Turning an Addiction into a Dream Job

Brad Stevens is an EO Atlanta member, Chair of that chapter’s Accelerator program, and founder and CEO of Entreholic, which helps companies identify and implement innovative growth and execution strategies. We asked Brad about his history as an entrepreneur, below.

In part 2 of this article, he explains how he helped grow EO Atlanta’s Accelerator program.

When did you first realize you were an entrepreneur?

In third grade, I saw an opportunity and grew it into my first entrepreneurial experience. It was 1985 and micro machines—tiny toy cars—were a big hit with kids my age. I amassed quite a collection and decided that I could use my growing inventory to start a rental company. I “hired” a friend as my vice president of marketing and we rented my micro machines to classmates for a penny per night. To market our newly minted business, we created a company newsletter, frequent shopper reward cards and even promotional brochures! It was a surprisingly thriving business, until one sad day when the teacher shut down our entire operation. I was “smuggling” products into class in my parents’ leftover Crown Royal bags, so that may have been a factor. However, that experience sparked the entrepreneurial spirit within me, and it has never wavered.

To market our newly minted business, we created a company newsletter, frequent shopper reward cards and even promotional brochures! It was a surprisingly thriving business, until one sad day when the teacher shut down our entire operation. I was “smuggling” products into class in my parents’ leftover Crown Royal bags, so that may have been a factor. However, that experience sparked the entrepreneurial spirit within me, and it has never wavered.

I ran a tutoring business in high school, and since graduating from college, starting businesses has been my life’s work. I’ve started or helped build six companies in industries that include professional services, manufacturing, distribution and software. I’ve learned and grown from all of these experiences, which became the genesis for my latest company.

At Entreholic, I get to nourish my most passionate interest: entrepreneurship. We specialize in helping companies and entrepreneurs identify and achieve their potential by introducing innovative, low-cost techniques that most of our clients never knew existed. Like any entrepreneur, I’ve had successes and failures along my journey, but I wouldn’t trade them because each provided a valuable lesson and working through challenges helps us grow.

Joining EO was a huge step in the right direction―having so many talented colleagues who share their experiences has helped me make sound business decisions the first time around versus learning things the hard way as I always did in the past!

“Joining EO was a huge step in the right direction―having so many talented colleagues who share their experiences has helped me make sound business decisions the first time around.”

It sounds like you’re an “entrepreneurs’ entrepreneur,” because you coach others to succeed. How did that become your focus?

While I’ve always loved supporting fellow entrepreneurs by sharing experiences, it’s interesting how this evolved to be the focus of Entreholic. It wasn’t my initial plan.

In building my last business, I became very familiar with “growth hacking.” I was fascinated by the global world of freelancers and super-powerful, cheap technology tools to rapidly grow my company very fast at a fraction of the cost my fellow entrepreneurs were paying. I learned how to leverage my marketing team’s time and budget to 10x their impact. In just one month, we got over US$10,000 worth of digital marketing, graphics, content and sales support for less than US$800. I found a highly effective, very low-cost outbound telemarketing team to conduct lead generation for my sales reps, learned the power of “data scraping” to find highly targeted leads (including my competitor’s entire customer list), discovered how to have a freelancer automate LinkedIn management for my sales reps, plus a lot of other valuable techniques.

“In building my last business, I became very familiar with ‘growth hacking.’ I was fascinated by the global world of freelancers and super-powerful, cheap technology tools to rapidly grow my company very fast at a fraction of the cost.”

The word spread within my EO chapter and the Atlanta business community. I had inadvertently become a “go-to” guy for growth hacking, outsourcing with freelancers and maximizing the latest technology tools. I was surprised that very few people were aware of these strategies―yet everyone wanted to learn them.

So, when I exited my last company in 2015, I knew that educating and supporting other businesses with my “addiction” to these unique and lean entrepreneurial growth techniques would be the focus of Entreholic. We help companies identify and implement innovative growth and execution strategies. Through on-site workshops and consulting, we teach our techniques to businesses at every level: from startups to those with over US$80 million in revenue.

We also recently launched an online resource, Business Action Labs. The impetus behind it is that business owners and their teams don’t have time for long, drawn-out online courses. We’ve taken everything we know about getting high-quality, low-cost work done and broken it down into 15-minute labs by topic, based on what their company needs to accomplish right now. In a guided video walk-through, we show how we did it and provide contact information for a vetted vendor. We’re extremely excited about this offering because there isn’t anything else out there quite like it.

Do you identify as a social entrepreneur?

While I don’t believe I fit the exact definition of the term, I would say my mission is very socially minded in two key ways.

First, an important goal for Business Action Labs is to help 2,000 individuals launch companies within the next two years. Creating companies creates jobs, which is one of the most significant social benefits I can offer to the world.

“Creating companies creates jobs, which is one of the most significant social benefits I can offer to the world.”

Second, a primary target for the online course is non-profits with very limited budgets for marketing campaigns to get the word out about their organization―many of which are focused on solutions that improve people’s lives. My online course shows them how to leverage free or cheap online tools and tap into the talents of freelancers to implement high-quality marketing fast, and at a minimal cost.

In part 2 of our series, which will post Monday 10 July, Brad explains how he used his skills in helping entrepreneurs succeed to transform EO’s Atlanta Accelerator program.

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