Jonathan Wilson is a dynamic Value Creation professional focused on organic and inorganic value creation for start-ups, fintech, and more traditional organizations. With an MBA concentration in General Management and International strategy, he has spent the majority of his career focused on working directly for Fortune 500 companies and partnering with division-level and corporate-level client executives within trailblazing organizations.
Jonathan is an effective problem solver and connector, adept at defining strategic plans, implementing strategic business growth initiatives, managing through crisis and change, and integrating processes and technology. For almost 20 years, Jonathan worked exclusively with Fortune 500 companies developing and executing both inorganic growth initiatives (M&A – acquisitions and divestitures) and organic growth initiatives to enhance profitability through increased revenue and/or realized cost savings. Over the past few years, Jonathan has pivoted to partnering with organizations, where annual revenues are below $1B as well as select projects for Fortune 500 corporations.
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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.
Jonathan Wilson: I consider myself to be a Value Creation professional focused on organic and inorganic value creation for start-ups, fintech, and more traditional organizations. For 22 years, I have worked with Fortune 500 companies developing and executing both inorganic growth initiatives (M&A – acquisitions and divestitures) and organic growth, partnering with division-level and corporate-level client executives within trailblazing organizations. I currently run my own company, Dubb Value Creation, where we partner with organizations of all sizes to consult and help with strategy, operations, as well as investor readiness for mergers and acquisitions.
You are a successful entrepreneur, so we’d like your viewpoint, do you believe entrepreneurs are born or made? Explain.
Jonathan Wilson: Entrepreneurs are made. Without having 18 years of experience working in the Fortune 500 world, having exposure to what “good looks like” in terms of leadership, and a fantastic education that helped frame how I solve problems, I would not be a successful management consultant with a small firm. Regardless of what field you choose to blaze, your success is dependent on how well you listen, observe, and problem solve.
If you were asked to describe yourself as an entrepreneur in a few words, what would you say?
Jonathan Wilson: Resilient, driven, and empathetic.
Tell us about what your company does and how did it change over the years?
Jonathan Wilson: Well, my company is still changing. In my first two years, I completely questioned myself and cried a lot because I felt unclear if I did the right thing. However, the idea of working for another firm at that time gave me anxiety. I chose to buckle down and dabbled with the idea of going back and working for other companies. At the end of my second year, I had a devastating blow personally due to some blood relative issues.
That helped me understand how vulnerable I was to homelessness, food insecurity, and general disfunction as I was very close to the edge. However, I pulled myself through and then started building some great momentum, only to have Covid-19 show up as a roadblock. It was at that moment that I realized that I will have some challenges every year that I need to overcome. I hunkered down and pulled out six-figure revenue for the business. So far, my revenue this year is already 3x over last year and we are on a fantastic journey, filled with a positive and uplifting ecosystem of clients, business partners, and other relationships.
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?
Jonathan Wilson: When I was thinking about leaving one of my Fortune 500 jobs, one of my friends (more mature and was able to build and sell a business for a handsome exit) told me “There is another Jonathan Wilson being groomed right now. He’s only ten years behind you. He will be cheaper and maybe more hungry. Don’t ever think you’re not replaceable.” I apply that to my mindset daily. I plan to stay the disruptor rather than be disrupted.
Did you make any wrong assumptions before starting a business that you ended up paying dearly for?
Jonathan Wilson: Yes, I thought that I could build new relationships quickly and it’s different when you don’t have a big brand behind you. In addition, I made a move back from New York to Los Angeles to be closer to my origins. I thought that I could build relationships in both places while I transitioned. Well, New York is filled with very driven professionals and many have an “out of sight, out of mind” perspective. It’s not intentional, but rather survival. I was forced to lean into Los Angeles and build my client base at a global level.
If you could go back in time to when you first started your business, what advice would you give yourself and why? Explain.
Jonathan Wilson: Change your lifestyle to minimum living in the beginning. I just thought that the money would always come in, but that’s not the case.
What is the worst advice you received regarding running a business and what lesson would you like others to learn from your experience?
Jonathan Wilson: Multiple times people told me that I should consider getting a job somewhere and close down my business. I’m very happy that I stuck with it.
In your opinion, how has COVID-19 changed what entrepreneurs should assume before starting a business? What hasn’t changed?
Jonathan Wilson: The barriers to entry are lower than ever before, where you no longer compete locally, but rather globally and domestically, at a minimum. However, what hasn’t changed is that relationships and the ability to connect with others will always help your success.
What is a common myth about entrepreneurship that aspiring entrepreneurs and would-be business owners believe in? What advice would you give them?
Jonathan Wilson: A common myth is that whether people make it or not is all luck. As Roman philosopher Seneca said and Maya Angelou stated in one of her books, “Luck is what happens when opportunity meets preparation.”
What traits, qualities, and assumptions do you believe are most important to have before starting a business?
Jonathan Wilson: Resiliency, Basic Business Acumen, and Ability to Listen.
How can aspiring leaders prepare themselves for the future challenges of entrepreneurship? Are there any books, websites, or even movies to learn from?
Jonathan Wilson: Read the book “Growing Pains” and make sure to build your listening mechanisms through having a coach and talking to other entrepreneurs.
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?
Jonathan Wilson: At this stage, I couldn’t imagine it any other way. However, I could see myself running a brand or collection of brands if I wasn’t an entrepreneur. I love business and the problems that present themselves.
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?
Jonathan Wilson: Maya Angelou. I read all of her books when I was a kid and she changed my perspective on being resilient from her early childhood throughout her adulthood. I had the opportunity to meet her when I was 14 and she was amazing.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Jonathan Wilson 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 Jonathan Wilson or his company, you can do it through his – Instagram
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