No matter what you do for a living, stay focused and consistent on the path to any major accomplishment. Others will take notice of your drive.
George Otte is a Miami-based entrepreneur and executive with more than 15 years of multifaceted business operations experience. He is the founder and current chairman of Otte Polo Group, a holding company that operates subsidiaries in the computer technical support, product fulfillment, real estate investment, and call center/ telephone answering service industries. Otte and his team continue to seek new opportunities for growth in the U.S. and in international markets.
Otte founded his first company at 21, when he was still a college student in the Miami area. Known as Tech Support Services, the company provided computer repair services to individuals, small businesses and enterprises throughout South Florida.
Within three years, largely through word-of-mouth marketing and client referrals, George Otte grew Tech Support Services into the region’s premier technology service provider with more than 100 clients. He then acquired Geeks on Site, another computer repair and tech support company. In the subsequent years, Otte built Geeks on Site into a diversified company offering remote computer repair, on-site tech support and a variety of other technology services for businesses and individuals nationwide.
George Otte’s next major opportunity came in 2012, when he launched Responsive Call Center. He built upon the lessons he’d learned growing Geeks on Site, focusing in particular on developing scalable systems and procedures for delivering industry-leading customer service.
The following year, Otte acquired Phase V Fulfillment, an established company offering fulfillment, direct mail and contact center services to customers in a variety of industries; some customers had been in the company’s portfolio since the early 1980s.
Otte built on this strong foundation, modernizing the company’s legacy verticals while exploring new opportunities for growth. Phase V is now Florida’s top fulfillment company, handling third-party logistics solutions and value-added supply chain solutions. Its logistics capabilities include secure, climate-controlled warehousing; quality and quantity control; secure inventory and order management; and logistical analytics. Phase V’s work allows its clients to focus on growing their businesses and investing in their own customer relationships.
In 2015, George Otte turned his attention to a new venture: Otte Real Estate, a privately held real estate investment firm with a diversified portfolio of holdings. As a boutique partnership, the company focuses on developing and maintaining successful, long-term relationships with investors, business partners and tenants. Otte Real Estate invests in residential and commercial projects in the core, value-added and opportunistic segments.
Otte spends the bulk of his time managing the Otte Polo Group’s subsidiary companies and seeking out new business opportunities. When he’s not at the office, he can be found boating or fishing the waters off Miami with his family and friends.
Where did the idea for Geeks on Site come from?
In college, I worked at a local bank’s IT department. It was an extremely rewarding experience that taught me a great deal about technology. My friends, family and co-workers all knew I was good with computers, and many asked me for help with their home and office computer systems. Soon enough, I realized I could make a good business out of it.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
One of my favorite aspects of my work is the fact that I never have a typical day. On any given day, I’ll take calls, tend to emails, attend face-to-face meetings with employees and clients, address issues that require immediate attention, and spend unstructured time in my office or outside brainstorming new business ideas or strategies. To stay on top of the latest developments in my field and network with other executives and business owners, I regularly attend industry conferences and conventions. Basically, I always have something new going on. With so much variety in my day-to-day, I don’t worry about getting stuck in a routine. Instead, I come to work each day ready to maximize my productivity and energized to tackle new challenges.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I do a lot of the work in my head. I like to think through each idea carefully, examining as many angles as possible, and then develop a mental action plan to turn the idea into a reality. If I need help executing the idea, I communicate each step of the plan to the appropriate process owners, who then organize their subordinate tasks however they see fit. If I’m working on an idea for a major new project or business that will require lots of work over a longer timeframe, I create a written execution list to hold myself and others accountable and ensure that the project remains on track.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Robotics and artificial intelligence. We’re seeing more and more of these two technologies. They will greatly expand over the next few decades, creating many business opportunities and profoundly changing the way we live and work.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I’m always generating and testing new ideas. I make lists to prioritize ideas and action items. Every matter requiring further development gets written down and deadlined so that I remember to attend to it in a timely fashion. I find that productive momentum builds on itself: Every time I cross an item off my list, I notch a small victory that motivates me to pursue the next task or project to completion.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I’d tell myself to be more patient. Rushing rarely leads to the ideal outcome. It’s much better to take your time and do it right.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I’m a big proponent of jumping head-first into every new venture you attempt. The public thinks of entrepreneurs as risk-takers by nature, but many founders are actually quite risk-averse. That’s not me. I tend to be bold. Most people, including many I respect and admire, warn me to be careful when I start pouring all my energy into a new idea. I usually don’t follow their advice.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Once I have a goal in mind, I maintain laser-like focus as I work to achieve it. No matter what you do for a living, I recommend staying focused and consistent on the path to any major accomplishment. Others will take notice of your drive.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
In every business I own, we relentlessly test and measure a variety of marketing channels. We carefully measure each channel’s effectiveness over time and adjust, increase or terminate the investment as needed. Compiling and analyzing this data allows us to make evidence-driven decisions about how, where and with what messages to target our prospects. In turn, that increases our marketing and advertising ROI, turning these functions into important growth engines.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Since the beginning, hiring quality salespeople has been the biggest challenge. Making the right early hires has been difficult as well. When you launch a new business, it’s very important to put high-quality people in the right positions from the outset. These experiences were painful, but they also taught important lessons that improved our hiring processes and employee management protocols. We now have a much better sense of the role-specific qualities and skills that candidates need to flourish within our organization, as well as the incentives that we can offer to attract the most talented candidates.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I’d like to launch a support or service business for drones or robots. Businesses and consumers alike already use drones for a wide variety of applications. As the regulatory framework matures, demand for these machines will likely accelerate. The same goes for other autonomous systems, such as cleaning robots and robotic porters. With the space poised for dramatic growth, getting in early is likely to pay off in a big way.
What is the best $100 you recently spent?
Spending the day at the Miami Boat Show. I had a great time and learned a lot. I met other people who share my interests and got a lot of great ideas for upcoming boating adventures.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
I use Microsoft Outlook for email, appointments, task management and other critical functions. I love its simplicity and functionality. Without it, I’d be far less organized.
What is the one book that you recommend our community read and why?
I recently read “Drive” by Daniel Pink. It offered amazing insights into what motivates us as employees and human beings. Managers and business owners can apply those takeaways to anyone who works under them. I certainly have. I believe I’m a better leader, and our workforce is happier and more productive, because of it.
What is your favorite quote?
I live by a simple maxim that has yet to fail me: “Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst.”
- Never stop learning. To stay on top of the latest developments in your field and network with other executives and business owners, regularly attend industry conferences and conventions.
- No matter what you do for a living, stay focused and consistent on the path to any major accomplishment. Others will take notice of your drive.
- Productive momentum builds on itself. Every time you cross an item off your to-do list, you can notch a small victory that motivates you to pursue the next task or project to completion.
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.