By Jarin R. Eisenberg, Program Coordinator, Nathan M. Bisk College of Business
Tim Smick, President and CEO of Harbor Retirement Associates, LLC, took part in the Nathan M. Bisk College of Business Visiting Entrepreneur Program on January 23rd, 2013. Having spent the day touring campus and visiting business courses, Mr. Smick took time to personally introduce himself to each of the students, faculty, and staff that came to hear his talk. His talk focused on both the personal and professional path he took to develop 17 senior long-term care living communities. Having been a hospital administrator, it didn’t take Smick long to discover the rising needs in senior care; especially with the baby boomer generation nearing retirement. Smick’s philosophy for designing a senior living community is one that rings clear, design a community with the facilities and care one could envision themselves being in.
So what was the driving force behind Smick’s transition from a high-level hospital administrator to a successful entrepreneur? His desire to be in charge of his own destiny and the realization that his success in the company was based on the value he could bring to the company tomorrow, not based on loyalty or what he had done for the company in the past. He realized that other’s decisions could put his job at risk and he would rather be the one at the reins.
For the students at the talk, Smick shared the tools that he feels are essential in being successful in starting your business:
- Be strategic about your hire: For Smick, a key attribute to success is to hire good people. To do so, you need to be strategic about how you interview people; think of it as a investigation not a conversation. Focus not only on a person’s verbal responses to questions, but also their body language.
- Build a board of advisors: Smick stressed the importance of surrounding oneself with carefully chosen mentors. He said you need people who can view your company through a different lens. Surround yourself with people who have a lot of experience but also individuals who are going to be upfront and honest, who are not afraid to tell you your idea might not be as great as you thought.
- Anticipate needs: Don’t just respond to a want in the marketplace but create a need. Something people did not even know they wanted until you have created it. Be innovative, look into the future and ask yourself how you can fulfill consumer needs.
His final advice to students looking to start their own venture, don’t wait to start building a trusted team of advisors and anticipating needs, start now!