Nick Jaksa is founder of Integrated Operations whose new Viral Defense division is focused on improving safety through the mitigation of the spread of germs and on trying to help attack the pandemic head on. The company’s unique disinfectant misting systems help improve safety while people are entering a building, school, sports arena, and other venues. He brings to this new endeavor over 40 years of product development and manufacturing in various markets around the world. He has extensive experience and expertise in safety related products in the automotive industry and others, in the U.S. and abroad.
Where did the idea for Integrated Operations come from?
I’ve been involved in automotive safety for a good part of my career, and the inspiration to establish Integrated Operations came from a prior business opportunity based on a project bid to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that involved a very large automotive safety related program. Focusing on safety in connection with the current pandemic was a natural fit for the team of experts who worked on the automotive project. Our goal is to help be part of the solution to the current worldwide health pandemic. Together we decided to develop a line of disinfection and protective products, under our Viral Defense brand, to help mitigate the spread of germs. The global pandemic sparked the idea, and we are impassioned to continue not only for coronavirus, but also for other dangerous viruses and bacteria that exist around the world.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My business is global, and I have various phases of projects happening throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. Early in the morning, my day always begins with calls and/or E-mails with my associates abroad to check on the progress of our joint businesses. Late mornings and afternoons are with my North American network. On one hand I have a lot of flexibility in terms of when I work, on the other hand the day never seems long enough! There are natural breaks during the week, such as on Fridays when it is Saturday in Asia. I find that productivity is best when you are sensitive to others’ schedules even it if means working at strange hours or part of the day on Sunday when it is already Monday morning in some parts of the world. When you enjoy what you are doing and feel that you are making a difference, it is easy to stay motivated.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I’ve always been excited by product development and engineering, so by default I am always reading the latest studies, attending and now listening to virtual conferences, and constantly interacting with my network. This plays into my natural instinct for what is needed and the solutions that people are focused on finding. My rule of thumb to bring ideas to life is to focus on what’s useful and manageable and then to stay on topic as best as possible. It’s so easy to get excited and distracted and lose focus, so staying the course and having a plan is essential. I also believe that one shouldn’t try to do everything yourself. If you need help, ask for it.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Integrated Operations is focused on mitigating the spread of germs. We have disinfection systems and solutions that will truly make a difference in large and populated areas such as schools, universities, airports, and the like. Trends that are related to keeping people healthy are especially exciting to me right now. We have to be aware of what is legitimate and what is bad science or no science at all, but the understanding that this is an area of rapid development and has some of the best minds around the world focused on it, makes me excited. We are always going to be faced with the threats of viruses and bacteria that are dangerous, so any trends that focus on keeping people healthier and safer are exciting to me.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I am patient and I am not averse to putting in the time needed to make progress. Bringing an idea from inspiration to fruition takes time and often requires input from others. Being patient and exploring the right avenues brings the greatest success. Especially for Integrated Operations and Viral Defense, it is important to understand what the market needs and how people will respond culturally. That’s why we are focused on a variety of products including large capacity disinfection systems, to protective equipment like masks, face shields, and acrylic panels. I like to think of it as having the patience and perseverance to ensure that you are prepared for success.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Personally, I’d tell myself to marry into a rich family. LOL. Just kidding. Actually, in my personal life I would have loved to have had more kids since I only have two and now in retrospect would have loved to have more. Professionally, I would tell myself to network more from the very beginning. It takes a bit of effort and some outreach to be as successful as one can, and it’s important to keep trying. Also, keep an open mind to what other professionals might tell you and take everything as constructive feedback. You don’t have to agree, but just consider it based on their experience. They’ve been down this path before, so take advantage of their knowledge in the industry or field, especially if they are not successful. You can learn from their failures, so you don’t have to pay for the same mistakes! Plenty of people are out there ready to help. You just need to ask.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I believe in slower growth if it’s with the right partners that will lead to steady, faster growth once the kinks are worked out. Growth that is attained quickly and immediately is often riddled with poor customer service, inefficiency, inconsistency, and distractions. By focusing on steady growth, even if it might be slower, we can ensure success for the long term. I feel fortunate that I have been lucky to be with the right partners and focused on the right products at the right time that have ultimately been relatively successful.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
It might sound cliché, but I recommend that everyone stops being afraid to think outside of the box. However, if the answer is simple, do not overcomplicate things. There is a balance and perhaps it is found through experience, but you have to know when you have found a good solution and when it’s time to do more research and networking and get creative with your thought process.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Don’t let too many distractions sway you from the target. Once I have an idea I stay on topic and vet it with professionals whose opinions I value. If many of them feel it isn’t practical and/or useful to pursue, then I begin to pivot a bit to refine my idea.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
In some cases, partly due to youth and inexperience, I let others influence major decisions that I had questioned and gave them the benefit of the doubt. Now, I spend more time on due diligence in advance to ensure that if I do work with others, they are right for the project. You are never too old or too young to start thinking this way. At first it can be difficult and there may be doubts, but it’s absolute the right way. Otherwise your experience will be wasted because it is not truly your own. I also feel that failure has a negative connotation, when really it could be positive. If we do not learn from making mistakes, we will never be able to improve and teach others.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
It’s not an idea for an actual product, but more of a methodology for running a business. Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers. Happy clients will be given solutions to the problems that they already have; they don’t need more ideas that don’t really apply to what they need
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Guitar lessons for my grandson. It’s more than $100, but well worth it for him and our relationship. Talking to him and hearing what he is learning is a great way to destress and get a different perspective.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
OUTLOOK. It’s my all in one solution to communicating and staying organized. It tracks my emails, keeps my schedule, and has everything I need to stay in touch.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma. It’s a great book, that helps to explain and reinforce the important aspects of life and living in the human race.
What is your favorite quote?
I’m not sure about a quote per se, but my favorite phrase is ‘Namaste.’ Humility and respect for others is the way we should all try to live.
• Focus on what’s useful and manageable and then staying on topic as best as possible
• Think outside of the box, but don’t overcomplicate things
• Listen, but don’t let others influence your decisions if it goes against what you believe will work best