Keeping Small Businesses Competitive through Sharing Best Practices of Global Leaders

Frank Pobutkiewicz’s Bio

Frank Pobutkiewicz

Frank Pobutkiewicz hails from West Long Branch, New Jersey, a small beach town on the Jersey Shore. He attended Boston University where he graduated with a B.Sc. in Business Administration, cum laude, and a B.A. in International Relations, cum laude. While at BU, Frank was very involved in student activities. He helped to found the International Affairs Association, a student-run organization consisting of three Model UN conferences, including one in Beijing, China; an inter-collegiate competitive Model UN team; an international affairs journal; and a number of on-campus events. His proudest accomplishments include being named the Senior Man of the Year and being inducted into the Scarlet Key Society. After graduating, he stayed in Massachusetts and founded College Apprentice, a high school enhacement company that helps students explore potential college majors.

College Apprentice engages and inspires student passion. By attending events hosted and supported by College Apprentice, high school students develop a better understanding of potential college majors. It’s your education. Take Control.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW

1. Please share with us how you got started with your College Apprentice program.

College Apprentice grew out of recognition of outstanding high school co-curricular activities. Having been involved with Model United Nations for a number of years, I realized students gained a tremendous amount of confidence and passion out of simulation- or application-based learning. Specifically, two years ago I ran a simulation of the World Bank at a high school Model UN conference and asked the students to prepare 5-10 page proposals for sustainable projects that would benefit the economy of the country they were to represent. I was warned against such an aggressive assignment and nervously awaited their papers. Not only did I receive completed proposals, their quality and depth of understanding far surpassed what I expected. I knew if I could apply the same technique to other subjects—engineering, journalism, business—schools and students would love the results.

 

2. There is no typical day in the life of an entrepreneur. Please share with us a sample of your day, start to finish.

Typically, my alarm wakes me at 6:00AM and the first thing I do is check my email. I’ll set a list of priorities for the day while watching the news and then try to head to the office by 8.00. The first half of my day is spent mainly on customer acquisition and business development tasks. I’ll spend a lot of this time on the phone, usually speaking with teachers before the school day ends and other potential partners. For this reason, I try to schedule meetings after 2.00. The latter half of my day is usually divided between following-up with customers and developing the College Apprentice website. Taking into account that parents do not tend to get home from work until after 5.00, I tend to get calls until 7.30.

 

3. What are your ‘can’t live without’ Smartphone or desktop applications?

I don’t have a smartphone; I think of them more as a distraction and electronic dog collar than a helpful tool. Still, there are some great tools available that without would make running my business incredibly difficult:

  • Google Products: Gmail, Google Docs, Google Voice, and Google Calendar
  • DropBox
  • Trello, a great project manager web application
  • Skype

 

4. What are your tricks for time management?

Set objectives for the day and accomplish them no matter what. If you don’t finish by 8PM, then work until 10PM. If you can accomplish it yourself, don’t stop until you do. Setting priorities is crucial.

 

5. What was the best advice you received when you started your career?

It’s hard to answer because I feel like I encountered a lot of bad advice and skepticism. The best advice I’ve received has been to follow your heart. If you’ve done your research and know you what you’re doing, don’t let anyone talk you out of it.

 

6. Given the current economic climate, what has been your strategy for building awareness of College Apprentice for short term and long term growth?

A great first step is to recognize the state of the current economic climate. Fortunately, we’ve received warm receptions from schools and parents because of the steps we’ve taken to show our appreciation of the situation. For example, we offer relatively inexpensive financing options for our international programs and for events hosted in high schools, we’ll typically donate between 10%-30% of our profits, so there’s actually no cost to the school.

 

7. What is your proudest achievement as an accomplished entrepreneur?

Making my first sale. I worked for a year doing a number of jobs to save up enough start-up capital to give me a short runway. At the time I wasn’t so much proud as relieved but looking back gives me the energy to make another.

 

8. How do you achieve balance in your life?

Every time I spoke with my grandmother, she always asked me three questions: Are you eating well? Are you getting enough sleep? Are you having fun? Sometimes it’s hard to do all three, but two out of three will keep you going.

 

9. Your top 3 book recommendations?

  • [amazon_link id=”1885167733″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Marketing Outrageously Redux[/amazon_link] by Jon Spoelstra
  • [amazon_link id=”0307887898″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]The Lean StartUp[/amazon_link] by Eric Reis
  • [amazon_link id=”0452287081″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Confessions of an Economic Hit Man[/amazon_link] by John Perkins

 

10. Who has influenced your career the most?

My Father owns a private accounting firm in New Jersey. He has undoubtedly influenced my young career the most and in many ways, without me knowing it. My dream of starting a business grew out of my admiration for his work ethic. Whenever I need advice, he’s the first person I’ll call.

 

11. What is your advice for someone interested in entrepreneurship?

Just keep going. It’s a false perception that entrepreneurs have unlimited confidence. I can think of at least a dozen times when I seriously considered either not starting my company or shutting it down. I think you will always be your harshest critic and there’s nothing wrong with that, so long as you don’t talk yourself out of an idea. If you need advice or support, you’d be amazed at how many people are willing to offer you help.

 

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