Allen Vaysberg is serial entrepreneur. At 25 he started and ran a Business Intelligence consulting firm which grew to about 1M per year before failing spectacularly due to September 11th leading to 350K of personal debt. Allen recovered, started another consulting firm in the same space, and ran that with his partner for 9 years to the tune of 2.5M per year. Then he took a 4-year sabbatical to write, act, and grow. Since then, he has created a YouTube channel where he interviews actors, an inspirational apparel line e-commerce business, and lately founding More Local Clients, LLC. a digital marketing agency.
Allen lives in Chicago, is blessed to have a loving and ever-patient wife, two children, and a rescued dog. He is honored to have this opportunity to share his experiences and to contribute in some way to making another person’s life better.
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Table of Contents
Thank you for joining us today. Please introduce yourself to our readers. They want to know you, some of the background story to bring some context to your interview.
Allen Vaysberg: Hello dear reader. Like you, I have a varied background and all of those experiences lead me to be the man I am today. I was born in the former Soviet Union and came to the US as a refugee in 1989. My parents brought me here so I could have a better chance to succeed and that feeling drove every one of my successes and failures. I didn’t know which career to choose, I wanted to act and play tennis but got “stuck” in IT and have been trying to find myself ever since. The only thing I knew is that I loved being an entrepreneur so business became my constant.
You are a successful entrepreneur, so we’d like your view point, do you believe entrepreneurs are born or made? Explain.
Allen Vaysberg: When I was in high school a friend of mine asked me – ” I am going on a date tonight, please teach me how to be a gentleman.” Gentlemen and entrepreneurs are born and then made manifest through experiences.
If you were asked to describe yourself as an entrepreneur in a few words, what would you say?
Allen Vaysberg: Live Your Essence.
Tell us about what your company does and how did it change over the years?
Allen Vaysberg: More Local Clients focuses on getting local businesses more exposure through higher rankings in Maps and Organic searches. We do that using Local SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and other digital marketing strategies. I love it because I get to continue doing B2B and help local business owners I admire. Our clientele usually consists of doctors, lawyers, health and wellness practitioners, home services, etc.
My latest venture is new but it has evolved from my IT consulting firm which I have had for 15 years. It started in the IT BI space, then moving into IT Training, taking a turn to HR, and ended up in Digital Marketing. The funny part is that I started in Marketing before getting into IT so this has been a return to my roots.
Thank you for all that. Now for the main focus of this interview. With close to 11.000 new businesses registered daily in the US, what must an entrepreneur assume when starting a business?
Allen Vaysberg: I am not a big fan of assumptions but am very big with intentions. So I would say after you understand why you are doing this, set intentions and goals. Thus, first ask yourself why you are starting the business. If it is for the money then don’t do it. That intention is the wrong motivator and usually a short-term driver which won’t fuel you long enough to weather the storms.
If it is because that is who you are at your core, you are passionate about this particular idea, you love building, and have a very high tolerance for failure then go for it. But go for it knowing that in order to succeed where so many fail it will take a while, hard work, becoming an expert and never stopping to learn, and finally how it affects those around you. When you start a business it becomes a part of your family and you need to understand that with any addition there will be conflict.
Did you make any wrong assumptions before starting a business that you ended up paying dearly for?
Allen Vaysberg: Oh yeah! First assumption is that I didn’t have to work hard and could just get by on my charm. 🙂 Second was that I didn’t have to pay very close attention to the financials. And third, was that everything will just work out on its own.
All three lead to what I refer to as my most expensive business degree.
If you could go back in time to when you first started your business, what advice would you give yourself and why? Explain.
Allen Vaysberg: Don’t do the consulting work yourself and focus on scaling the business. I would have been far more successful if I had stopped billing and just focused completely on sales and marketing. I got stuck doing the work and that left limited time for growth.
In the process I also discovered what I had felt long ago – I am not great doing the work I am not passionate about. For that type of work that I do just because I have to, the shelf life is 6-12 months and then I get burned out.
What is the worst advice you received regarding running a business and what lesson would you like others to learn from your experience?
Allen Vaysberg: The worst advice was that I needed to have an office in order to seem legit. That lead me to spend tens of thousands of dollars on things I didn’t need. And with an office you want to fill it with people so I hired and that was one of the reasons for the huge debt incurred with my first business. Start small, don’t pretend to be who you are not. Your clients will work with YOU, not your shiny office.
In your opinion, how has COVID-19 changed what entrepreneurs should assume before starting a business? What hasn’t changed?
Allen Vaysberg: Business is still business so all principles apply and that hasn’t changed. What did change is that being virtual has been widely accepted and that’s wonderful for a new business.
What is a common myth about entrepreneurship that aspiring entrepreneurs and would-be business owners believe in? What advice would you give them?
Allen Vaysberg: That more than half the business fail. Just like marriage, the percentages aren’t perfect but so what? You shouldn’t go into it thinking about the chances of it working out, you should do it for love. When you love what you do the rest will fall into place and that should be your focus.
What traits, qualities, and assumptions do you believe are most important to have before starting a business?
Allen Vaysberg: Organization, foresight, open-mindedness, and insatiable appetite for learning.
How can aspiring leaders prepare themselves for the future challenges of entrepreneurship? Are there any books, websites, or even movies to learn from?
Allen Vaysberg: Know thyself first so focus on within. Learning from others is absolutely important but learn who you are first, what makes you tick, what weaknesses you have, and what are your strengths are. Once you know YOU, then you will know what to work on and who/how to get that information.
You have shared quite a bit of your wisdom and our readers thank you for your generosity but would also love to know: If you could choose any job other than being an entrepreneur, what would it be?
Allen Vaysberg: Author, Actor, and Lyricist. One of the reasons I started the business is to have more time freedom to pursue what I love. I get to do all three now in a small way and hope that in the future as the business scales I will have more and more time to invest in them.
Thank you so much for your time, I believe I speak for all of our readers when I say that this has been incredibly insightful. We do have one more question: If you could add anyone to Mount Rushmore, but not a politician, who would it be; why?
Allen Vaysberg: It actually wouldn’t be a person but instead a mirror which is tilted in a way so that when people look up at the mountain they see themselves there.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Allen Vaysberg for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Allen Vaysberg or his company, you can do it through his – Facebook
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