By Lynda Dell
When business owner Rick Giandonato missed his five-year-old son’s kindergarten graduation because of his grueling 100-hour-a-week work schedule, he reached a breaking point in his career.
“I am going to run a successful business,” this determined dad said,” if it takes until I die to do so.”
This “do-or-die” former Marine transformed his business by developing and implementing systems and operations that laid the groundwork for building a solid foundation for a business that practically runs itself.
The taste of freedom
Giandonato’s dad reared him with a strong work ethic and core values that have served him well in the Marines and later in the Reserves, values that have given his life direction and purpose.
“It is the essence of who I am, “ he said. “It is integrity, honor, and commitment. I lived those core values even before I joined the Marines.”
So after working in multiple industries, from hospitality to the financial sector and everything in between, he was ready to start his own business. He discovered that the corporate world didn’t embrace his Marine Corps win-win “leave- no- one- behind” philosophy. “They would literally step over your bleeding body to get ahead,” he said.
He wanted to determine his own hours, leave early if he finished his work before his shift ended. “I was born to be an entrepreneur, but I got caught up with going to college, getting my MBA, and working my way up.”
Becoming a business owner
Giandonato and his partner started a commercial cleaning business with little more than a dream and $1000.00. And he thought that he was doing everything right, picking up new clients every month. The business was growing rapidly —until he lost his two biggest clients, one after the other, whose companies were under new management.
Suddenly, he went from making a great salary to living paycheck to paycheck and had to fire half of his staff. The answer wasn’t to put in more hours. Instead, he developed systems that enabled him to work smarter not harder, fewer than 20 hours a week. Then he launched Pioneer Small Business Consulting, LLC to teach you the five keys to success.
Have a strategic marketing plan– “I can be the best consultant in the world, but if no one knows about me then I am not going to have a business.”
Don’t grow too quickly–“I’ve seen wheels come off in business when they do hyper growth without having a proper foundation.”
- 20 percent growth a year, doubling every four
- Quality will go down, complaints will increase
- Control cash flow or your clients will—Set up credit card pre-billing system done automatically
- Recruit and keep the best people–“Good employees are hard to find and worth their weight in gold.”
- Value, respect, and share your company vision and goals with them and offer incentives
- Be courageous–“A business owner is a different breed. We are like the Marines running toward the danger into the battle zone.”
Business owners need to think differently and act with courage
They get knocked down hundreds of times, so they better be out in the field making the hard calls—even if the decision turns out to be wrong
About 90 percent of all businesses fail within the first five years, according to Forbes Magazine. But Giandonato has been changing those odds.
“You can’t just hope for things to get better; you must do something about it,” noted Giandonato. “When you run a business without a system, you are doing a high wire act without a net.”
Originally published in the January 2017 Professional Women’s Business Network’s Magazine
If you want to read about dreamers who are discovering their passion or learn about dream seekers who are realizing their dreams , then visit my Dare to Dream blog and check out my latest stories “A Soldier’s Journey to Social Consciousness.”
My hope is to encourage the dreamers to take the risks and learn from the dream seekers who are connecting the dots and want to guide others to discover their purpose and realize their dreams, too. I will be interviewing dream makers like Rick Giandonato who inspire dreamers to exceed their reach. Is that you?