The entrepreneurial bug not only bit Ryan Blair at a young age, it bit him a few times. By the time Blair was 34 he had started and sold six businesses. Those lessons have paid off in his most recent venture ViSalus, a leading health and wellness company, which grew from $600,000 in monthly sales to $600 million in annual sales. What makes that journey even more remarkable is the fact that Blair, CEO and co-founder of ViSalus, was able to accomplish that without a formal business education. BusinessNewsDaily spoke with Blair just before his bestselling "Nothing To Lose, Everything To Gain: How I Went From Gang Member To Multimillionaire Entrepreneur" (Portfolio/Penguin 2013) goes to paperback about his journey, his secrets to success and the one thing he would change in his journey.
BusinessNewsDaily: What did you want to be when you grew up?
Ryan Blair When I was growing up I wanted to be a professional athlete.
BND: What did your parents do for a living?
RB: My father was an engineer and my mother was a stay at home mom.
BND: What's the best part of owning your own business?
RB: The freedom it gives you coupled with the anchor of responsibility.
BND: What's the biggest mistake you've made as an entrepreneur?
RB: The biggest mistake I made as an entrepreneur was not to trust my instincts. The bigger the organization you have, the harder it is to focus and enforce them.
BND: What was your main motivation in starting this business?
RB: As an entrepreneur I struggled to maintain my health and weight because of the extensive hours I worked. I tried every product and fad diet that was on the market, and as a result, I saw holes in the market place, so along with my co-founders, I created ViSalus as a solution.
BND: What previous experiences helped you in that journey?
RB: I had started two companies and had been an entrepreneur for seven years prior to starting ViSalus. I leveraged every business experience and the network I created to get the company to where it is today.
BND: What was the biggest challenge you encountered and how did you overcome it?
RB: The recession of 2008 nearly wiped out our company. We overcame it by reinventing ourselves and focusing on the value proposition we were creating for our customers. Three years later with millions of customers and we are still focused the same.
BND: What is the best bit of advice you have for other entrepreneurs?
RB: Be a good teacher but a better student.