Interview with Industry Leaders
Interview with Industry Leaders
Maurice Harary is the co-founder and CEO of The Bid Lab, a consulting company dedicated to helping small and medium-sized businesses find, manage and build their RFPs and proposals. His experience building a company that started with just $1,500 into a company that has grown tremendously is a great way to help with stories and pitches outside of just procurement and the RFP process. Furthermore, he has helped countless small and medium-sized businesses win their first multi-million-dollar deals, and helping smaller businesses drives The Bid Lab’s mission!
For those who don’t know anything about you or your work, can you provide a bit of background?
When I was in college it was my goal to work for a large tech company. I had my heart set on working for a specific firm, but the only opening they had was on the ‘RFP’ team. Even though I had no idea what that was, I went for it. (I was on spring break in Chile at the time, so of course, I accepted!) Once I started actually responding to RFPs, I found that it was work that was both challenging and rewarding, and I worked my way up to be a top performer on my team. Eventually, with a little encouragement from my Co-Founder and wife, Jordan, I took the leap and went out on my own starting The Bid Lab.
What does an average day look like for you?
No day is typical at The Bid Lab! I might be working with a small business looking to expand with an RFP bid that is due in TWO days! I could be on a sales call advising a medium-sized business on how we can help them break into new markets. Or I might be working on our new search engine – streamlining and expanding the RFP search process in an accessible way. I’m always meeting with our team members to start different projects and helping them fulfill their career goals. No matter what, I’m having fun and enjoying what I do!
How do you balance the needs of your business with the needs of your personal life?
You really do have to schedule self-care the same way you would a business meeting. Put that time to work out on the calendar and treat it like an important meeting with your health. It can’t be canceled; it has to be given attention. Self-care has to be a priority. It’s just like if you want to help someone in a plane crash you have to put on your mask first. Schedule and prioritize time to care for yourself if you want to be able to care for the people and things that matter to you.
What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you on your journey in business?
There is an old Japanese proverb: “Fall seven times and stand up eight.” Throughout the years as we have continued to expand and grow, there have been inevitable hiccups along the way. The key to overcoming these hiccups is that we EXPECTED them to happen. You have to be prepared for and accept bumps in the road when you are trying to do something great. What’s great is that we always get back up, even if the fall was so hard it sometimes takes a second to heal.
What’s been the hardest part about the path you’ve taken and how would you advise someone facing a similar situation to overcome it?
Hands down the most difficult time we faced when starting The Bid Lab was when my oldest daughter was born extremely premature just as our business was exploding with new clients and revenue. The fear and the stress surrounding all of that is just impossible to describe. Fortunately, I was smart enough to choose a wonderful partner in life and start a business with her. My wife and I really leaned on each other to succeed as both parents and business founders. I am proud to say that both my daughter and The Bid Lab are healthy and thriving today!
Are there any well-known Books, Podcasts, or Courses that you credit your current success to?
I was greatly impacted by the book The Go-Giver by Bob Burg. That book specifically focuses on taking the attention off of getting and redirecting your intention to giving. It’s a powerful foundational shift.
What do you think are the most important qualities for a successful business owner or executive to have?
Listening is the foundation of everything. Really being able to connect with and understand another person doesn’t happen unless you are able to be fully present with them. In my job, I listen to and work with countless small and medium-sized businesses to help them grow and expand. I can’t help them if I’m not willing to listen and truly understand what makes them special so I can market that. My company is also remote by design, which means the listening starts the minute the hiring process starts. I have been able to build a terrific team because I took the time to really hear them in their interviews and I make the time to connect to them via video conference on a regular basis for one-on-one meetings. These meetings are so important to maintaining and advancing great employees while also giving me valuable feedback on my business.
What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out as a business owner?
Focus on your marketing strategy. And if you cannot pay attention to your marketing strategy, hire people who can. Marketing is all in the details. This isn’t something that can merely run on autopilot. Set aside specific time to focus and refine your marketing on a regular basis and ensure you have a team in place that shares your vision and can help you expand.
What are the top three things you think are essential for business success?
- Failure is Success: The absolute most important trait to have as a successful leader is the appreciation and expectation of failure. You cannot succeed without failing. The sooner you accept, and plan for this, the sooner you can recover and continue building your business. Remember every failure contains a valuable lesson. These lessons can be effectively utilized to grow your business in a more efficient and smarter way. Anticipating failure as part of the path to ultimate success really takes the fear, and thus the hesitancy, out of trying which lets you get on to bigger and better things.
- Be Your Own Guide/Trust Your Intuition: The first step to getting in touch with your intuition is to learn to slow down and listen to yourself. Once you’re able to clearly hear your own inner voice, something a lot of us have been taught to drown out, you then need to work on trusting that inner voice. Get comfortable asking yourself why you are feeling something – is it just anxiety, an unfamiliar experience, or something deeper? The more you practice listening to your inner voice and comparing what it is telling you to your actual experience the better you will get at understanding what is a gut feeling and what is just a fleeting thought. Once you are truly comfortable listening to and trusting yourself you can rely on your intuition to guide you in making decisions.
- The Success of Giving: I am a big fan of ‘Go-getter or Go-giver?’ By Assia Riccio. The book The Go-Getter had a huge impact on how I live my life and run my business. Success is about personal connections and social impact so much more than mere financial gain. I designed my business to help small and medium-sized businesses grow to reach their maximum potential through RPFs. I have created deep bonds with my clients and helped their businesses grow which helps local economies. Additionally, I work with companies that help children, and people in the prison system, and increase DE&I goals for other businesses. I like to think that by helping small businesses that are focused on helping society as a whole, I am, in a small way, contributing to the quality of life of hundreds of people. It is the duty of successful businesses to give back where and when they can to fully contribute to the world we all share.
Do you think someone can be a great business owner without having many years of experience first?
Success isn’t dependent on a degree. While I do have a college degree and have very much utilized it in starting my business, a degree isn’t essential. The key factors in success are drive and initiative. Figure out what you want to do and how to get there. If what you want to do requires a degree, then certainly pursue that. But if what you are passionate about requires travel, hands-on experience, certifications, etc., then focus on those things. Get clear on your passion and then create a roadmap to succeed at turning that passion into a career.
In general, do you think the world is producing better business owners in 2023 than it was fifty years ago?
Yes – As recession fears mount, 2023 job-seekers will pursue and crave stability in their careers. With tens of thousands of recent technology layoffs and additional layoffs expected, job-seekers will pursue opportunities in fields that are stable and consistent through economic recessions. Government contracting, medical services, insurance, and other fields that are generally safe during economic slowdowns will be increasingly attractive to employees. These fields may seem boring during economic boom times, but during times of economic uncertainty, boring is beautiful. In fact, there are often exciting opportunities in industries that may seem boring, with extremely interesting people to work with and excellent salaries/benefits.
Link to original article: Industry Leaders: Interview with Maurice Harary, Co-Founder & CEO, The Bid Lab.