I try to live by the quote, “ideas are cheap, execution is everything.” With that in mind, I find the best way to bring my ideas to life is to do exactly that – execute. Avoiding procrastination is key.
Zachary formed Cambridge Proofreading LLC in 2010 and has since grown it to over $1m in yearly revenues, and a staff of one-hundred editors and support staff.
While studying for a Masters degree at the University of Liverpool, Zachary identified a need for a service that could assist English as a second language students with their writing. Encouraged by his professors and other university faculty, Zachary pursued the idea and started providing local students with proofreading services from experienced academic editors.
When he is not working on his business, Zachary enjoys watching and playing soccer, walking his dogs and dreaming of new business ventures.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
I was studying my Masters degree and had a group project with some international students for whom English was a second language (ESL). They asked me to proofread their work for them as they were not completely confident in their English writing ability. I obliged and they were delighted by the support.
It dawned on me that there are hundreds of thousands of ESL students paying tens of thousands to study in English speaking universities every year. Perhaps they would spend a few extra dollars to get additional support with their English writing through a proofreading and editing service.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Emails. Lots and lots of emails.
I am a big believer that waking up early is important to maximizing your productivity for the day. I wake up at 6am and am checking emails on my phone by 6:15. Proofreading services have to be 24/7 to account for receiving orders from all over the world.
My role is mostly around coordinating other people. I try to empower my employees as much as possible to take ownership of their functions and carry them out as they see best.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I try to live by the quote, “ideas are cheap, execution is everything.”
With that in mind, I find the best way to bring my ideas to life is to do exactly that – execute. Avoiding procrastination is key.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Globalization. Every year, the world feels smaller. I still believe we are getting more and more interlinked and intertwined across the world
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Exercising every morning for at least 30 minutes.
I find the endorphin release and increased blood flow can really boost creativity and productivity. I have had some of my best ever ideas while jogging on a treadmill.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Push your boundaries as much as possible. It’s where confidence is earned.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
That Alexa is not that impressive at all. I think it’s just a glorified search engine bot!
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Praise my team members for the little successes they achieve every day. I think people flourish when you recognize their contributions fully.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
When we put in a referral system in which clients could recommend us to their friends and receive a $10 reward, we saw a sharp spike in orders.
I would recommend your nurture referrals with a system that rewards your customers for recommending you to their friends. It really works.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I had a financial news website that was dependent on revenue from advertising for specific financial products. Regulations changed and those products became obsolete. We couldn’t find alternative revenue sources to replace the losses. We overcame it simply by moving on to new ventures.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
An industry-specific CV/resume writing service.
There are lots of resume writing services out there, but not many (if any) that can provide you with a writer that is an industry expert in your field. I think that would be a very powerful selling point.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I spent just shy of $100 on dinner at Lula Cafe in Chicago and I was blown away. It was Michelin starred level quality at an affordable price point. Good food is good for the soul!
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
A pomodoro timer app. I set it to 45 minutes and am laser focused on the task at hand until the clock buzzer goes. Then I’ll take a ten minute break in concentration and repeat.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The classic small business book. The key takeway for me was systematize your business. I think this is really powerful advice that can help any SMB owner develop a stronger comopany.
What is your favorite quote?
“Formula for success: rise early, work hard, strike oil.”
– J. Paul Getty
- “Ideas are cheap, execution is everything”. Stop procrastinating and do something (anything) to push your ideas forward.
- Daily exercise can be a great way to get the mind working. I’ve had some of my best business ideas while jogging on a treadmill.
- Praise your team members whenever they make positive contributions. People work best when they are appreciated and recognized for what they do.
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.