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Get on the FastTrack With These Words of Wisdom

FastTrack Awards
FastTrack Awards
Congratulations to the Ann Arbor SPARK FastTrack award winners! As a past winner, I can attest to the hard work, determination, and amount of coffee that's necessary to join their ranks. What can we learn from these winners?

Let's imagine you're launching a new business. You can start with a great idea, read all the business advice books on the shelves, write an amazing business plan, research your market, and then start running. But what if you had access to a powerhouse group of over-achievers to give you advice before you open your doors? Could they give you the recipe for the "secret sauce" of creating a strong, high-growth company?

Just listen to what some of the winners of this year's FastTrack awards would tell you about creating a business that can sustain success over the long haul. Think of them as your personal advisory board with incredible wisdom to share.

Location, location, location.
"We have a culture here in Michigan and Ann Arbor that people understand. It's a Midwest work ethic and work culture. Plus, we can leverage all of the IT skills out of U of M and EMU." – Mike Klein, Online Tech

Get strategic.
"Have a vision and figure out how to achieve it with a strong team. Know who you are and what you want. Be ready to continuously improve and innovate." – Marisa Smith, The Whole Brain Group, LLC

Invest in your employees.
"We value the growth of our employees by investing in them the way we invest in equipment. They are our biggest asset. They need to grow and not be stagnant." – Dianne Marsh, SRT Solutions

Serve your customer well.
"Being fanatical about serving our customer is where it starts and ends. You have to be completely and utterly customer-centered. That's the number one tenet for success." – Peter Orr, MedHub, Inc.

Word hard, really hard.
"You have to watch over every aspect of your company. Stay on top of the details. Put everything you have into it and keep grinding away as hard as you can." – Brian Sciakitano, Estrakon, Inc.

Focus on customer success.
"Our philosophy has been making every customer a highly willing reference. Treat every customer as if your business depended on it. We over deliver and make the customer successful. That way they'll be more likely to go out of the way to refer us." – Toby Brzoznowski, LLamasoft, Inc.

Get in front of your customer.
"We just opened two sales offices. We need to develop personal relationships. If you want that, you have to have a face where they are." – Joseph Formicola, Caelynx

Keep your eyes open.
"Growth can also lead to failure. You need to grow your company at a rate of speed at which you can still keep track of the details. Have systems in place that check and balance each other." – Stewart W. Beal, Beal Inc. & Beal Properties, LLC

Don't conduct business in isolation.
"We don't keep our secrets to ourselves. We have started and participated in numerous tech groups. It's important to help others." – Dave Koziol, Arbormoon Software, Inc.

Growing your company requires giving attention to all of these elements, and much more. But perhaps the most important advice of all is this; don't get discouraged. Just keep moving…you're on the FastTrack!

Debra Power is the president of Power Marketing Research.

FastTrack award winners photo by Doug Coombe

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