[quote style=”boxed”]Report, Review, React. Report, Review, React – It is crucial for businesses to look at the data. Too often do people act off what they think and not what actually is. By reporting, reviewing, and reacting, often and every step of the way, you ensure that you make informed decisions based off data. [/quote]
Jonathon is COO of Brilliance.com, a leading online retailer of loose diamonds, engagement rings and fine jewelry. A graduate gemologist, he is involved in every aspect of Brilliance.com, from jewelry production to site development initiatives.
Where did the idea for Brilliance.com come from? What does your typical day look like?
Brilliance.com didn’t start out of an idea as much as it was an evolution. My family has been in the wholesale diamond and jewelry business for over 30 years. With the tech-boom and the rise of the internet, I realized that we had the opportunity to transition our business from business to business to online direct to the consumer. Since then, it has been a roller coaster of experience, excitement and, let’s be honest, stress.
My average day gives new meaning to the saying ‘wearing many hats’. I start off in the early morning going through emails, since it is the only part of my day where I am not bombarded. When I get to work, I juggle between Production, QA, Sales, Marketing, Shipping and more – I make my way through the company, check on everything, and put out those small, but potentially harmful, fires.
How do you bring ideas to life?
All ideas that we want to implement begin with a brainstorm sesh (as we like to call them), where my team and I sit down to discuss the idea. We start off thinking creatively (and unrealistically) to get the idea going and then we start thinking of implementation. If there is one thing we never have a shortage of at Brilliance.com, it is ideas. Take, for example, our 3D Printing Program. I saw 3D printer technology online and have been reading about it for months. I knew there was a practical application that we could use in our business. After months of planning and prep, the program has been hugely successful and now allows online shoppers to have an in-store shopping experience. How? If you have a 3D printer, we will send you ring files for free, and if you do not, we will send you 3D printed models for free.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Management or Men’s engagement rings! Stay tuned…”
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Reading a series of news, blogs, podcasts (Stitcher in the car) and more. Nothing helps with idea generation more than seeing other people execute and develop their own ideas. So, reading up on my favorite blogs, magazines, industry sources, and more keeps the ideas flowing.”
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
Camp counselor! I learned a very important lesson: know your strengths and weaknesses. We can all learn different skills and become, to some degree, proficient in them. But understanding where you are happy, well-equipped, and well-suited to work is a challenge in and of itself. Suffice it to say, working with kids is not my strong suit (just ask my wife).
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Honestly, nothing. I don’t like thinking of what-could-have-been, I’d rather focus on what we can do to improve now.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Report, Review, React. Report, Review, React – It is crucial for businesses to look at the data. Too often do people act off what they think and not what actually is. By reporting, reviewing, and reacting, often and every step of the way, you ensure that you make informed decisions based off data. Even if your ‘gut’ is usually right, it is important to back up company actions by data. It also gives the people in your company more autonomy because you can show them the procedure and methodology for measuring the success of new ideas. That way, your business can be successful even if you are not there.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Shoot First, Ask Questions Later. This might seem counter-productive, but if you have a good understanding of the capabilities your team has, this strategy can produce great results. Say a potential business partner approaches you about a new initiative. You are confident you can do it, but have not figured out the details yet. Say yes and figure it out later. Many times, the plan falls through or, over time, the details become clear. But when it happens and the deal comes through, your team will be more productive, more efficient, and produce greater results under the pressure of the impending deal.
You need to have a clear understanding of the capabilities of your team, so you do not push them too hard or commit to something you cannot fulfill, but for us this has never failed. In the end, you are more efficient since you didn’t waste much time planning for something that didn’t come to fruition, when instead, you put the time into projects that pull through.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I still struggle with it but burnout is a very real concern. It is easy to get caught up in your business and give everything you have to it. What I realized is that there will always be a new initiative or idea that I want to complete. However, not taking care of yourself is, in the long run, worse for you. Make sure you take the time to relax and stay grounded.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Starting a social media firm. Every business knows they need a robust social media campaign but most don’t know how to implement the proper marketing techniques for a good campaign. This is especially true in an area that is constantly evolving.
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
From a young age I always wanted to be a doctor. This is still a life goal of mine that I hope to achieve.
What software and web services do you use?
As a business that is entirely on the cloud, we have a lot of different web services that we use. Recently, our favorite is Call Tracking Metrics.
What do you love about them?
In addition to sourcing and recording our customer service line, it allows us to get really granular and detailed with our sales data. Utilizing a series of different numbers, we can keep track of where calls come from, the behavior of our callers and, most important, the ROI we get from operating our phone line. In terms of really honing in on what brings in the cash, CTM has been awesome.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
‘Low Hanging Fruit‘ by Jeremy Eden. A great book that helps you find the low hanging, easy-to-implement ideas that all of our businesses have.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
I would have to say my parents. Not that everyone all of a sudden needs to call my parents for advice, but when you are at a crossroads or need encouragement or advice, your parents are your greatest fans!
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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.