Wisdom From the CEO: Derrick Foote

Insights» Wisdom from the CEO

July 1, 2020by Originate Report

Q: Can you explain a time where you faced adversity or had struggles early on in your career? How did these experiences mold and shape them into the leader they are today? 

A: I started my career in 2000 and during the first decade in business there were three major events in the financial world that had a significant impact on me as a professional. The tech bubble bursting, the collapse of Arthur Anderson, and the Financial crisis of 2007.  All three of these events created uncertainty and helped shape me into the financial leader I am today.   These experiences taught me to not take anything for granted, to work to constantly to evolve and try to better the people around me.  During those times of turmoil there was increased pressure that emphasized going above and beyond to stay relevant.

Q: What did you do in the beginning of starting your business? What risks did you have to take and how did you have the courage to continue to push forward?  

A: I stepped into an existing practice, so I spent a great deal of my time understanding and getting to know the client base.  I luckily was working with David Duner who helped me along the way and provided support.  I felt based on my twenty years of industry experience that I had the technical tools to be successful and provide a high level of service.  Even with my background and the support of David Duner there were still risks associated with business.  With any new business you have to build the right team internally, which takes time and understanding.    I have always been hands on, so I had to work to develop trust with my work colleagues.  Also, it took me some time to get comfortable with the financial aspect of the practice.  There were a few sleepless nights as I endeavored to be in business on my own.   There were worries that I hadn’t been exposed or accustomed too.  With all my new experiences and tribulations with being a business owner, I found courage in my convictions.  Before I went out on my own I had ideas of what I wanted to accomplish and how I envisioned my business three and five years later.  By staying true to what initially inspired me to take the risk of going on my own provided me with “wind in my sails” as I was faced with challenges.

Q: What habits, mindset, or perspective have helped you succeed as a business owner?  

A: Always looking to improve how we conduct our business.  There are constant changes in our industry, either from a technical perspective or from an operational standpoint.  I think having the mindset to being seeking change will help us grow and better position us for the future.  Also, there needs to be balance.  Getting a business started can be very consuming.    I was thinking constantly about the business.  I am working to find balance and that when I am out of the office I can “check out”.

Q: What excites you about your role as CEO currently today?   

A: I enjoy what I do.  Even as CEO I like to be involved in the business and doing the work.  I like setting the tone and the direction that the business goes in.

Q: What has been your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur over the years?  

A: The freedom. I spent the majority of my career in the corporate world and switching to an entrepreneur role, it allows me the freedom that I can appreciate and have always wanted.

Q: What piece of advice do you have to share with other entrepreneurs and CEO’s that are in the early stages of building their company? 

A: Stay true to your convictions.   There will be instances that will feel overwhelming.  Think back to why you started your business and recall what led you to take the risk.  The wonderful part of my business as a cpa, is I work with business owners regularly.  I appreciate the feedback I receive from our clients regarding their challenges as well as their insight into how we deliver our services.  At the end of the day it is a marathon not a sprint, so not everything will not change overnight but it is helpful to have a plan in place and the flexibility to  make adjustments along the way.

Q: What activities or resources would you recommend other entrepreneurs to invest their time in? 

A: My recommendation would be to immediately start investing time into trade organizations, net working groups, and professional coaching.   My goals in joining these organizations is to increase my network and meet like-minded professionals.

Q: How do you make sure your company stays ahead in this industry?   

A: From my perspective, education is a big component for staying relevant.  In accounting the better trained your staff is the more value you can provide your clients.

Q: Is there anything that you wish you could go back and tell yourself at the inception of your company?   

A: I remember when I went into business there was so much to learn and get an understanding of.  I wish I would have spent more time on the marketing side of our business.  Even to this day I am striving to increase our media presence as well create industry specific content that furthers our mission.

Q: What tools do you use to aid you in your role as CEO to be most efficient, organized, and focused?

A: To help me stay focused, I find outlets outside of work.  For me, stepping away and focusing on outside interests are a big part of me being able to stay focused while I am in the office.  It is really easy to become consumed during the initial stages of starting a business but finding balance was key for me.