Born in the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Rex Barr found that the energy and vibrancy emanating from the ‘City of Brotherly Love’ fostered his independence, despite being raised in the suburbs. After graduating from a competitive Catholic high school, Rex enrolled in the University of Pittsburgh, where he earned a bachelor’s degree, and later, Fordham University, where he earned a master’s.
Upon entering the working world, Rex Barr became a serial entrepreneur, inspired by the incredible example of his mother, a businesswoman in her own right. Rex’s first business showcased his desire to help others and support his community; he opened a home healthcare agency. As a new business owner, he had to learn a great deal very quickly. Besides navigating the notoriously complex healthcare industry, Rex had to shore up his knowledge of business management, as well as acquaint himself with the legal obligations endemic to providing medical care to clients. However, these early lessons paid off in time, laying the foundation for his later success.
These days, Rex Barr dedicates himself to helping small businesses with growth and expansion, and optimizing their profitability. His own efforts, as well as those of his valued team, address the day-to-day needs of small business owners across many industries. Things he wished he knew when launching his first business, such as insights into the legal environment, proper accounting practices, and other critical business management systems, are provided by his newest company, Catan Strategy Group. When his clients achieve their goals, Rex finds personal satisfaction. He views their success as his success.
Rex Barr still resides in the greater Philadelphia area. When he finds himself with spare time, which isn’t often, he enjoys caring for his lawn, riding his bike, and spending time with his wife.
Where did the idea for Catan Strategy Group come from?
I love strategy in general, and I love consulting. The idea to found Catan Strategy Group came from a desire to offer useful resources to small businesses in a way that I never had access to when I was starting out as an entrepreneur. I wanted to keep it simple; to allow business owners to take one of our products or services and utilize it in their business with very little disruption. I wanted to give these business owners access to all the resources I would have found helpful when I was in their place.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My typical day starts with taking my wife to work, then working out. From there, I plan my day. I have a notepad where I write out the various tasks I want to accomplish. After that, I just kind of work through those tasks, whether they’re for the organization in general, client-related, or of a personal nature. I typically don’t eat breakfast. I go right through the day until lunch, have a small meal, and then get right back to it. I don’t really have a ‘typical’ routine for my evenings after work. I’ll often ride my bike, fly my drone, go out to dinner, eat with friends, or just hang out with my wife. It varies.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I start by looking at an idea from all angles so that I can understand it. At first, I’m not necessarily writing the story, program, or service, or helping a client in a way that they might easily understand. Instead, for the initial brainstorming session, I write down an idea in a way that I can understand and build upon. Then I fine-tune it based on any conversations or interactions or notes I have with the target audience.
What’s one trend that excites you?
NFTs. I don’t think it’s unfair to call NFTs a trend, because that’s what most people think they are. But I think the technology and the utility behind NFTs is incredibly valuable, and it’s going to be very beneficial to businesses in the future. It’s already starting to change the way businesses interact, and I’m excited for the way Catan Strategy Group will be able to bring NFT utilities to our small business clients and help them utilize and unlock some of their power.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I’m trying to build to extremes in terms of expectations. Typically, when someone gives me a one-week deadline, I try to get the job done and delivered in a couple of hours. I think the challenge and the fear of disappointing my clients drives me to be very productive and very, very efficient.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Be patient. Take your time. You might not feel the same way about an issue tomorrow that you feel about it today. In the morning, if you still feel the same way, then act on those feelings. But until then, be patient.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
We don’t all have to be friends to work together. Business specifically is not about everlasting friendship—it’s about respect and competition. And I think business owners sometimes get too caught up in networking within their industry, as opposed to really dominating the industry in some capacity. Many people want to be looked at as ‘one of’ as opposed to ‘the one.’ But we all don’t have to be friends in order to work together. It might not be a popular opinion, but this philosophy has served me well.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I write everything down on a yellow notepad. Before it goes on the computer, or gets presented to a team or client, it’s all written down on my yellow notepad. It doesn’t have to be a yellow notepad for you, of course, but you have to have a comfortable place to work out ideas, to think, and to create.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Asking questions about other businesses. Instead of asking what I can do for them, I’ll ask what they like doing. I’ll also ask what their organization or business cannot do, and what they’re struggling with. When I started asking those questions as opposed to offering help, it really helped my business grow beyond my expectations because it allows my clients to see that they are the focus.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I’ve had three companies fail over the years. The first step to overcoming that was to acknowledge that it happened—that they failed. You can try all you like, but you can’t hold on to something once it has failed. Although you never forget those failures, the path to recovery is to incorporate the lessons you learned and your understanding of why the business failed into your next business or your next client.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I think people really should look into NFT utilities. They’re going to be the future of small businesses, and it will be a nimble future where businesses are able to take control of their content, their merchant services, their data, and their access to clients. It’s low cost with a very effective profit margin, and it’s definitely something that businesses should incorporate as soon as possible.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
It was actually a used pair of Beats by Dre headphones. I am notoriously cheap when it comes to buying headphones. I’ve had wired headphones for the longest time, with an adapter to work with newer devices. People judge me, but I really don’t care. But I bought a pair of Beats by Dre headphones and I love them. I’ve run a half-marathon in them, and I’ve closed major deals at work while using them on a call. They were a great purchase both for personal and professional use, which really surprised me.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
123 Form Builder is a digital form site which allows me to create official documents for clients quickly and easily.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I would recommend The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. The wisdom contained in that book is invaluable for anyone thinking about starting a new business.
What is your favorite quote?
“Winners never quit and quitters never win.” — Vince Lombardi
- Stay organized. Plot out your plans and goals ahead of time, and then follow your plans.
- Find a place where you’re comfortable enough to let your ideas flow freely, where you can let your plans take shape until they’re ready to share.
- Don’t get so wrapped up in what you can offer that you forget to consider what the client actually wants.
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.