There are some “rules” of business success most entrepreneurs abide by. But many also have their own “secrets”—things they do or believe that helped them achieve success. In “Secrets of Success,” a weekly interview series here at Web.com’s Small Business Forum, I ask some of today’s smartest, most innovative, most successful business owners to share their insights and success secrets with you.
Meet: Richard (Ric) Franzi, the founder and CEO of Critical Mass for Business. Ric has also written several books about critical mass and the power of peer groups and is the host of the Critical Mass radio show, which is available as a podcast on iTunes and Stitcher.com.
Ric has both entrepreneurial (he also runs a CEO peer group himself) and corporate (he’s the former president of Delphi’s Connection Systems division) experience, making him an in-demand speaker.
Rieva Lesonsky: What did you want to be when you grew up?
Richard Franzi: A radio show personality. I went to the University of Pittsburgh and worked on the college radio station and newspaper.
Lesonsky: Why did you start your own business?
Franzi: I was a member of a CEO Peer Group when I was the President of Delphi Connection Systems. It was through that experience that I realized I wanted to start my own business to help business owners and CEOs improve their business performance through the power of peer learning.
Lesonsky: Did you experience a pivotal moment on your way to success?
Franzi: Yes, when I discovered my “Why” as an entrepreneur. This is a concept explained by Simon Sinek in his book Start with Why. My “Why” is to have a lasting positive impact on the lives of the executives who are my clients.
Lesonsky: What’s the best small business advice you ever gave and/or received?
Franzi: I call it “Franzi’s Law” because I discovered it in building my business and it appears to be a universal truth in small business. Franzi’s Law states: “It will take a small business twice as long and cost twice as much as you originally plan to successfully launch and achieve scale for a new product or service into the market.” In working with small business owners and CEOs I have them rethink their marketing plans to ensure they are prepared for the time and effort required to get solid results from their new initiatives.
Lesonsky: What’s one “best practice” more entrepreneurs should be embracing?
Franzi: More entrepreneurs should be finding ways to create their own “personal brand” in their firm’s marketplace/niche. I have observed that companies that have a leader with a presence in their industry consistently outcompete their rivals. Today, this is much more cost effective with the use of social media networks. Entrepreneurs should have a voice via their firm’s blog, be active in their industry by being on panels and working with regulators/legislators, reach out to the journalists covering their industry and be a resource to their industry as a thought leader.
Lesonsky: Do you have a 2015 small business prediction?
Franzi: I foresee an improving economy that will create more demand for small business owners in many industries. This increasing demand can be source of revenue and profits, which can be used to invest in the firm, pay down debt or replenish their reserves.
Lesonsky: What’s your favorite book?
Franzi: I have many “favorite books” as I love to read business books, but the last one I just finished that is amazing for small businesses is Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It...and Why the Rest Don’t, by Verne Harnish. My other favorite is my first book Critical Mass: The 10 Explosive Power of CEO Peer Groups, which is about the benefits of peer learning for small business owners.
Lesonsky: Is there a quote you find particularly inspiring?
Franzi: Yes, I love quotes. One of my favorites is by American philosopher William James: “The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his mind.”
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Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at email@example.com, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.