Six Tips From a Seasoned Entrepreneur
Paul Reitzin, a Los Angeles Businessman and Entrepreneur, agreed to share lessons learned from his successes, failures and turnarounds as he built, sold and reinvented companies in multiple industries.
I thought his story would resonate with some and inspire many. Founder and CEO of Avenue Six Studios, he has experienced loss and risen again through innovation and finding opportunities in problems repeatedly.
Lesson One: Look for opportunities everywhere and be nimble
Many of his opportunities flowed from seeing a need and capitalizing on it. He has managed this on multiple occasions in a variety of industries.
At the age of 17, following the sale of his fathers business, they partnered to become manufacturers reps selling hardware and cleaning products. Later, deciding to branch out on his own he founded a carpet cleaning business and soon had a fleet of vans and employees throughout Los Angeles. As he ran this business one of his mentors was selling a novel foam flip bed that generated lots of business and soon they too formed a partnership and went into business together selling and manufacturing office furniture.
His current business, a production studio was born out of a situation that could have proved financially disastrous. His vision and creativity lead to repurpose a building he purchased at the economic downturn, following the acquisition of his furniture manufacturing business in 2007. His initial idea of building a furniture showroom became instead, a busy film studio, playing host to numerous celebrity talk, cooking and fitness shows and events.
A little bit of luck, innovation and nimbleness
A creative at heart, Paul produced glossy furniture catalogues on site at his showroom with top of the line photography equipment he purchased. When vendors saw his work, they asked if they could use his space and equipment for their photo shoots too. He also hosted an event in the beautiful showroom and fortuitously he was soon being asked to rent it for other events, photos shoots and film production. Paul’s biggest decisions these days is choosing whether to lock into a longterm contract for a talk show host or risk holding out for higher revenue, shorter film productions that come and go. The studio runs seamlessly and his staff tell him he does not need to be there.
Lesson Two: Manage business decisions and keep personal feelings separate
How many of us have had the moment when we know intuitively that we are not saying what we really need to say because we don’t want to appear unlikeable?
Unfortunately Paul got into an early business with a partner who developed a drug problem putting the business into financial jeopardy. He had to end the partnership and chose a risky move by taking on the financial burden to successfully lead the company out of bankruptcy. What he learned was:
- Don’t be the nice guy, speak your truth
- Be clear and authentic in your communication at the outset
- Have good contracts drawn up outlining terms clearly
- Take a stand and provide the other party an opportunity to learn and grow too.
Lesson Three: Build a strong team of supporters and delegate
He said, “It was challenging to release and delegate to others after being let down and watching everything almost slip away, but it made me wiser and it is true that from every failure you learn”.
I asked him how he released the control. He said,
“You can’t do it all if you want to grow, critical to my success was building and learning to trust a team to support me. It is about people and relationships”.
Lesson Four: Business succession planning should be implemented long before you intend to retire or sell.
At a young age he witnessed his father’s generational business having to be sold off due to poor tax planning, a big blow to his family since he said it involved multiple family members, a lesson here in his words,
“Clearly defining peoples objectives and roles, especially in family business is crucial, make sure you have difficult conversations early on and make a plan, not addressing it will mean planning to fail, and it can be devastating for an entire family’s financial future if not discussed.”
Lesson Five: Do the right thing
Early on in his office furniture manufacturing business, he had been working to get Best Buy to carry his products and finally got their buyer to agree to carrying some magenta and blue computer carts. They agreed to order 10,000 on hand, and in Paul’s words,
“It was a dog, we sold only 3000, though it was potentially detrimental for us to do so, Best Buy asked us to take them back. We did. It was a tough decision and a financial burden to us at the time. Shortly after this episode, Best Buy become a $30m customer, underscoring the importance of doing the right thing”.
Lesson Six: Enjoy this moment now, celebrate your successes
As Paul told his stories, he spoke of the moments today, when he reminisces with his business friends about “the good old days.” He shared, “it is not about the money, it is about the thrill of the chase, the building of strong relationships and having fun”.
This reminded me to take moments daily to acknowledge and celebrate the wins as I have them and enjoy them moment by moment, I hope you will too.
For more information on Avenue Six Studios go to www.avenuesixstudios.com.