My entrepreneurial experiences have taught me valuable lessons. And my Purpose compels me to share them to empower others.
Why did I embark on a career as an EOS Implementer, Why Activator, and Trainer? The short answer is simple: I want to empower leaders so that they live the life they want to live—a life by design. The longer answer is a little more complicated. And to understand it, you first have to know a little about me.
When I was 24, I left Venezuela and a secure job at Procter and Gamble (P&G) to move to the United States, get married, and start a business, all at the same time. I was in love, worried about growing instability in my country, and entrepreneurship had been a way of life since I was a kid. Owning my own business at this early stage of my career was a risk, but so was moving to another country and starting a new life. I was young and ready to take on the world. How tough could it be?
My marriage and the U.S. were pretty great. But starting a successful business turned out to be immensely difficult.
I had a great idea on the bleeding edge of the now-robust prepared-meal industry, but the basics of entrepreneurship were challenging. I struggled with financing, operations, marketing, and team issues, making many of the classic mistakes that rookie business owners make. I banged my head against the wall constantly to solve problems. The solutions weren’t always elegant when they worked. Sometimes, they didn’t. I was typically isolated from other entrepreneurs. And I spent so much time in my business that the isolation kept confirming a belief that I was usually the smartest person in the room.
Despite these challenges—some self-imposed—I made it through those early days and grew the business to the limit of my potential. Then, looking to grow further, I started to reach out to small business groups to network and gain referrals. I found those things by connecting with other leaders and entrepreneurs, but I also discovered something far more important: I wasn’t alone.
There was a lot of collective knowledge that I hadn’t known about, and it showed better ways to run and grow a business.
The power of the right peers
My networking started with leads groups, the local chamber of commerce, and Business Networking International (BNI). I met some fellow entrepreneurs and obtained some leads and referrals. But to some extent, we were all wearing a disguise—presenting our best selves and the best versions of our businesses to project success. It wasn’t until I got involved with the Entrepreneur’s Organization that I found something very different and immensely valuable.
I signed up for EO Accelerator, a program that has the mission “to empower entrepreneurs with the tools, accountability and community to aggressively grow and master their business.” The experience floored me. I was thrust into a group of peers who held me accountable, shared their problems and solutions, and essentially forced me to grow as a business owner and leader.
There was little façade. We discussed our businesses—warts and all—with the shared purpose of learning and finding solutions. I discovered many of the tools that would improve my processes, people, and other essential elements. And it certainly paid off.
When I signed up for EO Accelerator, my company had 27 employees and about $700,000 in annual revenue. After improving my leadership and implementing a business by design, my business doubled within a year. And when my revenue crested $1 million, I became a full EO member in the South Florida Chapter
Beyond aiding my success, the organization opened my eyes to the fact that I wasn’t alone, and many of my peers experienced the same problems I had struggled with. I started to see patterns in the entrepreneurial experience—growing pains that nearly every owner goes through. These issues might be a little different in one area or another, but we all made a lot of the same mistakes and had similar misconceptions. It dawned on me that while some struggle is natural when starting a business, many challenges can be minimized or avoided altogether with the right information and support.
Empowered with this knowledge, my business took off, and I became a better leader. But new and difficult challenges lay on the horizon.
Business burnout and a Why Discovery
I was riding high. My company was thriving, and I had growing leadership ability. Driven by renewed confidence, a better organization, and my peers in EO, I aspired higher and higher. Then, in 2012, disaster struck. I was hit with a frivolous class-action lawsuit spurred by an attorney aiming to get settlements under the threat of costly, extended litigation. I was the fifth company targeted in this campaign.
It was a severe financial hit. But even worse, and even though many business owners navigate similar legal waters, I took it personally. Why was this happening to me? The suit was baseless and unfair—should I fight and risk everything? I started to obsess over the status of my business: How much revenue? Why am I not making as much money as I should be making? Why am I not earning as much as some of my peers? What am I doing wrong? How do I fix it?
I began to hold a grudge against my business. I was adrift and had forgotten why I was doing what I was doing. My EO peers had helped me realize a path forward in the crisis, providing valuable and experiential advice. But I was still beset by worries, and I’d lost my way—my purpose.
