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Unveiling the Entrepreneurial Journey: Insights from Michael Driedger on Business Building


Welcome to this week's exciting session of our Think Tank! This time, we have the privilege of hosting a remarkable guest, Michael Driedger, a successful entrepreneur, who will share his invaluable insights on building a successful business. Michael's journey is truly inspiring, as he has managed to start not just one, but five businesses, all without a formal business degree. One of the key takeaways from Michael's experience:

“Life doesn’t prepare you for running a business, neither will school” — Michael

He advocates for building a business, not just an idea. His philosophy revolves around working backward from generating revenue, rather than getting lost in elaborate business plans. Get ready to be inspired and gain valuable knowledge from Michael as we explore the fascinating world of entrepreneurship, revenue generation, and scaling businesses!



 


As Michael reminds us, "Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face," quoting the famous boxer Mike Tyson. This highlights the importance of adaptability and the need to constantly reassess and refine your strategies, especially when it comes to pricing your products or services. Michael emphasizes that pricing should never be a static element and encourages entrepreneurs to continuously evaluate whether their service fees or product costs are too high or too low.


Michael shares his experiences and lessons with three of his successful ventures:

1. Edge Sustainability Consulting:

Michael's entrepreneurial path began with Edge Sustainability Consulting, a firm focused on sustainability consulting services. What makes this venture unique is the way Michael approached it. He started by working individually as a client, gaining firsthand experience and knowledge. With each project, he honed his expertise, gradually building a reputation. This exemplifies his "work backward" approach, where he started with a contract, then a website, and eventually transformed it into a thriving business.


2. Operto Guest Technologies:

While juggling Edge Sustainability Consulting, Michael embarked on another ambitious endeavor: Operto Guest Technologies. This venture aimed to revolutionize the hospitality industry through the development of an automated software solution. Operto's innovative system streamlined hotel operations by managing thermostats as guests entered and exited their rooms. By identifying a pain point in the market and providing a solution, Michael successfully created a product that brought value to customers.


3. Airiest Technologies:

Recognizing the growing importance of air quality, Michael ventured into the realm of environmental monitoring with Airiest Technologies. This business focuses on monitoring air quality in buildings, providing clients with invaluable insights and solutions. What sets this venture apart is Michael's customer-centric approach. Instead of starting with a website or marketing campaign, he reached out directly to potential clients to understand their needs and validate the concept.

 

Michael then enlightens us on the next crucial step in business growth: scaling.

Replacing Yourself and Your Product

As businesses grow, entrepreneurs often face the dilemma of replacing themselves to focus on strategic initiatives. Michael sheds light on the challenges associated with this transition and provides valuable insights on how to navigate this crucial stage.

  • He discusses the concept of "key man dependency," emphasizing the need to build strong teams and delegate responsibilities effectively.

  • In addition, valuing a Software as a Service (SaaS) business is a crucial step for investors, entrepreneurs, and stakeholders. One commonly used method for this purpose is the 10-100x Gross Revenue rule. By multiplying the gross revenue by a multiple within the given range, a rough estimate of the company's value can be obtained.


The Role of Products, Salespeople, and Company Culture:

In any scaling endeavour, the interplay between products, salespeople, and company culture plays an essential role.

  • Michael discusses how a well-defined product strategy, encompassing product-market fit, innovation, and continuous improvement, serves as a foundation for successful scaling.

  • Additionally, he emphasizes the irreplaceable role of salespeople in driving business growth, debunking the myth that AI can entirely replace human sales interactions. As he said: “Never treat your client as an audience.”


 



In conclusion...

Michael's entrepreneurial journey imparts important lessons for aspiring entrepreneurs. He highlights the inadequacy of traditional education in preparing individuals for the realities of running a business, stressing the value of hands-on experience. Working backwards from revenue and continuously evaluating pricing are crucial for sustainable growth. Michael's ventures, such as Edge Sustainability Consulting, Operto Guest Technologies, and Airiest Technologies, exemplify the significance of customer-centricity and the power of working backwards. Scaling a business requires addressing "key man dependency," leveraging SaaS business models, and focusing on products, salespeople, and company culture. Human interaction remains indispensable, as AI can never fully replace the personal touch in sales. Customer discovery and exceptional customer service are paramount. By embracing these key lessons, entrepreneurs can pave their own paths to success in the dynamic world of business.





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