Be patient, methodical and analytical before you jump to a conclusion or into an endeavor.
Peter Strack is a successful serial entrepreneur who strives for excellence in everything he does. Today his main focus is travel technology company Alliance Reservations Network, where he is co-founder and President. However, Peter has a long history starting businesses and achieving success.
Peter started his first business at 12 when he started DJing on a freelance basis at local parties. Recognizing an opportunity for growth, he started producing his own music and selling it at his performances. After attending Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis, he graduated from Full Sail University. He founded a music production company, SoClear Productions, and became a principle in Morgans Media Group, an entertainment company.
As a way to generate more capital for his music businesses, Peter accepted a sales position with a leisure sales and marketing company. It was a natural fit for his progression in business, building relationships, selling, and closing deals. During this time he worked around the clock, pursuing his passions and striving for more out of life.
In 2005, while still working full time and running his own companies, he founded a lifestyle company that organized healthy lifestyle programs for employers. Because frequent travel is linked to better health, he offered discounted travel benefits as rewards for employees who participated.
Always striving for excellence, Peter invested his own money in a state-of-the-art travel benefits platform that could be customized for each client. Through this experience, he developed an appreciation for scalability and building platforms instead of products. His technological endeavors evolved into a travel platform with many other possible applications.
In 2014, Peter’s company merged its assets with another company, Alliance Reservations Network, and officially merged in 2016. Since that merger, Peter was integral in doubling and then tripling company gross revenues to over $300 million.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
The company I founded that eventually merged into Alliance Reservations Network started as an employee wellness program. I knew that healthy employees were good for business for a variety of reasons, and if they had the right incentives employees would choose to pursue health. Travel is linked to better health, and I had experience in the hospitality industry, so I invested in a travel platform. As that platform evolved, it was clear that it could have a lot of different applications, and here we are today.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Typically my day has three parts: research, review, and take action. I start with catching up on industry news, and then I review the numbers for my company. Based on what I learned in these first two phases, I take action in my company. Usually, I make calls and have meetings with the executive team. The goal is always to push forward, but in a strategic way.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I bring my ideas to life by “getting out of jail.” What does that mean? It means “Don’t work in a silo.” Homogenous groups do not produce innovative ideas. I talk to lots of different types of people to ascertain all the application opportunities of any product I come up with.
You don’t determine what the product is—your customer determines what the product is. Talk to them, ask them what they need, and then take action. In my case, this looks like analytics and customer trends to see what people are actually doing, rather than what they say.
Once I have all my options, I get focused on execution. I don’t let the little stuff distract me from an excellent product, and I continually ask “How can we make this better?” I go back to those different people and make sure my product aligns with their needs.
What’s one trend that excites you?
In the travel industry, there is a trend of technology disruptors and fragmentation. I love it. Fragmentation is good for us. Disrupters to the industry provide opportunities.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
One thing I always tell myself is that you have to do the most important things first, even if they are hard. I practice this when I get down to the “take action” part of my day. By tackling the big priorities I have been able to build my businesses faster.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Be patient, methodical and analytical before you jump to a conclusion or into an endeavor. Earlier in my career, I had the attitude that I could outwork everyone and break down any barrier in my way. Now I know that I would have had to break down fewer barriers if I had chosen my battles based on a good analysis of each situation.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Success is harder to deal with than failure. When you fail, you stop what you’re doing. You can learn and close that chapter. Success increases your responsibilities, and maintaining success is an ongoing process.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Negotiate everything. Everything is negotiable. By having the confidence to try to negotiate, I’ve found opportunities that others told me weren’t possible. You don’t know until you ask.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Tap into sales channels that have already been developed. When a business or product is new, it’s hard to get potential customers to trust that product. However, there are people in every industry and niche who have contacts and audiences that already trust them, and if I can get those influencers to believe in my product and endorse it, I cut my lead generation time dramatically.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Early in my career, I selected the wrong business partner on one of my endeavors. It cost me a lot of time and money, but I knew that I had to buy that person out. I got focused on that mission and made it happen, parting ways amicably.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Shared Shed is a concept I really like but do not have time to pursue. The idea is that a neighborhood would have a set of home care tools like pressure washers, lawn mowers, and other tools that you don’t use often but definitely need every now and then. Instead of each neighbor buying them individually, they could pay a nominal fee for access to the shed. The tools would be used more often, and it would cost everyone less.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I recently bought a $100 gift card for an employee as a birthday gift. The gift card was for a shopping outlet that I knew they enjoyed, so they could use the money on a hobby they love. They were so grateful and told me that they got stuff they were so excited to use.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
My client relationship management (CRM) software really helps streamline my day. There are a lot of CRM options out there, but I use Hubspot. It integrates with my email so that my client conversations are automatically captured for future reference. I’ve set up automated workflows that create tasks for me and my team when a trigger event occurs. I can set tasks to remind myself of what I need to do each day. All of these things reduce distractions and allow me to focus on my clients.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. It talks about how your brain can use thin slices of information to make judgements about something, and the validity of those judgements. In some cases that “thin-slicing” can be very effective and helpful in making a quick decision.
What is your favorite quote?
Power perceived is power achieved.
- Knowledge is power; the more you know, the more data you have to leverage to your advantage
- Do the most important things first, even if they are hard.
- Everything is negotiable.
- Don’t reinvent the wheel; tap into sales channels that already exist.
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.