You have to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. Once you start to taste success, it’s really easy to become complacent and comfortable, but that’s when people stop growing and life becomes just a little bit more boring each and every day.
Dhaval Jadav is the CEO of alliantgroup, a consulting firm he co-founded in 2002 that is based in Houston, Texas. Jadav began alliantgroup with the goal of helping small and mid-sized businesses grow and prosper by educating and assisting them in claiming valuable tax incentives and deductions that Congress put in place to incentivize research, development, innovation, growth, exporting, manufacturing and hiring. Fortune 1000 companies regularly claim these incentives, but small and mid-sized businesses do not. Under Jadav’s leadership, alliantgroup has helped over 12,000 businesses claim over $6 billion in federal and state tax incentives. The firm has also developed a proprietary software, known as epFace, designed to assist in energy efficient tax deduction studies as part of their larger role in aiding the energy efficiency industry. Prior to founding alliantgroup, Jadav gained experience working in both the public and private sectors – working with a number of technology companies in Silicon Valley and “Big 4” accounting firm Deloitte and Touche, as well as the IRS. In addition to his role at alliantgroup, Jadav is dedicated to helping address the technical skills gap in today’s workforce. He has helped establish a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) scholarship at alliantgroup and has promoted interest in STEM education for youths at events such as the Pathways 2 Possibilities Career Expo. Jadav is a graduate of Georgetown University Law Center and is a licensed attorney in the state of Texas where he lives with his family.
Where did the idea for alliantgroup come from?
While I was working at one of the “Big 4” accounting firms early on in my career, I saw that Fortune 1000 companies were constantly being advised and educated as to powerful credits and incentives that they should be claiming. These credits and incentives were legislated by Congress to apply to all U.S. businesses to help them grow, innovate, manufacture, export and hire – not just Fortune 1000. However, small to mid-sized businesses were not aware of these credits and incentives, even though Congress originally intended for the credits to be claimed by these businesses as well! Small and medium sized businesses are truly the lifeblood of the American economy and employ the vast majority of U.S. workers. I am truly passionate about helping these businesses, as these are the businesses that give the U.S. a competitive advantage over other countries and where new technologies, processes and procedures spring forth. In order for our country to maintain its global leadership position, both the public and private sector must continue to invest in these businesses. Thus, our journey to educate these businesses on incentives that can help them grow began in earnest in 2002!
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My day begins and ends with our talented professionals. From the minute I wake up every day, I am constantly speaking to and meeting with my team and developing our professionals to be the absolute best they can be, and helping them make their dreams and aspirations a reality! ‘Signal’ and ‘Noise’ are two terms that I constantly focus on each and every day. In order to be successful in life, both personally and professionally, one must be able to separate the two and cut out the noise and focus on the ‘signal’. If something is not urgent and important, I push it to the side and focus on items that are urgent and important – which typically leads me back to the growth and development of our wonderful professionals. In any field, be it business or sports, there are many viable strategies that an organization can implement; but without the proper Top Talent driving these strategies, all strategies become worthless – that’s why focus on talent and personnel is critical to the growth of any enterprise.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I believe the best ideas come to life through collaboration. I love challenging my team to come up with new ideas and then helping them carry their ideas to fruition. Nothing make me happier than seeing our people succeed, and for them to experience what I have experienced in growing and building an organization. Some of the best ideas and strategies that have grown our company have come from lively, fully engaged discussions. I also make it a point that we never walk away from a meeting without action items, and we rarely wait to launch a great idea. If we come up with something great, we hit the ground running and immediately start measuring results and instilling quality control measures around it.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I’m so excited about the integration of technology into our everyday lives. If you look at how fast technology and the adoption of technology is being woven into our day-to-day lives – it’s absolutely mindboggling. When we talk about new technologies and their adoption rate in the 20th and 21st centuries:
• It took the airline industry 68 years to gain 50 million users;
• It took the automobile industry 62 years to gain 50 million users;
• It took the telephone industry 50 years to gain 50 million users;
• It took the television industry 22 years to gain 50 million users;
• It took the PC industry 14 years to gain 50 million users;
• It took the Mobile Phone industry 12 years to gain 50 million users;
• It took the Internet 7 years to gain 50 million users;
• It took YouTube 4 years to gain 50 million users;
• It took Facebook 3 years to gain 50 million users;
• It took Twitter 2 years to gain 50 million users !
