In the beginning…it was all about learning the ropes
I grew up in the Canadian business world. My parents ran a grocery store, as did both sets of grandparents. I started working in my parent’s store (sweeping the floor and stocking the shelves) when I was 8 years old. I was running my own little store by the time I was 14, after having done the door-to-door sales route for a few years. These experiences taught me a lot of lessons about how to treat customers, how to recover from gaffes, and how to manage cash flow.
By the time I reached 16, I was placing orders with suppliers, closing the cash at the end of the day and learning the ropes in the big store.
I started reading Fortune magazine when I was about 15 and since then have always subscribed and read a number of business publications. I worked at different types of student jobs every summer, and held a job while attending university.
Then, I got serious…
In the role of entrepreneur, I founded two organizations, one in Europe (RSVP-Consultores Associados Lda., started in 1985) and one in Canada when I moved back (SSS-Sensible Security Solutions Inc., 1995), to sell and support Anti-Virus software as part of comprehensive solutions to government departments and large private sector clients.
But before RSVP became successful as a software solution provider, it was the vehicle for my consulting work and sales of Teach-Yourself software. More details on this part of my career, are found under Business Consulting Experience. My main focus has always been the global view – seeing how all the pieces of the puzzle fit together.
RSVP and SSS were both were very successful enterprises, with multi-million dollar yearly sales of anti-virus software and a customer list which included, in both countries, many government departments, banks, insurance companies and multi-nationals. In both countries, the firms
- established a new brand of anti-virus software and elevated it to a leading position (first in market share in Portugal and third most popular in Canada)
- established Virus Labs, where suspect files are examined for viruses
- conducted a series of anti-virus prevention awareness seminars
- trained numerous organizations in anti-virus topics – deployment, policy creation, virus incident responses, etc..
In both cases, each business was bootstrapped – no rich source of cash to tap into. Valuable lessons were learnt the hard way.
So, all this brings us to Mentoring
If you are thinking of starting a new venture or expanding an existing one and want to bounce your ideas off a devil’s advocate, I’m your guy. Having started two successful, million-dollar a year companies, as well as consulting for some large organizations, you could say I’ve been around the block a few times – but the tires still have some tread on them…
I’m fairly adept at finding the holes in theories and poking things until the odd bits fall out.
I promise to be reasonable, but if you are looking for some hand-holding and ego-boosting, you really should look for a coach (I can point you at some good ones).
My approach is to share the lessons I’ve learnt so that when you face similar situations, you’ve got some extra ammo to get you through. As well, after having done system analysis for a fairly long period of time, I can help you understand where your venture may need some tweaking before you put it on the road. I can help you trace the path, and see the possible bumps, before they appear in front of you.
And, I will tell it to you straight, so the pain is a little now rather than a lot later on.
Although I now try to avoid it (since I have way too much fun doing the right brain stuff), I sometimes get recruited to do some consulting. Usually the entities contracting me are very brave and willing to hear the straight goods. I don’t beat around the bush, nor do I provide comfortable excuses for not making things better. These entities also pay me handsomely, despite my tendency to puncture balloons and call a spade a spade. Maybe it’s because I do that???