Happiness and success cannot be measured by one’s business accomplishments.
Ravi Bahethi is a systems engineer and president of Terranet, Inc. Since 1991, Maryland-based company Terranet has been providing scientific and technical support services for government and industry clients. Mr. Bahethi is also an expert programmer and is highly skilled in building and managing teams. He is a results-driven individual with a special passion and knack for everything related to technology. His company provides programming in Fortran 77, Fortran 90, C/C++ and SQL on various platforms including OpenVMS, Tru64 Unix, IRIX, Linux and Windows, giving their customers flexible and cost-effective IT solutions.
Ravi Bahethi earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Maryland, and his graduate degree from American University. Thanks to his education and experience, Mr. Bahethi is able to provide tailored and customized services to each of his clients and can manage complex technological systems throughout their life cycles.
When he is not working, Ravi spends his time exploring the outdoors, hiking, or playing tennis. He also enjoys reading books and has a profound sense of irony. He also supports the work of the Chesapeake Youth Symphony Orchestra (CYSO) and appreciates that it helps children develop and expand their interest in music.
Where did the idea for Terranet, Inc. come from?
The idea came from friends and acquaintances who had companies of their own. Several of them were successful in varying fields and one was very successful in IT. I was doing similar work and managing a couple of personnel, so, the transformation from employee to business owner didn’t appear to be a big leap.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
No day is typical, and each day is affected by the previous. Ideally, a typical day starts with exercise. I go to the gym for an hour. It is important for me to get some exercise every day. It makes me feel like I have done something no matter how the day turns out. Then, I get ready for work, making sure to make and drink some tea and flip through the newspaper. Rituals are important to me. They bring a rhythm to my life.
At work, the morning is dedicated to administrative functions, such as sending and responding to emails, making phone calls, paying bills, and following up with clients. The afternoon is dedicated to meetings–if there are any–and ensuring they are kept short. Additionally, I ask questions about the big picture of the company–Are the projects getting completed? Where do the staff need support? How can we improve our marketing techniques? The last hour or two at work is dedicated to technical details, like systems administration/engineering or programming.
Here, I take a subordinate role and assist a staff member in a project they are working on. I am fortunate to work with many good people who help keep me informed about trends in IT. This technical work also reminds me of the time it takes to accomplish a task by forcing me to slow down and pay attention to detail.
Finally, I head home and hopefully, dinner will be ready. If not, I will usually order something, or better yet, head to a restaurant. After dinner, there is always work to be done around the house, such as dishwashing, cleaning, or laundry; however, I consider these activities decompressing. First, there is an immediate sensation of accomplishment after completing household chores. Second, it allows for time to talk to my better half and creates a sense of teamwork. Third, it’s a ritual.
In the evenings, I try to read for a half-hour to an hour. Many times, I read the newspaper or magazine; however, I prefer a good book, whether fiction or nonfiction.
I don’t find myself making a concerted effort to be productive; rather, I get things done by finding help wherever possible and breaking tasks down step-by-step. Keeping a consistent routine each day helps me balance my life and stick to my habits, and this rhythm helps me accomplish even daunting tasks.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I bring ideas to life through patience and trial-and-error. After developing an idea, I analyze two limiting factors–cost and time–and decide which ideas are feasible. Through logical analysis, I can deduce which ideas are practical and can be put into action.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Logistics. Logistics, implemented correctly, reduces costs, saves time, and increases efficiency. I am specifically interested in the application of logistics to the delivery of goods and reputable services, as I believe there is a lot of potential in this field.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I don’t have any specific habits that contribute to my productivity; however, my daily routine helps keep me on track and organized. Since I am a business owner, I can’t afford to let details slip through the cracks. Sticking to a schedule and routine ensures that I am able to support my employees and grow my business.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would advise my younger self to start earlier in my career field, and I would remind him that effort and sincerity can overcome experience.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I believe that structured teaching and taking classes are unnecessary. It’s an individual’s enthusiasm to learn continuously and independently that drives their ability to succeed.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
It is crucial to be on time. Be on time to meeting people. Be on time with your filings/submissions. Be on time with getting things done. Plan well, even if it means limiting the number of things you can do in a day. Make educated, well-thought-out choices, and delegate tasks to employees. If you’re not on time, you leave a negative impression, and people may question your reliability. It is important to be punctual in order to earn the trust of colleagues and maintain your reputation.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Marketing is a critical strategy and allows people to know who you are and what you do. Your marketing strategies must help you actively engage with people and businesses in order to find the best potential customers. Additionally, testing different marketing strategies allows you to fine-tune your goods and services to your desired customer base.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
One failure I’ve experienced is failing to delegate. This issue stems from a fear of the unknown, as I like to know exactly what is happening with my company. As the owner of the company, I am responsible for ensuring that all tasks get done; however, it is impossible to try to complete all these tasks myself. Through time, I have learned to recognize my tendency to want to do everything and have learned to take preventative action through delegation. I’ve found that tasks get done more efficiently when I delegate some work.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Specialize in something, preferably in something with a less competitive market. With less competition, there will be more opportunities for your company to expand into the field. For example, becoming a Systems Administrator on Windows is very good, but becoming a Systems Administrator on VAX VMS is better. VAX VMS Admin is still in demand, and in order to be proficient in this system, you would also need to know Windows Admin. Similarly, being a handyman is good, but being a plumber is better, and being a plumber who specializes in high-end jacuzzi spas is best. Once you establish a specialty, you can build a company around it.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
The best $100 I spent recently was an Uber ride to work and back. My car needed service and the garage is closer to my home. Uber is efficient and user-friendly, and I was able to answer several emails and read a few things on the hour-long ride to work. On the way back, I mostly slept and arrive home refreshed and ready.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I try to use as much Open Software and Freeware as possible. Libre Office, FireFox and ThunderBird, along with webmail, are wonderful general productivity tools. Additionally, Quickbooks Web Services is a great accounting and finance tool for me. I love the fact that they are free, except for Quickbooks, and more importantly, these programs allow me to have more mobility. I can run them on as many computers as I want, and I don’t need a personal computer for webmail and Quickbooks since they are online.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I recently read a biography of John D. Rockefeller that I found very inspiring. Although he had no special talents and only a high school level education, he was able to gain a deep understanding of risk and management. He used a large part of his wealth for social good, and a strong guide in his life was his faith. He had an uncanny ability to hire talented people and excellent managers; this was the greatest reason for his immense success. He was an entirely self-made man, and his company eventually became a fierce competitor. He created a truly global company in the second half of the 19th century and lived the latter half of life as a rich, but still humble, man. He never put his name on anything, although he gave generously to many causes and institutions. One of my favorite quotes from the book describes his philosophy:
I was early taught to work as well as play,
My life has been one long, happy holiday;
Full of work and full of play—
I dropped the worry on the way—
And God was good to me every day.
What is your favorite quote?
Oh, there are so many. One of my favorites is by Albert Einstein: “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” It sums up so many different practices, from learning, to running a business, to teaching.
- Being an entrepreneur/business person is not for everyone
- Understanding risk is important
- Managing your time is most important
- Happiness and success cannot be measured by one’s business accomplishments
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.