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.
A. Net Works Consulting Resources, Inc. (Net Works) is an integrated technical solutions provider serving businesses throughout the Greater Chicago land area. Built on a foundation of fairness, honesty, and an underlying principle of “Keep it Simple”, Net Works practices a willingness to sacrifice short-term gains in exchange for long-term business relationships. Founded in 1997, Net Works has grown to provide an array of integrated technical solutions to all levels of businesses. As a trusted adviser, our purpose is to enable our clients to realize the benefits of technology through common sense consulting. We value adhering to the golden rule, believe in maintaining a work-life balance, and strive to provide consistency in everything we do. Our high client retention speaks volumes about our responsible, knowledgeable, and customer friendly support team.
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).
A. I started Net Works in May of 1997 and have over 25 years’ experience in the field of information technology and have a diverse background in a corporate setting, with extensive experience in process, systems, and enterprise computing, as well as telecommunications. In 2009 I attended the executive program at MIT, Boston, to get my Masters in Entrepreneurship and finished the program in 2011. I led the effort to create our Alumni class reunion to have continued learning for the next 25 years. Prior to MIT, I was at Illinois State University for a few years and then finished up my undergraduate at Elmhurst College with a Business and MIS degree. I was an Illinois State Scholar all of the years at Elmhurst College and graduated in 89. I am married with three great kids and we live in Geneva, IL.
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?
A. I started NWCR in 1997 when the boom was happening and I saw people more concerned about billable time than the overall welfare of the client. I decided to start a consulting firm that really cared about the clients and the main goal was to help and build a relationship with that client. When we created our core values, it was obvious that we chose “The Golden Rule” as our number 1 value.
Q. What three pieces of advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
A. Learn to understand before being understood – Listen well and then speak
Study and master Emotional Intelligence
Be in control of your time and self – meditate, center and then go change the world.
Q. What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
A. Be able to see a need and fill that need
Stay focused on what you are good at and avoid the “shine objects”
You must get good and managing money
Q. How many hours do you work a day on average?
Q. To what do you most attribute your success?
A. Adaptability to changing economy and needs of the client.
Q. How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
A. Word of mouth, from happy clients is the most effective. We also do SEO and print advertising as well as mailers.
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?
A. Home grown and boot strapped this company on my own. Pulled equity out of my assets to fund big growth spurts.
Q. What is the best way to achieve long-term success?
A. Don’t think that the up times will last forever. Save when the sun is shining because it always rains at some point.
Q. Where you see yourself and your business in 5 – 10 years?
A. It will most likely be a morphed version of what we are doing now. This amount of time is a lifetime in the Technology field.
Q. Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
A. Southwest Airlines. Herb boot strapped that airline, fought against corrupt fat cats and ended up beating them at their own game years later. Centering your corporate culture around love and being a maverick at the same time is amazing!
Q. How important have good employees been to your success?
A. Hiring the right people is one of the hardest things to do. They must fit with your corporate culture and values. If they do not, it will lead your company away from what will make it great.
Q. How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
A. I look at an idea or opportunity as if I was an outside investor. Ask yourself if it distracts or adds to your current business. Ask if it will benefit your clients as well as your company and will you be able to make good money doing it. Anyone can stay busy, I try to be busy and profitable.
Q. What motivates you?
A. My passion is helping people and coming up with creative ways to solve problems. Building lasting relationships with employees and customers really makes my job enjoyable
Q. What are your ideals?
A. To be the best Father and Husband to my family. To be a driven, compassionate, loving, understanding human being to all I have the pleasure of meeting and working with.
Q. How do you generate new ideas?
A. My mind is always working and when I see an issue or need that may have a fairly complex solution, I investigate and ask WHY. Why is it this way, why hasn’t anyone tried to solve this need and is it in alignment with my beliefs / values.
Q. How do you define success?
A. Success to me is a loving family, because without this, no amount of money in the world will fill that hole. In business, it is being a disrupter and continually strive to improve.
Q. How do you build a successful customer base?
A. It is hard to find new clients, so when you do, make sure you give them the attention and service they deserve. Treat it like you would any relationship, invest in it and it will reap great rewards.
Q. What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
A. The fact we can pivot on a dime if a solution or strategy is not working.
Q. What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
A. We are entering our 20th year and I am very proud of this! We made it through 911 and a serious Recession. Most companies failed and we were able to push through it and find value for our clients in other ways to help us grow in the bad times.
Q. What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
A. I think the world needs both the entrepreneur and the employee. Entrepreneur’s are risk takers and rainbow chasers. We are looking for that great idea that leads us to the pot of Gold. I think if the world was all Entrepreneur’s, there would be all of these great ideas and no one to implement them.
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?
A. Our corporate culture revolves around the Golden Rule. Talking behind someones back or bringing drama into the office is not allowed. We established this culture be being the best examples to our employees. There are no dumb questions, but when there is a job to be done, come to play. Accountability for ones actions is another key value we have. The hiring process is critical and so we partnered with a company that were experts at this process. Hireology.com allows us to build our culture profile and they make sure we pick the best candidates through their game changing process.
Q. In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur.
A. An Adventure
Q. If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
A. My older wiser self would let my younger self know that it never stays sunny in business forever. Put aside your ego and know that we all have our ups and downs. I would not change what I am doing or the challenges, joys I have had.
Q. How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
A. At first, I was all about working the 15-18 hr day to make things happen, but there are side effects to this. People brag about this, like I did and as I have learned more, I realize it is not necessary. Smarter not harder. Since I have blended the work / life balance, I am a much happier man.
Q. What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?
A. I think any entrepreneur’s greatest fear is to have to close your doors due to economy or a miscalculation.
Q. Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
A. Yes, keep learning from the greats! Read or do audio books as much as you can and journal your life. You will be surprised how great of a journey it has been so far and there are always lessons within the pain or joy.
Q. If you could talk to one person from history, who would it be and why?
A. Abraham Lincoln, he did what was right, even though there was great opposition. His leadership skills and sense of right from wrong has been a great inspiration to me. There are some great books on his life, I suggest the young entrepreneur read a few of these.
Q. Who has been your greatest inspiration?
A. My parents. My mother for her love and compassion. My father for his love and sacrifice for his family as well as his drive and shear ability to out work anyone I know.
Q. What book has inspired you the most? (OR what is your favorite book?)
A. Anthony Robbins books have been the greatest inspiration and started me thinking in a much different and productive manor.
Q. What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made?
A. Not joining a entrepreneurial organization early in my career. I am now a member of EO Chicago, which is the Entrepreneur Organizations Chicago chapter. The support and knowledge that is shared is priceless. www.eonetwork.com
Q. How can you prevent mistakes or do damage control?
A. Take the time to do it right and make enough time for planning, testing, then test again before you put it in place. It is OK if you make a mistake, but you have to document it and make sure you don’t do it again. Building processes and systems around avoiding issues in the future is the best path for us.
Q. What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
A. I love martial arts and have been lucky enough to get my Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do. I also love to read and recently I have started a Bee Hive to help with the Bee Hive Collapse Syndrome created by bad pesticide choices in the U.S. I am amazed at how efficient, methodical and productive they are.
Q. What makes you happy?
A. Time with my family and helping someone in my company reach their personal or professional goals.
Q. What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?
A. We all make sacrifices in life to achieve our goals. I think the biggest sacrifice I have made was time away from my family.
Q. If you were conducting this interview, what question would you ask?
A. How do you manage stress and stay positive during the tougher times.