Alex Schiff is the founder and chief executive officer of Fetchnotes, which makes productivity as simple as a tweet. Prior to Fetchnotes, Alex was the vice president of Benzinga and a student at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. Follow him @alexschiff.
Who is your hero?
Aaron Patzer is one of the entrepreneurs I look up to most.
What’s the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
Optimize for speed, not cost. Your entire organization should be structured around how you can accelerate progress and learning. That $20 a month here or $50 there is NOT going to mean anything in the grand scheme of things, but if it frees up a few hours of your life, then it’s worth it.
What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?
Not focusing on one thing. At one point, I was working on three startups, working for another, and still in school full-time. They all suffered from my lack of attention. I learned that when you’re a founder you need to be thinking not “What do I need to do today?” but “What can I be doing to advance my business forward?”
The former has a finite amount of work; the latter is limitless.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
I take care of all the little things. Respond to email, complete quick tasks, etc. I actually purposefully put off anything that will take more than 30 minutes until after lunch because then I know I have the longest period of uninterrupted activity.
What’s your best financial or cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
You can make money in weird ways. We offered to sing karaoke to any of our users who donated money.
Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
The best part about being an entrepreneur is that you get to choose who you work with — don’t take that for granted!
What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?
Honestly, I have no idea. There will always be a new mountain to climb.
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.