We’ve launched Secrets of Success, a new weekly interview series here at Web.com’s Small Business Forum. I’ve asked some of the smartest, most innovative, most successful people I know to share their insights and success secrets.
Meet: Tom Gazaway, the founder and CEO of Hawkeye Management (Tom’s also one of my clients). Tom’s a small business lending expert, and is one of only a handful of people in the United States to hold the title of Certified Credit Expert Witness. His company, Hawkeye Management, helps small business owners find unsecured business loans and lines of credit.
Rieva Lesonsky: What did you want to be when you grew up?
Tom Gazaway: Prior to high school, I dreamed of being a pro basketball player; then in high school I wanted to be an undercover FBI agent—LOL. In college I really wanted to work for Nike and be one of their reps. Instead I went to the inner city after graduating from college and fell in love with living and serving in the city of Camden, [New Jersey]. I always knew I wanted to be in business ultimately, but I felt like I could always do it later and had some things I wanted to do in my younger years.
Lesonsky: Why did you start your own business?
Gazaway: It was more of an “entrepreneurial seizure” like Michael Gerber [author of The E-Myth] explains it. I didn’t have this keen insight. I wasn’t smarter than everyone else and see this coming. I started helping home-based business owners with their financing needs; one thing led to another and it became more than I could handle. I decided I needed to find help. Before I knew it we had expanded our offices several times and were rapidly adding people to keep up with the demand to service them well.
Lesonsky: Did you experience a pivotal moment on your way to success?
Gazaway: It was when I hired my first full-time employee. I had some part-time contract workers but once I made the decision to hire my uncle and one other person to full-time positions that’s when I was 100 percent “all in.”
Lesonsky: What’s the best small business advice you ever gave and/or received?
Gazaway: From my father: Build relationships and do the right thing.
Lesonsky: What’s one “best practice” more entrepreneurs should be embracing?
Gazaway: I’m stealing this from Arianna Huffington but we should commit to getting more sleep. Listen to her talk about it and then look up some of the research on sleep and you’ll realize that it makes sense for us to get our rest.
Lesonsky: Do you have a 2014 small business prediction?
Gazaway: Yes, it’s going to be a great year…not an easy one, but a great one.
Lesonsky: Do you have a favorite book?
Gazaway: Impossible to only name one: Traction by Gino Wickman; The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni; Mastering the Rockefeller Habits by Verne Harnish; What Would Google Do by Jeff Jarvis; Built to Last by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras.
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