Starting a business is a big achievement for many entrepreneurs, but maintaining one is the larger challenge. There are many standard challenges that face every business whether they are large or small. It is not easy running a company, especially in a fast-paced, ever-changing business world. Technology advances, new hiring strategies, and now, political changes coming with the new administration, all add to the existing business challenges that entrepreneurs, business owners, and executives have to deal with.
Maximizing profits, minimizing expenses and finding talented staff to keep things moving seem to be top challenges for both SMBs and large corporations. We have been interviewing companies from around the world to discover what challenges they are facing in their businesses. We also asked each company to share business advice they would give to a younger version of themselves.
Below is our interview with Kyle Slager, Founder and CEO at Raken:
What does your company do?
Our mission at Raken is to provide the fastest, easiest-to-use, mobile solutions for construction workers in the field. Superintendents and foremen in the field have significant reporting requirements over the course of a project (daily reports, inspections, and more). In addition, the field needs the ability to communicate and collaborate with all project stakeholders for the project to stay on-time and within budget. Instead of using pen and paper, spreadsheets or legacy web-based tools, the industry has moved to Raken to handle the daily reporting requirements on the go throughout the day using our mobile app.
As inputs are made in the field, project managers and senior executives receive real-time insights into safety issues, delays, and other developments. Our focus has been a big reason why we’ve been recognized as the No. 1 daily deporting software every year since our launch in 2014 and now serve customers in 38 countries.
What is your role? What do you enjoy most about your role?
I’m Raken’s CEO. My focus is building an incredible team that solves problems for our customers. The things I enjoy most are our culture and the feedback we get from our customers. One of the guiding principles for our culture is a No HIPPO (Highest Paid Persons Opinion) policy — everyone on our team has a strong voice and a major impact on how we do things.
Our product development is based on customer feedback. The other day I walked a job site with one of our customers and asked him about Raken’s value to him and his team. He stopped,, turned to me and said, “I’ve been in this business for 30 years. Raken is the most valuable tool I’ve ever used.” We only achieve that by having a team that wants to make a major impact and is more in love with our customers than our product.
What are the biggest challenges in your business right now?
One of the biggest challenges for most startups at the expansion stage is related to growth. Raken is no different in this respect. In the early days of a startup, most companies are centered on a few dedicated employees who are often aligned in their vision. Hence, there is very little need in formulating common guiding and operating principles. As the company grows beyond its early successes, hiring velocity increases, and can no longer assume every candidate will fit our culture. At Raken, we have culture principles that we use to evaluate all potential candidates – one of Raken's biggest challenges is to continue to hire at an ever expending pace while refusing to compromise on our culture.
If you could go back in time, what business advice would you give to a younger version of yourself?
I’d probably need a long conversation, but the first thing that comes to mind is take the time to reflect on your mistakes. This is something I started documenting when I started Raken, and it’s been so valuable that I wished I’d started sooner.
The most effective way for me to learn has been through experience. You experience a lot in starting a business, and my greatest learnings have come through mistakes.
I’ve found that when I started taking the time at the end of the day to journal my mistakes, or things I perceived to be mistakes, it helped me understand what led to the mistake, which helped me create principles so that I could avoid that mistake in the future. Over time, I’ve found this to be incredibly helpful.