by Evan Tsai | Last Updated on 07.7.2020
Entrepreneurs are some of the most interesting people in our professional world. They have the intelligence, street smarts, and courage to see latent demand in the marketplace and develop a cost-effective solution to meet that demand. Meanwhile, these entrepreneurs have to deal with the logistical challenges that come with running a business. Everything from managing working capital to building a compelling workplace culture is fair game.
Building any type of business is no small feat. But building a business from zero revenue to tens of millions in revenue in only a few years? That is extremely impressive work.
Josh Jerge is one of these talented entrepreneurs. He is the founder of SmartRoof, which is a residential and commercial roofing company. Over five years, Josh has built SmartRoof into a company that provides outstanding roofing services to thousands of customers on the East Coast. In a recent episode of Small Business, Big Growth, Josh shared everything from how he started SmartRoof to his thoughts on navigating the economic challenges that many businesses are facing.
Entrepreneurship has always existed in Josh’s life. His father owned a shoe repair store and from an early age, Josh was always thinking of ways to make money. He started everything from a wedding expo to flipping old cell phones.
After trying about 20 to 30 ideas, Josh found a sales job with a roofing company. Even though he wasn’t working for himself, he discovered that he was quite good at his work. When the company took a turn in an unexpected direction, Josh decided to set out on his own and start SmartRoof. It was a decision that was prompted not only by his entrepreneurial genes but the desire to create a company with a different work culture.
While some entrepreneurs spend most of their time on their startup idea or summoning the courage to leave their jobs, Josh focused on executing. His goal was to do $500,000 of sales in the first year. He exceeded that goal and started attracting attention—both from family members and friends.
As Josh brought on more help, he devoted more of his time to creating a positive workplace culture with an overarching mission. That mission? To make an impact in the lives of his customers and employees. Josh’s personal belief is that a smart roof can change lives, whether that is significantly improving his personal financial circumstances to giving customers the confidence that they have a stellar roof over their heads. Yes, he is technically in the roofing business, but he believes that he is in the business of impacting people’s lives. This higher calling motivates Josh and the rest of his team.
Along with creating an enviable culture, Josh is laser-focused on sales. Compared to other entrepreneurs who predominantly focus on product or their process, Josh understands that sales govern everything. He intuitively knew that if he could go out and sell roofs, everything would work itself out. Generating more than $30 million in sales, it is safe to say that Josh’s approach has certainly paid off.
The SmartRoof story is far from over. Josh and his colleagues continue to provide immense value to their many customers. But looking back at Josh’s experience to this point, there are several key ingredients to his success. Entrepreneurs who are looking to scale their businesses should certainly take notice.
First, there is an obsession with workplace culture. As discussed, culture is at the heart of Josh’s work. He sees his customers and employees as people, rather than numbers on an Excel spreadsheet. Rather than paying lip service to a mission statement or company values, Josh is constantly looking for ways to improve his company’s culture.
From culture, Josh has a bias for action. You can see this in the 20 to 30 businesses he tried before starting SmartRoof. Even when he fails, Josh sees these failures as learning opportunities that he can apply to his next project or venture. It is better to start selling or start building your product rather than think about ideas or projections. To put it another way, action trumps theory.
Finally, Josh is optimistic. No one wants to follow a negative or pessimistic leader. Even when trying to grow a business during a global pandemic, Josh has been confident and optimistic. His optimism not only helps maintain morale within his organization, but it helps him identify new opportunities amidst disruption.
Ultimately, Josh is a unique entrepreneur. Not only does he hit his numbers and generate exciting economic returns, but he improves countless lives through his work. We can’t wait to see what he accomplishes next.