Can twins, a kitchen table, and unlimited vacations (just one of the many benefits offered to employees) power an idea to a $10 million business? In the case of the company founded by Dominic and Tom Tancredi, the answer is a definite "Yes."
Anytime you're browsing the Internet, the chances are good that you may be looking at or using something that this pair of twin brothers invented and were hired to make for the Internet site or mobile platform you are visiting. After graduating from college, Dominic and Tom got an idea for a digital interactive business and started it right in their apartment -- on a table in their kitchen.
Their company -- Dom & Tom, which is based in New York City with offices also in Chicago and Los Angeles -- has reached about $10 million in annual sales, and they are still growing rapidly. Clients have included CNN, The Children's Place, Hearst Communications, McDonald's, General Electric, Hearst, Tyson, Priceline, Houghton Mifflin, Fitch Ratings, Pfizer, and many other leading names.
Could you jumpstart your own business idea right in your kitchen or garage? Sure, why not? To help you on your way, here are some words of wisdom from Dom and Tom, learned at the School of Hard Knocks:
- "When you're starting out, build your future by deciding not just what your business will be about, but how you'll act. We believe in doing good work and being good people, which is why our motto is 'Do Good - Be Good'! For example, even as the CEO, I [Dom] mentored a lot of our new hires and believe in employing others who will be mentors to the staff we add to our team."
- "The best piece of advice we ever got was from our dad. In fact, he STILL says: 'Treat your clients and the people you work with every day like your family and they'll keep coming back, wanting more!'"
- "Even if you're starting on your kitchen table, think like a pro. Be the advice-giving eye of calm in the storm. Early on, some of the first people who came to us needed immediate help. We stepped up to the plate and produced what they wanted. If a prospective client approaches you that's going through a crisis, show them a pathway to success by staying cool, collected, and grounded. Be the hero that can turn turbulence and uncertainty into exciting options and possibilities for growing your business."
- "Sell yourself as the expert who can help solve problems. In many businesses, you need to have an expert on your side, so be that person! A person may think he knows how to get to Mars because he lives on Earth. But you will need a guide to get there -- someone who knows about both Mars and your needs. Be that expert and you will gain a client for life!"
- "You don't need an office to start -- a couch, table, or corner of your garage is just fine. What you then need to build is a team that is simpatico. You don't always have to agree with them, but if they believe in the same basic things you believe in and have the same core values, you'll grow your business and succeed."
- "Your first staff members will be the most important ones because they will help foster your success. Grow your workforce with good, effective employees by asking prospective hires how they see the business looking in the immediate future and where they see it going 10 years from now and then decide if they will make a good fit."
- "There's nothing better than giving people jobs where they have a chance to grow and where the opportunity you give them will help make them a better person."
- "Values are important even in the early stage. Bring good behavior, a great attitude, and a consistent tone to your team that will resonate across the staff because it will be coming from the top down."
- "Stay nimble. The biggest thing when you're beginning is to really listen to your clients and employees. Then put what you're hearing into action. If it sounds like you need to pivot, then go ahead and make the change."
- "The most important things are laughter and a good sense of humor. They will keep you sane during the early, often hectic days and in the rest of your business career. And don't be afraid to socialize. We love hanging out with each other. We have a committee that comes up with events, including outings to ball games, our own mini-Olympics, and Happy Hour Fridays."