In order to play the game, you’ve got to know the rules, so they say. It seems as though entrepreneur Carl Guidice has got it all figured out. He started working at a very young age as a dishwasher where he gained a bit of insight as to how the game is played. With lessons learned, Carl attended the University of Virginia with a major in finance and economics.
Carl had his first job in Florida as a financial analyst. His experience taught him how to measure and keep score for companies from a financial perspective. He measured the value of a company’s success or failure. He knew how to manage cash and financials. Through all of his experience, he concluded that the only way to make money in the industry was to be on the operations end of finance.
Harnessing guile and ingenuity, he worked a variety of jobs, even taking pay cuts to accomplish his goal. By the time he was in his late twenties, he was working operations in the financial industry. However, it did not take him long to gain the insight that he was not making the money he wanted. He would not unless he was the CEO of his own company. His new goal was set to accomplish that task by age 40.
Armed with shrewd business savvy and determination Carl Guidice partnered with private equity partners to create a business venture that would prove to be an instant cash-flow Human Resources Management business. He reached his goal of becoming CEO of his own company in his early 40’s. The business was sold twelve years later for ten times the amount of his original investment to a Fortune 100 company. He signed a five-year non-compete agreement.
Now in semi-retirement, Carl and his wife travel the world joyfully awaiting the expiration date of the non-compete agreement. His radar is set and focused on reuniting the “band” to engage in the same, but new enterprise.
How did you get started In Human Resource Management? What inspired you to do so?
My first job in school I was a dishwasher. I was the first to come in and the last to leave. I watched the waiters come in after me and leave before me. I knew they made more money than I did. I realized very quickly that there is a way to do things. Working smarter gets you to where you want to be quicker. I became a waiter. I applied the same principals in accounting. I learned to make more money you had to be on the operations side of the business. You have to work the business, not just keep score. I was in Human Resources. It is a difficult necessity for any small business. It is difficult to manage. I became the company to go to for Human Resources management. My company offered management, legal, payroll, or workmen’s compensation.
How does your firm make money?
You make money by having an ownership position. As long as you are working for someone else, you are not making money. You’re making money for somebody else. Equity is the path to making money.
How long did it take for your firm to become profitable?
The business that I am in now, is a quick turnaround business. It is a cash flow rich business. We were profitable almost instantaneously. We never lost money.
When you first started out did you ever doubt that this would work for you? If so, how did you handle it?
Absolutely, I had a doubt. I believe that failure is part of the chemistry to success. There were many times I was not sure if the business would work. I had many sleepless nights. I remember praying that things would work out. Sometimes they worked out sometimes they did not. The key to success is not giving up. You have to persevere. Everyone doesn’t win all of the time. You have to realize that when you fall off the horse, you have to get back on.
How did you find your first customer?
I bought my first customer. I bought a company who already had a book of business. I didn’t want to have to start from scratch. I use to go out and meet with customers to build relationships, even as CEO. It made me really appreciate how important our salespeople were. I trained all of my staff to support the sales staff. Everyone had to carry sales guns. Everyone had to participate in sales. Sales are the engine that drives everything.
What is one marketing strategy other than referrals that you use to generate new business?
We use telemarketing. We actually have a group of people who make calls on behalf of our salespeople. We also take our data to define the clients that we did business with in the past. We find which SIC codes and geography to determine the kinds of clients best suit our business model. We provide that research as leads for our sales staff. We don’t want our salespeople to waste their time on unproductive leads.
What is the toughest decision that you have had to make in the past few months?
There are not too many tough decisions you have to make when you’re in retirement for a couple of years. The toughest decision we have to make now is where to go to dinner and should we let our daughter borrow the car.
What do you think makes you successful?
The primary thing that makes me successful is that I am an optimist. I constantly see the possibility of success and I am probably too stupid to know that I can not do things. As a result, I embark on things that many people would probably be afraid of or simply not take on because others told them they couldn’t. I am fearless and I fake it until I make it.
What has been your most satisfying moment since opening your own firm?
My most satisfying moment in business is watching my people mature and begin to show good judgment and make good decisions. When they come into my office with a problem, nine times out of ten they would have the answer. It gave me great joy to know that I can impart my knowledge on them and they were able to successfully run the company even in my absence.
What is a recent purchase that you have made for your business?
I purchased Lead. Lead allows businesses to have access to a database of virtually all businesses in the United States along with the attributes of every company. It is valuable data that we were about to refine and turn into sales for the company.
What does the future hold for you and your firm? What are you most excited about?
We sold the business to PayChecks. We no longer own it anymore, we are the custodians of the business. We are still under a non-compete agreement for the next three years. So for now, we are enjoying a semi-retirement phase. However, in the future, we will reassemble the band and do it all over again in the next three years. We truly enjoy working with each other. We have the formula for success. We have done the same successful business three times already. It gets easier when you’ve done it before. We are looking forward to doing it again in three years.
What books have inspired you that would you recommend?
Good to Great by Jim Collins. It is a corporate strategy book. I gave my senior team as required reading. It contains some monumental insights. Acquiring and keeping talent is monumental to your success. There are a number of ways to run a business. You can be a fox or a hedgehog. You should read the book.