Even today’s most successful business owners began their journey at the bottom before finding their proper stride. Building a company from the ground up involves long hours while navigating risk and uncertainty. It also involves taking and implementing the advice of a trusted mentor, says Michael Rappaport, Founder and CEO of Chariot Solutions, one of Greater Philadelphia’s top IT consulting firms.
On Money Matters TV’s segment Growth Stories, Michael Verrill, Vice President of Strategic Development for The Sharp Financial Group and guest host Rija Beares, Vice President with CBRE, recently spoke with Michael Rappaport about his experience and unique perspective in creating a company during a particularly challenging economic period.
Rappaport shared three key lessons he learned throughout his career building Chariot Solutions.
Lesson #1: The right mentor at the right time can change everything.
At the end of Rappaport’s high school summer job at ATD American, company CEO Jerry Zaslow invited Rappaport to continue working in a new division. That job led to another, and soon enough, Rappaport was learning all of the ins and outs of systems design and business processes as the head of Skylight Systems, a new ATD subsidiary. The decade he spent in this role taught him much of what he would later apply as CEO of Chariot Solutions.
Lesson #2: Taking risks are important for long-term success.
During his tenure as head of Skylight Systems, Rappaport walked away with many successes and two key opportunities for learning. First, he learned that taking risks are important to growing a business. A team player to the core, he hadn’t wanted to take risks on experiments that could potentially result in a loss of ATD American’s money. Eventually, he learned that taking risks is a part of business - and a big part of growing one.
Lesson #3: Starting a company a little differently can lead to unexpected success.
After 10 years at Skylight Systems, it was time for Rappaport to move on. He shared a business plan for a new custom software development business with colleagues who had proven track records of delivering high quality work, and they proposed an alternative to traditional service-based business models. Instead of 90% team utilization and 10% PTO, these team members proposed reducing the team size, only working with top tier clients, and devoting 80% of time to utilization, 10% for PTO, and 10% for professional development. Over time, these principles of hiring talented team members and offering opportunities for them to advance have elevated Chariot Solutions to become one of the region’s premier software development firms.
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