Reaching out to others had served me well in the past. So, I enrolled in a “Why Discovery” program with Fran Biderman-Gross of Advantages, a NYC-based digital marketing and branding agency. The results were powerful and revealed a fundamental truth. I realized that my products, services, and processes weren’t what motivated me. Instead, it was helping others—empowering my company’s leaders—to live a better life.
At the end of the program, after a lot of deliberation and soul searching, my Why statement became clear: “To empower leaders so that they live a life by design.” And I did this by sharing vulnerably, sparking action, building teams, and spreading passion.
I had finally labeled with words something I had experienced my entire life. But putting words and intention to my actions now allowed me to filter my decisions. It helped me understand my purpose, and I immediately applied this knowledge toward running my business with renewed energy.
Running a business with purpose—while building it by design
I diverted energy toward my people. Instead of just focusing on the product and other business mechanics, I started focusing on my team. At the same time, I continued implementing the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS), a six-step process that enables us to build a business by design.
EOS allowed me to create a culture of accountability and transparency that aligned my team’s organizational vision. I methodically rebuilt my company in a way that extracted me from the day-to-day of the business, enabling it to run without me. Fortunately, this effort lined up perfectly with my Why. A renewed focus on empowering my team is precisely what EOS called for—all the pieces fell into place.
In two short years, I was mostly out of my business and no longer in charge of day-to-day operations. In 2018, I sold half of my company to one of my employees. In 2020, I sold the rest of it to another team member who had started in a kitchen prep position. She had worked 18-hour days at two restaurants to afford moving her family to the U.S. from Venezuela. Through hard work, she brought her children here. She became a manager, bought a car, and then a house. Today, she is the owner of a successful business.
I am immensely proud of her, and I’m also profoundly grateful. Investing in her and the rest of my team is what allowed me to fulfill my Purpose. And their hard work and success turned out to be the keys to achieving my success.
This outcome has also enabled me to embark on a new career that completely aligns with my Why.
Renewed purpose and living a life by design
Through my experience with so many entrepreneurs at different stages and in different parts of the world, I realized that many of us go through the same challenges. I began to see patterns and distinct phases of business ownership shared by nearly everyone who takes this path. I’d emerged from the struggle successfully with hard-earned knowledge that I could share with others. Becoming an EOS Implementer aligns with my Why—and so does writing this blog.
I’ve helped over 30 companies implement EOS in the past three years and assisted numerous entrepreneurs in discovering their Why. Sharing my journey and tools that assisted me helps others overcome similar obstacles. I’ve recognized patterns for entrepreneurs when they are just starting out; others to consider when creating a business by design; concrete steps to scale an enterprise, and the self-discovery required to live a life by design.
I help leaders who want to improve with the tools I used to do it. I walk them through my experiences—good and bad—and assist them in moving through these phases of entrepreneurship smoother, faster, and with more confidence. Every business owner must struggle and learn some hard lessons; it’s part of the game. But with knowledge and support, the road doesn’t have to be quite as hard as it is for most of us. By identifying the common problems and patterns of entrepreneurship, we gain control over them.
Today, I have a career that fits my Purpose. And I choose to work with clients who align with my core values: Share Vulnerably, Spot Individuality, Spark Action, and Spread Passion. Put simply, I do things I love with people I love.
And when I succeed—truly empower a leader to live a life by design—I feel an immense sense of pride and gratitude. I’m proud of their accomplishments and immensely grateful for the opportunity to fulfill my Purpose.
I’ve always felt a deep sense of service, but I realize that this isn’t just altruistic. Empowering others gives me a rush. It makes me feel driven, and like I’m making a difference. I’m thankful for all of the people who have afforded me the chance to help them on their entrepreneurial journey.
And I sincerely hope that sharing these concepts on my blog can empower you on yours.
Cesar Quintero is an Entrepreneur, EOS Implementer, Why Activator, and Trainer for entrepreneurs who want to build a business by design so that they can live by design. Contact him here.