Andy Jackson | Crain's Denver

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Andy Jackson

Background:  

MuscleSound uses ultrasound to look inside the fabric of muscles to give people an overview of their current muscle health. Based in Denver, the company has a mix of approximately 16 full- and part-time employees. Andy Jackson has been president and CEO since July 2016.

The Mistake:

I focused too much on making money.

Early in my career, I was the commercial director at a business with a very money-driven owner. Every meeting we had was about how much we sold that day. That does something to you as an employee. You become a replica of your boss.

It happened to me. That attitude trickled down to me and down to my sales staff. I wasn’t behaving as myself and it put me under a great deal of pressure.

When you’re put in a position where sales and prospects for sales are the only measure of success, you tend to become arrogant and chauvinistic.

Now I call this a 1980s- and 1990s-style of sales management. It’s really rough. Millennials today won’t get out of bed for that sort of thing. They aren’t motivated by numbers alone. They do want to make money and to be successful, but they want to do it in service of some sort of cause.

I think if you behave as a leader in that way, people will either rebel or turn into you, and that creates a negative work environment.

When you’re put in a position where sales and prospects for sales are the only measure of success, you tend to become arrogant and chauvinistic.

The Lesson:

There’s a broader lesson here, too. You really need to build your business around a problem that needs fixing, something people need – not just making money and hopefully having someone come along to buy you for millions of dollars. You need to do the research and find out what people really need. Getting acquired is a consequence of you building an awesome business, not the result of a strategy.

It feels to me like, especially in the U.S., there’s this attitude that you get your seed money, your series A, then at some point your series B and C, and then you get acquired. I just think, well, why do you do that?

It’s great to make money as you go, but why not use that to grow again? Then you can grow forever.

At MuscleSound today, we are absolutely driven by the mission of improving people’s muscle health. When I’m talking to any potential client or partner, I’m always focused on how this can help them. We’re essentially a B2B business, so we’re selling to sports medicine doctors, athletic coaches, weight loss centers, fitness centers, etc. They’ve all got clients. What we do for them and for our mission is focus on what we can do for their clients.

I would never have a conversation with one of my employees about how many sales calls they did today. I have to be focused instead on who they talked to, what their issue was, and how we can solve that for them. I have to focus on how our service helps people.

What that’s led us to do is completely change our product. Previously, our product was much more centered around old sales strategies, rather than the mission.

That’s why we call ourselves a muscle health company. We want to focus on helping people figure out what their muscle age is or if they’re in pain, and help the professionals fix that.

Andy Jackson is on Twitter at @fitnesstechlov and MuscleSound is at @musclesound.

Photo courtesy of MuscleSound.

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