Village Mentor Spotlight- Geoff Wilson
As the new year begins, so do new resolutions. We want to do more, be better, and strive for higher. For entrepreneurs, the most prominent resolution is for their companies to grow and succeed. One of the best ways to wade through the crazy ups and downs of being an entrepreneur is to partner with someone who’s done it before. At the Village, we have a team of amazing, successful professionals who’ve lived through the stresses and joys of starting their own businesses serving as Mentors and Advisors. They choose to pay it forward and volunteer to share their knowledge and experiences with our members.Geoff Wilson is a Village Mentor. He began his entrepreneurial ventures in high school with a successful computer store, and he continued his work by building websites in his college fraternity house room. He is the Founder of 352 and has more than 85 employees with offices in Atlanta, Tampa, and Gainesville, FL. Geoff and his team have produced successful digital products for COX, AutoTrader, Wells Fargo and several startups. Geoff has not only been successful in the web developer world, but he and his wife also began Social News Desk, an online social media management platform for newsrooms that’s currently being used by 85% of the television newsrooms in the U.S. to manage their social presence.We are proud to have Geoff as a Village Mentor, and we asked him what he has learned on his startup journey.
What are your two greatest takeaways from becoming an entrepreneur at such a young age?
Having limited money is far better than having a lot of money. Stretching each dollar forces you to be more creative and make smarter decisions when it comes to feature prioritization, staffing decisions, marketing and more. Keeping your budget lean at the start allows you to reserve capital for future growth, which is important, because your initial launch is just the beginning.The second thing I learned was not to be worried about being perceived as a small company, as long as you can come across as very professional and polished. When we had our first opportunity to pitch for a large project, we didn’t try to hide that we were a smaller design agency, and it played to our advantage. As the founder, I was able to sit in our pitch meetings and show the personal commitment that my company would bring to the project and how badly we wanted the project, which is something larger agencies didn't do. You do have to be extra polished though -- put effort into making your presentations great (and no typos or design sloppiness), and dress really nice for your important meetings.
How did you and your wife manage as co-founders and find the balance between your personal and professional lives?
It can be hard to work with your significant other but my wife and I make it work really well. We turn off the work discussion on the weekends. You need to be able to compartmentalize work and enjoy time together without talking about it. Really, having a business partner is tough, too. In order for a partnership to work regardless of who it is with, you need to be able to have open, honest, tough conversations about work, and not have anyone take it personally. It can all fall apart when people have underlying feelings and fail to engage in conflict, or if people take conflict too personally.Geoff's success led him to be named one of America’s Top 30 Young Entrepreneurs by INC Magazine and the University of Florida Warrington College of Business’ Entrepreneur of the Year. Our team is stacked with amazing mentors and advisors like Geoff who have worlds of advice and wisdom to share to help our entrepreneurs navigate their personal and professional lives.Village members can sign up to meet with a Village Mentor or Advisor, and make this year’s resolution last (and succeed).[caption id="attachment_9453" align="alignleft" width="456"]
Geoff Wilson, Village Mentor[/caption]This post was written by Raleigh Rose, Mentor Coordinator at the Village.