Pop Quiz, Monday with Mike Sims

Mike Sims

The Pop Quiz, Monday is a fun little exam that we love to give to savvy business owners. The examination is not a surprise after all since the interviewee already knew about the questions in advance. However, we can always pretend and have fun with the scenario of a young entrepreneur sitting in class nervously biting on their pencil. They are ready to take a pop quiz on a chapter that they were supposed to read the night before. Instead, they played Metroid all night on their SNES (Oops, this was me in high school). The real purpose of the pop quiz is that this is a fun way to introduce business tips from real-world experiences that you can not learn in a classroom. We want to thank our entrepreneur for being a good sport and volunteering their time to answer a few questions to help our community grow from their knowledge.

I want to introduce you to our guest today who will be taking our Pop Quiz Monday.

Can you please tell everyone your name?
Mike Sims

Mike Sims
Photo credit: Mike Sims

What is your job role?
I am the CEO of ThinkLions, headquartered in Detroit, MI.

Tell us about your company?
At ThinkLions, we work with app startups helping them bring their software ideas to fruition. With a team of experienced consultants, designers, and developers, we help entrepreneurs solidify their app concepts and launch effective minimal viable products. Then, we help them raise the funds they need to build out their software through services like business plan development, pitch deck design, and pitch consulting.

ThinkLions launched in 2014, and to date, we have served hundreds of startups around the world.

What do you love most about your job?
More than anything, I enjoy participating in helping entrepreneurs reach their goals. It’s tough being an entrepreneur, especially if it’s your first venture; and it’s often difficult to know what steps to take. I love being able to fill in the gap and provide the knowledge that my clients need to get to the next level. While the financial rewards of entrepreneurship are great, there is no better feeling than seeing the look on a client’s face when their startup secures their first seed funding check or their app finally launches into the app store. As an entrepreneur, those are the moments that make all of the hard work worth it.

What motivates you to get up every day and go to work?
Two things motivate me – my family and the will to win.

I work incredibly hard, and I work more hours than the average person. My children watch me as I build my business, and they watch me as I go through the struggles of entrepreneurship. By watching me get up every day, they learn that hard work pays off. When it comes to reaching their dreams, I always want them to know that YOU are the only person that stands between the life you have and the life you want. I realize the part I play in their lives and the part they play in mine – I motivate them to go after their dreams each and every day, and they motivate me to go after mine.

Secondly, I have lofty goals, and I plan to reach them. I post these goals everywhere – next to my bed, in my car, in my office, in my wallet. Whenever I feel my productivity slipping, I look at these goals and remind myself of my “why.” When it comes down to it, your “why” is the only thing that will keep you going; especially when things get tough.

How do your co-workers inspire you?
My partners and my staff are amazing, and their brilliance continually inspires me. I enjoy hiring individuals who are polarly different from one another – different backgrounds, different experiences, different skills, etc. I’ve found that everyone possesses their own level of brilliance and the strong brand culture we have today is a result of all of those brilliant minds working together. They inspire me to listen more, to learn more, and to be a better leader as we seek to grow continuously grow the brand.

How do you have fun at work (team building, pranks, etc..)?
Most jobs are too serious, and I made it a point to ensure that our office is a place where people are glad to work. We are a pretty tight-knit group with an open office that removes all the physical barriers. Our days are full of jokes, meme sharing, and whoopie cushions – and somehow, we still manage to stay extremely productive.

We also come together as a team outside of the workplace; whether it’s a potluck, dinner at a restaurant, bowling with all the families, or just grabbing a few drinks. Workplace fun is important – if someone is giving you a third of their day, the least you can do is give them a work environment that they enjoy being a part of!

What are some of the challenges of your job?
As an entrepreneur, the challenges are nonstop. The biggest challenge for me is finding new ways to keep the business growing. The market and industry are consistently changing; and as the CEO, I have to be able to see these changes, and respond to them effectively. Sometimes, this means providing new training to my team. Other times it means changing our marketing strategy or adding new team members. While it is challenging, strengthening this skill has allowed me to maintain a flexible business that can quickly adapt to changes and stay ahead of the competition.

What are some lessons learned from a past project that you can share with us?
At our agency, we typically work on extremely large projects like full-scale business plans and software applications. One of the biggest lessons I had to learn was “decomposition,” or being able to break the project down into many smaller and more understandable tasks.

Since I’ve learned this lesson, project management has been much smoother. From the beginning of a project, we can understand which individual tasks need to be completed to complete the overall project successfully. Knowing which tasks are required to complete allows me to put the most capable employee on each assignment – reducing the number of issues, maximizing productivity, and leading to optimal project results.

What advice would you give to someone who is starting in your industry?
If you’re looking to start an app development agency, there’s one thing you should know – the industry is extremely saturated. To succeed as an app developer, you must have a clear competitive advantage. Consumers are already wary about hiring software developers due to the number of low-quality freelancers and agencies that are on the market. Define your unique selling proposition, and then make sure you deliver a high-quality project, each and every time. Reputation is everything in this industry, and if you can’t meet clients’ expectations, it will immediately reflect in the amount of new business you can secure.

Thank you for taking our pop quiz today. You get an A+ for effort. You can learn more about our interviewee and their business by visiting them on the web:

https://www.thinklions.com
https://www.facebook.com/thinklions/
https://www.linkedin.com/company/thinklions
https://twitter.com/thinklions

Author: Ricky Singh, MBA

Editor of The Startup Growth.

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