Set realistic expectations with yourself on what you can accomplish each day.
The president and CEO of DeLine Holdings, Greg DeLine is an entrepreneur and philanthropist. Greg has started and owned more than a dozen successful companies. He has a passion for relationships and helping others reach their full potential. In addition to leading various companies, Greg is the president of the board for Phoenix Programs, past president and current board member of Love INC, and a Leadership Circle level sponsor of the Heart of Missouri United Way. A lifelong Mizzou athletics fan, Greg is an Ambassador level member of the University of Missouri’s Jefferson Club.
Where did the idea for DeLine Holdings come from?
I started my career at Central Bank of Boone County (formerly known as Boone County National Bank) in Missouri, where I learned early on that it’s important to diversify your skills. I left the bank when I was 27 years old and ready to begin something new. My father-in-law asked me to manage some mobile homes for him and lent me the money to get started because I didn’t have anything.
Now DeLine Holdings includes over a dozen different businesses that span across 40 states, employing 30 people locally in mid-Missouri and close to 500 people nationally in industries such as mobile home manufacturing, real estate, nonprofit, trucking, and supply chain.
In my eyes, I never really quit being a banker, as I’ve used those skills throughout my career.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I wake up at 2 a.m. or just a tad before because that’s when it is quiet. The peacefulness of it all helps me focus on answering emails and texts (hoping that people’s phones are off!).
Then I do my rebound exercises, which are aerobic exercises I enjoy to get myself moving. Afterward, I’ll start getting ready for the day by spending some time with my family.
When I officially start working, I write out my to-do list on a priority scale of what I need to accomplish. To be productive, I make sure to check off everything on my to-do list to know when I’m done for the day.
If I can complete my work at 4 or 5 p.m., that’s great, but sometimes I’m working until 7 or 8 p.m. if needed. Work-life balance is important to me, as I consider myself a big family man. I make time every Wednesday to pick my grandkids up from school.
How do you bring ideas to life?
The world is full of great ideas, but to implement them, you have to be 100% committed.
When bringing ideas to life, I start small by figuring out the steps I need to take to get where I want to go to be successful. I preach that business principles and business models are universal no matter the size of the business. For me, what works in a big way works in a small way. It’s important to crawl before you walk — and even then, it may take baby steps to get there.
When I began my first business, I didn’t have any money to buy new inventory. I started because my father-in-law asked for my assistance in managing some mobile homes, so I borrowed $10,000 from him since I didn’t have anything.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Many entrepreneurs struggle with work-life balance. It excites me that more companies across the country are starting to take action to address it in the workplace.
I’m focused on my faith, family, and friends, as I want to leave the world better than I found it. I haven’t always been great with work-life balance, but through my faith, I’ve come to realize how important it is, and I want my employees to have that balance as well. Now I often tell people that it’s important to take care of yourself in your work environment.
My key business principles are being efficient, focused, and resourceful. As a business owner, I know we can’t accomplish those principles without all of us taking time away from work to spend time with our family and friends.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I believe all entrepreneurs need a mentor. I’ve had plenty throughout my life, and I give them credit for things I’ve learned. Mentors can provide the support to get you where you want to be and guide you in the direction you need to go.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell my younger self that everything is going to be OK in the end.
Believe it or not, I’m pretty content where I am today. I think about what phase of my life was the sweet spot, and I’m in that sweet spot now. I am in a place where I’m living God’s will for me. I had to go through everything I’ve been through to be where I am today.
I’ve had some terrible things happen, but a lot are instances of my own doing that have taught me something new. There are good and bad experiences, but everything that happens is a learning experience. The rules aren’t written down for how life works, so the only way to learn the rules is by living.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
You don’t need a business degree to be successful in business. After dropping out of college, I went to work for a bank for six years and worked my way up the ranks. My success didn’t come from years in a classroom, but from years of hard work, commitment to improving my businesses, and a strong network of support from my family and friends.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I always get my to-do list done. If I’m honest with myself about what I put on that list, I make it happen. I’d tell other entrepreneurs to be honest with yourself on what tasks you can take on each day. I’ve noticed that people fail by overwhelming themselves with high expectations. Unrealized expectations can cause you to be disappointed, and you don’t want to disappoint yourself.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Entrepreneurs need efficiency to achieve their goals and be profitable. To do this, you need to have a laser focus on your goals, so if you need to switch gears, you won’t miss a beat.
I believe that building businesses with a focus on relationships and service is key. I see opportunities in business and with people where others may not. Positive relationships in business and my community have helped me create a network of mentors and resources. These people can also come to me, as I enjoy using my God-given talents to help others find theirs.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
When I was first starting, I was doing a lot on my own without working with other experienced entrepreneurs who could guide me in the direction I needed to go. I was stuck in my ways, where I was overconfident and made decisions that didn’t turn out the way I planned.
After a few bumps, I met with one of my first mentors, Harry Taylor, who was able to help me figure out what was holding me back. I learned I was scared I’d fail, so I doubted what I was capable of doing. I needed to overcome my fear and have faith in myself that I would get the job done.
Now that I’ve had plenty of mentors throughout my life, I give them credit for teaching me more about myself. I recommend all entrepreneurs find a mentor who doesn’t already know you personally, as they will be able to give you direct feedback.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
My passion is helping people who struggle with substance abuse and find themselves caught in the cycle of poverty, so I would love to see an app or software that can help those people.
I’m currently president of the board of Phoenix Programs, which is a program whose mission is to provide effective treatment for those seeking recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. A tool that could help people fight substance abuse — whether through an online support group or by connecting with a counselor online — would be so valuable.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I bought someone lunch who couldn’t buy it himself. My wife always tells me that it’s important to give unconditional gifts, so it’s been important to me to find opportunities to treat someone out of the blue.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
That’s easy! It’s my iPhone. My iPhone is my office, which is something people laugh about, but I love that I can sit anywhere and work. I do have a computer, but it’s about 10 years old, so I don’t use it as much.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Bible. My faith guides me through all areas of my life. It pushes me to maximize my potential and teaches me how to be a better version of myself each day.
What is your favorite quote?
“The truth will set you free” (John 8:32) is my favorite quote because it’s important to be honest with yourself on what you are capable of doing each day.
- All entrepreneurs need to find a mentor.
- Find opportunities to treat someone out of the blue.
- Do something each day to help someone else.
- Set realistic expectations with yourself on what you can accomplish each day.
- The rules aren’t written down for how life works, so the only way to learn the rules is by living.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.