What we can learn from the collected insights of CrowdOptic CEO and serial entrepreneur Jon Fisher.
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The rise of internet connectivity and accessibility has led to a corresponding uptick in serial entrepreneurship over the past decade. Defining success in that context is a whole other topic. Some would tie it to monetary gain, while others might point to innovation or positive global impact.
All in all, the best serial entrepreneurs aren’t solely driven by money. They also enjoy the challenges that lead to success, and get a thrill out of processes such as product development and the creation and unification of teams. But there are only 24 hours in a day, fewer waking hours and even fewer hours that can solely be designated for work-related purposes. Entrepreneurs are still human beings that need to maintain balance, despite their tendency to view downtime as wasted time. To wit, research by the American Psychiatric Association reflects that 72 percent of entrepreneurs are directly or indirectly affected by mental health struggles.
Serial entrepreneur Jon Fisher has broken the mold in terms of finding the right balance, and his insights can serve as food for thought for all founders, regardless of where they are in their journeys. Fisher’s company, CrowdOptic, uses algorithms and real-time sensor data from electronic devices to enhance security, social media sharing and advertising, and its technology has been implemented in everything from sports to medicine to government. It was also the first patented solution for wearable technologies, such as Google Glass.
But Fisher also was behind Bharosa, a leading provider of fraud prevention and authentication-security solutions that was acquired by Oracle for a reported $50 million in 2007; NetClerk, which offered contractors a way to apply for permits online and is now part of Roper Technologies; and AutoReach, a high-volume power dialer for modern sales teams, which is now part of AutoNation.
Fisher is clearly one to opt for startup acquisition strategies over IPOs, and is big on the fundamentals of “strategic entrepreneurism,” which is also the title of one of his books. While he does practice what he preaches, his success is owed in equal measure to balancing productivity and quality of life for himself and his employees.
Here are some of Fisher’s most essential, established tips on how to achieve a sense of balance as a serial entrepreneur.
Maintain a Tribe
In an interview with Resident magazine, Fisher elaborated on his loyalty toward his top team members. “We are a longstanding and cohesive team,” he said. “I’ve invested and founded these companies with the same core engineering team and the same co-workers. The joke around here is that we consider ourselves a less good-looking, legal, married-with-children version of the Ocean’s Eleven team. We’re building good companies and selling them to other companies.”
Understandably, Fisher is only able to maintain his tribe because of the great rapport he established and nurtured over an extended period. Having a solid team not only makes the work day more rewarding for all, but it also saves time, money and resources in terms of the hiring and training process with each venture.
Operationalize Each Company
Fisher claims that the best way for companies to become successful without being over-financed is by operationalizing, or applying systematic approaches while orchestrating operational processes in a way that meets measurable, defined goals that align with business priorities.
This is the way to truly approach scalability, as anything less would be more of a herd mentality that leads to a rapid rise followed by an intense crash and burn, as seen by WeWork. While success can’t be guaranteed for all companies, following a methodological approach certainly raises the odds.
Related: The Truth About Work-Life Balance
Make Time for Those Who Matter Most
Fisher realized that many in his circle sacrificed time with their families in favor of accelerating business growth, and they regretted doing so. As such, he and his wife made a pact to never put work before each other and their daughter. In a commencement speech for the University of San Francisco School of Management, he is quoted as saying, “Hold your children up high as your greatest inventions, because they are.”
He goes on to add that his purpose for building smaller companies to sell is because it takes less capital and risk and, arguably, less of a personal toll.
It is a personal mission for Fisher to let entrepreneurs know that they can achieve financial success without sacrificing family values. Despite all his professional successes, he finds that the amount of quality time he is able to devote toward his wife and daughter is his true indicator of success.
Fisher closed that commencement speech by remarking, “Your degrees today, your work to come are the means to leave a trail. Your family is another. I will look for you in the years to come as you build and find your happiness.”
Now go out and find yours.