5 Things Every Entrepreneur Must Do

By: Ryan Coon, CEO of Avail

When I was a freshman at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, studying accounting and finance, I was hired as a summer intern at College Works. My internship taught me the foundation of how to be a good entrepreneur.

Since graduating, I’ve worked for a large investment bank and, more recently, co-founded a company with a fellow U of I graduate, Laurence Jankelow.

Our company, Avail, helps DIY landlords manage their rental properties with the tools, support, and education they need. We launched in 2012 and now have more than 250,000 landlords and tenants using our platform. In this article, I’m going to share my top 5 tips for running a successful business:  

Stay focused

Many companies fail because they lose sight of their goal.

Your company’s objective should be clear and each decision you make for the business should come from a place of furthering your mission. You’ll accomplish more if you stay focused on your goal, rather than distracted by other opportunities along the way.

Staying focused also applies to your personal mindset. Each day is an opportunity to bring your best self to your office: rested and eager to get work done. One key way that I stay focused is using Evernote to organize my to-do list. I cut out “fluff” tasks that are not high priority and make sure I’m completing tasks that will have the largest impact first.


Focus on the customer

At Avail, one of our core values is customer-centricity. We believe improving our customers’ lives is not only the right thing to do, but also helps our business thrive.

Here’s how to stay focused on your customer:

  • Build a product that solves a core problem for your target audience
  • Provide support channels (phone, email, live chat) so they can reach out with questions and concerns
  • Personally reach out to customers when they join your platform to welcome them and answer questions
  • Provide education that helps them learn and grow
  • Send them emails about company updates and new content  
  • Hire an account manager so you’re proactively reaching out to existing customers in a helpful way
  • Continue to iterate on your product to improve what you offer
  • Find ways to innovate so you’re offering even more value to your customers

When you focus on the customer, they’ll stay with you long-term, refer their family and friends, and show other potential customers that they shouldn’t miss out on the amazing benefit you offer.  


Surround yourself with great people


Building a business is a team sport — you need the right players in the game in order to win. As you’re building your team, be sure to hire people who are excited about your mission, bring unique and diverse skills to the table, and are ready to get work done.

More than that, surround yourself with people who do the right thing, bring a great attitude to work, and are people you enjoy being around. You’ll be celebrating the wins together and working hard together when you need to get more done and faster.

At Avail, we recruit top talent and make sure our job postings are posted on top sites, like AngelList. Our hiring process usually goes like this:

  1. We’ll schedule an initial phone call to learn more about a potential hire and discuss the opportunity.
  2. We’ll then schedule an in-person interview where the potential hire will meet with different groups of people in our company.
  3. And last, we’ll provide a task or test so we can gauge performance and skills.

This process is efficient and effective at helping us hire people who are talented and excited to join us.

Do more with less

We’re a midwestern startup with scrappy roots. ‘Doing more with less’ is the mindset that’s gotten us where we are today. We push for more work to get done (and better results) with less capital.

Outwork everyone

To run a successful business, you have to outperform other companies, set the right goals, tackle your to-do list, and hustle.

Beyond the hard work, it also pays off to take feedback from people around you and improve your skills. Even top achievers should be in a constant state of growth, so that work quality, quantity, and speed is always improving.

If you have any questions about running a business, or what we do at Avail, I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me at ryan@avail.co.  

About Avail

Today, 80,000 landlords and 170,000 tenants use Avail because it’s the only end-to-end platform that helps them manage the rental process all in one place. We provide rental listings, rental applications, leases, rent payments, and maintenance tracking — all online. Even better, tenants who use Avail can boost their credit score by paying rent on time with our online rent payments.

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