By Carrie Chitsey (Founder & CEO, 3Seventy) For me, I think the entrepreneurial spirit began when I was about 10 or 11 years old. Growing up, my dad owned several businesses, so my weekends were filled working at them. Looking back, this is likely why I work 7 days a week; I didn’t know what a free weekend was, even as a child.
I had several jolts of entrepreneurship as a child. Whether it was convincing my dad who owned a restaurant that we needed to move to a “waitress” model vs. counter service so I could make tips, getting him to pay me for helping at his companies, or running the largest “candy selling MLM company” in 7th grade that not only was making over $500 a week, but changed the school rule book forever and got me my first Sam’s Club card at 12.
Find your passion
I guess most founders of companies have stories about how we’re born with the entrepreneurial blood and have always been passionate about it. I was a supervisor of a large company, running a team of 15 people before I graduated from high school early.
Like many others, I liked school and made great grades, but it bored me. I wanted to be solving business issues, building things, and making money.
After finishing school, working in VP roles at several companies, and building call centers in India, I went to work for a Big 5 Consulting company in the CRM practice. This was a great experience to be advising Fortune 500 companies and working with the brightest in the industry. I made amazing contacts and lifelong friends, but it made me realize that while I did respect and learn from Corporate America, at heart I was always an entrepreneur. So I started a call center outsourcing company for financial services.
I learned several things from founding this company:
- Picking a good executive team is critical and can make or break a company.
- Never put all your eggs in one customer basket, they can leave just as fast as they came; so it’s important to diversify.
- It’s critical to be open and honest in your employee communications, a happy work-culture is key.
A few years later, I wanted to start a new company and depart from outsourcing. While I liked making clients happy and delivering, I was spending all my days and nights dealing with large-scale employee issues and not focusing on my vision. I wanted to create something emerging and a real money maker for companies.
In 2008, I founded 3Seventy (formerly named TXT4CRM). We had a very different technology vision early on and that is what made us succeed. We wanted to look 2-3 years out in the technology space, see what other businesses couldn’t do, and build it.
It was a good bet and now we’re in a hot mobile industry space with technology that is far advanced from our competitors.
After extensive experience and founding several companies, there are a few key things to consider before starting a company:
- Setting up the boring stuff (legal, finances, corporate docs) is critical and will cost you 10 fold if you don’t.
- On day one, you have to build a culture of how you want to run your company and make sure you hire with the company culture in mind. Just because someone is good on paper doesn’t mean they will fit your culture.
- Make sure you take investment from an investor that believes in you personally, will let you run the organization and make mistakes.
- Friends, family, and work are a bad recipe.
We’ve had our share of ups and downs as any startup does. Usually, the folks that originally start a company will change 2-3 times before you get it right.
My right hand, Teresa Smetzer, another successful female entrepreneur came on as our COO and really helped me out tremendously.
Two women executives can work great together and we really do.
What drives me every day is to make our clients and employees happy. To create vision and ideas that make people say “WOW” and make our employees excited to work there.
Editor's note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below. About the guest blogger: Carrie Chitsey is the Founder and CEO of 3Seventy. She been a serial entrepreneur in many sales, marketing and technology ventures. Carrie brings the pragmatic experience of working for the Big 5 Consulting Firms and the vision of a forward thinking, "out of the box" entrepreneur. She has received a Six Sigma Green Belt and is certified in multiple technologies such as Avaya, Siebel, Nortel and others. She serves on the board of several charity organizations in Texas.