Navigating entrepreneurship is a daring and often challenging endeavor. One that many guests on The Rundown With Ramon know all too well. One of the things that makes that journey a bit less rocky is leaning on fellow entrepreneurs like Brian Hess. He recently shared his top tips for business owners with Ramon Ray. As the founder of the Pavement Group and Top Contractor School, Brian has a wealth of knowledge to offer. In this article, we’ll delve into the key takeaways from the interview, exploring Brian’s journey, business principles, and advice for entrepreneurs.
Growing up in a blue-collar family in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Hess learned life lessons from his father. A steelworker who instilled in him the values of hard work and perseverance. He took those lessons to heart in 2018 when, at age 38, he made the leap to launch the Pavement Group.
“I had three kids and a wife at home when I made that leap,” Hess recalls, underscoring that it’s never too late to pursue your passions.
Many people put off starting a business because they prefer the security of a job with health insurance or a steady paycheck. Hess reminds us that being in business for yourself can be far more exhilarating. “Most days, I just can’t believe I get paid to do what I do and the people I get to do it with,” he remarks.
Before venturing into entrepreneurship, Hess spent his young adult life in corporate America, climbing the ladder and gaining valuable experience. He ran sales teams for Verizon Wireless, achieving a comfortable income and success.
However, his perspective shifted when an opportunity in the construction industry presented itself, leading him to South Florida. Ultimately, that experience led him to start the Pavement Group. A pavement management company that simplifies pavement maintenance for property portfolios.
“The rest is history,” says Hess. “I learned the business working for people in the construction industry, and at some point, I thought, ‘If I really want to innovate this industry, both on the technology side and the culture side, I’m going to have to blaze my own trail.’ ”
Blaze his own trail, he did. That experience has given him the wisdom to share some fundamental business principles, outlined below. Whether you’re a small startup or a growing enterprise, you can apply these principles to ensure your venture’s success and long-term growth.
When you, as the business owner, have a clear vision for your business — and you’re able to communicate it succinctly to your team — it gives everyone a north star to follow. Hess has followed that principle to build a brand identity that’s stayed consistent even as the company has grown into a multiple eight-figure company.
At The Pavement Group, that vision is to simplify parking lot management for facility and property managers across the country. The goal is simply to get them home to their dinner tables sooner than they would with any other contractor.
Meanwhile, The Pavement Group also has another set of customers: the contractors who complete the work for the company across the country. They need to understand that vision, too.
Lastly, employees also have a clear understanding of the vision. “Our employees, our customers, our contractors, we’re all on the same team trying to accomplish a mission. And that is to improve people’s lives,” Hess says.
2. Focus on Leadership to Build a Culture
Building a successful business requires strong leadership and a positive company culture. This is the foundation of a profitable and fulfilling business. Navigating entrepreneurship, attracting the right people showing them the path to achieve their dreams are essential components.
“When you do that, you attract some incredible people,” Hess says. Even people who enter the company as entry-level employees will get on board with the company’s vision and mission. “They will push the company from the ground up because they have their own dreams that are pushing them to push the company forward.”
When navigating entrepreneurship, building a solid culture is important. It means sharing your message in every way possible, including through digital channels. The more frequently people hear your messaging through various channels, from social media to podcasts, the more they’ll understand who you are and what you represent.
For The Pavement Group, Hess has attracted top talent because they like the culture. “We have people from plenty of successful backgrounds that have left their jobs to come work here because of the culture, because of what they see online, because of all the things that they really desire to have, which is how I felt before I started this business,” Hess explains. “They desire to have that in their life.”
If you’re a small business owner looking to recruit someone into your business and thinking that person wouldn’t want to work for you, start by looking at the message you’re sharing online. The more consistent you are about showing up authentically online, the more you’ll attract the kind of people you want to work with. That’s true whether it’s a job candidate or a potential customer.
According to Hess, digitally duplicating the real-life version of you online — ensuring it’s in perfect alignment with who you are and then distributing that to as many places as possible — will build a great corporate culture in 2023 and beyond. It will make people get behind what you’re doing so much that they take ownership of everything, down to picking up a piece of trash on the floor like a Disney employee would.
No matter what size your business is, the power of community can be invaluable when navigating entrepreneurship. Hess encourages entrepreneurs to seek like-minded individuals when navigating entrepreneurship, as the journey to the top can often feel lonely. That’s the driving principle behind the Top Contractor School, which has grown into a thriving community of over 750 contractors who meet regularly to share experiences and insights and support each other’s growth.
“You are better together than you’ll ever be on your own,” Hess quips. “So when you find a community of like-minded, like-hearted people that share your values, share your principles — connect with those people. They’ll accelerate your ability to get where you’re trying to go.”
Hess’s emphasis on a clear vision, strong leadership, building an online presence, and the power of community resonates across industries. To learn more about Hess and his entrepreneurial pursuits, check out The Pavement Group and Top Contractor School online.