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Blake Hutchison, CEO of Flippa

Blake Hutchison is CEO of Flippa and he took some time out to talk with The Industry Leaders and provide some golden rules for business owners in 2023.

For those who don't know anything about you or your work, can you provide a bit of background?

I’ve worked across startups and scaleups for the last 15 years, either for Founders or as a Founder. This has given me unique exposure to different business models, industries and different company growth stages. Here at - as the largest marketplace to buy and sell online businesses - I have the unique and privileged opportunity to work with business owners and operators, be it those looking to acquire and grow or those looking to exit. My background with exposure to so many different business types and stages of growth means I have a unique respect for the hustle.

What does an average day look like for you?

We are a global business so I’m on from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to bed.

Balance is difficult. It’s about finding enough down time throughout the day. I’m trying to get better at having a consistent morning routine, not waking up with anxiety and having to check on “how did the business do overnight.” Such is the nature of a global business.

Decisive decision making is a critical part of every day. I review as much work as I can. Jump into product steer co’s and assist the sales and marketing teams with prioritization and process. We are very focused on running effective 8-week sprints across each department. Focus is always a work in progress as there’s so much we have to achieve.

The day is highly collaborative. I get energy from other people, be it our staff or clients. I love to meet with people in person and get a feel for the problem and opportunity. The team is outstanding and they execute well… There’s no politics and bureaucracy. It’s just not welcome so we require team members who love the hustle and embrace change. This team does that. They are the best I have worked with.

How do you balance the needs of your business with the needs of your personal life?

I spend as much time as I can with my wife and our 3-year-old daughter. I love to make coffee for my wife in the morning, and I love to listen to music with my daughter, everything from Elvis to Snoop. We have little dance parties as often as we can together every morning after she wakes up. Evenings are reserved for my family.

And I’ve recently started to play golf. I’m part of a Whatsapp group called GBSG (Great Blokes Shit Golfers) which has been a great way for me to get my head out of the sand and onto the greens. It’s obviously important to have something that gets you out of Work Mode to help clear your mind.

What's the best advice anyone ever gave you on your journey in business?

For me, it’s about advisors who assist me with balance. Our chairman recently suggested I take a short break each quarter. He suggested I take the first two days off each quarter. I must admit, I haven’t been able to achieve this but I like the idea of it.

What's been the hardest part about the path you've taken and how would you advise someone facing a similar situation to overcome it?

We have an outstanding brand. We have wonderful customers and a community who loves us but the evolution was hard and it took time. When I took the role at Flippa, it was clear that we needed to improve our customer centricity.

Today, we are one of the most customer centric businesses I know. We care deeply. We make decisions on behalf of the customers. We are no longer self-service. We are no longer hands off. And best of all is we have a team that wants to win every day and we have an approach that has led to outstanding Net Promoter results and feedback. Couple that with the growth of the company and the brute force effort has had a real impact. That was hard but it was well worth it.

Are there any well-known Books, Podcasts, or Courses that you credit your current success to?

Not really. Books don’t do the work for you. There are a few books and essays that I like. I like “The Hard Thing About Hard Things”, I like Paul Graham’s essay “Do Things That Don’t Scale”, I like “Black Box Thinking” and I like the essay, “Peacetime CEO and Wartime CEO”. They all have real lessons.

What do you think are the most important qualities for a successful business owner or executive to have?

Creativity. Decisiveness. Focus. Speed.

What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out as a business owner?

Don’t hire from logos. Hire the hardest workers you can find. Some people love to execute. Others can’t do it. Find those that can.

What are the top three things you think are essential for business success?

  1. Understand your customer

  2. Build something or sell something a customer really wants or needs and is willing to pay for

  3. Have a large enough customer base or charge enough that there’s always enough left over for you, your staff and your shareholders

Do you think someone can be a great business owner without having many years of experience first?

Yes, absolutely. Some of the best entrepreneurs don’t have specific experience and may come from unconventional backgrounds. Our business, Flippa, is about “democratizing the exit” for online business owners, and I have that same attitude of “democratizing” business ownership. I’m not a big believer in the importance of conventional experience and traditional credentials for entrepreneurs; every business owner is on a journey, and there’s no single right answer for how to succeed.

In general, do you think the world is producing better business owners in 2023 than it was fifty years ago?

I think today’s entrepreneurs are some of the best-informed, well-networked, thoughtful and generous people on Earth. Every day I get to talk with inspiring entrepreneurs and investors who are creative thinkers, who care about customers, and who are coming up with the next wave of innovation. They are all driving the global economy forward.

We live in a time of volatility and uncertainty and massive global challenges, but we also have many smart, motivated, talented people who are better-connected than anytime in human history. Business owners today have constant access to humanity’s best ideas and are constantly learning from each other in ways that previous generations couldn’t have imagined. I believe in the power of online business to change the world. I see it happening every day.

Where should people follow you to find out more about your work?


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