Joshua Watson, founder of IronRock Software, faced a difficult decision in the early days of his company.
"When we first got started, my partner and I left very lucrative jobs in IT, and we were so used to being good at what we did that we assumed we'd be successful from the beginning," Watson said. "We immediately got hit in the face. Our first client wasn't paying their bills. We had zero cash flow and our customer base dried up. It was a mess so I started looking for a job. I was offered a good six figure job and was forced to choose between our startup and this steady job. I called my father who has always wanted to start his own business but took the safe job instead. He told me that if I went with the safe option, it would be difficult to chase my dream later because I'd get comfortable in the steady job. I decided to stick with it after our discussion. A year later the business took off and I'm better off today than I would have been had I took the comfortable job."
Five years after launching the business in 2011, IronRock Software has five full time and three part time employees and has found its sweet spot. "The thing we do differently is that our competitors usually have a product and they go after prospects who have a problem that fits within that product," Watson explained. "Instead, we have a collection of products we've built over the years. We ask potential clients where their pain points are and provide a solution for their pain. Sometimes we build solutions from scratch, but we take the doctor's approach of identifying pain points and relieving the pain instead of the sales approach. We don't come trying to sell you something. We earnestly try to figure out how to solve your problems and hopefully it's with our own products."
Watson's advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to be persistent and add value. "When the going gets tough, stick with it," he said. "I joke with other successful entrepreneurs that what we all have in common is we're all delusional. You just can't tell them they will fail. They're no smarter than you or I. They just stuck with it. Know you're going to make it. Otherwise you'll give up before the inflection point. Also, do something that creates values for others. Many people start businesses that are all about them making money and extracting funds. Zig Zigglar said you can have anything in the world you want as long as you first help others get what they want."