Do things other than work. A lot of entrepreneurs get bogged down in their ideas and sit at their desks for 14 hours a day, seven days a week, and never take their eyes off the prize. I have my best ideas when I am not at work, so I try to make enough time every week to do the things that I enjoy.
Sean Clem was born, raised and educated in Nashville, Tennessee. He graduated from Middle Tennessee State University with a degree in public relations. Aside from a one-year stint working for the brokerage division of his father’s logistics company, Sean has spent his entire professional career as an entrepreneur. Sean’s entrepreneurial activities have ranged from moving billboards to working with the United States Polo Association as a roving publicity ambassador. Sean currently lives in Nashville with his Border Collie, Gravy. When not working on his latest venture, Gradspring.com, Sean enjoys reading, hiking, grilling burgers for friends and volunteering in his community. If you would like to chat with Sean, please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
What are you working on right now?
We are working on the second version of Gradspring which will offer a wide array of new features for both job seekers and recruiters. Additionally, we are working to expand our existing relationships with student advocacy organizations and to develop additional relationships to give us access to a greater number of students.
Where did the idea for Gradspring come from?
I developed Gradspring in response to the age-old conundrum faced by recent graduates: how to get experience when it seems every job posted on traditional job boards requires experience. We thought there must be a better way to help recent grads transition from the academic world to the professional world, and with Gradspring, we think we have developed a great set of tools to achieve this goal.
What does your typical day look like?
There is no such thing as a typical day. We have a very small staff, so that means I wear a lot of hats. One day I could be performing mundane tasks, such as loading jobs into our database, and the next day, I cold be speaking at a conference or meeting with folks at a Fortune 50 company.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Through constant diligence. You simply can’t quit when you feel like you are on to something. I love the idea of bootstrapping and working hard. To me, the best ideas were developed by some guy with a dream and the perseverance, fortitude and fearlessness to see the dream through to reality.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Crowdfunding for businesses. We are working on stage two of our seed round and decided to work with a crowdfunding site, Fundable.com. While the amount we are raising through this method is a small portion of our overall goal, I think, in the future, there is a ton of growth potential for entrepreneurs to seed fund without VCs or traditional angel networks.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
When I graduated from college I worked for my father’s company for a year. While I love my dad, we constantly butted heads, and it made things weird at Thanksgiving. I left his company to start my first business and have been an entrepreneur, more or less, since then.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Nothing. I have lived a pretty charmed life. I think that we are the sum total of all of our previous actions and experiences, both good and bad. I would not be where I am today if I hadn’t made all of my awesome mistakes along the way.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Do things other than work. A lot of entrepreneurs get bogged down in their ideas and sit at their desks for 14 hours a day, seven days a week, and never take their eyes off the prize. I have my best ideas when I am not at work, so I try to make enough time every week to do the things that I enjoy. I also take at least one full day off every week, usually on Saturday.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
About six years ago I launched a mobile billboard company in Nashville that expanded pretty quickly to other states. Because of my enthusiasm for the business, I grew too quickly and stretched my resources far too thin. As a result, when the economy turned, I didn’t have proper cash reserves to sustain the business and had to shut the doors. I overcame it by simply not giving up; I think this spectacular failure helped me put things in perspective both personally and professionally, and it better equipped me to handle future entrepreneurial endeavors.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
A specialty retail store that sells purses only. I don’t know why this doesn’t exist outside particular name brand stores (i.e Coach).
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
Partisan politics. It absolutely drives me insane that well-intentioned people who are sort of supposed to be running our country can’t seem to come together for the common good. I think rabid partisanship is the greatest threat to our nation, ever. How would I change it? Simple term limits on all legislative bodies, both state and federal, coupled with campaign finance reform capping the amount that candidates can spend. I would also do away with all PACs or severely limit the amount of money they can spend.
Tell us a secret.
I am terrified of spiders. I squeal like a scared school girl.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
- I love OutBrain. It’s a content-discovery engine that pushes our blog posts out to sites like CNN.com and Slate. We get an average of three million impressions per month from a very small budget.
- Skype. I have a lot of friends overseas with whom I like to stay in touch, and Skype makes that easy.
- Longform.org isn’t really a tool, per se, but is an organizer of the best long-form journalism across a wide array of publications. I have a thing for well written, well thought out stories.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I am currently reading a non-fiction book about Percy Fawlett and his quest for a lost city in the Amazon Rain Forest. It’s a great read and quite educational! I read a lot (an average of two books per week), and I have a really hard time pegging down one must-read book. So, whatever I am currently reading is usually my favorite.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
Just now an employee forwarded me the mirror scene pep talk (Paul Rudd) from Wanderlust. It’s absolutely hilarious.
Who is your hero?
Hands down, my father. It’s cheesy to say, I know, but he is just an all-around remarkable man.
What is your biggest weakness in business?
Attention to detail. I tend to get pretty ADD when it comes to the mundane but important parts of business like accounting. As a result, I sometimes miss or mess up things that I should be paying attention to.
Are you married?
Nope. Ladies, if you are interested in a struggling, idea-rich and cash-poor entrepreneur, I’m Sean.