By accepting [major problems], you are opening yourself up to major growth, and that will always put you ahead of the competition that stays stuck in their ways.
Emmanuel Frost is the CEO and Co-Founder of Brand Alignment, a company which offers unauthorized seller monitoring and enforcement services to brands on the Amazon platform. Brand Alignment fills the need in the online brand protection industry for Amazon seller enforcement using proprietary techniques and data analysis to combat and prevent violators.
Coming from a family with an entrepreneurial spirit, Emmanuel has been an entrepreneur since the age of 16. He has been involved with start-ups in New York, California, Florida, and New Jersey in industries ranging from technology, transportation, advertising, and wholesale. He has background and experience in nearly every area of a business including business model development, infrastructure architecture, data analysis, customer service, IT, online and print marketing, sales, administrative, and C-level.
Emmanuel currently lives in Buffalo, NY where he is happy to be running a business with four of his closest friends. In his free time, he is working on writing a book on the lessons he has learned in his years running multiple businesses. He is an avid supporter of the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres and attends as many games as he can.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
The partners of the company sat around in a circle and laid out one rule: “Nobody is allowed to say “no” or reject any idea”. Then we proceeded to throw out any possible name we could think of for the business. By removing the possibility for rejection, it opened people up to express themselves. At the end of the two-hour session, we came up with a name we all agreed upon, Brand Alignment
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I’m a big believer in time management. When I arrive in the office, the first thing I do is allocate time to checking emails and company-based analytics to get a general overview of what transpired in the last 24 hours.
Afterward, I go over my daily schedule and to-do list which I attempt to segment into timeslots the best I can. One of my personal downfalls in terms of productivity is a tendency to overthink about unrelated business ideas and lose track of time. To solve this, I put aside 15-30-minute timeslots for creative problem solving and brainstorming new ideas. the saying goes, “Think before you do, but never think while you do!”
Finally, I always like to meet with as many members of my team as possible at least once a day to discuss where everybody is at. Communication is key in any business, and the right hand must always be talking to the left.
How do you bring ideas to life?
The idea process starts in the head and then must go on paper, in as clear and concise a format as possible. You must communicate your ideas to others as best you can in order to make them a reality. Whether you are making a presentation to your team about a major organizational change of direction, or hiring a freelancer for a quick job, I recommend writing everything out in diagrams and bullet-points so there is nothing lost in translation.
What’s one trend that excites you?
This is not the newest development, but it is accelerating: the switch from classic persuasion sales techniques to prescriptive quality content sales. Consumers are more turned off to typical sales pitches and prefer to find information about the product on their own, educate themselves, and then seek out a salesperson that is an expert on the subject.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I’ve been involved with enough businesses now to know that no matter how well you are doing, something is going to come up that is going to knock you down. Whether that is a major software problem, a lost contract, somebody crucial quitting, etc.
When you come across these massive high-stress situations, many people have the instinct to keep fighting and banging their heads against the wall which leads to burnout. What I recommend is taking a step back, closing the door to your office or even taking a day off. Stay relaxed and balanced. Ask yourself what really went wrong. What could have fundamentally been different in your business, your personality, or your team that would have prevented this problem from happening? Then make those changes, no matter how big they might seem today.
These major problems are blessings in disguise. They are teaching you a lesson in how to be a better and more successful businessperson. By accepting them, you are opening yourself up to major growth, and that will always put you ahead of the competition that stays stuck in their ways.
What advice would you give your younger self?
You can’t do it alone. Stop trying to be the hero. Don’t be afraid to lean on others and ask for help. Each solid person on your team is greater than the sum of parts.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I believe that everybody has the potential to turn a major weakness into a major strength. You might see a quiet guy and assume he can never be a great salesperson, or see a salesperson and assume she can never be a great programmer, but if they believe in themselves and recognize their errors, they can outpace even those that are naturally talented in those categories.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Never stop learning. Any time you have a lull in your work day, instead of going on social media or ESPN, try to read or watch a video on something you did not previously know. Make this a habit and you will be shocked with how much you know after a while.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
After many mistakes, I’ve learned that you must plan your scaling during the business model creation stage. In the past, usually due to financial constraints, I’ve focused on building my infrastructure to the best of my ability and then relying on funds from future clients to expand when necessary.
This is a fundamental error. You are limiting yourself to smaller clients and then creating chaos when you need to suddenly scale in time for a deadline. The best move is to create an infrastructure that can handle scaling from day one. It will cost more upfront, but it will save you time and stress in the future.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Rome was not a built in a day, and neither was your organic search engine ranking. In the past, I would generate most of my leads through paid advertising such as PPC, which can add up fast in competitive B2B niches. Meanwhile, the savviest of my competition would put their resources into blogging and creating quality content over many months to increase their (free) organic search ranking. Who do you think had the better ROI? The best solution is a healthy mix of both, with most of your traffic coming from organic.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
This is not my field, but I’ve always felt like there is a growing market for drive-thru and late-night organic food or meal preps. How many times have you been hungry and, in a rush, and had no choice but to buy unhealthy fast food?
The biggest negative that comes to mind is the daily turnover of fresh fruit and vegetables that need to be acquired. But perhaps this is worth a shot in certain larger cities.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Recently we switched CRMs and one of my sales guys was overwhelmed with how many leads he had to reformat in the database, rather than doing what he was best at, which is contacting them.
A suggestion was made to go on Upwork and hire a freelancer to handle the data entry. One hundred dollars and 24 hours later, the leads were formatted. We saved hours and hours of headaches for our sales team and increased our overall productivity.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
We use Podio for project management software. They have a very customizable platform that allows you to build modules for whatever you need.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I am currently reading a book called “Maximum Performance” by Laurence Morehouse and Leonard Gross. Morehouse was a NASA scientist in charge of maximizing the performance of astronauts in space, and before that was tasked with helping Olympians perform to the best of their ability in their respective sports. This book is a collection of his knowledge and recommendations for improving your productivity in anything you do, including work, and excel with the minimum amount of effort for maximum efficiency. Great advice in this book.
What is your favorite quote?
“Be ambitious but stay grounded. A house needs a strong foundation, and a skyscraper must have an even stronger foundation.”
- Focus on managing your time in segments. Why waste hours of your day with low productivity? If you are stuck with tedious and time-consuming work, always consider outsourcing. Value your time.
- Major problems can be a blessing in disguise. Figure out the cause and grow from it. Always look for the lesson.
- Never stop learning. Fill your lulls with informational articles or videos.
- A house cannot be built without a strong foundation, and a skyscraper must have an even stronger foundation. Plan your infrastructure or marketing from day one with scaling in mind. Don’t put it off until later.