I was initially introduced to Craig Delsack by Claire Stoddard (www.brandinguniverse.com), who is a client of ours. We met and hit it off right away. Craig advises businesses on legal issues – areas where many business owners don’t pay enough attention. Not only does Craig have the legal expertise to help small businesses; he is an expert at running his own small business.
I’m happy to have the chance to bring him to you today.
David: What are the most common issues you notice that keep entrepreneurs and small businesspeople from reaching their full potential?
Craig: One, there’s the “know it all” entrepreneur. This type of person might hire outside professionals like lawyers and accountants, but tend to ignore good advice because the entrepreneur thinks they know better. This type of person might have trouble respecting their business partner (despite having an equal say in the business), employees, and outside vendors and customers. Generally, this type of person probably shouldn’t be on a team, as they tend to be happier as the “lone wolf.”
Two, there’s biting off too much as the initial business goals. Here, the entrepreneur has a big picture of everything they want to do with the business, but this becomes overwhelming. Taking a cue from “Lean Startup” by Eric Reis, the efficient startup should focus on the MVP (minimal viable product) and build the business from there. Using this concept, the business determines what is a minimally viable product and sells that to its customers. Through the cycle of build-measure-learn, the startup then can hone and build upon an early product to make revenues. Then the business can expand offerings as each MVP can stand on its own.
Finally, there’s the failure to put agreements in writing, no matter how mundane. It doesn’t have to be a thick agreement – a page or two might cover the deal. More often than not, I see businesses without any paperwork have problems with rogue partners, employees or business relationships. Parties’ expectations should be memorialized in a signed, dated agreement. By doing so, the material essence and terms of the relationship become unambiguous.
David: What trait do the most successful people share?
Craig: The ability to listen well. Always find an opportunity to learn from customers and others on the team. Be open to (and respect) all opinions. You don’t have to agree with the opinion, but be open to exploring the possibilities presented.
David: What counterintuitive idea would most small business owners do well to adopt?
Craig: Networking and speaking with people in the same business or profession. Just because you may be competitors doesn’t mean that you can’t learn from them. Also, competitors may make a good referral source and might someday even be part of your exit strategy. In fact, sometimes the best buyout offers come from competitors because they’ve observed your work and know how good it is.
David: What are some of your own professional development challenges? How are you working on them?
Craig: Having a small entrepreneurial business of my own leaves little time to practice my trade, network, market, and of course, take new business calls. It’s hard to do everything on the same day. So I try to limit certain days to non-client activities like networking or working on my website. Also, managing when I return calls or emails also helps on the frenetic days.
David: If you could advise business owners to take one action to improve profitability, what would it be?
Craig: Determine what your core offerings are, and focus on developing those. This is sometimes hard to do when you think you need to offer your customers everything and anything, and chances are, 80% of your business mostly comes from one or two offerings. Sometimes being the best at a couple of things is better than being just “good” at several. There’s something to that old saying “Jack of all trades, master of none.”
You can find more of Craig Delsack at…
Law Offices of Craig Delsack, LLC
250 West 57th Street, Suite 401
New York, NY 10107
Tel. (212) 688-8944
What do you think of Craig’s take on things? Let us know in the Comments Section.