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. Vizown is an alcohol and substance abuse residential treatment center for females. It is a 90 day program that focuses on individualized plans of care, which address not only addiction, but issues related to trauma and mental health. Research shows that people who participate in a 90 day program and address the underlying issues have significantly better outcomes to maintain their recovery.
We don’t want to merely provide treatment for recovery. We want to work with clients so that they can discover their passion, experiences and goals. This may mean moving to another city, changing jobs, disassociating with certain friends, going to school or a number of other things. Having something to live for fosters a successful, lifetime recovery.
It is our goal to help the client develop their vision for life and take ownership of what that may entail. Hence, we strongly encourage people to own their vision. This of course is the derivative of Vizown.
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. My business partners and I are all from Oklahoma, who’ve been blessed with success in many ventures, including nursing homes, assisted living, inpatient rehab hospital (physical, occupational and speech therapy), physical therapy clinics, hospice, wound care clinic, radiology, detox center, restaurant, construction and real estate.
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. Addiction does not discriminate, regardless age, sex, race or income level. With each of the business partners having experienced addiction within our own families and friends, we realized that Oklahoma did not have a quality recovery program. As a result, we decided to start our own program, rather than people going to other states to seek treatment.
Q. What three pieces of advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
A. Pursue ventures in which you have a passion and can make a difference. This gives you the strength to move forward. Especially in the times that you struggle. (You will struggle). This also gives you the motivation to accomplish things that others say you can’t. There will be nay-sayers. You have to be able to use your passion to bypass these individuals at all costs.
Operate your company with a culture of humility. This is the number one thing we look for in a potential employee. If they have humility and a skillset, this outweighs experience.
Always do the right thing. Throughout someone’s career there will be opportunities to take shortcuts, mistreat employees or customers. Taking the high road can be the most difficult decision in the short-run, but it will always come back to haunt you. Those who don’t believe this, probably lack the prior advice on humility.
Q. What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
A. A strong work ethic. During the first several years, the idea of a 40 hour work week is myth. It also means that you will have to take on the responsibilities that can include emptying the trash and cleaning toilets to becoming a computer expert.
A willingness to always learn. Things are always changing. This could be within your industry, city, state, country or world. Keeping your finger on the pulse of change is important. In addition, are other areas that at times will become a priority, such as working with bankers, dealing with contracts, tax issues and attorneys.
As part of the willingness to learn, neve hesitate to read a good book about leadership. There are always opportunities to improve. We often require our managers and VPs read leadership books as well.
Excel. Compared to the prior two skills that I referenced, this answer may seem completely off topic. However, mastering excel can be one of the most useful tools in an entrepreneur’s arsenal. Information is valuable on numerous levels. Too many times, decisions are made on an anecdotal basis. This can be very risky. Having actual data minimizes the risk of decision making.
Having the ability to organize data, use calculations, and create useful answers with excel not only benefits you, but it often benefits those within your organization. Not only can it help within your company it can help in many other facets. This includes preparing a pro forma for a bank or illustrating the success of your business.
Q. How many hours do you work a day on average?
A. At least ten, but that’s because I choose to. I love what I do and don’t even realize that I’ve worked that many hours.
Q. To what do you most attribute your success?
A. My business partners, great employees and most of all my wife and family.
Q. How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
A. Typically, our marketing starts on an organic level. This usually begins with collaterals such as pens and brochures. This is usually followed by hiring a marketer to coordinate meetings, attend trade shows and visit prospective clients.
However, media becomes the most valuable, i.e. TV, radio, newspapers, billboards and internet presence. Many times we start with TV, accented by radio. Simultaneously, we start an internet campaign, pushing our presence to the public. This garners us a two-fold advantage. First, people who are doing basic research will seek out a company for their needs. Or, people may have seen a commercial and research your company when they realize they need your service.
Some of our companies don’t need major media. Rather, a good internet presence is what works best for the company brand.
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. The start of our company is somewhat cliché. One of the partners was willing to invest $4,000.00 which allowed for the initial purchase of a computer. As time went on and we proved ourselves financially and reputation, we sought out banks for loans when needed. There were times that our company was growing so quickly, we needed the funds to handle the growth. This meant hiring employees, buying equipment and other necessary items.
Today, there are 1,000 employees within all of the companies across Oklahoma.
Q. What is the best way to achieve long-term success?
A. It’s the combination of the things that I’ve referenced thus far. A work ethic, humility, having a passion for what you do, and willing to always learn.
Q. Where you see yourself and your business in 5 – 10 years?
A. That’s difficult to say. I never dreamed that I would be where I’m at 5-10 years ago. There’s not an established exit strategy yet. Our goal is to keep growing.
Q. Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
A. Chick-Fil-A and QuickTrip Convenient stores. Their dedication to customer service, clean environment, employee hiring practices and culture is second to none.
Q. How important have good employees been to your success?
A. On a scale form 1-10, I would say a 20.
Q. How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
A. There’s no set time. Rather, have we exhausted all opportunities to foster success? If after careful consideration and a team approach for the decision, we ultimately make the decision either way.
Q. What motivates you?
A. Helping others. If you focus on this. The rest takes care of itself.
Q. How do you define success?
A. Family and happiness.
Q. How do you build a successful customer base?
A. Hiring the right people who share the same passion for going the extra mile to satisfy the customer, even when it doesn’t seem that the customer deserves it.
Q. What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
A. The creativity. The ability to put it all together on paper, in real life and to look at the result.
Q. What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
A. When we won the first award for Oklahoma’s most ethical business.
Q. What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
A. Sometimes it’s merely opportunity. There may be someone who has much better entrepreneur skills, but they haven’t been given that chance. There are others who enjoy working for others or what they do, without the need for running their own business.
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. We will not hire someone if they don’t show that they have humility, nor will we continue to employee someone who is not humble. Second, we will not hire someone who doesn’t smile during the interview. Third, we try to seek out those who are caregivers. They have to have a passion for serving others.
Q. In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur.