It’s not all about business! Take time for yourself.
Finance guru, Michael Stummer, has dedicated his career to helping others find confidence and stability in their finances. Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, Michael established a strong work ethic at a young age. Not only was he an avid sports player, he also joined the workforce at the ripe age of 12, working his way up to a Manager position while in high school.
Michael went on to receive a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Classics from Northwestern University. Not only did he work two jobs throughout his undergrad to pay for 100% of his tuition, he was also occupied numerous leadership positions throughout campus, such as treasurer, Vice President, social chairman, and intramural chairman. Upon graduation, Michael hit the ground running, working with Dean Witter Financial Services (now Morgan Stanley) in a management trainee role. Still to this day, Michael attributes this experience to being a main motivation behind pursuing a life-long career in finance.
Currently, Michael Stummer lives in Columbus, Ohio with his wife and their three children. He continues to occupy multiple roles as the Founder and CEO of Sports Boosters Consultants, the Director of Finance and Strategy at OSMC, and is the President of the Upper Arlington High School Boosters. When Michael is not working or spending time with his family, he can be found playing softball in one of his three leagues, or enjoying a Chicago Bears game, as a proud 25 year season ticket holder.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
Several years as the treasurer for a high school soccer parent booster club. Early on, I was asked to sign a contract for a coach bus company to take the team to an out of state tournament. My wife, who is an attorney, overheard my conversation with the bus company and told me that I shouldn’t sign the contract because of the liability issues that could arise. After doing some research, I learned that if a booster club does not incorporate then officers, directors and volunteers take on all responsibility. I further learned that without a 501c3 designation all proceeds, donations, etc are taxable. I soon became the 501c3 “expert” in our very large sports community.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
As Booster President of a high school with 32 sports, I wear many hats. Our high school’s booster organization operates all stadium/gym concessions. So every week of the school year there are orders to be made with vendors, trips to Sam’s Club, training volunteers, consulting on fundraising opportunities and instructing parent boards on how to become a 501c3 organization.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I have a board of directors with a wide range of strengths and experiences from various industries, positions and skill sets that I bounce ideas at our monthly meetings. It’s a collaboration and team effort that makes things happen.
What’s one trend that excites you?
With social media and how fast news travels, it is now becoming widely known that all sports booster organization at all levels need to incorporate and become a 501c3. Every day the market gets larger as word gets out as to how important incorporation and 501c3 organization is to keep folks out of legal and IRS issues.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I feel being organized makes me most efficient in every aspect of my life. Entrepreneur wise, it enables me to squeeze 10 hours of work into 8 hours or less. There is a lot of technology geared towards assisting you with organization which has been a welcomed addition into my regular routine.
What advice would you give your younger self?
To go for it! Risk taking to be an entrepreneur or build a business is much easier when you have nothing to lose. Your risk tolerance changes as you begin a family and start incurring expenses such as insurance, tuitions and medical bills. So follow your dreams early.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I strongly believe that building a business slow and steady, especially when it comes to new customers, leads to success. It’s all about quality over quantity. If no one respects your work, you will never have life long customers, and word of mouth is incredibly important.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Listen to your customers. Chances are that their wants and needs are similar or the same as the wants and needs of your prospective customers. If you just assume that you know what people want, you won’t be able to service a range of clients.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Customer referrals are the main way the company has grown. Word of mouth is the most effective way to gain new customers. People respect honest reviews and trust the opinions of friends/ family.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I realized that unless you have a true passion for your idea/business, it is doomed for failure. You must enjoy every aspect of your business. Otherwise, what’s the point? Most of us will have careers that span 50 years (give or take), so it’s important to enjoy this time and not just look forward to the weekend. It’s never too late to pursue your interests; if your career is unfulfilling, it’s time to find a new one!
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Find something you are passionate about and figure out how to scale it. Use social media and word of mouth to grow your client base. Also, offer free advice. For example, if you’re in the finance industry, start a YouTube account where you cover a new topic every week. Break the topics down into easily digested content, such as “What is investing” or “How to get your first credit card”.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I paid $100 for a health and nutrition coach to train me for 1 month to help me achieve my health and fitness goals. Writing and sharing my daily food and exercise log with my Food Fuel coach made me accountable and helped me stick to the program and to achieve my goals. It’s not all about business! Take time for yourself.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Other than word of mouth, we get all our leads by using Google. There are literally hundreds of potential clients identifiable through a Google search within 10 miles of where I am.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt. Great analysis of politics affecting economics. Can be applied to both macro and micro situations including individual business.
What is your favorite quote?
Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.
- Listen to your customers.
- It’s a collaboration and team effort that makes things happen.
- Unless you have a true passion for your idea/business, it is doomed for failure.
- It’s not all about business! Take time for yourself.
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.