SaaS Founder Interview with Rhett Doolittle, Founder & CEO @ Business Warrior
Five Takeaways from Business Warrior’s Founder Rhett Doolittle’s SaaS Founder Show Interview
Small businesses have a lot on their plate. It can be overwhelming dealing with the responsibility of running a small business with monetary demands and an unestablished brand. Financing can be difficult to come by for small businesses, and that is what Business Warrior seeks to solve.
Business Warrior is a company that helps small businesses get funded and scale. It provides marketing services, business intelligence, and fast funding with a low barrier to entry. It was founded by Rhett Doolittle, who leveraged his experience working with small businesses to create a solution to help them.
Insivia’s CEO and founder, Andy Halko, connected with Doolittle for a long conversation covering Business Warrior’s origins, finding a niche, and much more. Below, we’ll summarize the five key takeaways from Halko’s 45-minute conversation with Doolittle.
#1. Understanding the Problems Your Addressing is a Valuable Starting Point
There is a lot of information available on the failure rate of small businesses, which is nearly 50% in five years. Doolittle, then working in the credit card processing industry, worked with thousands of small business owners and personally saw their problems.
“When I was out there meeting with all these small business owners, what was the biggest attribution to them failing usually was not their product, or service, or lack of passion in their product or service,” expressed Doolittle. “It usually comes down to marketing, accounting, knowing your numbers, and having the right amount of funding.”
With his experience seeing first-hand the problems that lead to small business failure, Doolittle saw how he could address these problems. “I knew there was a way to solve this problem for small businesses through technology and eventually through our own SAAS platform,” says Doolittle. “And so when we first started, I had a marketing agency that was tied into the credit card, processing data, so we’re using all kinds of different data to try to solve the problems for the business owner.”
#2. Developing Your Niche is a Crucial Early-Phase Decision
Establishing a niche is a defining step for businesses as they develop a customer base and understand their role in the market. This was a pivotal step that Doolittle emphasizes as one of his most significant pieces of advice for founders.
“My advice to any SAAS founder would be niche niche niche, right? To start there,” stated Doolittle. “I think the fear for founders is like they always want to cast a wide net because they think they’re going to get more customers, but it’s just it doesn’t work that way.”
Doolittle explains how carving out a niche can help a business from the top-down. “It’s more than just even your platform on why you should (find your) niche,” states Doolittle. “It’s time, how somebody finds you, and that advertising, all the way down to their first experience with you, how you get them to re-engage the language you speak to them, what podcasts you’re on to try to attract their audience. So, you know, niche, niche, niche for sure.”
#3. Focus on the Narrow Future
Many founders talk of grand, aspirational ten-year plans and a big-picture future goal. Having a vision is important to building any big company, and Halko asked Doolittle about his vision. What Doolittle says is that he chooses to focus on the more narrow future.
“You know, I think in this day and age, I’m a fan of a three year vision. My opinion is any longer than that in this day with the amount of technology that changes and shifts in the economy in the world and everything else, I think anything longer than three years is really reaching there,” said Doolittle.
Founders should avoid being overly grandiose with their vision in front of their teams. “If you have ten employees, and you’re trying to paint this vision to create the next Facebook, but they’re not seeing those actions today, or they haven’t seen them from you historically, and then all of a sudden, you go to a four-day workshop, and you come back with this crazy three year vision,” states Doolittle. “It’s totally shocking to them, you know, that’s not going to be too inspiring.”
#4. Emotional Intelligence and Self-Awareness Can be a Great Leader’s Superpower
Every great leader has personal strengths that set them apart. Each person is different, and every leadership style is unique. Halko wanted to know what the traits Doolittle values are. “What do you think embodies a great leader and software founder? What kind of skills and capabilities and mindset,” asked Halko.
What Doolittle emphasizes is emotional intelligence and self-awareness. “I am a huge fan of emotional intelligence. It’s, you know, I think the best way to describe that or not describe but just the example I like to give is, how am I showing up to my customers, my clients, my vendors, my family,” expressed Doolittle. “And is that the way I want to show up? Or is there a gap? And just knowing that, right there is, is takes a level of emotional intelligence.”
Acknowledging and understanding perceptions takes significant EQ and self-awareness and is a must for a leader. “I think for any company founder, whether it’s SaaS or anything else, you have to know that because if you’re showing up one way, and your customers and your employees are seeing you differently, then you’ve got a gap. And that’s probably prevented you from accomplishing the goals that you want to in your business,” stated Doolittle.
#5. Transparency and Feedback are Necessary Components of Collaboration
When talking about the most important traits of a leader, Doolittle also stressed the importance of transparency. “I think the other thing is just really transparent, open, and often communication with your employees, your vendors on where you’re at,” said Doolittle. He elaborated later on the crucial nature of transparency and honest feedback.
“We’re big on open, transparent communication,” mentioned Doolittle. “If I’m giving you feedback, whether it’s a colleague and employee, or my wife, it’s because I love you, because I care about you, I care about our success together, the company’s success, our personal success, if I didn’t care, I wouldn’t tell you.”
Doolittle has integrated feedback as a core part of Business Warrior’s culture. “We’ve got to create a culture for that, because it’s not natural. People usually take feedback and Oh, my God, that’s negative, they’re saying something bad to me about me,” said Doolittle. “And you know, my defenses are up. And so we have to, you know, make that a part of our culture, so that we can improve.”
While these were the primary takeaways from Doolittle and Halko’s conversation, they dove into detail on many other important topics, from turning points in Doolittle’s career to long-term goals for Business Warrior.