Business Leadership Interview Questions for Don Scott Schnure / 1AutomationWiz
As a digital marketing professional, software designer and former video production executive Don Schnure brings a unique perspective to the online shopping cart company 1AutomationWiz.com.
With offices in St. Louis Missouri and a data center in Ottawa Canada, Don’s company offers a unique work environment where over 80% of the employees can telecommute. This provides new opportunities for working mothers and the flexibility in work schedules that attracts some of the industry’s top talent.
Don’s company was founded in 2001 and is responsible for millions of dollars in online transactions and thousands of online stores.
We had a chance to sit down with Don to ask him about what molded him into the business leader he is today.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up and in what ways does that relate to what you do now?
In all seriousness I wanted to be Batman. I grew up without a Dad so a lot of my moral compass about right and wrong came from comic books. There was something about being a “good guy” that helped people in need. That always resonated with me.
What steps do you take to ensure that your organization’s activities are in alignment with the company mission, core values, and vision?
It starts with a customer centric viewpoint. We strive to take the customers point of view in all of our dealings. We focus internally on questions like, “How do we make this easier / more effective / profitable for our clients?”
Because many of the products we offer are subscription-based, so we totally understand that unless our clients do well, they’re not going to stick around. So it’s in everyone’s best interests to make sure our customers’ needs come first.
What are YOUR main performance indicators? How are they measured and echoed throughout the business?
Customer satisfaction and net revenue are the two primary metrics that we look at.
I think a lot of business owners get caught in the minutia of dozens or even hundreds of different metrics. But I don’t think it has to be that complicated
At the end of the day there are really only two things that are important; are our customers happy and are we profitable? If the answer is yes to both, we know are doing a good job.
When it comes to the top three priorities for 1AutomationWiz, what comes to the foremost of your mind?
First is making sure that we always uphold our promise to our customers. This mean first rate support and services. Second is making sure that we anticipate our client’s future needs and create solutions for them.
And third is making sure all of our team members are cross trained so that anyone on the team can help a client when they call. We don’t want to shuffle them around to different departments. This is an easy one because I personally hate when that is done to me.
How do you fight complacency and mediocrity?
Complacency is the bane of any business. If you get comfortable in your success, there is someone just waiting to steal your lunch.
I see the two keys to fighting complacency are first to never let yourself get comfortable with the way things are. You should always be looking for ways to improve the processes in your business, the customer experience, your products, your advertising, marketing, etc.
The second way to fight complacency is to make sure that you’re doing something that you enjoy. If your business doesn’t excite you, sell it and start a new one that does.
What has been the most impactful lesson you’ve learned as a business leader?
I hate the expression “corporate culture” because it’s become such a cliché but if you can give people on your team ownership in the success, or failure of your project everybody wins.
People that are appreciated will do more than is expected.
How do you create leadership opportunities within the organization?
The biggest stumbling block I see with new business owners and entrepreneurs is that they have trouble letting go of control. Some of that is ego, and some of it is fear. But at the end of the day you have to give responsibility to team members. If you don’t, you’ll be unable to scale your business to the next level.
If you don’t trust your team members enough to give them responsibility, you should look into hiring better people.
The truth is that if you pick the right people to start with (hire right) and you give them the tools, training and support they need to grow and succeed; people will rise to the challenge and everyone thrives.
Also I think one of the key success metrics that isn’t talked about in small business is the companies’ ability to make money even if you’re not there steering the ship.
What responsibility do businesses have to the communities around them, and how do you exemplify that within your organization?
I think there’s a fine balance between community and profit, and a lot of times that gets muddled.
The number one responsibility of a business is to make money. But of course, you can’t do that at the expense of people’s well-being or the environment.
When companies go out of their way to effect social change, like Starbucks or Target for example, I feel it’s more of a publicity grab that it is an actual benefit for society or the community.
I think the biggest responsibility that a business has is to bring its people up, and train them with new skills so that they can take advantage of new opportunities.
What leadership advice would you give to your younger self?
Learn to focus on what you want to accomplish but have a 50,000 foot view of the goal. Don’t get stuck in the details.
Also of equal importance is to learn to always maintain a balance between your work life and your personal life. No one on their deathbed has ever said “I wish I had spent more time at the office.”
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