For those of you reading this, maybe you’ve got the entrepreneurial bug and wonder what pieces of the puzzle you need to be successful in starting your own business. I can give you words of wisdom from my experience but also bear in mind that being successful in anything has a basis in grit and determination. There are long hours ahead of you and not a few pitfalls. From where I sit, I can tell you it’s worth it, but just know that it isn’t always an easy ride.
We founded NexRep as a company dedicated to our people, and we believe this made us different from our competition. I think that having that kind of heart in your business formula can ultimately help you ride through challenge and adversity more than any business acumen will. I believe that bit of heart, partnered with a strong mission from the outset were hugely impactful to our success.
We had a clear mission when we launched the company: to provide a place for people who can’t or don’t want a “traditional job” to earn money and live the lifestyle they choose. We knew those people were out there and that we could build a workforce around them. What’s unique about our agents is that they work out of their homes. We provide an opportunity for them to mold their schedules to what works best for them, in their own homes while they provide our clients with the best customer service in the industry. There have been studies performed on the best formula for good customer service and based on these studies, the number one criteria for an agent to provide good customer service is that agent’s level of satisfaction in their work situation. We have the corner on that market.
Our clients are looking for us to provide customer care that is unparalleled in the industry. They expect the quality of their product and the quality of their service to be synonymous. We have the formula to satisfy their needs. And that is born out of our mission.
I founded NexRep in 2009 based on the premise that a home-based workforce will be able to deliver a higher level of quality and performance than the current model of call center and this has proven to be true. I was already in that world and had my finger on the pulse of what was occurring in the industry. So another part of the formula for being a successful entrepreneur is to have a business idea that brings something unique to a changing market. Keep your eyes and ears open and be alert to the changes happening around you, be embedded in your industry of choice, and that idea will come.
Other words of wisdom for people considering being an entrepreneur: It’s very hard to do it yourself! It has been said a million times, but bears repeating: success, in the long run, is dependent on surrounding yourself with good people. In our case, it was the employees and agents around which we built our company who were the fire behind our success. We couldn’t have done it without them. NexRep ended up being successful because of the great people we brought in, little by little. We just kept chipping away at it and what we found was that there are people out there who want to earn money but don’t want to or can’t have a regular job. We filled that need. The demographics of our agents come to us through a variety of channels: people who live out in the country away from work opportunities, people with disabilities, people caring for family – they are out there and we provide a service to them by giving them an opportunity to be compensated for their services out of their own homes.
I think back to where we started and marvel at how far we’ve come. The first calls I ever made were literally hand dialed from a desk phone using a printed list. Based on the success of those calls I decided to move forward with Five9 and start NexRep. Technology has evolved at such a fast rate since then and the things we can do now because of advances in technology were unimaginable when we first launched the company. It’s exciting to think about what the next advances in technology will bring. Remember that when you are planning your business, you need to surround yourself with people who will keep your business up-to-date with technological advances. If it’s not you, find the best person to do it for you. We often use consultants and find this can be a great way to source projects when we don’t have the staff to handle them. This can sometimes be a great tool to use when you are in that intermediate step and not sure what level of staffing you need for a particular tech project. Start with baby steps and grow slowly.
When you own your own business you, of course, have to ride the waves of success and challenge. Times that were particularly trying for us came when we needed to match client needs with our resources. We had a few large periods of growth and each time meeting the client needs was very challenging. We got through those challenging times by relying on the great people we continued to find and with whom to surround ourselves. The day we started contracting with JawBone was the day Chris Carlisle (now director of our sales group) started with our company. His first day started at 5 a.m. at the airport in Portland, Maine flying to San Francisco to meet with our new client. He’s been an integral and essential part of the business ever since. Chris is an example of why I love to own my own business: I’ve always wanted to work for myself and surround myself with people I want to see every day. To have control over the people with whom I am building a business has been the greatest benefit of founding NexRep.
People often ask me who has inspired me in my career and I have to say that it’s the agents who inspire me. All of them have a story of why they service with our clients instead of going to a traditional “job” and oftentimes the stories are ones of challenge and adversity. The agents who most inspire me are the warriors who are powering through difficulty and it gives me a great sense of accomplishment to know that in some small way we are making a difference for them.
John Stewart is the President and Founder of NexRep, a virtual call center offering more than 50 years of combined experience in call center management. By utilizing an innovative work model and leveraging the fastest growing workforce in America, NexRep is changing the face of the telesales industry.