As an employer, you’re responsible for your employees’ livelihoods. That’s a lot of responsibility to make sure the business is growing and thriving. You constantly feel the need to figure out the direction and work to make sure the organization is executing on its goals so it can continue to grow. Even when you’re on vacation or not at work, that pressure is constantly there. It can cause a lot of sleepless nights.
I had the pleasure to interview Dave Carmany. Dave is the founder and CEO of OnlineLabels.com, one of the internet’s leading suppliers of blank and custom printed labels. He launched the company in his 20s and has grown it into a multi-million dollar business. Dave has also started a number of other companies over the years and is active in mentoring and advising entrepreneurs across Florida.
Thank you for joining us Dave! Can you tell us the story about what brought you to this specific career path?
From a young age, I got exposure to the family business — manufacturing and selling labels. When I was in middle school, and later in high school, my dad would let me come to work with him. I learned a lot about entrepreneurship from working with him, it helped build my passion for entrepreneurship and business.
Can you share one of the major challenges you encountered when first leading the company? What lesson did you learn from that?
In the early days of leading the company, I saw some situations where team members didn’t feel that the company cared about them personally. It affected their engagement on the job and showed in the work they did.
I quickly realized we needed to offer an open door policy and actively listen to what our employees were saying and feeling. By showing an interest in our team member’s personal goals, we could better align the interests of that team member with the company.
Those early lessons helped craft the company culture we have today. One of the core pillars of our company culture is caring — we focus on making sure our team members feel the company cares about them not just from a work perspective, but also from a personal perspective. This caring helps keep our team members loyal and engaged.
What are some of the factors that you believe led to your eventual success?
Our dedicated team members have been a huge part of what has made the company, and me, successful. On the personal side, I have always had a family that supported me in my pursuits and that’s what made it possible for me to set and achieve my goals. I was fortunate to find a passion for business early in life which allowed me to get a head start.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO”? Please share a story or example for each.
- As an employer, you’re responsible for your employees’ livelihoods. That’s a lot of responsibility to make sure the business is growing and thriving. You constantly feel the need to figure out the direction and work to make sure the organization is executing on its goals so it can continue to grow. Even when you’re on vacation or not at work, that pressure is constantly there. It can cause a lot of sleepless nights.
- It doesn’t get easier over time. As an entrepreneur, the challenges grow as the business grows. The systems and processes may be improved which helps to simplify certain things, but the responsibility as the leader increases as the organization gets more successful, which is a heavier weight to bear.
- You don’t have to take meetings and calls with people selling services and marketing techniques. In the early days, if a salesperson or vendor reached out to me and wanted to meet, I would respond and often meet with them. I thought that was the courteous thing to do. Today, I’m much less likely to meet with vendors or people marketing a service as time is my most valuable asset. I tend to look for services and read reviews for a product as opposed to meeting with sales reps. I’ve learned it’s better to spend time with your employees and team members as opposed to sales people pitching a product.
- You’ll never be caught up on work — there is always something you can do to improve the organization.
- As CEO, I would have thought my job would be about strategy and personnel but there’s surprisingly a lot of things to handle that are bureaucratic in nature. I didn’t realize how much I would need to know about accounting and legal issues. Whether it’s doing final review on a contract or signing required forms for the organization, you’ll spend time everyday handling bureaucratic issues.
What advice would you give to your colleagues to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Learn to love what you do so it doesn’t feel like a job. Find the challenges in your job and look at them as opportunities.
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?
My parents played a key role in helping me along the way. From a business perspective, my dad made a big impact. In business, he guided me but also let me find my own way. When I’d come to him with business ideas, he would offer feedback but never openly shoot it down. He supported me and let me try them for myself. Some worked and some didn’t, but he was always supportive either way.
What are some of the goals you still have and are working to accomplish, both personally and professionally?
Personally, I enjoy learning. I’m always finding new areas to learn about and educating myself on those topics. I also enjoy teaching and would love to teach a business class at a local college or counsel small business owners in the future.
Professionally, I would like to continue to help grow and expand the business. It’s really satisfying to see our team members and the company grow — and we have a lot of opportunities on the horizon.
What do you hope to leave as your lasting legacy?
My hope is that I can help my children grow up to be people who make a positive impact on the world. On a day-to-day basis, I feel I can contribute to my legacy by guiding them and being a good example. My goal is to always try to inspire and make a positive impact on the people around me. Hopefully, that energy helps to inspire others to be happy and fulfilled which makes the world a better place.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would enhance people’s lives in some way, what would it be? You never know what your idea can trigger!
I would like to see young people set goals and find a passion earlier. It would be great if there were more programs in schools that focused on getting to the core of what inspires a person and creates fulfillment for them. If I could, I would start a movement that helps people realize that they’re responsible for their own happiness and fulfillment. Happiness won’t be served to you on a silver platter, you have to seek out what makes you feel that way.
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