Darren Solomon is a specialist in business development and business/program launch. He has direct experience in management consulting for Fortune 100 companies in the areas of M&A, strategic planning and market intelligence. He has a strong entrepreneurial background in both startup and working with existing small businesses in all industries. Follow him @kidventures.
What’s the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
No matter how great of an idea you have for a business, it takes a tremendous amount of passion, hard work and resilience to make it successful -- and even then it's an ongoing process. You often hear how many failures there are for every successful small business. I believe this is in large part due to starting the business without realizing the amount of work and the level of commitment required to make it successful.
What's the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?
Going too far down the road with an equity investor that was not the right fit was a mistake. The lure of additional capital was very exciting, but in the end it was not a good match. It was an extremely expensive lesson. Trust your gut with key business decisions and make sure any partnership you enter or consider entering is right for you and your business. It's never too late to say no or change course.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
My first hour is checking and getting back to all my emails. If I can start my day by feeling like I have caught up with staff, customers, vendors, etc., it's a good start.
What’s your best financial or cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
Focus on breaking even from day one. We have built our business with that mindset because we did not have the luxury of extra capital. It forced us to be resourceful, frugal and profitable right from the start.
Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
Own it! Whatever you do in your business, whatever you train your staff on, make sure that you and they own it. Accountability for action and empowerment to take something from start to finish is critical. There is nobody else to blame or praise for the success but yourself.
What's your definition of success? How will you know when you've finally "succeeded" in your business?
For me, success is creating a Kid Ventures for children and families in need (sick or disadvantaged). What we do is wonderful for the families we serve. But true success will be doing it for those who really need it.
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.