In this ongoing series, we share advice, tips and insights from real entrepreneurs out there doing business battle on a daily basis. (Answers have been edited and condensed for clarity.)
Who are you and what’s your business?
My name is David VanderVeer, Founder and CEO of Blastis.com, a cloud-based text marketing company. Text is the most popular form of communication today, so we created an inexpensive way for businesses to use trackable texts to grow and manage their business, and give their customers information, offers, coupons and alerts.
What does the word “entrepreneur” mean to you?
To me is not just a word but a lifestyle. I’ve been an entrepreneur my entire life and I’ve been running my own companies for the past 20 years. Being an entrepreneur means that I’m in charge of my own success or failure. I can work as much or as little as I want, knowing that I will be compensated based on what I do or don’t do. As an entrepreneur, you have to wear many hats, and you get to spend time in all areas of the business from creative, sales and marketing to administration, accounting and more. There is always a new challenge right around the corner! I love being an entrepreneur so much that one of the first programs we created after we finished the Blastis platform was our “Private Label Reseller ” version so that we could empower others to start their own companies.
What was your toughest challenge and how did you overcome it?
I think the toughest part is when you tell your family and friends that you are going to quit your job and start your own company. A lot of significant others get scared when it comes to starting your own business — and rightly so! There are a lot of risks, but the rewards are so great it is worth it. I always advise people to start their entrepreneurial venture part-time, so that when you make the jump you already have a good start. And the thing I always do is work as many hours as I can so that I can expedite my success — if the estimate is six months to cash flow positive, I’ll pack those six months of work into four!
David VanderVeer, Founder and CEO of Blastis.com, Photo credit: Eva Korbel
What’s the problem you just solved or are attacking now?
Everyone carries a mobile phone and people love text messages. Text is instant and easy. Email is pretty much slow and unreliable, but lots of businesses still use it. I wanted to create a tool that allows businesses to capture, manage and send out texts as easy or easier than using email, but with all the trackability that email has.
Related: 11 Habits of Truly Happy People
What trait do you depend on most when making decisions?
I use an analytic approach to find out how can we get to a win-win for both sides of any engagement or deal. There’s not always a win-win, but my thoughts are always to get as close to it as possible. Find out what the other side wants and try and give them most of what they want without compromising too much. For instance, currently, we offer a very low-cost solution because we think that it gives the customer the best value today and will set us up for long-term success. Win-win!
How has your leadership style evolved?
I always have been a lead-by-example person. I don’t like asking people to do something that I would not do. I like to empower people to succeed on their own and I always try to put people in a position to succeed. I will push people when I think they need it but for the most part, I take a thinking man’s approach as I love to read and read a lot!
Is there a particular quote or saying that you use as personal motivation?
There are several that I use on a regular basis but probably my favorite is, “Do something you love and you will never work a day in your life.” I have been involved in several different ventures over the years, and they have all been fun and challenging. In tough times I always remember what Coach Jim Valvano said about the three things we should all strive to do every day: laugh, think and be moved to tears.