Brad von Bank is co-founder of Rêve Consulting, a business that helps organizations "dream with direction" by partnering with companies in industries that are being disrupted by technology. They co-create growth strategies in the face of that disruption and help make it a reality. Their nonprofit, Rêve Academy, helps kids "dream with direction" by providing pathways to digital careers. Follow him @BradvonBank.
Who is your hero?
My parents and Father Greg Tolaas.
What’s the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
More of a question than piece of business advice. During a sermon to 500 people over 10 years ago, Father Greg Tolaas (see hero, above), incorporated the following challenge into his message, "Brad von Bank ... why do you exist?"
It is a powerful question that we often ask ourselves, but are seldom asked (and almost never in a public setting). The question provides a poignant filter for evaluating how to best use your talents.
The seed planted that day, along with other experiences along the way, led to the formation of Rêve Consulting + Rêve Academy. A for-profit and nonprofit, legally separate, sharing a similar mission of helping people and organizations dream with direction.
What's the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?
My biggest mistake was not pushing harder to remove an individual who did not share the values of the company. The person infected others on the team and the situation became cancerous.
When my wife and I co-founded Rêve we started with mission and values. Everyone we hire is evaluated on alignment to mission and values first, capabilities a distant second.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
1.) Team: If they are in a good space, clients will be happy.
2.) Clients: We exist to serve them and create value.
3.) Everything Else: Distant #3.
What's your best financial/cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
If you take outside money, make sure you truly understand what you are giving up in terms of control and future return.
A friend started a company, grew it to 75 people in three years and received a compelling offer to sell. The only outside money he took was $500K to buy furniture and upgrade the office. The investor received a 6x return. Having nice furniture for a couple years cost $2.5M!
Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
Review your mission and values. If they don't exist, lock yourself in a room until you feel they are compelling enough for the hardest-to-recruit talent to join you. If they do exist, and don't meet that standard, refine them until they do. If they exist and meet that standard ... just relax, everything else will ultimately fall in place.
What's your definition of success? How will you know when you've finally "succeeded" in your business?
Helping people and organizations dream with direction. Our mission is my definition of success. We experience success every day but will never reach a point where we have "succeeded" and can rest.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab , a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.