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Lessons from the Edge

Lessons from the Edge Survival Skills for Starting and Growing a Company By JANA MATTHEWS & JEFF DENNIS

You Gotta Believe


Marx Acosta-Rubio
Title: President
Company: Onestop
Type of Company: Computer Supplies
Location: Tarzana, California
Annual Revenue: $4 million
Employees: 12
Years in Business: Company founded in 1998
The Edge: Fired with no money in the bank, borrowing against mother’s life savings to start his company.

The Story

After his mentor died, Marx Acosta-Rubio took a long hard look at his own life. He was making good money, but he realized that things like character, integrity, and honesty meant more to him than he had realized. He was thinking through his next steps when word leaked out that he was going to leave. His boss came into his office and promptly fired him. He was married, had a one-year-old baby, and had no money in the bank. He had to move in with his mother.

Acosta-Rubio talked his mother into letting him use her life savings--$77,000–as collateral for a line of credit with a local bank. He started his computer supplies company in 1998 out of the house. His company did $1 million in sales its very first year. Onestop has since grown to more than $4 million in annual revenues, serving more than 1,000 clients with a staff of 12. But, Acosta-Rubio knows that growth like this doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Part of his job as leader is to create a vision of where the company is going, and to coach each employee to reach his or her potential, which, in turn, will help his company reach its potential. “

You have to plan the vision for your people. Most people see themselves not for what they are, but for less than what they are. People have lots of talents that they don’t recognize or put to work because there’s nobody there to push them or persuade them that they can do it. My employees have to borrow my vision to see farther than they themselves can see. One of my guys, for example, is going to make about $20,000 this month. When he first started here, he was really excited at the thought that he could make $4,000 a month. I told him “You’re a $10,000-plus guy.’ He believed it. He bought into it. He believed what I told him, and that’s very important. The key is to make your people better than you are. You have to see them for more than they are so they can see themselves for what they are. And then, when the guy gets to $4,000 a month, now he sees a little further. Now he can see to $6,000. When you get him to $6,000, now he can see to $8,000 and so on. “

Like the captain of a ship, you have to build a destination and you need to chart the course and sail. But everybody on that ship has a different task and different skills. Your job is to make sure that they do the best that they can do in their specific task. Let’s take sales; not everyone sells the same way. It’s my job to work with them one-on-one and teach them. “This is what you’re doing that’s really great. This is what you can do better. Here’s how we could do it better."…


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