Louis Olave is the CEO of his own consulting firm in Miami, Florida. His consulting work focuses on helping small businesses with strategy and management. This can include anything from operations, sales and marketing, and financial issues. His work has involved a lot of different industries, from biotechnology to e-commerce, and even some gaming projects. He has been consulting since 2008.
Louis Olave studied finance at Rutgers University in New Jersey. He had always envisioned working on Wall Street, which he did. He began his career working for several Wall Street firms including Cantor Fitzgerald and held positions on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange and the trading floor of the commodities exchange as well. That’s where his career started, and it gave him a great foundation. He also has an MBA from Georgetown with a concentration on International Business. He has started companies himself and taken them to successful exits and acquisitions. Louis Olave is proud to say that he has the diverse business experience that really helps him meet the needs of his clients.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
I had started, developed, and then sold a business called Web Click Concepts, which was acquired by Circuit City stores. It gave me the first-hand experience to know I could help other businesses have the same success.
I think everything prepares you for your next step. My time on Wall Street allowed me to look at all different companies in different phases of growth from a market value perspective. It helped me to evaluate companies that have a good chance of profitability and revenue. And certainly, my time on Wall Street expanded my network. All of that helped me build my consulting career in an indirect type of way.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I get my brain cells moving first thing in the morning with some form of exercise, whether it’s jogging or yoga. I usually have calls scheduled form 8am to 4pm with various clients. Being a consultant, I am working on multiple projects at the same time. By the time afternoon hits, I have usually migrated to research, following up on projects and going through my to-do list.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I work very collaboratively with clients, so I try to listen to what their needs are, what they want to get out of the project, and then I start creating that idea. I really base it on where they’re coming from, as opposed to me taking charge and creating things out of my ideas. Once I am confident that I know what they want, I start putting together PowerPoint slides, Spreadsheets, and project timelines.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I am excited about the continuing movement of technology to the Cloud and how that is increasing speed of business. I’ve been involved with burgeoning technologies for the last 20 years, and I feel like I have a lot of experience in working in that world. It’s all very exciting to see how far we’ve come in this regard.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Exercise and meditation are extremely important to me to feel good and meet my day full of challenges. I used to attend yoga classes, but now I use YouTube which is an incredible tool, and is another example of how technology is being incorporated into our lives.
What advice would you give your younger self?
That would be a five-hour answer. But seriously, one thing I would say to myself is to keep your momentum going. When you have the wind at your back, don’t slow things down. Keep going.
There are so many ups and downs in business that it’s easy to fall into bad habits or slow down your pace when you have success. Once you achieve it, you have to wake up the next day and go right at it again instead of celebrating too much. You have to be very disciplined in going at your business or project with the same intensity as you did the day before.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I like to approach businesses from a very pragmatic sense. I often work with visionaries who are very passionate and excited about their businesses and I try to look at it from another perspective. What are the costs of doing that business, and what do I believe is the path to profitability? I try to not get into the excitement of an idea, or the passion behind it. I look at it from a very pragmatic sense. It helps provide balance in the final analysis.
It’s not that the business owner, truly disagrees with this, but I often help them to view their business from a different perspective and be sure they are taking the needed steps to become profitable.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I constantly reevaluate projects based on profitability. A lot of entrepreneurs stick to their ideas even when they may not be profitable. I’ve seen a lot of entrepreneurs lose a lot of money and time by chasing what they believe in, but it’s not going to turn into profitable revenue. That is actually fine for some people. Perhaps it’s more about passion or seeing an idea through to completion, and if that’s what you want to do, that’s great. But if you really want to be a successful entrepreneur in my mind you have to constantly be asking yourself if it will turn into a profitable venture.
I think my financial background is why I think this way.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
As a consultant, my strength is evaluating businesses and ideas on the merit of market timing. Is it the right time to execute the business? Could it lead to profitability in some reasonable amount of time? I’m selective about the projects and businesses I get involved with. My strategy is to pick companies that I believe are meeting their market at the right time and can turn a profit.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I do not believe in the word failure. I don’t think there is such a thing as failure for a successful entrepreneur. You learn valuable lessons from ventures that don’t work as well as you might have hoped.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I’ve looked at the possibility of taking the 3D technology that is used for virtual tours in real estate and applying it to retail businesses. A lot of people now are shopping and working from home and maybe creating online spaces for those businesses that is based on actual 3D imaging of the store layout and inventory could be successful. It might replicate the shopping experience people enjoy at their favorite stores in such a way that it becomes useful.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I recently bought some lights to improve my lighting for my Zoom video conferencing calls. Because of the way my office is set up, my image of myself on video was a little dark so I purchased some halo lights to place in front of my computer. This gives me a clearer presence during video calls. These kinds of lights are used mostly for social media, for selfie takers, but I figured I could use that same lighting to enhance my Zoom presence and it has done a good job.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Right now, it’s Zoom. Since using Zoom over the last several months, it seems to me that audio-only conference calls have gone to the wayside. What I’m seeing is that it’s just automatically assumed that we’re jumping on a video conference call. That’s what I’m seeing. Before COVID I rarely did a video conference call. Now it seems the norm.
I like Zoom better. It allows for a more personal experience, where everyone feels more present on the call. You can see facial expressions and see how your presentation is impacting your audience. I think it also drives people to be more “in” the call. If somebody is distracted and not paying attention, that can be very evident on a video call, whereas on an audio call it may not be as noticeable. It incentivizes everybody on the call to be a little more aware and present.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I love the book The Power of Now. It helped me focus on the challenges I face today, as opposed to looking back to past experiences in business and trying to relive those or trying to come up with a different outcome, which is impossible. I also want to be prepared but not overly focused on future challenges. Staying very focused in the now and very focused on the present helps in business tremendously.
What is your favorite quote?
“Small opportunities are often the beginning of great achievements.”
• Stay focused on getting to profitability and not letting one’s judgment get clouded about the true purpose of a for-profit business
• Stay balanced between work, family life and exercise/meditation/diet.
• Use technology to your advantage.
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.