Jerry Youngblutt, Principal, Boyden & Youngblutt
firstname.lastname@example.org | 615.866.1978 | b-y.net
- Tell me a little about your business and what inspired you to start the company?
We’ve been in business since 1990. It really starting with us feeling like there was a need in the marketplace, since it seemed most businesses didn’t care about return on investment. I ran into Boyden after I had completed my business degree and already had some experience in the market. People did things in our space, but they didn’t know if they were working – if they were actually making the businesses money – nobody asked the question “Are we actually helping somebody?”. I didn’t want to be on the art side of things, because I love art and once you start doing it as a business it isn’t always fun anymore, so Boyden took the art side and I took the strategic business side. If I’m a stock broker and you bring me money, and I can’t tell you if you’re making any money, you’re not going to be in business anymore. We operate in a way that measures how we are benefiting the business.
- Why did you pick Williamson County?
In order to grow the business (we had filled the current marketplace – Fort Wayne), we had to look at different markets to grow into, and I was the one who was mobile. I looked at Austin, Nashville, and Tampa. Tampa was the most accessible, I already had connections there, but they weren’t quite ready – the businesses I talked to weren’t killing it. It was between Austin and Nashville, and I just really love the culture and business climate here. After picking Nashville I realized the difficulty of the housing climate as well as finding office space. That’s good and bad, but mostly, it means the market is great. You read the paper here and it’s common to see 1,500 new jobs, I was used to a big headline being 50 new jobs in Indiana. It’s just a different climate. We’ve always been in it for the long haul. The culture shift of moving to a Chicago just didn’t fit our business model. We’re all about building relationships that last decades, and we’ve had the same clients for 10-20 years. In those big cities there’s less happening relationally.
- What have been the strengths of operating out of Williamson County?
The Chambers here blew me away, we joined Williamson, Inc., Nashville Chamber and the BBB. The kindness and willingness to help caught me off guard. In the north we always got the impression that they were doing us a huge favor by talking to us. Here it’s the opposite – the first thing out of both Williamson, Inc. and the Nashville Chamber’s mouth was “we’re here for you to help your business grow – what can we do for you?” It’s such an unbelievable thing, and you guys have like 200 events combined. That’s incredible. You get to pick and choose what you go to and there’s tons of networking.
- Talk about your experience with the entrepreneur culture here.
People with all this varying experience move into a place for the culture – when the culture is what’s attracting people, it will just get better, and better, and better because of the diversity of people moving in. Your business is going to stymie when you can’t hire the right people. For our business, the people are who you are, it is your business. If we don’t have the right people it fails.
- How convenient or inconvenient has Williamson been as a geographic location to do business?
I couldn’t find office space in Nashville – it just wasn’t available. So Williamson was close and we went for it. The proximity to Nashville has been great, and hopefully making it there in 20 minutes doesn’t become an impossibility in the near future. I don’t think I would move now. I think, where would my employees work? And where are my vendor partners? My employees want to be able to go into it, and to be able to take it or leave it (the gulch). It’s expensive and things close at the end of the day when the business community leaves. So I take my cues from the employees. We go into downtown Franklin a lot more than we thought we would. The culture just works here.
- What was the biggest challenge to getting started?
Right now we are operating as a semi-satellite operation to our office in Fort Wayne. We certainly hope to grow into a full-fledged operation like we have in Indiana, but until then it’s going to be a support office for them. We’re looking for clients, employees, and consultants (partners). We did a cool thing up there – what you find in our industry is because it’s getting so wide, and each discipline is so complicated, clients want you to have all of it. So we went out and handpicked other businesses to have in our same space, under the premise that if we need to talk to them we can talk to them. Collaboration with your peers is the way it’s going to get done in the future – it’s that simple. To keep your pie from getting splintered off, you have to join forces. That being said there are complications to having operations between 2 locations. We are thinking about having a live Skype feed running constantly between both locations just so we can feel more in touch with what’s going on.
- What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a business or is just getting started?
Wrap yourself in as many quality mentors as you can – and LISTEN. You have to take risks, but they need to be calculated. Get yourself a personal board of directors. Don’t listen to their advice and then make your own decision. There are certain mistakes that you have to make, but there are others that are more costly and just unnecessary to go through. Mentors can help identify those. Know that it is endless hours as an entrepreneur. At the beginning you have to dedicate everything to your business. 12 hour days 7 days a week. Not many people are willing to make that sacrifice, so know before going in that you’re one of the few that are.
- What gives you the most satisfaction related to this work?
To have a really happy customer – and we have a lot of those just because we go above and beyond. We’re becoming more of a think tank – clients come to us with one problem, and we don’t just solve that problem but we also expand out it and see the bigger picture. They come to us with a question, and we think through the different options. People appreciate thoughtfulness and creativity. It’s all about the client. If it turns out solving the problem involves us, great – if not, we tell them. It’s simple, honest consulting. It’s easier to come up with the solution if you’re only worried about the client. It doesn’t work if you’re already thinking about how you’re going to make money when you’re trying to solve the problem. We’re here to help you grow your career and your company – that’s it. We’re a group of people that likes solving problems.
- Anything else you’d like to share?
People ask me how I know how to run a business. I don’t. I know how not to run a business. I make mistakes, I do stupid stuff, but they’re honest mistakes. Things you couldn’t have known. If you’re honest and sincere you eliminate a lot of hurdles that you would otherwise have to jump. Our goal is that when people come through the door we want them to have no idea who the boss is. We hate hierarchy – we just don’t think it has to be that way. Most people aren’t working for a paycheck, they’re working for how they’re respected and how they feel about their worth at the job. You try to empower vs. overpower. Collaboration is the word for me – it’s always been the thing for us internally, but now it’s also between us and the client (more and more).