November 27, 2012 | 6-minute read (1173 words)
By: Keith Liles November 26, 2012
Startup Spotlight https://earlygrowthfinancialservices.com/
Naysayers and market collapse be damned! CEO David Ehrenberg founded Early Growth Financial Services at the end of 2008 when everything except inner belief must’ve told him that he was headed for doom. Well, his company is still around, thriving and expanding—helping others grow by providing strategic accounting and early financial services. How do you build when the numbers tower like an unscalable wall? Hear firsthand from an unflappable bootstrapping success:
How’d you come up with the name for your company?
For us, it was very easy. I looked at what I wanted to do and who we were going to service and that became our name: Early Growth Financial Services. It isn’t sexy or flashy, but it explains exactly who we are and what we do.
What’s the very first thing you do at work everyday?
I start every day by reviewing my upcoming meetings for the day, my action items, and my top priorities. Then I talk through the day and actions with my EA to prioritize what I need to accomplish during the day.
How many people did you start the company with and how many people work for you now?
When I started Early Growth Financial Services, it was a company of one: me! Four years later, we have a staff of 37, which includes CFOs, senior accountants, and controllers.
Remember the early days starting up? Maybe you can share one anecdote that describe the struggle you went through?
I started my company at the very end of 2008. A few months later, the market collapsed. We had no customers and no revenue—and everyone thought that the business was a mistake. I ignored the naysayers and just kept pushing, doing five or six meetings a day, trying to develop my business and get new clients. And it worked!
How do you handle frustration? When/how was the last time you dealt with frustration?
As CEO of my company, I deal with frustration every day. I try to manage my frustration on two levels. On the micro-level, I rely on yoga and meditation to try to help me relax and move past frustrations. On the macro-level, I work to keep my eye on the big picture. Minor frustrations tend to melt away when you stop focusing on the minutiae of running a company.
What’s your office environment like? Is it the kind of place where everyone is bumpin’ away to house music or is it more traditional?
Our office environment is unique in that there is no office environment—we have no office at all. All of our employees either work from home or onsite with our clients. This makes it a challenge to create a company culture and personality, but it works for us.
How do you picture your company in 5 years?
My vision is clear: we will have a national presence with over 1,000 clients and $50M in revenue.
Who or what inspires YOU?
I work every day with entrepreneurs representing a variety of industries and interests. I am inspired by all of them on a daily basis. Just seeing how they are living their dream is an inspiration to established entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs alike.
How’d you fund this venture?
Got any great bootstrapping tips for the lean startups out there?
Bootstrap everything! Create realistic milestones and manage your cash to those milestones. Try to take on as few set expenses as possible, this includes space, employees, infrastructure etc. And my best bootstrapping tip? Lower your expenses by outsourcing all non-core functions, such as finance, accounting, HR.
What would you be doing if you had one year off and $500,000 to spend?
Even if I could, I wouldn’t take a year off. I am at a point in my life that is all about creation and building my company. I couldn’t step away—and I don’t want to.
Do you consider yourself a successful entrepreneur right now? If not, what’s it gonna take to make you feel successful?
I do feel like a successful entrepreneur. When I take a step back and see how far I’ve taken Early Growth Financial Services, I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot. I have new goals now and more to achieve, but I am confident that I can execute on my vision.
Website you couldn’t live without and why?
TechCrunch is “dedicated to obsessively profiling startups, reviewing new Internet products, and breaking tech news.” I’m dedicated to TechCrunch! This site helps me keep a finger on the pulse of all that is going on in my sphere and beyond.
Mobile App you’re in love with and why?
There’s no one mobile app that I can’t live without, but I couldn’t live without my smart phone, for my calendar, my emails, and internet access. It is a major tool—without it, I couldn’t run my business without it.
Dogs or cats?
I’m partial to both (and own both!), but, if I had to choose, I’d say dogs (just don’t tell my cat!)
iOS or Android?
I couldn’t manage my business or personal life without my iOS.
What’s the greatest thing about your company/website/idea?
By providing companies with just-in-time financial services and support, we solve a huge pain point. From accounting support to CFO services, we are an important part of entrepreneurial success—and have 150+ successful clients to prove it.
Where can our readers get a hold of you? Facebook? Twitter? Google+? Personal blog?
I have a great blog (if I do say so myself!), where I offer insights and information useful to all entrepreneurs, from negotiating your best VC terms to pricing tips to building a strong company culture, and everything in between. I am also active on Twitter and Facebook. Check me out and feel free to ask questions—I’m always happy to help.
Do you have a favorite quote?
There is a great one from Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll, that goes:
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
“I don’t much care where—”
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”
I think these are words to build a business by. If you are going to create a business, it’s essential that you understand where you are going. You need to have a plan—you can always change the plan (and probably will many times over), but you need to have a plan to get started.
Keith Liles is a freelance writer who loves travel, music, wine, hiking, poetry, and just about everything. He practices saying "yes" to life vigorously, rehearsing for the phone call when he's asked to tour with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.