Gut check

Eric Hoffman enjoys his job. The CEO
of QuantaPoint Inc., which uses laser
scanning technology to digitize structures to eliminate project defects, loves
coming to work each day and doesn’t mind
getting calls in the middle of the night to
solve a problem.

Hoffman has also enjoyed watching the
company grow over the years and seeing
his 55 employees grow personally and professionally.

Smart Business spoke with
Hoffman about how enjoying your
job helps a company grow and

Q: What are the keys to growing a

People, because as you grow,
you’ve got to grow the people
quickly. It’s more than hiring new
people, but the people you have
need to be promoted into new
positions and increase their management skills and knowledge.

Their personal growth has to
keep up with the corporate growth.
If you don’t have the right people at
the right time when you need them,
growth plans fall apart quickly.

The second is cash flow and
managing cash. If I grew my business 1,000 percent a year, if cash
collections in available cash
don’t keep up with that, the business runs out of steam quickly.

Have a plan of what the growth
is for. Growth for growth’s sake
is not a good thing. Have an
objective in mind, a strategic
vision. There are a lot of different reasons
for growth, and a key is clearly figuring out
with your management team what your
goals are in terms of growth so that everyone’s on the same page and running in the
same direction.

Q: How do you manage cash flow?

Don’t spend more than you have, and
don’t let your eyes be too big. Sometimes,
you have to put off things you’d like to do
to grow because you may not be able to
afford it.

Pick a growth rate you can manage, whether by raising money or off of internal
cash flow. It requires good financial controls, which may sound inconsistent to
some with growth, but that’s the sign of a
sloppy CEO. Sometimes, the best way to
grow is to have good financial controls.

Plan things thoroughly, understand
where you’re going to spend your money to
get the best buck for it, and make some
hard decisions.

Q: How do you plan for growth and set
goals for growth?

Decide who you’re supposed to be in the
world, what the company is about and
stick to that. Keep reminding yourself of
who you’re going to be, at least in the short
term. And have a reasonably good idea of
who you want to be in the long term.

If you’ve got it pegged out too good, you
probably don’t have that much imagination,
but you’ve got to know the direction of it.

You have to be fairly honest with yourself, decide what that answer is going to be for you, and build a plan around that goal
set. The plan is about the objectives and
the strategies and tactics to achieve those

Q: How do you determine what your company is about?

It’s one the hardest things that you have
to do; it can take years. It’s sometimes
those who have been with the business the
longest understanding why you’re
there in the first place. A lot of it is
gut check. Look inside and say,
‘What do I enjoy doing for a living?’
If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing,
then you shouldn’t be doing it
because you will just sour the company for everybody.

Ask basic questions. What am I
good at? What can I make money at?
What am I passionate about? Where
those three intersect, that’s what you
should be doing.

You better be good at it, passionate
about it and able to make money
doing it. If you don’t have all three,
then you haven’t found the spot. Once
you find the spot, build your plan
around it.

Q: What advice would you give to
other leaders to grow their companies?

Sit down and understand what you’re
about to do because it needs to be
something that you enjoy doing. It can’t
be a job; it’s got to be a lifestyle because
it affects everything you do in your life.
It affects your family, the people around
you and your hobbies.

I don’t think there is a day that I’m not
on call somewhere. My wife has gotten to
the point where she doesn’t mind it, either,
because it makes me happy, and she’s been
included in the process. It defines our

If you don’t have that kind of support network, and if you’re not ready for that kind
of lifestyle, then jumping into a high-growth situation is probably going to be an
uncomfortable, depressing experience,
which then your employees are going to
hate because you’re going to project that.

HOW TO REACH: QuantaPoint Inc., (412) 653-0100 or