Daniel Javor of JavaBlue: “Being busy doesn’t mean you’re productive”

I believe that a good company meets customer expectations, is well organized, and is profitable. This is the absolute minimum for any business to succeed and be considered “good”. There is nothing truly unique, something that makes them special, or sets them apart from competitors. They are just your average everyday company. As part of my […]

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I believe that a good company meets customer expectations, is well organized, and is profitable. This is the absolute minimum for any business to succeed and be considered “good”. There is nothing truly unique, something that makes them special, or sets them apart from competitors. They are just your average everyday company.

As part of my series about the “How To Take Your Company From Good To Great”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Daniel Javor.

Daniel has always been an entrepreneur at heart, starting at the young age of 13 as an eBay Powerseller. He’s run multiple companies including a thriving digital marketing agency. Daniel now focuses his time on his micro private equity investment company JavaBlue.

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?

Thank you so much for having me! I’d say it all started with my mother and father. They brought me up in an environment that fielded my success. My father was an entrepreneur so I think that business is in my blood! He taught me the virtue of hard work and never giving up on my dreams. On the other hand, my mother, being an artist, taught me all about being curious and creative. I believe that the combination of their values and unique skills is what helped me achieve everything I have so far.

Thanks to my dad, I was already into the idea of entrepreneurship at a young age. My first foray into business was selling trading cards on eBay at the age of 13. During this time, hardly anyone knew about the platform nor did they know that you could buy and sell things online. Seeing how far everything has come since then brings back some good memories!

After my trading card arbitrage business, I ended up moving to Israel when I was 17. It was there that I actually ended up starting a retail business. This gave me some stability so I could focus on my first startup.

Putting together all the skills I learned along the way, I founded a digital marketing agency in Tel Aviv, at its peak we had a team of 50 people. While it was hard work, running my agency is what gave me the foundation to pivot into my current venture.

I started my own micro private equity business, JavaBlue, in 2018 and we’re still going strong today. We’re focused on acquiring and operating online businesses, I like to think of us as “Virtual Real Estate Investors.”

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?

Everybody loves a story about the hard times, right? For me, it was when I moved to Israel and was working on my first startup. After two years of putting my nose to the grindstone, the business ended up collapsing.

I lost all the money and money I invested, so I was back to square one. But I never once thought about giving up. I didn’t care how long it would take to get there, I just knew that I had to succeed one way or another. I’m naturally competitive so once I set my eye on a goal it becomes my only focus.

I know a lot of people will say that you have to know when to cut your losses, or if you haven’t had success by a certain point then you are meant for failure. Success can come quickly and out of nowhere. It is those who continue onward and steadfast, regardless of difficulties or even businesses collapsing.

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?

Like they say, hindsight is 20/20! For me, the funniest mistake for me was going back into retail when I moved to Israel. I can’t remember exactly what I was thinking, especially after running a successful eBay business, but that’s where I ended up. I didn’t learn anything profound but I did gain some real-life business skills and experience that helped me get to where I am today.

When we make mistakes, we may not learn anything of importance, but we get the experience that will help us become successful entrepreneurs and business owners. Whether it is missing that one sale, make a bad business move, not hiring the right employee, or whatever it may be, don’t beat yourself up. You’ll spend too much time doing that. Learn from it and find the next opportunity to use your new-found knowledge!

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

I’ll be honest, acquisitions can be a tiring and challenging process. That’s why some people in the field are always tempted to push for the best possible deal to maximize their effort. But I believe that building a strong relationship with the seller is more important.

I ensure that the seller is comfortable throughout the process, I want them to have a positive experience and avoid seller’s remorse. At JavaBlue, we believe in being open, transparent, and structured in our approach. This has been one of the keys to improving our deal flow. Most of our opportunities now come from referrals and inbound leads, so I’m glad we chose a relationship-first approach.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

In the past, I glorified “hustle culture” and I ended up with burnout at a young age. While hard work is important, it’s also important to take care of yourself. You know what they say about having, “Too much of a good thing.”

So once my digital marketing agency started seeing positive progress I doubled down on my efforts, which only worked well in the short term. After I hit the proverbial “brick wall” I had to re-evaluate where I was at and what would help me continue moving forward. This is where I learned the importance of balance and recharging.

I regularly make time for loved ones, spend time in nature and let my mind rest. I realized that life is a marathon and not a sprint so to get to the finish line balance has to be a priority.

One key habit for letting my mind rest is doing an electronic detox every few months. I like to think of it as a holiday for my mind. I don’t feel tempted to look up business news, answer emails, or just work in general. This is vital, we need to be able to shut our brains off to truly function and be successful.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

Definitely, my parents. They cultivated the right environment for me to achieve what I have today. Besides teaching me the right attitudes and values they were there to support me when things inevitably went wrong.