As you can see from the above, new technologies are assimilating very quickly into our lives and changing the way we interact with the world, on both a professional/personal and business/professional level, at an unprecedented rate. Our government realizes this and wants the U.S. to stay at the forefront of innovation and technology – this is why our government has made permanent and made stronger, incentives like the R&D tax credit. It is so exciting watching the world change at an accelerated pace right before our very eyes. Educating and helping these U.S. businesses that are developing and implementing these new technologies and helping them grow and prosper has been extremely fulfilling.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I ask a LOT of questions, because I love to learn about new ideas and about people. When you ask a lot of questions, and really listen to and analyze the information that is coming at you at breakneck speed in the 21st century – and separate the ‘signal’ from the ‘noise’ – you can really start to move mountains with talented people and ideas. Now, this is easier said than done, but it is a skill that MUST be mastered to remain highly productive and stay ahead of the competition.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell my younger self that money should not be the reason to do anything in life. Instead of investing in things that generate money, invest in people (including yourself) because that will generate happiness and purpose for generations to come. There is nothing more fulfilling in life than that. The greatest satisfaction I’ve had in my career is watching our young professionals grow, not only in their roles, but personally as well (going on to buy their first home, start families, etc.). There is no amount of money in the world that can equate to the feeling you get when you are helping people achieve their dreams.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on?
I believe that the key to developing an honest and lasting professional relationship is 100% transparency and honesty. On paper it sounds great, but when it comes to putting it in practice it can be extremely difficult for people to grasp. True transparency takes us outside of our comfort zones and breaks down barriers that allow us to be successful not only as an individual, but as a team. True transparency allows individuals, teams and organizations to accomplish in one year, what it would take a non-transparent enterprise 10 years (or never) to accomplish. The only reason I am successful in life is because I had a few people – parents/mentors/leaders – who were always 100% honest with me about what I was doing right and wrong in my life. Without them, I would be nothing today.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
In order to be the best, you have to keep pushing yourself and those around you. You have to have the intellectual curiosity and introspective ability to continually self-assess and constantly be honest with yourself. You have to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. Once you start to taste success, it’s really easy to become complacent and comfortable, but that’s when people stop growing and life becomes just a little bit more boring each and every day…
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Our number one core value at alliantgroup is investment in our professionals. This has been an absolute key driver for our growth. In 2002, we started out as just two people working out of a studio apartment. Today, we have more than 800 professionals in our own 20-story building in Houston! When you invest in bright and talented professionals, as well as trust in their abilities and empower them – ONLY great things can happen. Our talented professionals are the ones who are constantly studying and learning about new technologies and industries, and then determining which ones we should invest in with regard to our mission of education and awareness!
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
When we first started our organization, we were only focused on our clients and how best to serve them. As time passed, and we increased the number of clients that we were serving, we would work more and more hours to make sure that we were giving our clients ‘Raving Fan’ levels of service. However, if I were to do it all over again, I would immediately start to invest heavily in new professionals. Simultaneously investing in talent and serving our clients so that they could learn, grow, develop and be prepared to offer excellent service quicker. This would have allowed us to serve more clients quicker, and deliver the level of ‘Raving Fan’ service that we demand of our professionals.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I think there’s opportunity in the market right now for marketing companies/consultants to serve accountants, financial service companies and other professional service firms. Typically, these professional firms are great at what they do, but are not fully versed in how to market their services and educate potential clients as to the services that they provide. You would be surprised at how few marketing resources there are externally available for these types of companies, and I think demand for these services goes largely untapped.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
It was a little more than $100, but I recently took some of our leaders and their significant others out to dinner as a thank you for their hard work and dedication. During dinner, I was able to spend time and get to know my team’s loved ones and that was so priceless to me. It was one of the top 5 most enjoyable nights of my life.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
I live and die by my Outlook Calendar. Many people manage their life through ‘to-do lists’ but I think this is a relic of the past. The only way I feel one can effectively manage their personal/professional time is through their calendar – block off and budget time to complete activities in your calendar and make sure you reserve UNINTERRUPTED time to do it. I know so many people have ‘to-do’ items and lists that are 10+ years old. For me, the best way to achieve results is through time blocking on your calendar. Time is the most valuable asset we have in life – learning to live by your calendar will also allow you to properly focus your time, and make sure that you are investing it it in the most important things in life.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I recommend “The Fountainhead” by Ayn Rand. I have read this book several times and every time I read it I come away inspired. The main character, Howard Roark, creates art, architecture and designs that are radically new and amazing, but he constantly struggles against traditionalists who state “this is the way it’s always been done”, and this is “always the way it will be done”. Roark’s journey and struggle is a beautiful metaphor for people finding their identity in life and trying to decide if they should be who everyone else wants them to be, or if they will have the courage to be who they really want to be.
What is your favorite quote?
“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
● Your people are the company’s most important asset. If you invest in their growth and development you will see outstanding returns.
● The key to building a culture of innovation and excitement is to embrace honesty and transparency as core values. To develop successful professionals, your team needs to continually be inspired to step outside of their comfort zone.
● Invest your time properly. Do not allow yourself to be distracted by ‘noise’ and focus your time on the most important goals/activities first and foremost.
● Collaboration is the key to a well-rounded and effective strategy. Don’t make decisions in a vacuum and trust in the professionals that you have developed to make the right calls.
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