Setting a Foundation for Growth
Version One Labs
“Don’t work with Brad or join a Mastermind group because you want to grow your business. Do it because you want to be a better business owner.”
Version One Labs is a consulting software house that acts as a trusted software and technology counterpart to non-technical founders and industry-specific businesses. They develop all kinds of internal, custom-fit software – from employee apps to data dashboards; help businesses automate cumbersome processes; and build products for early-stage start-ups. Their motto? “Bring us the problem, and we’ll find a solution!”
How did you and Brad start working together?
Brad and I are part of the same Slack group for tech leaders. He’s pretty active on the channel – answering questions and offering advice. At some point, Brad reached out and introduced himself. He shared a little bit about his business and mentioned the Mastermind group. We ended up hopping on a call, and a month later, I joined a Mastermind.
What issues were you hoping to tackle as part of your work in the Mastermind group?
I was still a relatively new business owner when I joined the Mastermind. I was only in my first or second year, and things were going well; my consultancy was growing.
But, running a business can be a lonely endeavor – you might share some of your struggles with a partner, maybe a friend or two, but very few people can truly empathize with you.
So, it was less that I was looking for help with specific issues and more that I wanted to be around and learn from fellow business owners. My goal? Through osmosis, learn from people like me but a step or two or three ahead of me. I needed some camaraderie to keep me going (and that’s what I found).
What was one of your favorite things about Mastermind?
Accountability. Knowing that every other week, you’re going to meet with a group of people, and they’re going to check in with you about that thing you said you’d do. As a business owner, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day grind; having a group of peers hold you accountable is tremendously helpful.
I also grew to love the diversity of perspectives in our group. Almost all the other businesses were completely different than mine. At first, I wished for more similarity, but over time, I realized that the range of perspectives and experiences was a really good thing. To put it in programming terms: initially, I thought the range of businesses was a bug, but later I realized it was a feature. We had so much to learn from each other.
What’s different at Version One Labs because of your work with Brad?
Two things immediately come to mind. First, Brad gave me the permission I needed to stop doing work I didn’t enjoy. Early on in my business, I sometimes found myself working with a type of client or business that I really didn’t like. I felt guilty turning down the work – am I hanging up my boots on this type of client too soon? Am I making a mistake?
Brad said you’re the business owner; if these aren’t the types of businesses you want to work with, let’s find the audiences that excite you. He helped me see that if I’m doing work I don’t enjoy, my business won’t succeed or provide the lifestyle I seek.
Second, working with Brad and the Mastermind helped me think bigger. In our work together, I sometimes asked how other owners were doing something different or better than me. Those stories and how Brad placed them into my context inspired me to think outside my own perspective – to think bigger.
How would you describe Anchor Advisors to a colleague?
Working with Brad and the Mastermind group is about helping you understand how you function as a business owner – how are you getting in your own way? What are your strengths? And, how can you do a better job of playing to those strengths?
Don’t work with Brad or join a Mastermind group because you want to grow your business. Do it because you want to be a better business owner. Your attitude over the long run and how you operate as an owner is more important than any tactical advice you could get. As your business grows, the challenges you encounter are going to change, but you are the same person. So, the business advice you got in the past isn’t going to work in each new situation – it’s how you respond that matters.
What would you say if you had to describe Brad in just three words?
Wise, personable, empathetic. Wise – he brings rich perspectives from both business and life to his work. Personable – his style and warmth make it easy to “open up.” And, empathetic – you never feel judged.