Meet Caleb Parker, a former hospitality industry entrepreneur from Savannah, GA. Parker is now Vice President of Executive Space Solutions, a global executive office space search and advisory firm that he helped launch in 2008. Parker sat down with WashingtonExec to talk about his passion for entrepreneurship and also his involvement with the Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE). Parker provides some simple suggestions for start-up companies and also discusses his company’s recent win at the 2011 Small Business Expo.
WashingtonExec: How does your company help small or midsize businesses and entrepreneurs?
Caleb Parker: Our firm assists growing companies and entrepreneurs in developing office strategies that are aligned with their business goals, then we help them procure the right solution for that strategy. Many small businesses and entrepreneurs overpay or expose themselves to a lot of risk. For growing companies, cash flow is a must, so it’s important to get as much value as possible from every dollar. As a result of an unpredictable economy, we’ve been helping entrepreneurs implement strategies that leverage flexibility to limit their financial risk and long term liabilities.
Further, we have a media division which provides complete web presence solutions and advises on technology implementation.
WashingtonExec: Do you belong to any nonprofit organizations?
Caleb Parker: I am actually excited about a group I am just getting involved with, the Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE, pronounced NIFF-TEE). As someone passionate about entrepreneurship, I think it’s important we teach the next generation of Americans about entrepreneurship, and help them develop skills to create successful businesses. This, I believe, is vital to the long term sustainability of our economy.
WashingtonExec: What suggestions do you have for start-up companies?
Caleb Parker: Before you start, look at your industry and make sure you are solving a problem – then determine how much competition there is. If there is none, ask yourself if there is really a market for your solution. Survey potential clients, and if they feel your solution makes sense, ask them to buy. Then you will really find what they think.
Image is everything. Just because you’re a start-up doesn’t mean you have to look like one. I’ve talked to some really smart people with great ideas who are still using @aol or @gmail in their email address. Why advertise someone else’s business? It costs less than $10 a year to register your own company email address. This is just one inexpensive way to project the right image.
WashingtonExec: What about your 2011 Small Business Expo win?
Caleb Parker: (we were named 2011 Small Business of the Year; we increased our business by almost 4,000% in the last 18 months.)
It was a great honor to receive this kind of recognition. Our team has worked hard and we hope to continue being successful working with so many great entrepreneurs and growing companies.
WashingtonExec: Is there anyone you have to thank for your success?
Caleb Parker: Regarding the expo win, we owe our success to our clients and industry partners.
Personally, I would like to thank both my parents and my wife, Jennifer, who have been supportive of all my dreams and ambitions, specifically my Dad who taught me a long time ago that ‘I can achieve it if I believe it’.
Professionally, there are so many people to thank. My business partner and friend, Svet Voloshin, has been instrumental in our recent success. Sef Robinson has played a major role to ensure we have satisfied clients. Dale Little and Doug Wendt have both been great consultants for our business.
WashingtonExec: What are your thoughts on social media, for work, networking or personal brand?
Caleb Parker: I think social media is great for all of the above when done correctly. Social media enables you to project a certain image and control the flow of information. The challenge is to ensure you are providing value to those who you are connected with and to not ‘spam’ your social connections. You want to make sure the flow of information is not one sided. Done right, social media can be a great tool.