Growing up in a household where he could pull everything apart - from doorknobs to electronics - Robert Stephens was a troubleshooter early on. In college he earned extra cash by fixing professors' PCs, founding GeekSquad in his dorm room at the University of Minnesota. At the time Robert was a squad of one, but eight years later he had created a global brand and sold to Best Buy. In this How They Did It interview, Robert shares his entrepreneur success story and secrets for building a service business from scratch.
1. Create a Brand that Gives You Room to Grow. From the start, Robert wanted a generic name that left room for change and growth. If you have your identity tied up in one service, it's hard to expand without confusing your customers and public.
2. Build a Team of Real Life Superheroes. Robert realized that consumers would always need help dealing with technology. It was a problem that wasn't going away. He also knew there were fellow geeks - other experts like him - who would relish a career being real life superheroes to average folks needing to have technology problems fixed.
3. Date a Company Before You Sell Out. Many entrepreneurs jump too soon into selling and the result is lots of acquisitions fizzle out. For two years GeekSquad licensed to Best Buy before the ultimate sale. By taking the time to walk down the road together, Robert made sure Geek Squad had found a good home in Best Buy and a place to grow fast and keep the distinctive Geek Squad identity.
4. Play to the Theater of the Mundane. Robert loves boring businesses. Why? They are easier to differentiate. How many traditional businesses still have not come up to speed with today's technology? From car washes to a simple doorbell - there's opportunity for entrepreneurs to reach success.
5. Make Your Employees Happy. Customer experience is directly related to employee experience. Put time into tools and apps for your employees to help them be productive. Happy employees = happy customers.