Matt Talbot is the co-founder and CEO of Denver, Colo. based GoSpotCheck, a mobile technology company that participated in the world-renowned TechStars program. Matt specifically focuses on shaping the strategy for the company, securing financing and developing the team. Prior to starting GoSpotCheck, Matt graduated from Bucknell University with a degree in Business Management, and went on to work in corporate finance at Johnson & Johnson. Follow him @MattTalbot
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?
My mom always said, "You will be the best because you will work the hardest." That has always stuck with me as a way to live my life. I think if you work hard enough (and smart enough!), you can do anything. Hard work is generally under appreciated today, so by showing some hustle and being willing to keep going when others have already stopped, you can get to where you want to be.
What's the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?
There are too many to name, but I would say that it is incredibly important to take action quickly, especially on things where you have that "something isn't quite right" feeling. Whether it is related to people, product or strategy, you need to address those little red flags and push yourself to make a decision quickly. In the fast pace of a startup, letting something stew for a bit when you feel like something is wrong is a recipe for disaster. There are a handful of things I wish I had acted upon faster. So force yourself to figure whatever it is out quickly.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
I start off the day by going through my Evernote to prioritize the tasks I need to get done. I use a simple checklist throughout my day and get the highest priority things done first. After figuring out my plan for the day (which is usually in pretty good order because I do a bit of this the night before), I circle up with my co-founders to talk about what is going on across the company. Oh, and coffee. Lots of it.
What’s your best financial or cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
Get creative! So many aspiring entrepreneurs have such creative business models, but absolutely no creativity when it comes to financing. The best possible source of cash is customers, so find a way to get paid fast (and make sure you require upfront payment if you are selling to businesses).
Cash flow is a simple game, but that doesn't mean it is easy. The normal platitudes apply here (keep burn low, understand your cash months of supply, don't scale too quickly, etc.) but entrepreneurs should be just as creative in their financial efforts as their product efforts. Look for some unique ways to bring some cash in and don't be afraid to think outside of the box. Every business is different in this sense, but the goal is the same: get the cash you need to get to your next milestone.
Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
Practice saying no. Just look in the mirror and say no over and over again. Your business will be more defined by the things you say no to rather than the things you say yes to. And saying yes is easy, so practice saying no.
What's your definition of success? How will you know when you've finally "succeeded" in your business?
I will have succeeded when I feel that I can leave for a month and be 100 percent confident that the business will continue to grow.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.