Above: When Mike Scher couldn’t find software for his sales system, he made it himself.
Entrepreneur Mike Scher had a steady and comfortable job when he decided to start his own company.
After years of developing a method for sales cold-calling, he created his own software and launched Frontline Selling, an Atlanta-based company that now has international clients.
“There’s a different mind-set that happens when you’re working for yourself than working for someone else,” he said about being an entrepreneur rather than having a typical 9-5 job.
“You have to go with your gut feeling in terms of what kind of business it’s going to be, how to engage with customers,” he said. “You just focus on the outcome. It all seems to come together.”
Scher said that starting a company is risky but rewarding, especially when it is based on a system and software you developed.
His method for cold-calling came before the software, Staccato. He searched for software applications that existed to launch the method, but none of them was right. So he developed his own.
“Most salespeople would agree that it is the right approach to take, but most applications do not accommodate it very well,” Scher said. He recently launched Staccato Pro, a software as a solution (SaaS) cloud application, for improved business-to-business sales.
He realized over the years that so many organizations were not working as well as they could in terms of sales simply because they were lacking a standard system, and his worked remarkably well.
“Salespeople typically guess their way through the process and don’t repeat it over again,” Scher said. “We actually studied the very problem and, over time, 1.8 million outreach efforts. The method is really just a result of what we discovered in the study.”
His method, a standardized top-down approach, works better for organizations that are being cold-called, Scher said, because it helps them socialize or get the word out across their organization.
He said he hasn’t had any one major setback, but he has had to deal with constant challenges that come from starting a company from scratch. “The most difficult challenge is just in terms of growing a company. You take it from an idea, and then you have two employees, then three, then five,” he said. “We have to create clarity of where we are going. You can’t just have an idea and run with it. You have to have an idea, run with it and make sure everyone knows.”
Scher said his own method has been helpful in terms of getting the word out to other organizations about the company. He has a big market opportunity and plans on growing the company organically.
With worldwide clients he is still based in Atlanta and has seen Atlanta’s tech industry growing as well. “It’s still in its infancy,” he said. “It’s growing dramatically over the last five to seven years, but when you look at technology in other cities, they have pretty significant technology hubs.”
While Atlanta’s tech scene has a long way to go before it catches up to California, “it’s steadily growing, and there’s a lot of smart people here in terms of universities and talent pool, an educated workforce. Those are good for a growing and thriving technology marketplace.”
This talent pool, Scher said, has to be unafraid to be entrepreneurs. It is scary being “on the high wire without a net,” as he has been, but fear can be a great motivator. “It’s amazing what you can do when you know that failure is not an option. When it isn’t an option, you will come up with the right idea and work harder than anybody.”
Scher said it is worth getting through the fear to chase an idea and grow the company. “There’s a lot more rewards than just the financial rewards. There are the rewards of building something and creating jobs,” he said, mentioning that Frontline Selling now has 75 employees.
Scher thinks it’s important that young people know they can take similar risks and become entrepreneurs themselves. “Believe in whatever it is your product or service is. You’ve got to believe you want to be the best you possibly can be, whatever that is. And just work harder than anybody else. Those three ingredients can take you to amazing places.”