Jeff Cooley is an entrepreneurial investor with more than thirty years of business experience. After graduating from Central Michigan University, he spent his early career in education before following his passion for business.
When his company was acquired by Rubbermaid in 1998, Jeff was promoted to Global President of all housewares, giving him even more experience in the world market.
After retirement, he chose to use his expertise to work with small businesses, providing investors and guidance on how to be successful. Currently, he is the owner of several LLCs.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
I believe I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit in regard to business. I wanted to be more involved with helping others do well and be successful. After I retired, I felt this was the best way to put my experience to use. It allows me to stay busy, make money, and provide direction for various companies.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Each day is a bit different, but by the end of each week I will have fulfilled my daily expectations. I spend the work week following up with the different companies we are working with, checking on their needs and getting updates on what is happening day to day. I am as hands on as I can be. I want to know how the operations are going.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I listen well. It sounds like such a small thing, when you think about it, but it really makes a huge difference. I want to know what ideas those who are running the daily operations have. If we feel something is worth trying, we’ll collectively find the best way to implement it. You have to be open to hearing new ideas in order to stay on top of things.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I think a major trend that is going to come out of this whole current situation we are in will be a big expansion on telemedicine. I had actually looked into it a few years ago and we ran into issues with carriers not wanting to cover it. Now that we are more actively using this platform, I really believe this is a trend that will get a lot more support.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I have always been very hands-on and very detail oriented. I think these are basic qualities for any entrepreneur. You have to be willing to put in the work to really see the results you want. It’s also very important to be open to new ideas and to really listen to the people you work with, be it a partner or an employee of a company we work with.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would say to never take anything for granted. Business is a tricky thing. You never know when things may change. Just look at our current circumstances. Last year, some of my investments had their best year yet, and now we are all dealing with things changing on an almost daily basis. Always be prepared for anything.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I like to think that I am funnier than people think I am.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I recommend having the attitude of always wanting to raise the bar for yourself. If you aren’t willing to adapt to changing circumstances, you end up standing still. If you are standing still in business, you’re really getting behind everyone else. Always think about what you can do to make things better, more efficient. I guarantee your competition is.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
The decisions you make should be calculated and well researched. It is essential for small businesses to protect their cash flow, especially in uncertain times like we ourselves in now. Control your growth and have a plan for the next steps.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
The most challenging part for me has been getting the investors. It is one thing to see a company you know will bring you a decent return, but it’s an altogether different thing to prove that to others. You have a responsibility to those who are willing to invest their money into your dream. You have to deliver on that promise of a return for them. My success has been the best way for me to overcome the challenge of getting investors.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Right now, I think anyone who is able should get into the telemedicine platforms I mentioned earlier. I really feel like now that we will have real world experience with it’s advantages, it is going to become a true growth industry. Back when I had researched it before, we were looking at ways to have a basic machine available for those who would use it regularly. The machine would allow for the doctor to do basic tests like blood pressure checks and oxygen levels. This would allow for more thorough evaluations, still without the patient having to leave home. That’s something worth looking into, especially right now.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Well, like many people these days, I have been working remotely from home for the last several weeks. I spent some money on some really good vodka to wind down the days. It’s been a good investment for me so far.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I use the Google suite of web services on a daily basis to keep in touch with my partners and the companies we are working with. It’s very user friendly and updates in real time, so it is an excellent resource.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I am a huge history fan, so I would recommend reading any book written by Stephen Ambrose. I really enjoy his writing.
What is your favorite quote?
“Don’t be distracted by criticism. Remember the only taste of success some people get is to take a bite out of you.” – Hilary Hinton “Zig” Ziglar
● Be adaptable
● Listen to your colleagues
● Strive to be better
● Research your investments
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.