At last month’s Startup Grind event Levi Morehouse, CEO of Ceterus, was the featured speaker. Levi definitely has a passion for his business and industry, bookkeeping and accounting, and that is one of the most important takeaways I can pass along.

I’d rather have nothing or something amazing
– Levi Morehouse

Whatever business you are in or starting, you need to have a passion and a drive for that space because when things get scrappy you’ll keep pushing ahead and emerge stronger on the other side.

Sometimes moving forward feels like taking steps backwards. However, that feeling is likely to happen if you are trying to do something no one else is. Levi knew that he always wanted to start something, but he wasn’t sure what. Fast forward to the launch of Ceterus and you immediately get into some interesting lessons.

Levi mentioned that he was busy building not his MVP (Minimum Viable Product) but his BVP or Barely Viable Product. He mentioned that he knew a lot about services but didn’t know about developing a solution. He also mentioned that he took too long to bring in higher quality people to be part of the team.

I started way too cocky. I should have had mentors.
– Levi Morehouse

He mentioned struggling with investors early on because many of them wanted to invest in companies that were close to them geographically (Charleston apparently seemed too far away). However, Levi started to get some investor traction later on when visiting some Venture Capitalists in Atlanta. He said “they loved it because it’s not sexy”. What does that mean? Levi’s solution wasn’t trendy but that the numbers and financials were solid and showed growth.

As Ceterus grew Levi had to make some hard choices. One of those was choosing not to grow for growth’s sake. He was very strategic in learning to say “no”, even if it would have brought in more revenue in the near term. His end goal was providing as much automation as possible while always taking care of the customer. Ceterus literally paired down their offering to expand their growth. It may sound counter-intuitive, but when your offering is too diverse it is hard to focus on a single product or set of customers.

Small and Medium-sized Businesses need solutions not tools
– Levi Morehouse

So remember as your business grows, you may have to make some hard decisions that don’t necessarily align with your passion. However, understanding how to balance passion and decision making is something you need to master so it doesn’t end up mastering you. If you are tempted with some easy growth, remember to weigh it against your long-term business goals. If the two don’t match up, you may need to say “no” or at least “not now”.

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