Meditations from our CEO: App Solve’s 4th Anniversary

Posted on October 31, 2018

There’s no manual or education that will equip you for the hustle you’d have to put into starting your company. Long days, sleep deprivation, wavering relationships and emotional turmoil characterized much of the first year of starting my own company. I was lucky in that I had a great network of supportive people, some of whom were (and still are) my competitors in this industry. We entered a lucrative industry that is still in its early stages, a fact that many entrepreneurs know is both a blessing and a curse.

We are in an age where digitization has completely changed the way we live. Some of you are in a business that recognizes how imperative it is to have a strategy to be on the better side of digital disruption. With a rapid increase in demand for cloud computing, many businesses in our industry – small and large companies alike – are facing the challenges that come with exponential growth. Rapid growth puts companies in a position where they must evolve and scale in order to accommodate the pace at which the industry grows. Being in a fast-paced industry means that what I learnt yesterday as a CEO may no longer be applicable tomorrow.

My Experience

There were unique experiences of startup culture that appeared and surprised me. There were times when everything just clicked – when you execute the right decisions at the right time with the right people, there’s an amazing sense of gratification that comes with it. It’s the feeling that with a few adjustments to a situation, you have the power to positively influence an outcome. How do you become attuned to making the right adjustments? I learned to gather as much data as possible to identify problems and opportunities. I learned to surround myself with great people and pick up on their energies so I could readily identify problems and nip them before they have a chance to manifest.

Of course, with the good, comes the bad. My personal life took a toll at times – imbalance defined my life. I was thrown off by how hard it was to adjust, to shut off and to stop working outside of work hours. Looking back, I wish I knew that work-life balance doesn’t come naturally and isn’t something you should ignore. If I had told myself “David, you’re not going to have a real vacation for another 2 years,” I would’ve realized the lifestyle changes that come with starting a and leading a successful company were much more than I thought.

Year 1

In App Solve’s first year, I felt pretty terrified. I spent much of that year solo, developing and implementing my own projects for Salesforce. I eventually hired a couple of contractors and freelancers to help me with operations and small projects, but there was no permanent team. I created a temporary environment and you can surely imagine how hard it was not knowing when my next project would be. Startup culture is often glorified, but I knew it was going to be hard work from the start. But in reality, you can only anticipate so much hard work. It takes twice as much effort and is twice as expensive as you think it is.

Year 2

Transitioning to the second year, it was tough for me in a different way. I experienced a different kind of loneliness. A lot of the people I hired were cycling through, and turnover was quite high, at that time I knew I had to start laying the groundwork for building the foundations of my business. There was no place for band-aid solutions. In an industry where companies like App Solve offer similar services, the key differentiator lays in your people. It’s important that you select employees who are not only good at their jobs but also share the same values as the company has defined.

Year 3

It took me 3 years to realize that I needed to start hiring full-time employees for the company, so it became the primary focus in year 3. Now, this is something I wish I had started WAY earlier, but the best way to learn is by making mistakes. We built an amazing in-house foundational team and I’m so happy with the culture we’ve fostered. We continue adding to it today by focusing on culture fit which is derived through ensuring that each employee shares our Core Values:

  • Trust, Respect and Accountability
  • Integrity
  • Sense of Urgency
  • Innovation
  • Growth

Year 4

Now, having just passed year 4, we’re beginning to really gain an understanding of the importance of being clear on ‘what we do for a living.’ What are the projects and customers that we’re best suited to? And not only that but what are the projects that we want and types of customers we hope to attract and serve? My understanding of the importance of work-life balance has grown, but in addition, how important the intersection of the two is in order to achieve success at both. Although my understanding of this has matured, I’m still mastering putting all my knowledge into practice. An exciting thing for the company is that I have now graduated from the Entrepreneurs Organization’s Accelerator (EOA) program, and into its full Entrepreneurs Organization (EO) membership. This is going to allow us to better understand and deliver on an optimal intersection of personal, community & business. If you haven’t heard of EO, it’s a global organization that is focused on helping entrepreneurs scale their business, and for me, it’s been an unbelievable amount of structure and support that has had huge impacts on me as a person and my business. If you’re an entrepreneur, you should absolutely check out EO, I highly recommend it!

