The one thing that that’s key to growing your business is finding your differentiating factor – what you’re doing better than your competitors, and focusing on that.
Cedric Savarese is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer at FormAssembly, a leading provider of enterprise form solutions. Cedric has been at the helm of FormAssembly, responsible for the company’s strategic direction and growth, since it’s inception in 2006. Prior to starting FormAssembly, Cedric worked in various roles in IT for more than 10 years in the U.S. and France. He graduated from the Université Paris Descartes with masters in computer science, and currently resides in Bloomington, Indiana.
How do you bring ideas to life?
The first step is to share the idea with the team and gather feedback. After we determine that we want to move forward, it’s time to formalize the project, set-up a working group, assign ownership, lay out milestones and define criteria for success.
Our customers play a big part in shaping those ideas. We talk to them to gather requirements and better understand the value we can deliver. When possible, we assemble a select group of customers to show early prototypes and test beta releases.
What’s the one trend that excites you?
The renewed focus on privacy practices and the protection of personal data is a very exciting development in which we aim to play an important part.. With our form & data collection platform, we aim to facilitate compliance with new laws like the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and help companies be good stewards of the data they collect and preserve the trust of their users.
What is the one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I try to do the most important or time sensitive activities first thing in the morning. I usually have two-three things in my mind that I know that I need to get done on that day. I often write them down on a piece of paper, as a transient to-do list and as a way to set my mind and kick off the day. By and large though, my role is to help my team be productive, so any time spent collaborating with the team, answering questions and solving problems is time well spent.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t hesitate to make strong opinionated choices. Early on in your career, it’s tempting to try to keep your options open, explore multiple avenues to grow your business, and keep non-strategic projects on life support, just in case. Every bit of revenue stream looks better than nothing, and every customer seems worth going after. In truth, once you’ve made a breakthrough, you need to focus 100 percent on exploiting the opportunity, and let go of everything else.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Communication. And I don’t know if it’s something I necessarily do well all the time, but it’s something that I think about and try to do well. Reiterating key points, whether it’s your vision, your goals for a project, or your values as a company is important. It’s not enough to just say it once because it will probably get lost in the constant flow of information and conversations. So, repeating it from time to time is necessary.
What is the one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
The one thing that that’s key to growing your business is finding your differentiating factor – what you’re doing better than your competitors, and focusing on that. As a business, you don’t want to compete with your competitor on every single thing that they do because there is no way for you can keep up with everybody. So, focus on the one thing you do better than them and make sure that you keep improving it. It’s a lot easier to grow and market yourself based on what you are doing very well as opposed to all the other things you might be doing but not as well.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
It’s when you realize for the first time that you have to fire someone. You feel like a failure for letting that person down, for having made the wrong hiring decision, and for having failed to inspire and coach that person to do better. I think the way that you work on that is that you have to think beyond the person you have to let go and remember what you owe to everyone else, including yourself the team, and your family to make sure you have the best possible team and the best possible outcome.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I just bought a new fitness tracker and I think that it is the best $100 or so I spent recently. When you work in the tech industry you tend to spend a lot of time sitting down in front of a computer. I usually get so engrossed in what I’m working on that I forget to get up and move around. The tracker reminds me to do that periodically. In addition to that, it tracks my activity levels, motivating me to become more active.
What is the one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
I think group chat is one of the most useful tools that we use extensively at FormAssembly. It allows us to work with our team asynchronously, which means that, there is a written record of the conversation, which we can refer to later. We also don’t have to stop what we’re doing right away, allowing us to answer and participate in the conversation on our own time. In addition, anyone can easily ask a question to a group of people or even, the entire company.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“Don’t Make Me Think” by Steve Krug. It’s a book that helped me get started as it talks about how to build a software product. It’s about user experience and how to design websites and applications that are easy to use.
What is your favorite quote?
“Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.” – Howard Hathaway Aiken, a pioneer in computing and the primary engineer behind IBM’s Harvard Mark I computer.
● Tackle the most important activities of the day in the morning, when you’re the most productive.
● To grow your business, stay focused on your differentiating factor, and continuously build and improve on that.
● Make sure that you reiterate your vision and company values from time to time, so that they are always top of mind.
● When you have to make a difficult business decision, such as letting someone go, remember to look at the big picture.
● To get insights on how to build a superior software product that’s focused on user experience, read Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug.
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Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.