Dave Nevogt is a co-founder of Hubstaff, a time tracking software for remote teams. Hubstaff allows managers to see time spent on projects, screenshots, activity levels, in-depth reports, and timesheets. Dave has been founding online companies since 2004 with his first success coming at 23, two years after graduating from Indiana University. He's been honored in the Indianapolis 40 under 40 and Arizona's 35 under 35. Follow him @dnevogt
Who is your hero?
What’s the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
Follow your passion and the rest will fall in place. I think this is what every entrepreneur should do for so many reasons. First, it allows you to be creative. It allows you to be you, and that's when real value is added to the world. When there is value, customers start finding you and people start talking.
By working with your passion, you feel more confident stepping out on a limb and really changing the market. You know you are right and you know your customer intimately. You feel their pain, and you know what they need. The added benefit of all this is that your daily "job" is more exciting and interesting. You wake up in the morning with a feeling of creating something special.
What's the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?
The biggest mistake I ever made was relocating the business around one person. I moved to Phoenix from Chicago, bought a home, and rented an office -- all to be under one roof on a daily basis with a partner of mine. I was under the delusion that getting everyone under one roof was going to really move the business forward. Instead I should have moved out to Phoenix for a month, lived out of a hotel, worked from a coffee shop with my partner, tested the situation and then made a decision.
Testing is very important in marketing, and business in general. You can test everything. And when you do, you are dealing with solid information and data. There are two takeaways. First, work can be done virtually now. Don't feel the need to be right next to someone in order to be successful. You can make a lot of progress over Skype. Secondly, it's very important to test. It will help you focus on the things that are really going to drive your business forward.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
I spend the first 60 minutes of my day communicating with my team and dealing with anything that has come in while I've been sleeping. I try to reduce the number of emails I get by using project management tools, and making sure that everyone has their tasks assigned to them a good 15-30 days out. But if I do receive an email, there's likely a question. The faster I can get those questions answered, the faster my team can resume their work and move forward. So I typically get all questions out of the way and then move on to the projects that I can accomplish without holding anyone else up.
What’s your best financial or cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
It's better to own 70 percent of your company and use other people's skills and money to build the product and foundation rather than to own 100 percent and use all of your own money. It's much less risky that way. You don't need to get traditional funding, but you can find partners with skill sets that you'd otherwise have to pay for. You have to make sure that you find the right person who will be with you for the long haul.
Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
Take a step back and think about your business on a very high level for 60 minutes. Get out of the current-day problems and think big picture about where your company can really go. This can help you define the projects currently being worked on. You can never stop innovating. In order to innovate, you must think big picture.
What's your definition of success? How will you know when you've finally "succeeded" in your business?
Success for me is twofold. First, you have the freedom to spend your time however you want. This means that your business has the ability to run without you present, and that anytime you are present you are working on the high-level vision of the organization. It takes a lot of work and investment in both systems and people to get to that point.
Second, you don't have to worry about cash for your family. The cash your business creates can be used to give back to your community or charities, to travel, or whatever else you want to do with it. These two items go hand-in-hand, I believe. It's hard to successful without free cash flow. But even if you have a ton of free cash flow, you can still be a slave to your business.
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.