (SKR), dba River City Data (RCD), dba VetSentry. RCD specializes in document prep, scanning and indexing. We also scan books, wide format documents, film (microfilm and microfiche) and can also create and process film products. We then store customer data on our servers as a service. VetSentry is an online electronic Certificate of Veterinary Inspection form for use by veterinarians to move animals between states.
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).
Scott Rydberg: I have a degree in Avionics and Business Management. I spent 20 years in aviation as an Avionics specialist and manager. At Northwest Airlines I was the first Avionics Trainer on the 747-400 and was the project manager for creating a systemwide software known as Hub Work Control. When my employer moved out of Minnesota, I found other employment in state and purchased Alternative Micrographics in Spicer, MN in 2010. We have expanded the business by upgrading equipment, creating online forms and providing server-based storage and retrieval software.
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?
Scott Rydberg: Necessity is the mother of invention and after the airline left me, I had to find other employment. I saw areas of the company that could be improved and customers that were asking for more functionality drove our innovation.
Q – What three pieces of advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Scott Rydberg: Don’t be afraid to take a chance! Owning a business is within reach if you are not afraid to try.
Q – What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
- If it isn’t broke, it still might need fixing.
- Don’t go into business if you are not the majority stakeholder.
- Delegate as much as possible.
Q – How many hours do you work a day on average?
Scott Rydberg: I try to never work more than 45 hours in a week. I usually stick to around 40.
Q – To what do you most attribute your success?
Scott Rydberg: Training and trusting employees.
Q – How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
Scott Rydberg: The most successful have been calling campaigns to locate customers and then in person meetings after that.
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?
Scott Rydberg: My father helped me by investing 1/3 of the down payment money and co-sign loans, and my brother also co-signed the loans.
Q – What is the best way to achieve long-term success?
Scott Rydberg: Stick with the things that are proven winners by the numbers, drop those that are not, and look for ways to expand into growth areas.
Q – Where you see yourself and your business in 5 – 10 years?
Scott Rydberg: I see a lot of potential in on-line form creation and expanding VetSentry. There is a lot of potential also in medical markets due to digital requirements being expanded and HIPAA law changes.
Q – Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
Scott Rydberg: I like online services the most due to their lack of overhead, less labor intensive, and ROIs.
Q – How important have good employees been to your success?
Scott Rydberg: The employees are your business.
Q – How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
Scott Rydberg: So far 11 years. I did drop one idea after a few months of no sales.
Q – What motivates you?
Scott Rydberg: Anything new—sales, ideas, learning, machines, etc.
Q – What are your ideals?
Scott Rydberg: I like gainfully employing people, providing careers, solving customer problems, saving businesses time and money.
Q – How do you generate new ideas?
Scott Rydberg: They are usually connected to something we already do, but sometimes customer questions spawn new answers.
Q – How do you define success?
Scott Rydberg: Not losing money or going out of business. Keeping people employed, customers satisfied and everyone enjoying life to the fullest extent possible.
Q – How do you build a successful customer base?
Scott Rydberg: The old adage “One customer at a time” comes to mind. We seem to get a lot of recommendations by word of mouth between customers within the same industries and a lot of referrals.
Q – What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Scott Rydberg: Freedom to make decisions after getting lots of input. Handing out bonuses.
Q – What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Scott Rydberg: Watching an idea become a successful reality.
Q – What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
Scott Rydberg: Less fear about making decisions and taking risk.
Q – What kind of culture exists in your organization? How did you establish this tone and why did you institute this particular type of culture?
Scott Rydberg: My personality is laid back. I accept people will make mistakes and we try to learn from them. Having a training background was good because I see everything as a training issue. In 10 years, we have only fired 3 people after training failed on them.
Q – In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur.
Scott Rydberg: Fulfilled.
Q – If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
Scott Rydberg: I would have studied harder and acquired more skills at a younger age.
Q – What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?
Scott Rydberg: I like to be liked and am a bit afraid of employees judging.
Q – How did you decide on the location for your business?
Scott Rydberg: Pre-existing location.
Q – Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
Scott Rydberg: Hard work, dedication, especially when things get tough.
Q – If you could talk to one person from history, who would it be and why?
Scott Rydberg: I think Abraham Lincoln would have been interesting because of the trials he faced.
Q – Who has been your greatest inspiration?
Scott Rydberg: My wife. She molded me to be who I am.
Q – What book has inspired you the most? (OR what is your favorite book?)
Scott Rydberg: So many. Recently, The Art of the Deal.
Q – What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made?
Scott Rydberg: Not watching cash flow closer. Sticking with a manager too long. Not always listening to the right person enough.
Q – How can you prevent mistakes or do damage control?
Learn from your mistakes. Hire people smarter than you.
Q – What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
Scott Rydberg: I fish, golf, and hunt. Not in that order.
Q – What makes you happy?
Scott Rydberg: Spending time with family and grand kids.
Q – What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?
Scott Rydberg: Not always having any extra money to do fun things with.
Q – If you were conducting this interview, what question would you ask?
Scott Rydberg: How do you balance work and healthy activities. Not always as good to myself as I should be because work always comes first. I have trouble just taking a day off to enjoy, but I am working on it.