JT Smith is an entrepreneur and has been most of his life. He personally started or helped to start 17 businesses by age 40. He has at least one partner for each business he’s currently running and usually goes into business with people he’s known for a long time. By doing this, he is very familiar with his partners and has a good idea of what skills they have. Then he knows who can help him in areas where he may be lacking.
With his current businesses, JT’s role is to look to the future and determine how to help his business grow. This includes networking, building technology, and collaborating with artists.
“If you’re going to be successful in business, you have to be willing to take on whatever comes at you. You have to learn whatever it is. It might be that you just learn enough to realize that you’re not going to be able to do that thing and then you need to figure out how to find someone to do that thing.”
JT says that if you’re starting an organic business, you have to be able to learn quickly. You must be willing and ready to take on whatever comes your way. He says you can’t just focus on a niche aspect of your business when the organization is in its infancy.
JT goes to the web to learn. He recommends using Google to search things you don’t know. He says to investigate businesses that you want to emulate and copy what they’ve done. He suggests talking to other business owners and learning from them. He also advises having an accountant and a lawyer. He says meetup.com is a good resource for meeting people and recommends the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki to learn how money works.
JT uses his self-motivation to determine what he’s going to do on a particular day.
“If you can put your energy into the thing you’re excited about, you’re going to get a lot more done.”
JT had his biggest professional breakthrough after reading an article about internet trolls. The article ultimately concluded, “don’t feed the trolls.” This message helped him to realize that he was his own worst enemy when it came to customer service where he would effectively troll his own customers. He wasn’t doing it because he was angry or having a bad day, but because he can be very direct, even terse. He’s learned to step back and say, “What is really going on here?” Then he answers a question using only facts and keeps emotion out of his response.
One of JT’s biggest career mistakes was not making sure all of his employees’ needs were being met. He also didn’t have systems in place to realize why things were breaking down during a very difficult time that nearly bankrupted him.
When asked how he knows when to act, JT responded that he almost always acts immediately.
“You need to act quickly if you want to get things done or you want to get the right stuff.”
JT defines success by hitting an objective that was set and by being proud of what he’s done. He also wants to be known as a guy that gets things done. He attributes his success to drive and ambition. JT realizes that he needs to know his limitations and find ways to overcome them.
“Find a way that your business can operate regardless of whether or not you’re there. That way you have the time to grow your business.”