Glen Wakeman is CEO and Co-Founder of LaunchPad Holdings LLC, through which he invests in and advises on strategy for growing companies. With over 21 years of experience as a manager and business developer, he has created a tested and proven 5-step methodology to improve company performance with a focus on leadership, talent, execution, risk management, and governance.
He joins us today for an interview to discuss his workday, entrepreneurship, learning from successes and failures, and more.
Q: What led you to found LaunchPad Holdings?
A: I hear so many great ideas and meet lots of talented people, yet so many businesses fail. The longer I looked at this, the more clear it was that most businesses don’t properly structure their ideas. At LaunchPad Holdings, we’ve created a software platform designed to help new companies make plans to succeed.
Q: What do you do to make someone’s ideas a reality?
A: The simplest way to get started is this: can you explain your idea to someone else?
To effectively do this, you need to outline your ideas, create a step-by-step plan, and be able to defend it against criticism, no matter how harsh it is. Talking through an idea will show you either how bad it is or, if it’s good, will motivate you to bring it to life. I surround myself with people who will challenge my viewpoint and force me to not just defend the practical, but answer why something will or won’t work.
Q: Do any habits make you a more effective entrepreneur?
I’m curious. Curiosity helps me solve problems, innovate, and satisfy customers. The better I understand how things are and why they are that way, the easier it is for me to understand what needs to happen in order to improve upon or change them.
Q: What did you take from your worst work experience?
A: I needed a job to pay college tuition one summer, so I cleaned bathrooms in a factory that manufactured auto parts. It was hot, disgusting, and greasy – and it was the only job I could get. It helped me realize that all work is dignified – and to never, ever take an opportunity, no matter what it is, for granted.
Q: If you were starting your career right now, how do you think you’d do things differently?
A: More than anything, I’d keep a record of everyone I met along my journey as an entrepreneur and make a point to stay in touch. It’s much easier for younger entrepreneurs to stay connected with social media, which makes this much less challenging than it was 40 or even 20 years ago. Connections are everything – they can make or break your business when you need funding, customers, and anything in between.
Q: What should every entrepreneur always be doing?
A: Everyone should always be questioning their value proposition and not just in business, but in life as well. Does your value proposition differentiate you from your competitors? Could anyone understand it? Does it offer real value to your customers or business partners? A solid product is at the heart of every business, and few great products and services exist in the world without a great value proposition.
Q: Can you tell me about a strategy that has grown your business?
A: More than anything, I’ve grown every business I’ve been involved in by getting involved in entrepreneurial associations. These groups provide capital, contacts, and ideas when you need them. I have a deck ready to present whenever needed, and it allows me to easily introduce myself and share my story.
Q: How have you failed as an entrepreneur? How did you grow from that failure?
A: Many years ago, I tried to sell a product called “Snappy Answers.” They were pre-recorded answering machine messages that I wrote and recorded, and they were funny, but we barely sold any. I had no budget or marketing plan, and I didn’t realize how challenging it was for customers to take my recordings and turn them into answering machine messages. Fortunately, I learned all of this without spending a lot, and the experience ultimately proved worth it.
Q: Are there any pieces of software or other tools that keep you productive?
A: I use plenty of tools to save money and keep my schedule as lean and efficient as possible. These include live chat, which makes it easy to flexibly serve customers when we need to, Doodle to track our meetings and calendars, and Fiverr to get affordable access to talent from all over the world.
Q: Tell me about the best $100 you spent.
A: I enrolled in a Spanish language course. It reshaped my mind and showed me how other cultures think, inspired me to see the world, and helped me connect with my wife.
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