Interview with Dan Peck, Chief Enthusiastic Organizer of ClutterFreeBox.
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Tell me about your current business. What are you doing exactly?
ClutterFreeBox is a unique storage system which is poised to redefine the $25 billion self-storage industry. ClutterFreeBox enables consumers and small business owners to store boxes of their personal items, manage those boxes through an easy-to-use, patent-pending web interface and retrieve the boxes without ever leaving their own home.
For those who have downsized or want to declutter, ClutterFreeBox offers a by-the-box solution with no long-term commitments necessary, no obligations for one-sized-fits-all storage and no need to search through dark bins in darker parts of town for seasonal items or business documents.
When did you start the business?
ClutterFreeBox was founded in 2009, and we're located in Charlotte, NC.
What were you doing before this, and is this your first business?
I love building companies and the challenges of value creation. My first job was in the family business, Peck Recycling, a $45 million family-owned scrap metal processing firm in Richmond, VA. During that time, my entrepreneurial spirit grabbed hold, and I helped develop James River Ventures, a division which purchased and dismantled decommissioned Naval and other maritime vessels from the Department of Defense. The company was sold in 1997.
In 2001, I discovered a need among corporate records managers for an off-site storage resource, but one that came with a detail-oriented support team who would provide them control over their business information. I founded FileVault to address that need. Today, the company (which I still own) manages corporate information for more than 200 firms, including a number of leading Fortune 500 companies.
The next chapter in my entrepreneurial story, ClutterFreeBox, takes a business model that works and opens it up to entrepreneurs and consumers alike – to help them reduce clutter and get rid of the obstacles which are getting in their way.
How did you come up with your business idea?
Whether it is a messy desk, over-stuffed attic or dark and musty storage bin – I've always believed that clutter is holding individuals back from maximizing and attaining their personal potential.
In 2001, I discovered a need among corporate records managers for an off-site storage resource, but one that came with a detail-oriented support team who would provide them control over their business information. I founded FileVault to address that need. Today, the company (which I still own) manages corporate information - physical boxes of corporate material - for more than 200 firms, including many leading Fortune 500 companies.
I founded ClutterFreeBox in 2009 to offer individuals and small businesses the same patent-pending storage management expertise and services that have benefited FileVault customers.
Did you operate your business from your home? What were the challenges and benefits to this strategy?
I've never had an office in either of my companies. I happen to love operating my firms remotely, from places – whether it's a cafe, my home, or a restaurant – that give me energy and the ability to focus my creative attention on the problems of value creation. If you start with the premise that the million distractions which come with 'an office' keep you from the vital business-building activities - selling, product/service development, listening to customers – then it's fairly straightforward to design your processes around that lifestyle. In fact, because of technology, it's never been easier to be a mobile entrepreneur.
Have you hired additional staff? What is your greatest human resources challenge?
ClutterFreeBox is growing its team by outsourcing critical functions – technology development, marketing, financial management and even fulfillment – to specialists who bring superior skills to their areas of concentration. This has led to terrific focus among the team and an amazing customer experience. I'm a big believer that each member of the team -- whether outsourced or employed by the company – must clearly understand their special gifts and use those gifts in the value creation process. For example, we put anyone who joins us through three different diagnostic assessments to figure out their strengths. Even if they don't have clarity at the beginning of the relationship about where their energy is best deployed, we do.
With the current economy in a slump, what cost saving tips would you have for a new entrepreneur?
If there is something in the cost structure that is not vital to the delivery of customer value, it should be eliminated. The only people on my team are folks who touch customers or their belongings - all other help (administrative, financial, etc) is outsourced. But I really believe that the issues most entrepreneurs face aren't as much related to cost as to revenue. My advice to any entrepreneur - irrespective of the economy - is first, 'do what it takes to sell something as soon as possible;' second, learn from the experience and improve the process and third, repeat step #1.
How has your experience in running the business been different from what you expected?
Building businesses is the most rewarding professional activity I can imagine - in good times and trying times, I feel blessed to have found this pursuit - it has been far, far more exciting that I'd anticipated. I only wish is that I had started my own company in my early twenties. I had to wait until my early thirties to fail at a startup (the most valuable teaching experience that I had), and I would have loved to have gotten that out of the way earlier.
What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to start a similar business?
Keep it simple! The key to achieving personal and professional potential is organization – simple, smart organization.
Organization is key to any endeavor, personal or professional. It was great talking with you today, Dan. Thank you.