At the age of 25, most young men are trying to make a name for themselves in a hopeless position among hundreds of others who are trying to climb up a broken and slippery corporate ladder. As more and more fall off the ladder, a smart group of spectators are finally starting to learn that they might be better off building their own ladder than trusting someone else’s. In today’s economy, becoming an entrepreneur is not only an increasingly popular choice, it is more feasible for men and women to achieve.
Matt Bradley is an up and coming student entrepreneur from Johnson County Kansas. Matt Attended Johnson County Community College (JCCC) for entrepreneurship, marketing and management. Matt was president of the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization (CEO) Chapter at JCCC.
Matt is the founder and owner of KC P.A.I.L. Solutions, which provides pro audio and lighting design for various entertainment venues and provides custom CCTV designs for small business and residential applications.
The following is an interview between myself and Matt Bradley about his experiences as an entrepreneur and what the future holds for his business and himself.
Michael Luchies: Have you always been an entrepreneur?
Matt Bradley: I would like to think I have always been entrepreneur. Since the age of 16 when I started doing detailing work for friends and family. Then it just expanded from there; friends of friends, friends of family members then just referred clients throughout the years. I feel even with my everyday jobs that I have had through the years I have been very “intrapreneurial”, meaning being an entrepreneur within a company or larger organization while working. Taking ideas or finished product or service and making then profitable for the company even though you might be taking a risk doing. Well guess what “entrepreneurship” is in part a risk-taking adventure.
ML: What was your first business?
MB: I always look forward to what the future brings. Granted, when I was 16, I didn’t properly start the business through the Kansas business center or SBA. I was 18 when I looked into a full fledged business plan and financial projection on starting a full detailing company called Executive Detailing in Kansas.
ML: Have you had any failures, if so, what has been your greatest failure and how did you recover/move on?
MB: I haven’t had a business failure yet. Knock on wood. I have been around businesses that failed due to not having a good team on board. Their ideas led to not having the proper investors that are an added asset to the company or ones that complement the owner’s weaknesses.
ML: Do you ever see yourself working for someone else in the future?
MB: If I ever step back from my company, possibly. I am not the type of person just to sit back and relax. I don’t want to be at home sitting around not doing anything, if something was to happen and i step away from my company for little bit to go work somewhere, maybe it is because i want to start a company in that industry and getting first hand experience working in that industry for some else.
ML: What has been the hardest obstacle to your success?
MB: I am currently trying to overcome many obstacles.
First, we assumed our target audience were going to be night clubs and bars for the types of services and products we offer. We only concentrated on reaching out to that industry, but we started receiving emails from our current clients, seeing if we could outfit their houses with outdoor up lighting or configure a way to light their driveways with outdoor style lighting in ground. Some asked if we could outfit their houses with CCTV systems that could be accessed anywhere in the world. We are slowly touching on this and trying to come up with a feasibility plan on marketing to residential clients.
Another obstacle was focusing on our long-term goals. I am trying to join boards of start-up companies, local and/or national, and offer what I can as an added value to the company.
My last obstacle is continuing to spread my name to be recognized as an entrepreneur.
ML: What is your advice to young people who may not think that being an entrepreneur is a possibility for them?
MB: To the young and aspiring entrepreneurs:
How frustrating is taking orders from someone higher up? Even if your boss is okay, what happens if you fail? He can kick you out of your job. Which leads me to the phrase, “Being your own Boss.” We all have our own ways of doing things. What works for you might not always work for someone else. Working for someone giving you a directive might not agree with or be the best thing for you.
As an entrepreneur you choose your own schedule, you choose who you work with, and your earning potential is as far as you want to go. There is no limit your progress. You can be as high up and involved with your company as you want. You can even remove yourself from your company, but I don’t suggest this.
For me, being an entrepreneur is amazing. I don’t have to sit at my office all day, and I’m never restricted by someone higher up. I have my freedom, and I can say whatever I want to be done. In fact, being an entrepreneur allows me to do crazy things with my company whenever I want with-in reason of course, buts always fun.
ML: Worst business advice you have ever gotten?
MB: Currently, I haven’t got any advice I disliked; all of it was very helpful in someway or another.
ML: Best business advice you have ever received?
MB: Trust your team; you hired them. Your team is there to complement your weaknesses and help your business grow as much as you are wanting. However, for that to happen, you need to give certain responsibility to your teams members. Trust they will get the task completed in a manner that will benefit the business and the client. TRUST YOUR TEAM YOU PICKED THEM!!!
ML: Who has been the most influential person to your journey as an entrepreneur?
MB: Honestly, I can’t name one person who was the most influential person in my life. It isn’t possible.
Teachers within my entrepreneur major have been a major influence on where I’m going and what I am doing currently one of which has been the most influential is Barbara Millard she is beyond amazing. She has always helped me and spoken to me on everything entrepreneurial. She has shown me the proper ways to do things; from proper preparation of a business plan, to networking and not being shy around other professionals whether there older than myself or younger.
Second, one of my mentors, Jeff Hoffman, influenced me, though he is often busy speaking about entrepreneurship to other schools and countries around the world. When he can find the time, he still manages to help me with advice and information.
Third, my friend passed away in a violent crime, and the tragedy pushed me to do much more. Giving time to organization and non profits. Helping where I can when I can. One thing that is pushing me is to pursue being a serial entrepreneur. I like the challenge of being able to own multiple businesses and what it can bring
ML: You have been involved with the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization (CEO) as a student. Why? What have you gained out of that experience?
MB: I got involved because of a friend name Jenny Franchuk she was the President of CEO on campus one year while i was studying my Marketing and management degree. We had had several classes together and she was always bugging me with CEO ” come join”, “come check it out” all this stuff and I never really did anything abut going and checking it out at all. One day I added the entrepreneurship degree to my studies, I went to check out this CEO group that Jenny spoke so highly of. I found that this group was going to be a great group to be involved with. So, I got involved with the group became an officer in a Spring of 2011 and then President in the Fall of 2011 and stayed President till the end of Spring of 2012 school semester. The things I gained and ideas we would come up with where amazing. Some things i gained out of being with this group is an edge on how to network with others. I love networking now and I blame my faculty advisor and all around great person Barbara Millard. She is always pushing me when I was with the group to get out and network and build those relationships with others. The knowledge I gained outside of the classroom from this program. From going to the national convention in Dallas/Fort Worth and all the break out session we had there.
ML: What is next for you as an entrepreneur?
MB: I am currently in the process of acquiring a music production studio in Kansas. On top of creating a business plan, the investors and I are creating a feasibility plan in order to make sure taking over this company will provide a consistent profit stream, not only for the investors investments, but for my own profit as well. I’m sure there will be more, it is all about ideas and creating a value out of them. I eventually will start to acquire more business, eventually placing them under a private umbrella corporation later down the road.
Thanks to Matt Bradley for the interview and I wish him the best of luck in his current and future ventures.
Michael Luchies is an entrepreneur at heart, avid sports fan, and supporter of entrepreneurship. He has been published on Under30CEO, Yahoo! News, ThinkEntrepreneurship.com, and others. Michael serves as the National Growth and Programs Manager for the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization (CEO).
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