Eric Lanz is a consultant in the field of ERP Solutions and Microsoft Dynamics AX.  His professional skill-set and personalized services also include individualized consulting for additional customers and clients (outside of ERP Solutions) in relation to sales and marketing, business valuations, mergers and acquisitions, and various types of website development.

Eric’s vast professional background spans approximately 20-25 years and has also provided him opportunities to work within various manufacturing companies, acting in both financial and operational roles.  Eric Lanz feels he has earned gainful experience in accounting while working for one of the Big 4 Firms.

Eric Lanz and his wife live in Lebanon, Kentucky with their two children.  His extra-curricular time includes being active with and participating in functions for their two kids, coaching the kids’ athletics, and sports in general.

How did you get started in this business?

Initially, I had the interest of moving from the regular 8-5 job, which I ultimately found ending as 12 hour days. Thus I began to realize that not only my business colleagues but others as well sought those various services that I could professionally provide, and they could profit from.  I began with consulting in areas such as IT systems on the side, assisting family members and others with website development, sales, and individual marketing plans.  I felt fortunate for those who began passing my noted skills by word of mouth which added customers and clients.  They needed assistance in how to either sell their current business or purchase a new business.  My business ventures steamrolled from there!

How do you make money? How long did it take for you to become profitable?

I find my primary pay stems from the work I continue to provide with ERP Services. Additionally, any side ventures I specifically chose depended on my after work availability, as well as my expertise in areas like consulting, sales and marketing, website development and any business evaluation pieces.  These all contribute to my income.  I feel that the start-up necessary for the work is fairly quick and with my vested experience in addition to acting as the sole proprietor it’s profitable as long as I carefully plan for the time and materials necessary to complete the job.

When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?

At first I didn’t find I had any doubts that my ventures would prosper, however things might have been slower at certain points than I would have liked.  My security did include knowing that I would continue my other fulltime job of consulting at ERP Solutions.  I tried to be selective with any additional work that I did invest my time in.

How did you get your first customer?

My first customer came through a colleague that I previously worked with. A gentleman and his cohort consulted me about their national business of distribution centers throughout the U.S. and now they were opening yet another new center.  The two gentlemen had upcoming contracts thus invited me to come do a significant amount of outside consulting work, assist them with valuing the inventory and fix their overall operations and process flows.  I found it was just kind of a colleague to colleague network.

What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?

In order to generate new business I believe in the importance of sales marketing and website search engine optimization.  Meaning it’s vital to be creative and smart.  Especially with how you set-up your website and to greatly consider the words in the specific order, for whatever you’re trying to promote or sell, because the internet does care! Google, Yahoo, and Bing’s analytics; they write the algorithms to decipher certain key words therefore I feel it’s necessary to be very smart on how I advertise, whether for myself or my client.

What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?

What to get my wife for Christmas!  I really believe my business is pretty lined out and I know exactly the types of things I am working on, so really nothing is tough to decide.

What do you think it is that makes you successful?

I believe my experience and knowledge span both in an operational and financial background, and with the consulting background it’s a nice mix.  I may come into a location or get a phone call from any one organization that will pay me by the hour, wanting to pick my brain about something they’re doing. I probably do this about once a month. Somebody in some industry says, “Hey Eric, we see you have a background in this and would you mind getting on with our investment group and explain to them how to read a balance sheet or how to handle some challenging aspect?”  My broad mix of experience allows me to be well versed thus able to handle the many different types of scenarios presented to me.

What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?

The most satisfying aspect of my business is realizing the accomplished work I have done compels both clients and customers to reference and recommend me by name to other individuals, at other companies. There is no better form of realizing that I truly do what I feel I’m supposed to be doing, others acknowledge this and utilize that referral network. Having my name passed around to several different colleagues is always key.

I am unsure of what the future holds, yet with the economy and the technological advances, there are many different types of work I can handle and I feel capable. I am most excited about the endless possibilities. Especially since there is a lot of focus on the ERP side with Microsoft Dynamics and some of the business processes and the business transformation type of work I have been doing.  As far as the outside and with ERP consulting pieces, the sky is the limit!

What business books have inspired you?

You can never go wrong with Good to Great, Blue Ocean Strategy, or The Goal. A few years back, I forced this entire team to read a particular guide on management.  I like things that teach, so after thinking for a bit I concluded that there are a lot of people in management positions because they are with a business for a long time, not because anyone has ever trained them on how to manage.  I tend to focus on resources that allow individuals in management or supervisory positions to learn how to function and deal with all types of personalities. Again in today’s corporations people end up in management because they have been there the longest and didn’t leave, not necessarily because they are suited to manage.

What is a recent purchase you have made that’s helped with your business?

I honestly can’t think of anything that I didn’t already have behind the scenes as far as supplies, equipment, references, or necessities therefore I find myself to always be in pretty good shape.

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