Russell Kommer is the founder of eSoftware Associates Inc, which operates websites specializing in niche software development such as ExcelHelp.com and SharePointProgrammer.com. Before founding eSoftware Associates, Russell had various finance and technology related positions at several institutions in New York City. Today Mr. Kommer manages the strategic business development for his company as well as the day-to-day operations. Clients range from small and mid-sized businesses to Fortune 100 companies like Adobe, Chevron and HP. ExcelHelp is the leading provider of custom Excel programming and Excel training and is rapidly creating a presence in the SharePoint development and support area. The company offers solutions for most custom software needs: MS Office consulting, database development, web and mobile programming, and other on-site training services. The company has experienced 300%+ growth each year since inception in 2009.
What are you working on right now?
We are currently upgrading our systems to maintain our high quality service and a consistent growth model. We are hiring!
Where did the idea for ExcelHelp.com come from?
I’ve had a love for light programming since the 7th grade when I discovered Visual Basic 3.0 while decompiling AOL extension programs. I started working in finance in New York City and did some VBA programming in the operations environment. There was such a need for this automation in the corporate world that I knew my vision was to create the biggest Microsoft Office-focused consulting firm in the world.
What does your typical day look like?
I wake up, get coffee and an egg sandwich, and look over my calendar of meetings. Then I follow up with leads, do a few sales calls, have the staff bother people who don’t like to pay, and update notes on various project opportunities. I check in on the status of projects with managers and look for new marketing initiatives. I cram in an afternoon workout, get the staff pumped for forward progress, and update my internal status to something aggressive and invigorating. Then I check in on my really amazing and wonderful lady and make sure her day is going well. I think I’m leaving a lot out. Ha!
How do you bring ideas to life?
I know someone for everything. They used to call me “the source” in high school. Whenever I need something accomplished, I contact the person I know can get it done.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Businesses are finally realizing the potential of MS Office. There is so much potential with the Office suite, but businesses are only utilizing a fraction of what it is capable of. We can build thin client applications in weeks at a fraction of the cost compared to enterprise software development, which costs millions and often never even gets off the ground.
What was the worst job you ever had, and what did you learn from it?
Working at the hardware store in town. I was not good at putting barbecue grills together. I’m definitely a people person and not a handyman; I’m best at dealing in the business of people.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
In the beginning, I was focused on a few different ideas, working a full-time job as well. I would have quit my job sooner and just focused on one business 100 percent of the time.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Go work out. The energy and clarity a great iron session can bring is enormously helpful during the workday.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I raised some money from friends and family for another company I built. The product was great, but it did not have enough marketing behind it. As ExcelHelp.com grew, I did not have enough time to put into the product, so we basically just partially paid back investor money.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I love service-based business models. There is a low barrier to entry, and you have less risk involved than physical or virtual products.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be, and how would you go about it?
The limitations on lifestyle that our culture thinks are there. People need to start thinking outside the box and understand that you can live a life that you want — you just need to be motivated to get there. Please stop complaining and being lazy. I have no sympathy for you whatsoever.
Tell us a secret. I call my fiancé “fee fee.”
What are your three favorite online tools or resources, and what do you love about them?
Twitter is great for consuming a lot of news and articles quickly. Pandora is great for a nice workday mix — SoundCloud is for the more exciting moments of the business day.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Any book that motivates you to do something you are not currently doing.
Who are three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
When students contact us to do their finals for them! (Don’t worry — we don’t do them.)
Who is your hero?
Will Smith in “Independence Day.”
What is the greatest part of running your own company? What would be a suggestion for others doing the same thing?
The freedom and direct correlation of effort related to success. I remember working in corporate, I could put in a ton of work and then never see any measurable results. To me, it was always just a letdown.
Get away from it all. You cannot be a happy person if you have no life outside of your business. Business is great, but it is not the end-all. Surround yourself with fun, happy people who care about you. To me, you work hard to get to those moments, and hopefully, they’re on some tropical island.
What is your ultimate goal in life?
I want to always appreciate the little things in life. Sometimes I get so busy, I can’t see past my computer screen. But I am hoping in the next year or so that will never be the case!
Russell Kommer on Twitter – http://twitter.com/russelkommer/