Hire slow, fire fast. If you find out that someone isn’t a fit, you need to take care of it right away, and when you’re determining if someone is a good fit — make it a very slow and long process to find the best person possible to work with.
As part of my series about the leadership lessons of accomplished business leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jim Belosic.
Jim Belosic is CEO of SendCutSend, a high-tech, rapid-manufacturing company specializing in the precision cutting of a variety of metals and aerospace materials. An avid hobbyist and maker, Belosic often found himself in need of specialized parts in small quantities to create his passion projects. Frustrated by vendors only willing to supply large and costly orders, he saw an opportunity to create an online-based solution in a niche market. After investing $2.5 million in cutting-edge equipment and software development, Belosic created a service for tinkerers, hobbyists, and small manufacturers throughout the country to create and deliver products in a timely and cost-effective manner.
Belosic was previously the co-founder and CEO of Pancake Laboratories, a software company based in Reno, Nevada best known for its flagship product, ShortStack.com — allowing businesses to build lead-generating social media contests, promotional campaigns, and landing pages.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I have always been a maker and a car guy. Ever since I was little, I enjoyed taking things apart to see how they worked and then putting them back together, including computers. Eventually I taught myself some basic software programming to make some of my more complicated projects come to life. This love of software led me to start a small software company that focused on marketing for small businesses. The company was great, and it helped (and still does) a lot of people reach their marketing goals. But, I still had a passion for building tangible products. As an avid hobbyist, I oftentimes found myself in need of specialized parts usually requiring the use of outside vendors. In my experience, the local guys had certain capabilities and equipment, but oftentimes were very old school, and would take weeks to get me a laser cutting quote, let alone get the parts made. Frustrated, I decided to create a company that blended modern software and customer service with automated manufacturing technologies to simplify the process for a laser cutting online quote and production. From there, SendCutSend was born, and with it, the power for tinkerers, hobbyists, and small manufacturers throughout the country to create and deliver products to their customers without the habitual hassles of working with a laser cutting service.
Can you share one of the major challenges you encountered when first leading the company? What lesson did you learn from that?
As expected, no one really took a bunch of software guys with absolutely zero manufacturing experience seriously! But, our team has a passion. So, naturally, we ignored the nay-sayers and set out to use our knowledge and past experience as problem solvers who are adept at complex computer code to create functions that worked for us. In turn, we created a full-featured customer-facing app providing customers with an instant laser cutting online quote, transparent job tracking and full delivery information in real-time. With the creation of the app, our team also created a powerful optimization machine for every internal process they conduct. The lesson here is to listen to yourself, if you have a good idea and a track record to prove you can do the work, go for it! Through this process, it could be said that we became experts in laser cut metal manufacturing.
What are some of the factors that you believe led to your eventual success?
Being an avid hobbyist, I always searched to find a way to turn a passion project into a career and I’ve been able to do this across multiple careers and companies — from graphic design to marketing and then software development. I find that when you’re passionate about your career, it makes it really easy to think about work all of the time. During this time I still took time to work on my other hobby projects and found that I always needed specialized parts to create whatever I was making at the time. That’s when I saw an opportunity to make a laser cutting service where customers could receive a laser cutting online quote fast, and SendCutSend was born.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO”? Please share a story or example for each.
- Incorporate work life balance.
- Dream way bigger than you originally though. For example, don’t just think of being the best in a city but aim to be the best nationally from the beginning. Thinking small will only handicap you later.
- Don’t be all things to all people. It’s important to focus on one thing and do it really well, this allows you to be efficient and competitive.
- Hire slow, fire fast. If you find out that someone isn’t a fit, you need to take care of it right away, and when you’re determining if someone is a good fit — make it a very slow and long process to find the best person possible to work with.
- Don’t think you can do it by yourself. Your team will make or break you and it’s important to surround yourself with a team.
What advice would you give to your colleagues to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
My biggest advice to avoid burnout is to simply find your passion and turn that into a career. If you love what you’re doing, the problem-solving aspect of any business is a lot more fun and exciting. Another thing I love to focus on is fresh challenges! Even if you’re staying in the same career field, new challenges help keep the excitement alive by working towards a new goal or tackling a new challenge each year. This gives you something to work towards and have new problems to solve year after year.
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?
One of my good friends and SendCutSend’s Chief Technology Officer is Jacob Graham, he is someone that I’ve worked with for years and greatly admire. I like to say he’s the brains of the operation whereas I am the creative side but we’re able to both bring our unique strengths to the table. Jake can bring a difficult project to life and is talented at doing the heavy lifting with software engineering.
What are some of the goals you still have and are working to accomplish, both personally and professionally?
A personal goal of mine is to get better at work-life balance, and this is something that’s hard with a startup. But something that’s been bringing me joy is bringing my kids to work with me where I can teach them different types of trade they wouldn’t normally learn. My 13-year-old daughter is learning adobe illustrator right now and my 10-year-old son is learning to weld. I love being able to teach them this type of knowledge outside of a traditional sense of learning and it’s been really great to combine both my professional and personal life.
A professional goal would be to continue creating things that help people and solve problems.
What do you hope to leave as your lasting legacy?
I want to create products that help people solve problems by giving people the tools that help people do what they thought was impossible. This is why I created SendCutSend, it gives anyone who has access to a computer, access to multi-million dollar laser cutting equipment. Our hope is to eliminate DIY headaches that often happen when using consumer-grade equipment and manufacturing techniques by instead reducing the cost of high-tech, high-precision laser cut metal parts in low quantities.
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’m not sure if this is the greatest good to the greatest number of people, but I would love to see a cultural shift away from a college education being the end-all-be-all. There are so many people that go deep into debt for an education that they may not be able to use. I wish it was more socially acceptable to go to a trade school or through hands-on-learning while on the job. I want my kids to know that they should try a bunch of jobs so that they can find something they love. If you decide on a career that requires college, then enroll and get that degree. But you might find a career (like marketing or sales) that takes talent and experience, without all the debt, and takes less time than a traditional college education.
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