At the start of a business, entrepreneurship is more like working for your business than working on your business. It’s morning, noon and night, filling every role, from seeking capital investment, to marketing, to creating the website.
It seems a universal step toward working on the business rather than for it is stepping back, envisioning the big picture plan, laying out specific goals, and mapping out a step-by-step process to reaching them.
For Rishi Bhanot, founder and president of Bear Environmental, an industrial waste management company, that “stepping back” moment is what has sparked the success he’s had in the first few years of business, allowing him to add a small team and nab a government client — the Ohio Turnpike.
Before that, though, “In the early stages, it was just me,” Bhanot said. “It was me scrounging for capital investment, figure out how to write a business plan, how to establish my entity, get a bank account, get an office, get a client, create a website, get credit for my business, apply for a credit card. It was everything. I started in my kitchen/dining room.”
That was in 2014, when he was simultaneously running a centralized waste treatment facility, EnviroClean Services. Though he’s since left that facility, he’s maintained a good relationship, and Bhanot even does some consulting and managing for them.
In 2016, he brought on his first part-time employee at Bear Environmental, and added another one earlier this year. During this period of steady growth, Bhanot applied for and earned the 2017 Frederick J Yates Memorial Scholarship Minority Business Award, worth $5,000. It is affording him the opportunity to seek training from business leaders at Dartmouth College, in Hanover, NH. To win, a business needs to be between three and five years old and bring in at least $300,000 in annual sales.
Still a growing small business, each of Bear Environmental’s three staff members wears multiple hats, one overseeing projects and marketing efforts, and another running the office and fulfilling the administrative role. As owner, Bhanot continues to work on transitioning from working for Bear Environmental to planning its strategic growth.
For assistance, he joined YMT Consultants’ Entrepreneur Exchange program, funded by SBA ScaleUp America. Through the program, he’s learned how to think bigger and more strategically.
“Personally, there’s just a lot of insecurity there when you first start. Your judgement is just so clouded at that point because you’re just trying to stay alive,” Bhanot said. “The program forces you to do those things like create a business plan, create a mission statement, and really visualize what you want to do.”
They’ve covered all aspects of business, including emotional intelligence, marketing, pricing, sales, HR and hiring. On top of that, working with a network of small business owners has given Bhanot a kind of support group — a place to bring his struggles, failures and successes.
“One of my mentors warned me, entrepreneurship is a lonely place, and I think we all feel that,” Bhanot said. “You don’t feel as alone by being in a room with other entrepreneurs.”
One common struggle among them all: “finding good people and screening those people.”
As he looks to add more staff and delegate more tasks, Bhanot has brought a new interview approach to vetting Bear Environmental applicants, which he learned from a program workshop. When meeting a potential new employee, he asks about their last employer — the name and spelling, their contact information, and how the employee-employer relationship was. Since implementing this strategy, he’s seen how it forces a bit of honesty out of applicants, reveals any spiteful tendencies, and communicates what the interviewee values in management.
As the company grows, Bhanot shared that the program “helped guide me to create a corporate culture as well. Lots of small businesses do not think about a culture they want to have, but this course forced me to do so.”
Overall, Bhanot said he feels more empowered and in control of Bear Environmental.
“It’s no different than getting a personal trainer,” he said. “You can do this on your own, but what if someone has a structured outline of what you need to do?”
For more information, visit bearenv.com.
To take the next step in scaling up your business, visit YourManagementTeam.com/EE to apply and learn more about the Entrepreneur Exchange Program, funded by SBA ScaleUp America.
YMT Consultants is a microbusiness consulting and training firm providing monthly consulting and business development. We help microbusiness owners change their mindset, resulting in greater control of their business, increased revenue and bottom-line, and a strategic growth plan to achieve their “big-picture” vision for them and their business.