Andy Bailey, Petra’s CEO and founder, started his first company while still in college (1993) and grew it into an Inc. 500 corporation. The success didn’t come with a swish of a magic wand though; Andy learned by doing and therefore made some mistakes along the way.
Since January 2011, Andy has facilitated hundreds of business planning sessions internationally and gained clients from a variety of industries and size businesses.
A true entrepreneur, he is involved in several other business ventures. With the success of Petra, Andy has developed a corresponding goal setting and execution software, aligntoday.com. Additionally, he’s part owner of a wine bar in Nashville, Tennessee and owns and manages vacation homes in Northwest Florida.
BusinessInterviews.com: Can you share what inspired you to launch Petra and how the program works?
Andy: In my first company, I reached a point when working harder was no longer an option. I was already past maximum capacity, and at the rate I was going, growth was not sustainable. I had to find a way to work smarter. I discovered “The Rockefeller Habits” by Vern Harnish. These habits focused on goal setting and execution tactics that would allow me to work more on my business rather than in it. Through this process I learned that your business can only be successful without you in it. Meaning, business owners must learn to systematize processes and empower their people if they aspire to build a prosperous company.
After years of working with “the habits” myself, and discovering what worked and what didn’t, my company advanced to a whole new level. I finally had time to focus on what really mattered as opposed to the urgent day-to-day matters that so often sidetrack productivity.
When my entrepreneurial friends saw the success I was having, they asked for my help. By guiding them through what worked for me, they experienced the same catapulting successes.
I found so much fulfillment in helping my friends build their businesses, I decided I wanted to do it full time. So, I started Petra Coach.
BusinessInterviews.com: What are some of the worst habits of business owners and how do you help them overcome them?
Andy: They get in their own way. Your business can only be successful if it can run without you. The business owner’s primary duty is to systematize and delegate day-to-day processes so he or she can strategize growth and development.
Many business owners cannot delegate. It may be ego, habit or misunderstanding, but many cannot let go long enough to allow their business to grow.
I help them by pointing out this issue. Many don’t realize how they’re undercutting themselves, their team and business. Further, we discuss effective tips to alleviate their need to micromanage. First, they need to hire rock stars they can trust to run the ship. Second, they need to institute a chain of command. Issues should be filtered through others first. If other team members or managers can’t solve the challenges, then, and only then, should they consult the head honcho. Third, give better directions. If you receive subpar work, perhaps you didn’t clearly define what you were looking for. Your team members aren’t mind readers, equip them with what they need up front. Help them and help you.
BusinessInterviews.com: When it comes to entrepreneurship can you elaborate on the difference between creating a job and creating a business? What are some steps or guidelines to ensure that a new business is both sustainable and scalable?
Andy: So many entrepreneurs start their own companies because they want freedom from their 9 to 5. Unfortunately their businesses end up being a glorified 24/7. A true business is a functioning entity that runs when the business owner is not there. You create this by delegating, as I mentioned above, and by systematizing. Whenever an issue comes your way, investigate the root of it and streamline a process so that the same problem never comes across your desk again. Additionally, you must be a people builder. Your team members set you aside from the competition. Think about it: your competitors can deploy the same software and imitate your service, but they cannot duplicate your people. To build a business rather than a glorified job you must nurture, grow and appreciate your team.
BusinessInterviews.com: Can you elaborate on the significance of making your business about a core value rather than revenue or self-glorification? How did this decision help influence the vision, direction and ultimately the success of the company?
Andy: A core value gives you a framework for your decisions. It initiates a value system you and your team can check and balance your choices against. I’m not suggesting you don’t make any decisions based on revenue—that would be ridiculous. But if you make all of your decisions based solely on the dollar, you will not grow a sustainable business. You must have a purpose that guides and inspires your clients, team members and you.
BusinessInterviews.com: What are some organizational habits you think are essential for success?
Andy: Plan. When I begin working with a new client, the first thing I ask about is his or her strategic plan. Typically, the entrepreneur either stares at me blankly or points to the stack of papers that’s serving as the doorstop. Organization requires a deep understanding of your long-term goals, which serve as your overarching viewpoint. Once you grasp the overall picture, you‘re empowered to focus on the shorter day-to-day tasks that keep you moving and organized.
Prepare. The most successful people live life like a chess game—they’re always thinking at least two moves ahead. If you’re only thinking about the here and now, you’re forced to be reactive rather than proactive. In a reactive state, you’re always attending to the urgent rather than the important. Only by being prepared can you stay ahead of the game and move beyond the ordinary.
Track. To remain orderly and on task, you must constantly track and visualize your progress. This way, you know exactly how far you’ve come and where you still need to go. That’s what aligntoday.com is all about. You enter your goals, divide them into actionable priorities and can monitor your progress as the weeks, months, quarters and years’ progress. You can do this without software like aligntoday.com, but if you’re interested in trying it out, an individual user can sign up for free.
BusinessInterviews.com: Many start-ups experience failures before success – or at least they make some major mistakes.
BusinessInterviews.com: Can you share a moment during which you learned from a setback?
Andy: I started my first company in college. We sold pagers. (You know those rectangular artifacts that enabled mobile communication before cell phones.) I actually received a pretty substantial purchase offer, but turned it down. It was obviously the wrong the decision because as we all know, pager companies all went out of business.
When I turned down the offer, mobile phones were already on the horizon. I should have seen the writing on the wall. Instead of adapting, I denied cell phones’ practicality and refused to buy into the idea they’d be the communication devices of the future. I lied to myself because I was so comfortable in my business model and I didn’t want to have to change it.
Everything ended up okay. I did eventually adapt. Although I was a bit later to the game than I should have been, I found a niche sect of the mobile phone market and was able to thrive.
I learned a lot from that experience. First, I learned what it felt like to fail—to make a bad decision. Yes, I punished myself for a minute, and then realized there was no help in that. I had to find a way to keep moving and make the best of an unfortunate situation. Second, I learned that you must adapt to survive. The moment you get comfortable is the moment you begin to die.
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