Ensure your employees/colleagues are happy with their jobs and your customers are happy with your product/service

 

Marc is the founder of Petstablished.com, a fast growing animal shelter/rescue management software. The website gives back to the community by helping animal welfare organizations run their day to day operations more efficiently, without incurring any additional costs. Marc attended Baruch’s Zicklin School of business to pursue an MBA, focusing on entrepreneurship and marketing. Aside from his love for computers/technology, he has always enjoyed working with animals. Prior to creating Petstablished, he was President of the Georgia SPCA in Suwanee, GA. He also has experience as a Social Media Marketing Coordinator, IT consultant, and business adviser.

Where did the idea for Petstablished.com come from?

I was volunteering for the Georgia SPCA and someone came into the shelter to adopt a pet. During the check-out process it took over 30 minutes for the SPCA to enter the adopter information into their shelter management software and complete the checkout. As a result, other people looking to adopt could not wait any longer for assistance and they walked out. I asked them what software they used and to my surprise they said it was the best one in the industry. Realizing how inefficient the software was, I decided to create my own software.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

We have a very small team so I handle multiple different things at the company. Every day is different. Some days I focus my time on working with our developers and testing. Other days I focus on sales, account management, and customer support. Wherever help is needed most is where I spend my time.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Execution is key and I would say it is the hardest part of growing any business. You need to have a flexible plan so that you can account for the unexpected and pivot when necessary. That being said, the best way to bring an idea life is to constantly get feedback from the customers you are building the idea for. Start simple, get feedback, and continue to improve your service.

You don’t need to listen to ALL of the feedback, but in general, if you listen to what your customers want you will be more likely to build a product they are willing to pay for long term. Also, before starting a company, make sure you have the budget and resources needed to hit the goals you set. Try to be realistic (don’t pull a Fyre Festival). In my projections I always try to overestimate expenses and underestimate revenues. If you know how much money you will have in the worst case it will help ensure you don’t run out of it while bringing your idea to life.

What’s one trend that excites you?

The pet industry is growing and more people are adopting from animal shelters and rescues every year. It is a huge step in the right direction for animal welfare organizations. More people are also starting to realize that just because a pet is adopted from a shelter doesn’t mean it will be any better or worse that a pet which is bought from a breeder.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

This isn’t really a habit, but I love what I do. It’s truly fun for me to figure out ways to grow my business, help shelters and rescues, and continue to improve our service. Because I love what I do, I am always “working” regardless of the day or time.

What advice would you give your younger self?

None. I wouldn’t go back and change anything in the past if I could either. For all I know I could be dead by now if I did :).

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

The first real life image of a black hole that they discovered in April is not proof that black holes exist. The image they put together is a blurry circle of light around a dark area which is supposedly 55+million light years away from Earth. Sure, it could be a black hole but that image doesn’t prove anything. Can anyone prove to me that it’s not the outskirts of a giant explosion created by a weapon of mass destruction from an alien race? Good luck! The bottom line is, it could be an unlimited number of things that no one can prove true or false. Just because community of experts/professionals agree on something doesn’t necessarily mean that they are correct. I believe our current knowledge of what’s out there in deep space, (and I am talking millions of light years away), is analogous to when everyone thought the earth was the center of our solar system. It is very likely we have no idea what is actually happening.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Ensure your employees/colleagues are happy with their jobs and your customers are happy with your product/service. If you take care of both it’s difficult not to have a successful business (unless your business model stinks).

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

I always try to listen to customer feedback and complaints. It may hurt to hear your product sucks, but it’s sometimes necessary in order for you to create more value for your customers. If I hadn’t been doing this, we wouldn’t have many features we have today and we would probably be out of business too.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

After 2 years of trying to find someone to build what I needed for Petstablished, we hired a developer who told us to ditch our current development company (who built our initial site but didn’t have all the features we needed), and said he would take over the redesign/buildout of the site. After a few months my business partner who helped hire this guy left the company, and the developer had created a completely broken site with a few horrible looking web pages. This is the only person I ever fired. The worst part is that he had told me it was almost done and had been showing us front-end only updates until that point. Also, I had just hired a new sales person to start selling the product that was supposed to be ready within the next 4 weeks. So now I had a salesperson (who is still with us today), a marketing person, and no product to sell or market. Looking back on this, it’s a miracle we came back from what happened.

Fortunately, I didn’t call it quits right there. I happen to have worked at a co-working space where I knew a person that ran a small dev shop. They helped me hire our current CTO and built an MVP of what I needed within 3 months on a relatively tight budget. Persistence and a little bit of luck paid off, and here we are today.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Please, for the love of god, create a device small enough to attach to any object that will let me know exactly where that object is if it gets lost. I’ll pay whatever you want.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I recently bought a water heater that costs around $100. It can boil water in under a minute and keep it hot for 20+ minutes. I love tea and I use this thing to quickly make tea every day. It’s the best. If you are wondering why I don’t just use a microwave it’s because it changes the taste and I feel like it’s not healthy, but who knows.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

Trello. We use it to track development processes on our website. It basically helps us organize everything by priority and track progress on specific tasks/goals.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. It’s a great book written by an entrepreneur and business advisor. It’s served me well, especially when it comes to creating win-win situations in business.

What is your favorite quote?

“A wise man knows what he does not know.” – Lao Tzu

Key Learnings:

  • Just because community of experts/professionals agree on something doesn’t necessarily mean that they are correct
  • If you love what you do professionally you will be more likely to be successful
  • Ensure your employees/colleagues are happy with their jobs and your customers are happy with your product/service
  • A wise person knows what he/she does not know
  • Don’t go back and change anything in the past if given the opportunity. You may wind up dead.

Connect:

https://www.facebook.com/petstablished/
https://petstablished.com/
https://www.linkedin.com/in/marcthalheim/
https://twitter.com/petstablished?lang=en