Atrion Networking CEO: 7 Tips For Aspiring and Established Entrepreneurs

Tools Of The Trade

Tim Hebert, CEO of Atrion Networking, a Warwick, R.I.-based IT services company, is poised to deliver Rhode Island College's Class of 2014 Advanced Degree commencement speech later this month.

As a successful entrepreneur and Rhode Island community leader, Hebert attributes his achievements to the valuable lessons he has learned in business and in life.

Read on to find out Hebert's seven tips for aspiring and established entrepreneurs.

Work Hard To Succeed

"From a business-owner perspective, some of the lessons I learned is that nothing in life is worth having if you don’t have to work for it," said Hebert.

Hebert urges future graduates and existing business owners to be "willing to roll up [their] sleeves, get dirty and sweaty." Going the extra mile will help you to "succeed in life and feel that contentment," he said.

"When I look at my company, we started in 1987 and have gone through four recessions and economic downturns. Every time we've grown, we've come out and survived," Hebert said. "It's that much more enriching when you have to work hard."

Push Boundaries, Be Willing to Fail

Playing it too safe won't help a business owner achieve his or her goals, Hebert said. Instead, "we have to push and extend ourselves. Be in position to be challenged and be willing to fail," he said.

For Hebert, public speaking is now one of his core capabilities, but for a while it was an overwhelming fear, he said.

"I have dyslexia and I stutter [and] stammer a bit so I have everything going against me," said Hebert. "It's easy to say, 'I never have to do this' but I faced it head on."

Speaking to a group or audience has allowed him to put himself out in the open and gradually get over his fear, said Hebert.

"If I fail, I fail and I learn, but chances are I won't fail," said Hebert. "When people put themselves out there and rise to the occasion, they do remarkable things. [But] it's only when you push yourself and are willing to fail."

Surround Yourself With Positive People

Hebert’s advice is to always surround yourself with people that will "help to propel you forward in life ." A good support system will help you become a better person, Hebert said.

"[It's] people that help you keep things together. You need somebody to pull you up, or somebody to slap you in the head because your ego is too big," said Hebert. "I don’t think people understand the need for the human connection in order to be a successful business owner or successful in whatever they do."

Give To Get

"There's a certain culture where it's about trying to get more and it's [also] about giving," said Hebert. "It's all about giving back to those in society that are behind me or came before me. I spend 30 hours [a week] helping our state to become a better state and I don’t get paid for it."

Don’t Chase The Hype

As more solution providers transition their business to managed services and the cloud, Hebert said he doesn’t believe that’s always the right path. Instead, he believes that solution providers must figure out how to be the best with exactly what they do best, he said.

"I don't agree with that philosophy that you’re not going to be successful if you don’t move to managed services and cloud. People are resellers because it's their predominant strength," said Hebert. "It's not chasing the fad. Life in business is being the best at what you can do."

When Deciding To Cross Over

When solution providers look to bring in new segments to a business, it’s not just about the money, said Hebert.

"When [a business] wants to become a service organization and focus on professional, cloud or managed services, [they] need to have the DNA to be a services company," said Hebert.

For solution providers that break into the managed services industry and end up hating it, this will only cause bigger problems down the road, said Hebert.

"I absolutely love every aspect of service I do and [its] challenges. I love the good and bad days but I also love it when a client appreciates this value, and they'll pay me extra for that," said Hebert.

Innovate To Inspire

Last but not least, innovation is key to improving and contributing to long-term success for businesses, said Hebert.

"You have to innovate what you do every day and do it differently, no matter what it is," said Hebert.

"I do feel that in our industry because of rapid, constant technology changes, we have to change and we lose sight of how we represent our business," said Hebert.