This is the first in a series of interviews with a few of the 100 Small Business Influencer Champions recently announced. We’ll be delving into what makes these entrepreneurs and journalists successful, as well as getting some valuable advice from them.
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Gene Marks owns and operates The Marks Group PC, a 10-person firm that provides technology and consulting services to small and medium sized businesses. He also writes columns for The New York Times, Forbes, BusinessWeek and American City Business Journals. He’s also written five books on business management. But he’s not one to rest on his laurels.
“I’m not that successful. I work many hours. I don’t make as much as I want. I don’t do as good a job as I’d like. I make a million mistakes. I lose clients that I don’t want to lose,” explained Marks. Pretty humble, considering his articles are read by global leaders in business. And yet that’s why Marks was chosen as a Small Business Influencer Champion: because of his ability to connect with so many business owners and entrepreneurs in a down-to-earth way.
He’s proud that The Marks Group is a virtual company. He connects with his employees over a virtual network, and meets with them once or twice a year. When asked about his plans for growth, Marks had this to say: “Michael Gerber would hate me. My company has no value, other than cash and receivables. I have no plans for growth. I have no plans to conquer the world. I want to keep running a profitable company and making sure we’re helping people do things quicker and better. I want my people to enjoy what they do. I want to find the best clients around so I enjoy what I do. I hope to keep doing this for the next 30 years!”
In an era where many entrepreneurs think making millions or getting acquired are the only signs of success, Marks’ comments are a refreshing reminder of why we entrepreneurs do what we do: to enjoy our work and to maintain a good balance in life.
Like many business owners, Marks was on the corporate track for years. After nine years at KPMG, he was on track to become a partner. After that, he was headed for the CFO role at a bio-pharmaceutical company. He gave up the glory (and yoke) of the corporate golden ring for entrepreneurship, and hasn’t looked back…much.
“Looking back, if I had sucked it up a little more, cleared it with my wife, and spent another 10 years on the corporate side I could’ve banked enough cash and corporate credibility to be an even better–and well-financed–entrepreneur,” he mused.
We’ve all had someone give us invaluable advice, both personal and professional. For Marks, it came from his father the day before he got married:
- Getting married will be the last decision you will ever make.
- If your wife is happy, your life will be happy.
- Nothing is as good as it seems, and nothing is as bad as it seems. It just all seems that way to you.
Great advice to us all, Gene!
Gene was recognized as a Small Business Influencer Champion for 2011. Read more of our Small Business Influencer Champion interviews.
Gene Marks is an absolute breath of fresh air! I’m so sick of the grow-or-die ethos that dominates entrepreneurial thinking. Too many people leave the corporate grind in search of greater control over their lives, only to end up being enslaved by their craving for more — more dollars, more employees, more market share, whatever. Marks is a great reminder that the best entrepreneur is the one who knows when to say, “Enough.”
I love the honesty in this interview. Every business owner could learn a lot from this one. There is no need to put up a glossy front, when nothing but the truth will do.
This is the kind of honesty that keeps people in business for a long time.
The Underdog Millionaire
Great start of an interview series! I like Gene Marks down-to-earth style! I look forward to follow along and read the forthcoming interviews.
Thanks for sharing this with us.
I’ve been keeping my eye on Gene, and he’s always come across as quite a humble guy.
This interview proves it!
Gene, I’d love to meet you, someday.
The Franchise King®