Erin Latham – President and Founder of Mo’mix

Erin Latham - President and Founder of Mo'mix

Think. I know that sounds vague. Everyone thinks, but how often do you really take a step back and think about your business strategy, what’s worked, what hasn’t, and why?

Erin Latham has served as a technology and open data government advisor to local and state government and higher education organizations for more than 15 years. She’s worked with more than 50 organizations to help them evaluate, select, and implement commercial accounting and reporting solutions.

Erin recognized a recurring data accessibility challenge her clients faced when implementing commercially driven business intelligence, reporting, and enterprise resource planning solutions that weren’t designed to meet governmental and educational needs.

In 2011, Mo’mix Solutions established a public-private partnership with local governments around the U.S. to create a cloud-based performance data management suite of applications called Performance Center. The suite helps facilitate better outcomes for governmental and educational organizations by making data easier to understand and share with the public sector.

Performance Center increases efficiency in public-sector budget preparation, reporting, fiscal transparency, and performance management. The Government Finance Officers Association recognized this initiative in 2014 and awarded Mo’mix Solutions and Williamson County, Texas, the coveted Louisville Award for Business Intelligence Innovation and Collaboration.

Mo’mix Solutions is one of the fastest-growing woman-owned corporations and has been recognized by Inc. as one of the 500 fastest-growing companies and No. 48 in the IT services field. The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg Business, Yahoo Finance, and the Center for Digital Government have featured Performance Center’s business intelligence solution for bringing innovation and cost-saving solutions to education and the government.

Where did the idea for Mo’mix Solutions come from?

While working with local governments and educators, I became extremely frustrated with the software and consulting services that tax dollars were being spent on to improve operations. They left these organizations without the tools to easily access and understand all the data that was being inputted into the ERP system.

I also recognized similarities in how these organizations needed to report, view, comply, and understand their data to drive better planning and outcomes for the services they provide. For us, creating a community-driven data management product to support internal and external transparency made economical and philosophical sense.

What does your typical day look like, and how do you make it productive?

It always starts with coffee. I’m a night owl, and strategizing and innovating happen for me when it’s quiet. We just implemented objectives and key results as part of our strategic plan for 2015, and they’re key for minimizing distractions. Keeping an eye on the OKRs we’re accountable for each month or quarter keeps our team focused and productive in moving the needle forward.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I love the strategy part of our business and figuring out how to look at common problems for our clients and solve them with our technology. We use an idea generator that allows us to capture information from our walkabouts with customers or prospects and identify use cases for new product features or services that lead to better outcomes for users.

We create authentic public-private partnerships to develop solutions that meet common challenges. Collaborating to deliver common solutions — and creating a positive economic impact — is inspiring.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

Predictive analytics and citizen engagement both fascinate me.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

To truly listen, I have to constantly work and be aware of it. I believe to the bottom of my core that what we offer can empower better decisions and planning. But to innovate and provide technology that drives positive outcomes, we have to listen to challenges, put ourselves in our clients’ shoes, and always remember whom we serve.

What was the worst job you ever had, and what did you learn from it?

This is an easy one — a local pancake house in college. To this day, I cringe at the thought of wearing a skirt, pantyhose, and tennis shoes and coming home (after making tips that barely covered gas) with my shoes sticking to the sidewalk from all the syrup on the floor. I learned that I never wanted to be in the food service industry.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

I’ve learned so much, so it’s hard to pin down one thing. I would say always be direct and honest. We promote transparent technology solutions, and I believe this is key in our internal operations as well. I love the saying “If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.” It’s OK to be direct and ask the hard questions. It will save you time, energy, and the stress of not understanding what your clients, prospects, employees, and peers need and want.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Think. I know that sounds vague. Everyone thinks, but how often do you really take a step back and think about your business strategy, what’s worked, what hasn’t, and why?

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Your network is as important as your offering. After all, people buy from people. We have clients we’ve known for 20 years now, and I’m proud of that. Keeping clients for that long doesn’t happen because of the product or service you offer; it’s a result of the relationships and experiences you build with people.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I don’t believe in the word failure. Nothing is a failure. It may fail to launch, fail to meet expectations, or fail to meet a target. But if you learn from it, how is that a failure?

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

One purchasing site that the U.S. government and education system can collectively use to publish requests for proposals and information for vendors. Currently, companies like ours that sell to the local government and education market spend lots of money registering for sites just to be notified of bids. We’re probably getting close to using 50 sites that all have unique logins and passwords.

What is the best $100 you recently spent?

That’s easy — a trip with my daughter. To be in the moment with no distractions and relish in the innocence and laughter of a 9-year-old is priceless.

What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?

We use Kapta for managing OKRs and Google Apps. I love Trello for managing ideas, random thoughts, and tasks.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

The ONE Thing” by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. It’s great for busy entrepreneurs who need help focusing on that one main thing.

What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?

I love the Zappos story and its customer service philosophy. Hero Partners has also been highly influential to our strategy, focus, core competencies, and how we build a “hero” company based on Rob Ryan’s Sunflower Model from Smartups.

Ryan also has a great book, “Entrepreneur America,” that I go back and read every few weeks. The bottom line is simplicity. Keep it simple. Solve a problem. Be sincere. Cash is king. You will always need more than you planned for. Be conservative, and hire a great CPA.

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