Ryan Buckley is Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of Scripted.com. Ryan holds an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management and an MPP from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Still and always a Cal Bear, Ryan graduated from UC Berkeley with degrees in economics and environmental sciences. He likes to dabble in PHP, Python, Ruby, Quickbooks, and whatever else needs to be done at Scripted HQ. Follow him @rbucks.
Who is your hero?
What’s the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
Focus. Early on, in the first iteration of our company, we were building screenwriting software to help screenwriters work their way up in Hollywood. It was a lofty goal. Our first version of the product did everything from writer profiles to contest submissions and screenplay filters for producers.
It was too much. An advisor came down on us and reminded us that on our small budget (we had raised $37,000, which really felt like a lot of money) we couldn’t boil the ocean. Not even close. So we focused on one feature we were most excited about: web-based screenplay editing. Google Docs for screenplays.
That decision allowed us to hit a point where we could pivot off of that business and start Scripted.com. The reminder to focus on one problem has stuck with us, and our investors and new advisors tell us that our focus on the writing vertical is what makes us attractive.
What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?
My biggest mistake was entering a market where my customers were short-term and broke. In retrospect, the business plan competition results were right: you can’t build a business around amateur screenwriters. Our first business model was having them pay subscriptions to use our product. Then we discovered reality and tried to move to a model where studios pay us to access our 100,000 scripts.
Although studios have much deeper pockets, the sales cycle proved far too long and costly. The next pivot, to sell marketing content (not screenplays) to businesses (not studios) was the business decision that worked out.
Lesson learned: Make sure your customers can afford your product and it’s not too hard to sell to them.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
I wake up at 7 a.m. and try very hard not to check email. By 7:30 I’m usually on the couch with my wife and watching Morning Joe (a terrific political morning show) with our coffee. Then I’ll either work from the couch for a bit or go straight to the office.
What’s your best financial or cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
Spend as little as possible so you don’t have to stress about cash on a daily basis. Check your accounts monthly at least and always check your credit card bill for subscriptions you no longer need. Put off paying yourself for as long as possible too. It’ll make you appreciate and respect your business.
Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
Subscribe to Fortune and Inc. And get a smartphone app to make it easy to read the blogs every day.
What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?
When we become a talent magnet, I’ll know we’ve made it.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab , a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.