In particular, they helped me bounce back from my first startup failure. While I never considered giving up, things might have been very different if they hadn’t shown their support and belief in me. I know parents are a huge support for many entrepreneurs, but it’s because it’s true.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. The title of this series is “How to take your company from good to great”. Let’s start with defining our terms. How would you define a “good” company, what does that look like? How would you define a “great” company, what does that look like?

I believe that a good company meets customer expectations, is well organized, and is profitable. This is the absolute minimum for any business to succeed and be considered “good”. There is nothing truly unique, something that makes them special, or sets them apart from competitors. They are just your average everyday company.

A great company on the other hand goes above and beyond expectations. The value they provide to their customers is 10 times more than what other companies provide. Great companies also focus on innovation so they’re constantly looking for ways to solve a problem that goes beyond the solutions of today.

I believe that great companies are also built on strong core values, culture and only work with the best talent. They are constantly analyzing the competition, customer needs, areas of weakness, and will do what they have to in order to improve all of those areas.

Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to lead a company from Good to Great? Please share a story or an example for each.

  1. The talent you hire will make or break your business.

There’s an African proverb that explains this perfectly, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” To take your business to the next level you need help, but this help needs to be high-quality as well.

I believe that the skill of recruiting the right talent is the reason that I’ve been successful. You need to have a team that has both the right mindset and the right skillset.

For example, my own hiring process consists of three stages. Through these stages, I test candidates for creativity, open-mindedness, and problem-solving skills.

By doing this, we’re able to sort through a large talent pool relatively quickly and find the best talent.

2. Being busy doesn’t mean you’re productive

Everybody is busy these days, that’s why it’s important to figure out what the most important tasks are on your list. It can feel productive when you’re updating websites or doing small housekeeping tasks like paperwork. But is this what’s going to move the needle for your business? Probably not.

That’s why I’m a big believer in the 80/20 rule. By focusing on the tasks with the biggest benefit for my business, I always see progress. I implement this rule every morning, after I wake up I write a list of everything that I have to do. Then I rank them based on impact, with number one being the highest. This list becomes my manual for the day and I work through it from top to bottom.

3. The best ideas come through deliberate reflection

If you want your business to continue growing, you need to schedule times for reflection. If your mind is full of noise, always thinking about the next task to do, your creativity will be weak.

That’s why I always incorporate reflection into my evenings. I never distract myself with Netflix or mindless internet browsing. Any outside stimulation is paused and I focus on reflection. I always make sure to write down any ideas that come to me so I can visit them again the next day to see if they have any validity.

How and when you do this is up to you. But as long as you have some quiet time and capture your ideas, you’ll be bound to find something good.

4. Have a structure for your life and your business

I believe that the less you need to think about “what’s next?”, the more energy you will have to actually do it. That’s why I plan my important tasks at the start of the day instead of thinking after every task is completed. If you don’t have a structure it’s also easy to get distracted or even forget about important things you need to do.

For me, this means waking up every day at a similar time, exercising, eating healthy, and sleeping at the same time. I believe having a routine keeps my stress levels down and boosts my creativity.

5. The only way to know if something works is to try it

It’s easy to fall prey to inaction because you’re scared of failing. However, for me, failing is the key to my success! I’d say I try about 100 ideas before one of them actually works. Imagine if I gave up after my first defeat? I’d never have made it to where I am today.

But you need to be smart about failing. You have to make adjustments any time that something doesn’t work and here’s where your deliberate reflection will come in. Keep iterating on your ideas and you’ll eventually find success.

Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. Can you help articulate for our readers a few reasons why a business should consider becoming a purpose driven business, or consider having a social impact angle?

  • With the increased awareness of social issues all around the world, people want to help in any way that they can. This shines through in the companies that customers support and the companies people choose to work for. This is clear through Unilever’s brand growth. Unilever saw its “sustainable living” brands grow 69 percent faster than other companies in its portfolio, according to Deloitte.
  • Having a purpose makes work meaningful and creates deeper connections between a company and its employees. It becomes less about what your employees need to do to help you reach your goal and more about what everyone can do to reach a shared purpose together.
  • Having a purpose keeps you consistent. The only way to create radical success is to focus on one area at a time and keep improving and getting better. It’s easy to jump between different things as there are many problems to solve, but this will have you going in circles. Adopt a purpose and make it your guiding light.

What would you advise to a business leader who initially went through years of successive growth, but has now reached a standstill. From your experience do you have any general advice about how to boost growth and “restart their engines”?

