By Lisa Chau
Working to land new clients can take a great deal of time and effort, especially for those new to the sales field. To build a solid client portfolio and support your business, many look to a time-tested recreational activity.
Insurance broker Bill Greenbaum believes building a thriving business is similar to succeeding in his favorite sport: fishing. The most accomplished fishing enthusiasts catch the biggest fish, he said, without catching anything most of the time they’re in the water. Indeed, the most effective fishermen are not the most efficient, especially when the calculating the total hours they spent on their craft.
During long summer days, extraordinary fishermen spend most of their free time observing and analyzing the ecosystem. The most dedicated spend every free moment on their sport. They are thinking about fishing, talking about it, learning more about it, or sorting, cleaning and ordering gear from catalogs. They are planning their next trip.
In a similar vein, Quantum Media Group CEO Ari Zoldan said great entrepreneurs diligently evaluate their terrain, plan accordingly and execute on a well thought-out plan. Zoldan has never seen a successful business where those ingredients weren’t part of the overall blueprint. Every great company is driven by commitment and passion.
“A critical component to building a successful business is planning and patience,” he said “These factors can’t be put into a spreadsheet and often not taken into account.”
Extraordinary entrepreneurs are diligent, not dilettantes. Instead of just chasing after immediate cashflow, they put time into cultivating high-value clients for larger long-term rewards. Their startup is not a side-hustle, but a way of life. It is on their mind every waking, and sometimes sleeping, moments.
“Their passion helps reduce frustration from failure, just as it provides drive to pursue alternative solutions or modify their goals as necessary,” says Greenbaum, the insurance broker. “Anyone can wander by and pick a piece of low-hanging fruit, but if you intend to live off of it, you’ll need to plant the seeds, tend the earth and harvest sustainably.”
An extraordinary entrepreneur never builds a high-value client base overnight, just as an amateur fisherman rarely catches a prize-winning fish on his first attempt.
More than 20 years ago, Jason Saltzman entered the consumer-debt industry, motivated to help people and families struggling with toxic debt. He opened several offices across the country with the intention of disrupting the industry. Even after pivoting his business model, he came to the realization that he wouldn’t be able to fulfill his mission or providing debt relief without access to scalable technology. He made the painful decision to shut down multiple offices and lay off hundreds of employees.
“I carried this sacrifice with me for two decades, waiting patiently for the right time to come back and reinvent the credit debt industry as CEO and co-founder of Relief,” said Saltzman. “Twenty years since I first started in the industry, technology has advanced to where we now all have access to scalable technology within the palm of our hands, and my network is much stronger.”
Effective leaders know the power of good connections and how to harness them.
“The most successful entrepreneurs are not pikers, gambling on small bets,” said BatesCainelli managing director Stephen Bates. “Sure, you have to put food on the table with transactional efforts, but you will not achieve success with piker’s bets.
“Investors and customers must buy into your vision, which will only be realized by your ability to sell/tell an effective story: How your product or service will be a pain pill (mitigate risk, reduce cost, simplify the complex) or by a pleasure pill (expand capacity, introduce new capability or increase quality). How you manage these connections will drive business, and high-value relationships are not cultivated overnight — they often take years.”
Travel writer Amanda Mactas stays in touch with friends she made along the way on press trips. Sometimes they find themselves on another trip together, but more frequently they check-in on one another via social media or e-mails, and even holiday cards. “Forging these relationships is so special because you connect with like-minded individuals who look out for one another,” said Mactas.
She met fellow journalist Michael Alpiner at an event for New York Tourism that took place in 2019 in New Orleans. Though they hadn’t seen each other since, they reconnected recently, and he subsequently invited her to a recent event, hosted by wellness brand Qi Alchemy. There, she met the company’s founder and CEO, Grace Yoon, who explained, “The journey of starting a business must begin with your heart, so listen to it as you build your company. There are no overnight successes. Building a business takes patience, perseverance, discipline and a combination of timing and luck.”
Sometimes, it also takes a grand gesture. When Zoldan first opened his marketing agency, he was keen to land a specific client based in Singapore. After several pitches for the business, it came down to his company and the competition. To show his commitment, he offered to hop on a plane from New York and show up the next day in Singapore for a dinner meeting. His commitment and perseverance won the account.
The best leaders (and fishing enthusiasts) leverage extensive research and deep analyses to understand their particular market to ready themselves for big opportunities which arise, just as Zoldan did.
They recognize that luck and nimbleness to pivot intelligently inevitably play a large part in achieving desired outcomes. All of this takes extreme patience, preparation, and time over years of discipline. They are focused on the long game over immediate gratification of small gains.
Edited by Matthew B. Hall and Bryan Wilkes
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