It takes a passionate and driven individual to be an entrepreneur, but what happens after the company is launched? How does an entrepreneur go from an idea to building a long-term successful company? In this series we will dive into the mechanics of growth, strategies, and successes from a rising star: George T. Reynolds, Founder/Senior Partner of SurveyStud, Inc. a Houston, Texas based software company.
GT: Data and Analytics driven.
What inspired you to start SurveyStud, Inc.?
GT: I think it was through a series of misfortune events which made me self reflect. I have 3 college degrees, 2 college certs, and 3 professional certs, so I asked myself why are you working for someone else. A vision was born–not sure what it was going to be, but I knew I had to make a move. So short of the long, I had a project, and I used the leading survey software in the industry, and it was to complicated for me, so I created SurveyStud,Inc.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned through the process of starting a company?
GT: Always think bigger. Take SurveyStud for example, when we started we were thinking about helping mom and pop stores–not companies, but stores. In the process we failed often. Looking back success only comes after failing. So if I could leave you with anything…. get out there and fail fast. The more you fail the more you learn and grow from the failure if you’re paying attention.
More so I think you have to challenge yourself to always think bigger than your initial expectations – it will impact decisions you make regarding positioning, operations, product architecture, etc. My recommendation is always say to yourself, if this does not work then what? If it does work then what?
What advice would you give other entrepreneurs looking to start a company?
GT: Ask yourself why you want to start a company in the first place. I actually try to deter people from starting a company if they can’t truly answer that question. A lot of folks come out of business school and can be intrigued by the “glitz, glamour, and money.” This mentality often causes first-time entrepreneurs to fail. Successful entrepreneurs are driven by a burning desire, obsession even, to solve a problem. If you don’t have that, don’t start a company. Building a company can be rewarding if you have that drive and obsession, but it isn’t glamorous and it is anything but easy.
SurveyStud, Inc has experienced a tremendous amount of growth? What’s your secret?
GT: Overall, it comes down to a lot of hard work, passion and focus, but three things do stand out. First, we have been diligent on hiring exceptional people and never compromising on talent. Second, we are very metrics driven. Whether it’s sales, operations or marketing, we make our decisions based on metrics. It forces us to be really ruthless with our priorities and keeps us on path to drive aggressively towards our goals, continuously monitoring as we go. Last, it has been the restraint to not chase every opportunity. We determine what we want to pursue and hunt it down.
Who inspires you?
GT: First and foremost my passion and belief in Jesus Christ. I admire the stories built around him; I feel they are open, fair and fosters innovation. For me Christ is a good example of a true creative entrepreneur who has built an innovative, market dominating belief while promoting a positive culture and a way to live–I call it harmony. I aspire to that with SurveyStud.
What was the best/most useful business book?
GT: I think it’s called “Nuts” by Herb Keller founder of Southwest Airlines. I wrote a paper on the company while in grad school, and it’s a great book about understanding what motivates people.
What do you do for fun?
GT: There is so much. Lets pass on this question please. Wait, wait, I play video games–war, and or combat video games.
Has that impacted how you run your company?
GT: Yes, I think the basic principles impact my approach to running a business. Gaming is an unprecedented test in patience, determination and focus. But more importantly, it gives me time to reflect. As I mentioned earlier, a committed entrepreneur is often obsessed with their company or project (and I am guilty) but it is just as important to step back once and awhile. I make critical business decisions every day and if I’m in the weeds all of the time–it’s hard to have the clarity and perspective to make the right decisions.
I have found it invaluable to have activities outside of work, i.e…. Family, friends, traveling (non-business), and time to reflect activities where I don’t think about work, hence that separation gives me perspective.