The first thing I’d say is to take a step back and let their minds rest. If they’ve had years of growth they’ve probably been putting in many hours and a whole lot of effort. Even if they don’t feel burnt out, it’s a good idea to refresh before tackling a problem.

After that, it’s time to reflect on everything they’ve done so far. Did something change before the growth stalled? Has the company simply outgrown its old processes? Are there new competitors in the market? Is the product the best it can be? These are all questions they could ask themselves to pinpoint areas for growth potential.

Generating new business, increasing your profits, or at least maintaining your financial stability can be challenging during good times, even more so during turbulent times. Can you share some of the strategies you use to keep forging ahead and not lose growth traction during a difficult economy?

That’s an incredibly difficult thing to do! I’d say focusing on serving everyone you come into contact with. In difficult times, your business isn’t the only one struggling. Whether it’s your suppliers, employees, or customers, everyone is in a similar boat. So by focusing on how you can help them, they’ll remember that and return the favor. People want to help and continue doing business with people that take care of them, make them feel cared for, or in general have an overall great experience. Again, this goes back to the employees you hire, the processes you have, and the purpose of your business.

In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?

I’d have to say the self-care aspect. While it doesn’t seem like it’s directly tied to your business, it’s a very important factor that I learned about the hard way. If you’re not at your personal best, your business won’t be either.

You don’t need to work 13–14 hours per day and micromanage your team to be successful. Making time to get away from your business will do wonders for your productivity and creativity in the long run. As long as you prioritize high-impact tasks during your working hours your business will continue to grow. However, be sure to grow yourself, and in order to do that, you need to rest after working hard.

As you know, “conversion” means to convert a visit into a sale. In your experience what are the best strategies a business should use to increase conversion rates?

For us, it was focusing on relationships over profits. By being honest and transparent we’ve forged relationships with many happy clients. After that, they do the hard work and promotion for us.

According to Invespcro, referral leads convert 30% better than any other marketing channel and we’ve seen this play out in our business as well. So, I’d say focus on serving your customers and clients to the best of your ability and they’ll act as ambassadors for you in the future.

Of course, the main way to increase conversion rates is to create a trusted and beloved brand. Can you share a few ways that a business can earn a reputation as a trusted and beloved brand?

Make sure that your brand image, purpose, and actions are coherent. Couple this with being honest and transparent and your reputation will grow with each client you serve. Trust is built through experience and connection, so the only way to build it is by getting in the trenches and finding your customers.

Great customer service and great customer experience are essential to build a beloved brand and essential to be successful in general. In your experience what are a few of the most important things a business leader should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience?

Don’t try to cut corners when providing value to your customers. While a customer may buy from you if the value of your product or service matches the money they spend, it’s not going to create a raving fan. If your customers are receiving value that’s many multiples of their investment, they’re going to enjoy the experience more.

What are your thoughts about how a company should be engaged on Social Media? For example, the advisory firm EisnerAmper conducted 6 yearly surveys of United States corporate boards, and directors reported that one of their most pressing concerns was reputational risk as a result of social media. Do you share this concern? We’d love to hear your thoughts about this.

From my previous digital marketing agency, I’ve experienced firsthand these fears from clients that I’ve worked with. Personally, I don’t share the same fears as the benefits far outweigh any potential issues that come with social media. I believe it’s a powerful tool for forging connections and building businesses.

As long as your company is doing the right thing for its clients, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about. While you might run into the odd unhappy customer that posts about you or comments on your page, it’s the perfect time to show how much you care about solving their problems. By being open and transparent like this, trust in your brand will increase.

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?

  • Not focusing on the right tasks.

Solution: Plan your day, week, or month. Write down what your most important tasks are and work on them in order of importance. Being busy doesn’t mean being productive.

  • Neglecting mental health

Solution: Put as much effort into yourself as you put into your business. Make time to exercise, eat healthily and do things that make you happy. You’ll make up the time you took off by having increased productivity.

  • Being afraid of failure

Solution: Lower your expectations and don’t be so hard on yourself. If you’re not failing it means you’re not growing. Schedule time to get outside of your comfort zone daily or weekly.

Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. 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. 🙂

I would love more business owners to be more mindful when it comes to their business and their lives. Make sure that what you’re doing is what’s going to make you happy at the end of the day. And when you’re more aware of what you want then you can focus on your core values and become more in-sync with your authentic self.

How can our readers further follow you online?

If you’d like to learn more about me and what I’ve done, you can find me on Danieljavor.com. Alternatively, you can also connect with me on LinkedIn.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!

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