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When you’re starting a small business from scratch, it’s hard to know where to start. Israel Ellis, CEO of AdvancePro, talks shop and gives advice on how to ensure small businesses succeed.
Running a Prosperous Company
When AdvancePro began, the three areas of focus were customer service, updated technology, and sustainability. CEO Israel Ellis also focused on building a partnership with those he worked with. It’s these key beliefs that have kept AdvancePro successful for 20 years.
The first pillar, customer service, stemmed from Ellis’ experience as a customer himself. “I shared a practical understanding of how important it was to be supported. Many people focus on the technology or look of the tech, but they fail to peel back the layers of the company,” he said. “The most important thing as the owner of a company is that when I do have a problem, I have someone that I can call, a human voice I can speak to.”
The second pillar, updated technology, focuses on features and functionality. Ellis’ philosophy is that partners want to work with companies that are constantly updating their technology and meeting the demands of the shifting world.
“Sustainability is also a very important thing to consider when you’re looking for a software partner,” he continued. “If you have a cost-mindset where you’re thinking, ‘I just need this function and I want to get away with the cost,’ that’s very short-term thinking.” Ellis maintains that small business owners need to adopt an investment-mindset. Owners should walk into a partnership wondering how they can earn success for their partner. “If you aren’t paying into a sustainable plan for your company, you need to be cautious because that company is only as good as its last sale,” he said. “It doesn’t have any incentive for retention.”
It’s these three pillars that Ellis believes creates loyal partners. These partnerships, in addition to faith in his company and team, eradicated any fear of competition. In the end, he thinks it’s a dangerous path to take when doing business.
Unafraid of Competition
“If you do business by being scared, then you’ll be reactive. But if you do business with a look into the future, then you’re going to be proactive,” Ellis said. “I really don’t worry about my competition or care about my competition…maybe to a fault. I care about the companies that are investing in our companies and investing in that long-term relationship with them.”
Though, it isn’t just the competition Ellis guards his business against. He knows the importance of building a company that doesn’t try to commoditize; he referred to his three pillars as an “anti-commoditization statement.” AdvancePro is more concerned with developing solutions for companies, growing with them. “We’re loyal to them and they’re loyal to us, and that’s how we grow our business,” Ellis said.
Maintaining Success in the Face of Change
Some companies underestimate the time it takes to integrate new software into their business. In a 2017 interview, Ellis stated that several companies view technology as a quick fix rather than a long-term investment. Over the years, the problem persists in certain markets.
“Generally speaking, change management is a challenge for anybody in any industry. When you adopt new ways of doing things, you’re always going to have resistance from people within the organization who would rather not go through change,” he said. “But change is extremely important in order to adapt to how business is being done.”
How welcoming businesses are of new technology boils down to who you’re dealing with. Ellis believes smaller businesses are more cost-conscious and prone to making impulsive decisions. “When you have a cost mentality, you’re expecting to push a button and everything works,” he said. “Whereas if you’re dealing with companies that have evolved and they’re thinking in an investment mindset, they understand how change is not something that happens immediately.”
For Ellis, change goes through a process. Companies need to scope out their needs and have a roadmap on how to successfully implement those needs. They then need to plan for adoptability and adaptability for customers and employees.
Being a Passionate Leader
At the end of the day, Ellis believes his passion is what helped to make AdvancePro such a success. “I think the most important thing that stands behind the leader of a company is passion and purpose,” he said. “I’m very passionate about what I do and I feel very purposeful about bringing solutions to small to medium enterprises that are drowning in administration and redundancies.” He added that if small business owners have a vision they see, it tends to differ from those only looking at the numbers.
“I think business requires you to constantly reaffirm your belief in what you’re doing,” he continued. “It requires a person to be completely self-motivated outside of what’s going on.” Throughout his years as an entrepreneur, Ellis never focused on how his competition could hurt him. He welcomed any challenges that came his way, which led to innovation and invention.
Though he runs AdvancePro on three key pillars, he writes about additional foundations in his new book Moving Through Walls. The novel focuses on four fundamental constructs for people to become their best selves. He, himself, applies these every day to keep his company great:
- Always keeping an open mind
- Having faith that you can’t control everything
- Visualizing the future
- Allowing yourself to forgive
How AdvancePro Helps Companies
AdvancePro is a company designed to help small businesses. “We offer a tremendous opportunity to companies that are in a growth phase. To companies that want a solution but can’t afford an SAP or net suite. We offer an alternative ERP solution,” Ellis said. “We can do it a fraction of the price because we don’t manage our own general ledger. We integrate with Quickbooks so that we can focus on the workflow.”
The inventory management solution helps with pricing, order, and vendor management in addition to:
- Order imports
- Lot and serial number tracking
- E-commerce integration
- Unlimited orders and transactions
They’re also integrated with QuickBooks, meaning your small business can easily use both sets of software. While QuickBooks manages single warehouses and basic customer pricing, AdvancePro handles the heavier load. They can manage multiple warehouses, distribute perishable goods, and manage businesses with multiple sales channels. AdvancePro also integrates with whatever technology you’re using, even if it’s not QuickBooks.
Their software is your one-stop shop for inventory management, real-time metrics of your business, and e-commerce integrations. The buy into AdvancePro is from as low as $50.00 per user, per month. All upfront fees are mainly optional professional services.