In this adapted excerpt from an exclusive interview, Scott Vollero talks about how he succeeds as an entrepreneur and shares some tips to help others start and grow their businesses.
1. You've started several successful businesses. How do you come up with the ideas in the first place?
Scott Vollero: The idea behind every successful business, mine included, is a solution to a problem. For example, Autocats Inc. came about because we saw the need for an innovative process to extract trace elements of platinum, palladium and rhodium from used catalytic converters. No one else was doing it. It was an undeveloped and undiscovered solution. And it took off. The best business ideas come from providing new and more efficient processes to better meet a customer's needs.
2. In your experience, what are the best strategies for growing a business?
Scott Vollero: The one consistent strategy to grow a business is focus on what the customer needs. A business plan is great but if it doesn't include meeting and exceeding the needs of your customer, the business could fail. Begin by exceeding customer demands and be willing to change along with them.
3. How do you stay focused and productive?
Scott Vollero: There are several ways I stay focused and on track. I keep detailed notes throughout the day and review them over breakfast. I complete one business-related task daily, no matter how small it seems. And, I take care of myself. I exercise, try to get enough sleep and make time for quiet reflection. To run a business well, you have to take care of all aspects of your life.
4. Do you have advice for the young entrepreneur?
Scott Vollero: A higher education is desirable, of course, but in order to succeed you need to develop high value practical skills as well. How can you develop high value practical skills? With real world work experience. My first full-time job was at an investment bank. I learned how to work with people and the importance of loyalty to my colleagues and customers. I gained experience by working and moving up the ladder in a variety of different industries. I developed critical thinking and teaching skills. The skills I learned then keep me going now.
5. Any last words of advice for entrepreneurs and business executives?
Scott Vollero: Don't become complacent. Challenge yourself every single day. That doesn't mean you have to climb Mount Everest or that it has to be a business challenge. It simply means moving out of your comfort zone and doing something different. I find it's the best way to hone my coping skills and deal with the unexpected.
Scott Vollero is an international entrepreneur and expert in the precious metals and automotive parts recycling industries.