Erich Squire is a seasoned business consultant and entrepreneur in the Louisville, Kentucky, community. An independent consultant since 2017, Squire utilizes his extensive, firsthand experience and training in finance to provide a variety of analytic and strategic solutions, from qualitative to quantitative, to businesses of all sizes. With decades of experience in financial analysis, data analysis, business plan creation and review, modeling, forecasting, financial modeling, actuarial analysis and change management, Squire aims to help clients overcome HR and financial challenges while achieving short- and long-term business objectives.
Prior to his present role, Squire worked his entire career in the field of finance, including a nine-year tenure at Century Aluminum in Greater Chicago. During his time at Century Aluminum, Squire worked his way up from Human Resources Specialist to the firm’s Senior Vice President role, where he oversaw the firm’s corporate development, investor relations, financial reporting, rsk management, FP&A, shared servcies, and credit. Before joining Century, Squire served as actuarial manager at PwC.
Squire received his Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics at Indiana University-Northwest, and his MBA at the University of Louisville. As a graduate student, Squire was integral in the early stage planning process for Cuddle Clones, a custom toy and merchandise company named to the Louisville Business Magazine’s Fast 500 list on several occasions. Squire continues to serve as the firm’s Director of Operations.
Squire currently resides with his two children in Portage, Indiana. In his free time, he enjoys music, skiing, swimming, and giving back to his local community.
How did you get started in this business?
I had a unique consulting background and a strong desire to work for myself. I loved the diversity of experience and fast-paced nature of client service at PwC. At the same time, as I spent time client-side with Century Aluminum, and then consulting for smaller businesses for former colleagues from business school, I really fell in love with small and medium businesses. I love the passion, hands-on attitude, and constant focus on value-add that are required for consulting with SMBs. They are the lifeblood of our economy and where entrepreneurship thrives.
How do you make money?
In short, by doing a great job consulting for my clients. I make money, when my clients make money. I also have received some incredible referrals based upon the results I have helped them to achieve. The strategies implemented help people and organizations to grow both their top-line revenue and reduce expenses so that their net % increases as well.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
It took me three months. When I made the leap from the corporate world, I already had my first client lined up. But some of the fixed expenses plus the opportunity cost of ditching a ‘safe’ wage with benefits versus being my own boss. There was a ramp-up to overcome those costs.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
I tried at first to be way too broad. I was so worried about finding enough work to keep busy that I wanted to try to do everything. I overcame it by finding a few anchor clients with which I could build relationships and really focus on my areas of expertise.
How did you get your first customer?
All consulting work comes down to problem-solving and strategy implementation. A colleague of mine knew my goal to eventually go out on my own. They referred me to a firm in need of the special financial skills I possessed and from there it all sped up pretty quickly.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
Outside of my personal network, when I am looking for more clients I have had success attending trade shows for my specific niche. Early on I also had some success at local meet-ups for entrepreneurs.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
To start the year, I deleted all social media from my phone. For me, being very mindful of distraction was key. Purposeful downtime is fine, and necessary sometimes. But it needs to be purposeful and time-bound. I also find that holding myself to a weekly target of work hours is the right balance of productivity and freedom. Daily targets, for me, are too rigid and unreasonable. Life happens. So having a weekly target can give you permission to take personal time while also not losing sight of productivity.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
I try to focus on people and projects that excite me. If I’m passionate about a project, my work quality, motivation, and output will be at its optimal. Busy work and bread-and-butter projects sometimes cannot be avoided. But really lean into your passions, as that’s where your best work will be found.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Focus on execution more than anything. Be nice. Work hard. Be humble. There is a path forward. Trusting in that, while working hard, being nice, and being humble, and you will achieve things that others will say are impossible.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
I am most excited about Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. I think that machine learning will not just revolutionize business, but it will revolutionize our human experience. As we create models of our own minds, we’ll naturally find applications to treating mental health issues, stroke victims, and countless other maladies of the mind.
I think this will change the landscape of business in the same way that computers or the internet have done. At a minimum, market leaders will need to embrace the efficiencies offered by AI. But more so, many market leaders will find themselves completely displaced by fledgling competitors who have AI/ML embedded into their core strategy. Books such as “Prediction Machines” and “Competing in the Age of AI” both articulate the value proposition and risk of inaction.
What business books have inspired you?
I’ve recommended a few already, but one more is “Never Split the Difference”. On the surface, it’s a negotiation book. But ultimately, it’s about how using empathy and transparency can result in outcomes better than either party could have hoped. By maintaining focus on what’s important to you, focusing not on the “how” but instead on the “what”, often your interlocutor will solve your problems for you. When we get too committed to the “how” of achieving our goals, we can leave money on the table, ignore potentially optimal solutions, and overlook things we can “give” to the other party at low cost to us, but high value to them.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I would tell myself to read and really contemplate the book “The Soul of Money”. It really helped me frame and understand my relationship with money, work, and income. The general message is not novel – it’s one of Buddhist philosophy focusing on how seeking the external to address the internal is flawed. But it’s a great treatise in how money in particular plays into this thinking.
Are you willing to be a mentor? If so, how should someone contact you?
Yes. You may contact me on my social media pages below.