Lang W. McDonald is the Business Development Manager, West Region for Hughes Network Systems, LLC, the global leader in providing broadband satellite networks, services and products for large enterprises, service providers, governments, small businesses and consumers. Here he talks with BusinessOpportunity.com’s Entrepreneur Exchange about everything from his need to feel challenged and the importance of compensation to the dangers of being “drunk” on success and why “Why?” matters…
What inspires you to do what you do?
I have always struggled with the lack of forward challenge in most organizations that I have been involved with. Throughout my sales career I have always found myself in a situation after several years of looking for more. Seeking the challenge that drives most entrepreneurs is what drives me each and every day.
Who wants to get up each day and just “go to work”? At some point you have to ask yourself, “Why?”
Why am I doing this? Why am I spending so much time and not being challenged to grow? A man named Simon wrote his definition of “Why,” and I have always taken these words with me to remind me.
“The single purpose, cause or belief that serves as the unifying, driving and inspiring force for any individual or organization.”
For an organization, the Why inspires the products, services, marketing, culture, hiring profile and partnerships the organization makes or performs.
For an individual, the Why guides the ideal and most fulfilling decisions―finding a job you love, maintaining friends you trust and buying the brands to which you’re most loyal.
Hughes delivers products and services that change the way people in America live, work and play each and every day!
I find myself being challenged every day with Hughes. Working with our partners throughout the country brings me the challenges that I have been looking for. Our retail partners are some of the smartest, most innovative marketers and salespeople that I have ever had the pleasure of working with, and this drives me to make change and make a difference.
Broadband Internet Connectivity is a huge part of our lives and without it you can only imagine how difficult life would be.
Together with our distribution partners I am challenged each day to assist our retail partners in the growth and success of their businesses.
Connecting small business owners to the multi-billion dollar industry of high-speed broadband and seeing the difference they make in their customers lives is quite inspiring, and that is “Why” I do what I do.
How does someone know if they have what it takes to own their own business? Tell us a bit about how you made the decision and why.
I speak with people every day in our business who want to become an authorized retailer. As an ex-retailer myself and small business owner I can tell you that it isn’t for everyone.
Making the decision for me to become my own business owner was easy. I knew it was time for the “Challenge,” and I knew that if I didn’t do it I would regret it for the rest of my life. After three years I was running several small businesses and producing over $3 million in revenues. The problem I ran into wasn’t making profits, etc. I wanted to grow and grow fast! I just didn’t have the capital to make that a reality.
When you feel that charge in your heart and the feeling that you need to be challenged is when you know it’s time.
People say that they do things to make money. That is just not true! Making money is a result of what you are doing. You are doing it for a greater cause.
What was the biggest challenge you faced in your first six months in business? How did you meet that challenge?
The biggest challenge is having a plan and working your plan. Most small business start-ups don’t have a solid plan to go to market. They spin their wheels and burn money before figuring out what must be done.
I was able to shorten this time line by working close with my colleagues and structuring a plan that we felt to be rock solid and executed accordingly.
I can’t tell you how important that is. Even the smallest details of your business must be planned out―even the color and font used in your logo.
What do you think is the greatest challenge facing business owners today and why? Any suggestions for how to address those challenges?
The greatest challenge I see today with business owners is their lack of commitment to many things. Advertising is the greatest example. So many business owners abort a campaign after a very short period of time. They either didn’t budget properly for the campaign or they didn’t believe in it from the start.
So many times our retailers will ask us where and when to advertise, etc. They will say things like, “I have $20K to invest in a direct mail campaign and I want to send mail everywhere.”
I always reel them back in and explain that sending out tens of thousands of pieces will not be as effective as sending out hundreds of pieces to surgically chosen areas for a longer period of time.
So many new businesses just don’t advertise smart.
What is the single strongest piece of advice you would have for someone just starting out in business for themselves?
If you are doing this to spend less time at work then you may be disappointed! You will get what you put into it…
What would you say is the one thing that new business owners forget about or overlook when they’re just planning/starting out?
Why they are doing this…
What marketing strategies have you found to be most successful in growing your business?
Consistent ones! Period! There are so many ways to reach consumers today. The single most important thing is to be consistent.
What is it about the business/industry you are in that made it so attractive to you?
High-speed Internet connects everyone everywhere! How cool is that?
After the initial start-up phase in business, what obstacles do business owners face as they try to grow their business and remain successful? Any advice for how to overcome those obstacles?
Great question… In our business we see owners become “drunk” on the revenue and forget about how they got there. Like any business, no matter the widget, you must always remember what got you to that level.
So many owners make the mistakes of growing their overhead too fast or changing their lifestyles too fast.
If I grow my business 50% year after year, do I really need a bigger office, a Ferrari and a new house?
Maybe my priorities need to be looked at. I would suggest a larger office and more investment in growing the revenues!
Too many times the business owners forget that investing revenues back into the model is what will grow your business and provide a sustainable model.
What process do you follow to successfully close on a lead and make the final sale? Any tips?
My favorite topic! This is simple and will always remain the same throughout time. People buy from who they like, and people don’t buy what you’re selling―they buy “Why” you’re selling it!
If you work from home, what are the greatest benefits to doing so? What are the drawbacks, and how do you manage them?
I have operated a home office for more than 10 years, even during the time when I had a large retail office, and for me it’s the single greatest time to get things done! Most people working in an office environment find themselves working at a very inefficient level without even knowing it.
Most office environments come with hidden distractions and unnecessary road blocks.
The challenge with working from home is created by your own ability to be self-starting and get to work each morning. If you are motivated, it’s the best place to work!
If you own more than one business, how have you integrated your businesses to juggle it all successfully? Any suggestions?
I used to own three businesses, and the single most important thing to remember is that you need to have people managing the daily tasks and operations for each one of them who are just as motivated as you are.
You must find the right people and compensate them accordingly so that they will be your extended eyes and ears. Find the people with passion and find the people that understand why you are doing what you are doing.
What is/are your favorite motto and/or quote when it comes to business? Any final words of encouragement and/or inspiration for the budding entrepreneur?
Find something that you truly love and you will never work a day in your life!
More about Hughes Network Systems:
Hughes owns and operates service businesses throughout the U.S., Europe, India and Brazil, delivering continent-wide broadband satellite connectivity along with an ever growing range of fully managed solutions and applications to major enterprise customers in virtually every vertical sector, including many of the Fortune 1000. HughesNet® is the #1 high-speed satellite Internet service in the marketplace, with over 500,000 consumer/SMB subscribers in North America. The company is actively seeking individuals nationwide who would like to become authorized HughesNet® resellers.