Matt Gillin knows in his gut when he is making the correct decision.
“You know when you are right,” says Gillin, co-founder, president and CEO of Ecount Inc.
“You may not have any evidence to support it, but you know you are right. You have to follow that with no fear of the consequence because your gut is telling you you are right. Trust your instincts.”
Gillin has followed his gut to take Ecount, a 95-employee company that provides programs for corporations to deliver electronic payments, to annual revenue of more than $25 million. Smart Business spoke with Gillin about how to face obstacles, find opportunities and communicate change.
Q: How do you overcome challenges?
There’s nothing more fun than a challenge. I said to a guy the other day, ‘Careers are made in a crisis.’ When we have a major challenge, I try to get as much of the facts as I can.
You tend to get emotional at first. You want to get past the emotions and get as many of the facts as you can. Then, I do my best thinking at night. I’ll take a bunch of notes and think through a bunch of scenarios.
I’ll bring in a few of my management team members individually and ask them what they think. Then I’ll bring them in collectively and form a strategy. It’s being in-the-know.
Once I’ve gone through that process, I tend to feel in my gut this is the strategy, and I trust it and execute it.
Q: How you find opportunities?
You have to have people that can spot them. I have an uncle that can drive by a house and say, ‘Wow, what a bargain.’ And someone else will say, ‘It’s a dump.’
You need to have people on your team that have that gift. Then they need not only to be able to see it, but have the ability to communicate it. Then you have to make sure you have a culture that allows the time to listen, to do some heavy analysis and then a culture that makes decisions quickly.
Q: How do your recover from mistakes?
If you are going to fail, you have to fail quick, try to mitigate and learn as quickly as you can. We talk about being a learning organization.
I was teaching my 5-year-old how to swim this summer, and it wasn’t until he was willing to put his head under, and I was willing to let him go under and see the panic on his face, that he started learning.
Q: How do you communicate change?
Our business evolves daily, and it’s evolving based on the decisions and input of our people. We are in the flow. I think that is the next generation of business.
You set yourself up with systems and people that allow you to change and evolve on a daily basis, so there is no need for massive change communication.
Start with people that are comfortable with taking action, believing in their decisions and knowing how to deal with the consequences. Put a culture in place that allows mistakes and encourage rapid feedback and learning.
Then you have to have the systems that support it. You need to have the data. A lot of times you don’t even know you’ve made a mistake. You need to know the impact of your decisions and have the systems in place to provide that feedback.
Q: How do you make decisions?
Most of these guys, they are all empowered to make their own decision. It’s really up to them on whether they want to get me involved. If they get me involved, we look at all the variables.
At the end of the day, we don’t do decision by committee. They present the facts, and if it’s something they don’t feel they can make the decision on, then I make the decision, and it’s based on intuition. If the facts lead you to the point where you are at a dilemma, then you make the call the best you can based on the intuition.
Q: How do you get employees to buy in to your message?
I usually present to my team at the beginning of the year. Then we get feedback on it and everyone gets buy-in on it. Then we focus on what their role and responsibility is to helping achieve those goals.
The direction has to have an element of truth to it. If I were pointing in a bad direction, it would be hard to get anyone to buy in to it. Usually, you tend to focus on what you believe in your heart to be true.
You come to that realization through the input of your team throughout the process. By the time you are presenting, it’s almost like, ‘Hey, this is what we agreed to.’
HOW TO REACH: Ecount Inc., (610) 941-4600 or www.ecount.com