In celebration of Allbusiness.com’s second Special Report on young entrepreneurs, I asked author and business guy extraordinaire John Warrillow if he’d participate in a Q&A. But first some background: John is an entrepreneur, author, and speaker. Throughout his career as an entrepreneur, John has started and exited four companies. Most recently he transformed Warrillow & Co. from a boutique consultancy into a recurring revenue model subscription business, which he sold to The Corporate Executive Board in 2008. He is the Author of Drilling for Gold and in 2008 was recognized by B to B Magazine’s “Who’s Who” list as one of America’s most influential business-to-business marketers. John has just released his latest book, Built to Sell: Turn Your Business into One You Can Sell.
Part one of my interview with John:
Leslie: What are some of the characteristics of Millenials, the ones that will help them make their marks when they launch new companies?
John: We hired a lot of Millenials in my research company. What struck me was their confidence, which I think will serve them well as entrepreneurs.
Leslie: We often read articles about Gen Y’s need to communicate well with people who are older (like Boomers). When talking to others who clearly have more experience in a particular area, what should young entrepreneurs do to prepare for these conversations?
John: I started Warrillow & Co. in 1997. I was 25. I recruited an advisory board of entrepreneurs, some with grey hair. I met with them quarterly and explained my progress and asked them to give me their advice on key issues. Having my advisory board allowed me to avoid a lot of mistakes and got me used to presenting our results, which I had to do again to prospective buyers when I went to sell the company in 2008.
Leslie: Some young business owners forget that their youthful appearances can sometimes work against them. Do you think this is something they should think about or is this issue overplayed in the media?
John: It probably depends on what you sell. If you sell hip shoes or craft beer, looking 25 is a good thing. I sold our research to senior managers at Fortune 500 companies who were typically 35+ years old. I needed to look older than my 25 years. Even though I have 20/20 vision, I bought reading glasses and wore them to every meeting I had in the first three years of running my company. The glasses were just one of a series of elaborate techniques I tried to make myself look older than I was.
Next time: part two