Founder Feature: Karl Falk, CEO + Founder of Botdoc.io
1. Describe the most exciting minute of your entrepreneurial journey so far.
I find overtime the funniest stories stem from the most stressful and challenging moments. So depending on your definition of "exciting" that could be a memorable moment or a "funny" story.... We have a lot of 'funny' stories. Honestly my first good memory was back when I started investing in real estate back in 2006 and I had my first deal that we had just closed on, bought it right from the sellers with creative financing and I remember thinking..."wow I’m actually doing it" I was very proud of myself and after that moment I never looked back. Specific moments with Botdoc.... I think about when we hit milestones, first $ I raised ever from a non-family member was exciting but the greatest feeling is hiring good people, see them run with your vision and when you see that turn in to revenue, and a big win with your first large enterprise client is pretty special. I think the moment when you realize the 'train has left the station'...meaning what you started has momentum, is a pretty exciting moment. For me I guess its the "firsts" that are most exciting for me.
2. What entrepreneurial hacks have you developed to stay focused and productive in your day-to-day?
Compartmentalization. This is so important. You have to learn to compartmentalize your day and your week. You get busy, email, slack, whats app, text, voicemail, LinkedIn, social media messaging, its all distraction but necessary. Some times its hard to get things done because as an entrepreneur you have scheduled meeting after meeting and some days are just meetings. You need to set aside a day a week (if you can do that, and if not a day then half of a day or two each week) to get things done. No phone calls, no checking email, no meetings. Just hammer out things that need to be done. Its like an assembly line, everyone is more efficient doing a few tasks very good over and over versus "building the whole car with one person doing the entire build". But as an entrepreneur you are doing everything. Literally everything, even when you hire people you still have your hands in so many things. If you try to focus on everything, you will not get anything done. So, compartmentalization is important. Focus on a few tasks, block everything else out, then move on to the next. Its harder than it sounds and some days it just doesn't work, but the more you come back to this strategy the more it becomes second nature. It has helped me.
3. What systems have you set up in your business to help it grow?
Systems, systems, systems. Its like real estate; location, location, location. Systems are the key to being successful and the difference from creating a job vs a business. A business runs on systems, even if its manual processes its still a system. And once you have a system in place you can either run that system or hire someone to run that system. You can also leverage software to run systems. But regardless, systems are important to our business. The biggest system we have but in place as making sure our software from an API standpoint was scaleable. Our support to client ratio was very favorable, meaning we can grow significantly without having to ramp up staff as quickly and what that support looks like from a process standpoint. As well as sales, we have systems. We work to ensure we are aligning ourselves with teams, organizations and partners so we could leverage external sales resources without having to hire a massive team of sales people. This factor plays on the scalability aspect and works hand in hand with our support/client ratio. What helped me look into the future a bit and figure out these and other systems was a 100X rule. I took our current business and asked myself, what would it look like if we were doing 100 times the business we are today. How would we support clients, new development support, sales, HR etc. Would I hire people to support all of that growth, implement systems, or both and when and how would I do all of that.....and do I look at leveraging others so I don’t have to grow as fast internally to support 100X growth....and what should I be putting into place today to make our lives are easier in the future....as well as the flip side, what things can’t I put in to today but will need in the future. The 100X exercise helped us put in systems and prepare for others to run these systems when the time comes. It’s important to think about systems regardless of the stage of business you are in. And if your not thinking about processes, you're not building a business, you will just end up building a job for yourself.
4. What’s the best business idea you have that you will never use?
Good question. Best idea i will never use... kind of like asking someone whats the largest winning lotto ticket that you never cashed in. Not really anything anyone would do. If its a great idea then you need to pursue it right? If you have a hair-brained idea one day, maybe related to your current business, write it down...and take 30 min in-front of a white board to draw it out and let your brain decompress over the concept you thought of for a few min. You never know when that idea becomes your next big endeavor or new strategy. I speak from experience.
5. When you're not working, what do you like to do?
I’m a coach, thats how we run our company, like a football team. We're all in to win! So naturally I like to coach. I volunteer my time with the local middle school and high school. In the Spring, I help coach the Shot Put and Discus and in the fall I coach Football. I’m also very involved with the Boy Scouts. Im an Eagle Scout, my son is in scouting and I volunteer with the troop as well as at the council level. I have a son and two daughters, all in sports so any free time I have Im either coaching or watching my girls play soccer and run track. Life is busy right now, but shortly as time flies by my wife and I will find ourselves empty nesters so we keep that perspective when our schedule is a little crazy. When I’m not doing anything...I like to drink bourbon. Really any whisky, Ryes and even scotch from time to time. I don’t drink it to get a buzz, just love the craft and appreciate the taste and the journey it took to get to that state. Kind of like a startup....its a long hard journey but in the end its something special and you can sit back and enjoy. Sometimes sitting back and appreciating the journey and what it took to get to this point is more gratifying than recognizing where you’re actually at.