You’ll need to take calculated risks — You need to be a risk taker, nothing ventured nothing gained.
Have a foundation in business operations — You’ll need this more than you realize.
It will take longer and be harder than you imagine — If you cannot commit 3 years to its success, don’t start.
As part of our series called “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Began Leading My Company” I had the pleasure of interviewing Kornel Kurtz.
Leading a web design and digital marketing agency for more than 20 years, Kurtz was an early innovator in the cutting-edge field. Over 2 decades in business, Kurtz developed and refined the entrepreneurial skills that allowed him to succeed in a famously turbulent industry.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I started working in the manufacturing industry and rose up through the company serving many roles. This gave me a great foundation in all areas of the business. After 10 years of working for someone else, I started getting the drive to try something on my own. I started a web design / internet marketing company part-time, and 5 years later went full-time in it. Today I own WebTek, a full-service digital marketing agency with 15 employees.
What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
I picked up a book at a local bookstore on HTML / internet and started reading and learning about the internet. I started forming a vision for how this was a game changing medium for business advertising. That was my “Aha!” moment.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
My company not only started in the basement of my house like so many others do, but my office was literally in a water cistern. We pumped out the rainwater reservoir located underneath our side porch, busted through the basement foundation wall to access it, and that served as my first little office.
So, how are things going today? How did your grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?
We are thriving today, more successful than I ever imagined, and the outlook continues to look very bright.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Our mission is to help local businesses succeed online. I believe the authenticity of us wanting clients to succeed online shines through and is apparent when people talk with us. I think people get that sense and get a quick comfort level with us. Our track record, experience, online reviews, and client testimonials confirm that.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
When I was first starting out in the manufacturing company, I referred to a vendor by a certain nickname to my co-workers. Accidentally, my co-worker faxed my written notes to this vendor not realizing I wrote this nickname on the paper being faxed. Life lesson — don’t ever talk about someone in a negative way behind their back.
Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?
Yes, one comes to mind where a respected sole proprietor advised me to stay small (single or minimal employees) so you can weather downturns. I later came to realize the power of leveraging employees and we became much more successful than if I went at it alone. If you think small, you stay small.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
Persistence, drive, and passion. They all go together and are the underlying formula for what keeps entrepreneurs going. If it was easy, everyone would do it.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Remember to take time for yourself and keep your life in balance. This became more real to me when I worked too much and my life was out of balance. My health suffered and things needed to change. It was from that low point that helped me to work smarter and more efficient and to live an overall happier life.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
People spend too much money too early on in their business. Debt can kill a business. Run lean and mean and resist expenditures that aren’t a necessity.
In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?
The operations side of things. Managing people, finances, systems, and technologies. Most people go in business because they are good at a trade. It’s all the other things that come along with running a business that often are underestimated.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Began Leading My Company”? Please share a story or an example for each.
- You’ll need to take calculated risks — You need to be a risk taker, nothing ventured nothing gained.
- Have a foundation in business operations — You’ll need this more than you realize.
- It will take longer and be harder than you imagine — If you cannot commit 3 years to its success, don’t start.
- Get a mentor or peer group to help navigate the hard dilemmas that arise — It is easy to do this with online peer groups or local in-person connections.
- You need to make personal sacrifices — What are you going to give up to pursue your dream?
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Life balance started by a healthy relationship with Jesus Christ. All other things fall into place.
How can our readers further follow you online?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!