So if you’re reading this right now, and you’re thinking about starting a business the best piece of advice I can give you is to go out there and do it! You can’t get to 2nd base with one foot on first, and if you don’t try it, you’ll always wonder what might have been. I also have to emphasize that you shouldn’t linger too long on making decisions. You’re going to make mistakes (tons of them!) but it’s the best way to learn and there is always a way. You’re either growing or shrinking, so make the decision with all the available info, and move forward to the next!

The last piece of advice I can give is to never sacrifice on hiring the best possible people, they’re everything in your business! There are times when you can’t, but when you can, block out your personal time and ferociously guard it and ensure not to infringe on it with headspace related to the business or worse yet, actually doing work. Not doing this is the fastest way to burn out.

I hope this was valuable to read and please don’t hesitate to reach out to me to share your story or questions you have about App Solve’s success.

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What Our Customers Are Saying

"Great team to work with! App Solve knows their stuff. They helped to get Pardot integrated with Salesforce, and I am excited to see what we can do with it."

Dawn Jones, Director of Marketing | Kraun Electric Inc.

"The App Solve team was very knowledgeable, organized, and worked diligently to set up Salesforce and Pardot within a tight timeframe. We enjoyed working with everyone on the project and appreciated the guidance along the way."

Simon Dealy, CEO | HIRE Technologies

"Experienced partner with good staff. We did our first project with App Solve this past summer. It was implemented professionally and has had a positive impact on our business. The staff are responsive and know their stuff. We will definitely use them again."

Aaron Jones, CEO | Kraun Electric Inc.

"Highly skilled and easy to work with! I’ve been working with App Solve for several years as a Salesforce partner and a software implementor of our platform - Accounting Seed. In my experiences with App Solve, they've been spot on with respect to the Accounting Seed and Salesforce value proposition and I've had countless successful project roll-outs with our mutual customers! Cheers to many more, App Solve!"

Anthony Schermer, Senior Account Executive | Accounting Seed

"A great long term partner. The team at App Solve has helped us implement several strategically valuable modules, custom design, and workflow processes to our org. We have been working with them for four years now. They understand our business needs and help us scope projects appropriately for our requirements and budget. Planning projects is always difficult when we don't understand the complexity of some challenges. They help us navigate appropriately and are reasonable to work with when original plans inevitably end up drifting into something different than first envisioned."

Craig MacAdam, CFO | Lift North America

"App Solve is great to work with, they take the time to understand our business and how best to implement Salesforce solutions to meet our objectives. Very knowledgeable team to work with our company as we rolled out Salesforce across North America to 12 cities, implementing our entire business. It was a pleasure doing business with App Solve. Thank you."

John Chiaramonte, Senior Business Development Executive | Enwave North America LP.

"Exceptional work and customer service! We contracted App Solve to help us with an implementation roadmap project and feasibility study. We were very pleased with the level of service they provided, the clarity of communication, and the attention we received. All our needs were addressed! I strongly recommend App Solve, their level of expertise, and customer service are unparalleled."

Asia Nebesnaia, IT Project Manager | Cox Automotive Canada Company

"Extremely pleased. David and his team have been a dream to work with. They are very responsive and complete projects in a timely manner. They also take the time to thoroughly explain things to a novice Salesforce user. I look forward to working with David in the future!"

Sierra Hayes, Operations Manager | Dream Local Digital

"We worked with the App Solve team to implement Salesforce for our organization, including the main system architecture and setting up the data model needed for our business. They have been a true partner in getting us rolling with Salesforce and have also been of great assistance in tackling smaller projects after the implementation was largely completed."

Gregory Kennedy, Controller | Generis

"Great Group to work with. We have used App Solve a few times and they have been great to work with. They were very knowledgeable and showed a willingness to work with or organization. I will use them for future consultation."

Chris Haase, President | Environmental Products Group

"Fantastic experience working with Pattie & David. Our company recently completed the transition to Lightning with the competent, guiding hand of Pattie. This transition provided us the perfect opportunity to fix an ongoing issue that was caused by a custom-built feature. Pattie & her team took the time to clearly understand the issue and to take the proper steps to fix it. I would highly recommend App Solve to anyone looking to integrate Salesforce into their business."

Lee-Anne Golden, Managing Director | Urban Flats Toronto

"A true partner. The team at App Solve is amazing. We have truly valued their expertise and consider them a partner, helping us maximize our Salesforce experience. They have been lifesavers on more projects than I can count. We look forward to a long and productive relationship. 5 stars all around!"

Kerrie LePage, Director of Marketing and Product Management | Edenred Commuter Benefit Solutions

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