Mentors’ Monday: Mike Gomez
Mike Gomez is a business consultant with experience far beyond advising startup companies. Enjoy today’s Mentors’ Monday!
RC: What field do you work in?
MG: I am a business consultant. Specifically, I like to brand myself as a growth consultant. I work with privately held companies, both established and startup, and help them to create and achieve aggressive growth goals.
RC: What do you enjoy most about your field?
MG: I get to work with owners from a wide spectrum of businesses and from high tech software startups to brick and mortar manufacturing companies that have been around for years.
RC: How do you think starting founders could benefit from your experience?
MG: The lessons learned from both my direct experience as an engineer, military officer, pilot, program manager and international sales executive for the largest aerospace firms in America (McDonnell Douglas, Boeing, and Lockheed) and indirect experience from working with a wide spectrum of businesses in the eleven years I have been consulting. My direst sales experience came from leading numerous international sales campaigns of military fighter jets to our foreign allies. We competed against the French, Russians and the UK. Though at first glance it might be hard to relate to something that large, the fact is the fundamental sales process that I followed and now teach is exactly the same that one would use to sell a software solution or a widget.
RC: What encouraged you to become a business consultant?
MG: I left the corporate world because travelling as much as I did for business became a pain and dealing with the bureaucracy typically found inside large corporations was eating away at my enthusiasm. But throughout my travels and exposure to companies around the world I was always fascinate by how dramatically different privately held businesses conducted themselves compared to public corporations. For example, one would always expect large corporations like Coca-Cola and Boeing to have a three year strategic plan and a more tactical one year plan from which to judge progress. Unfortunately that discipline is lost with most privately held businesses. In fact well over 90% of these companies operate without any sort of written plan. It was these observations that compelled me to start Allegro Consulting. I knew that if I could bring some of the disciplines and better processes used in large corporations to my private business clients, without the bureaucracy of course, I could dramatically improve their success. Growing my first client’s business from $8M to $35M in 3 years verified this.
RC: Why do you think private companies skip the planning step?
I am convinced the reason large corporations are so diligent about having both a long and short range plan is because they have board of directors and shareholders who hold them accountable to produce these plans annually. That is why I am a big advocate of companies having an independent (not friends and family) board of directors and/or board of advisors who hold the owner accountable for running the business properly – which includes having a published, well vetted plan.
RC: What is the first piece of advice you would give someone founding their own company?
MG: Growth doesn’t occur because you wish it or that you work harder than the other guy or even that you have a better product. Growth comes from a well thought out plan that takes advantages of your strengths, addresses weakness, exploits market opportunities and counters threats. With a good plan in place success then comes from disciplined execution.
RC: Have you mentored people in the FourAthens space?
MG: Yes. I visit once a month for half a day. I have an open door policy for anyone who wants to come in and get advice or use me as a sounding board.
RC: What interested you in becoming a mentor at Four Athens?
MG: This is a way for me to give back. I can look back on my career and remember those who provided tough love (told me what I needed to hear versus what I wanted to hear) and as a result shaped the business person I am today. I am confident I now have the experience to shape others the same way my mentors helped me.
RC: What is the most important part of a mentor’s role?
MG: Listen carefully, give practical tailored advice, and don’t hesitate to deliver that “tough love” when necessary because we aren’t cheerleaders. I am a judge for the Next Top Entrepreneur Competition at UGA. Someone tweeted during last year’s competition “Here comes Simon Cowell” when I walked in. I kind of like that reputation. My job as a mentor is not to make you necessarily feel good; my job is to help you grow your business and I take that quite seriously.
RC: What makes for a good mentee?
MG: Listening, acting upon the advice given, and then giving equally candid feedback to the mentor about the results.
RC: How do you think we can encourage more mentors like you to give their time?
MG: Advertise. Now I am not talking about placing an ad in the local paper. Use tools like Twitter and LinkedIn to inform the social and business community of your needs. But before you do this be clear about what you are looking for. What gaps in expertise and experience are you looking to fill? What qualifications does this person need to have? Write it down. Publish it. Then ask your network if they know of someone with those credentials who wants to take part in helping the Athens start-up community thrive.