Monte Cahn has always been an entrepreneur. He started his first company before he even graduated from college, and in the years since then, he has founded and grown many successful businesses.
“The key is to have initiative, tenacity and drive, and to stay focused,” Cahn says. “If you really believe in something, you continue to do it.”
Today, Cahn is CEO of DomainSystems Inc., a provider of domain name registration, management and monetization services, which he founded in 1999. In its first year, it became the first company to sell a domain name for more than $1 million, and it has prospered ever since.
“We just put our nose down and stayed focused on the core things that we started the business by instead of trying to do everything,” Cahn says. “It kept us in business when other people were going out of business.”
DomainSystems’ revenue doubled to $16 million in 2005 from $8 million in 2004, and Cahn says the company is on track to double revenue again this year.
Smart Business spoke with Cahn about how he builds customer relationships and the importance of staying focused on your core business.
How have you grown the company?
We were very early believers in our industry. We were one of the few players that were involved in the industry, so we helped create it.
When you create first-mover advantages, you become known and people come to you for expertise. It was being excellent at what you do, providing great service and support, and staying focused on delivering something that is unique or different in your space, and then people will come to you.
How have you maintained relationships with customers while growing so quickly?
You always weigh your growth and how it affects the organization. We grew a lot faster without expanding our organization in the beginning. You learn from making a couple of mistakes.
You try to build your business both internally and externally. If you have aggressive goals on the inside for revenue and profit and number of customers you want to serve, then you have to match that with a great support staff and great employees around you that are in for the same initiative and same goals and objectives that you are.
It’s matching inside and outside resources to help do that. And you learn a lot. You learn what you could do better. There are things we could have done better. You learn from your mistakes, and then you apply what you’ve learned for the future.
No one ever has a 100 percent perfect business. You always have bumps in the road and wrong turns. The key is getting back on track. Once you do that … then you’re successful.
How do you recognize new business opportunities?
Recognizing and then deciding whether or not you are going to go down that path are two different things.
In our case, I go back to the foundation things that kept us in business and made us successful in the very early days even when things were tough and that is to stay focused and to look at opportunities that are more around our core business offerings instead of looking for things that we don’t specialize in.
What advice would you give to other CEOs?
Make sure that they understand and know who their customer base is. You have to have the ability to service either one or two niches very, very well, or a broad audience pretty good in order to be successful.
You have to always ask for feedback on how you’re doing as a company and how you are doing individually as a leader, not only with your customers, but also with your employees. My employees aren’t afraid to tell me if I should do something better or do something different, or if I’m not addressing an issue properly. I take that feedback and it is very valuable to me.
Remain focused on your core business and what you’re intending to do from the very start. You can certainly change and adapt your business with the environment and with the times.
But unless it’s absolutely necessary, don’t take your business completely off course because there is some new widget or gadget or opportunity without fully understanding the risk and reward for going down that path when you started down one path, because it’s very hard to turn back around and start again.
HOW TO REACH: DomainSystems Inc., (800) 841-7686 or www.domainsystems.com