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William Borghetti Shares Secrets to Building Successful Businesses
By Rachel Madison
January 5, 2015
Spending a lifetime as a serial entrepreneur has been a rewarding journey for William Borghetti, the co-founder and vice president of business development and strategic alliances at Sendside Networks, a technology company that focuses on customer communication platforms and secure communication networks.
Though his first post-college job was working for worldwide company PepsiCo, he quickly learned that being an entrepreneur was what he was meant to do. Since then, he’s spearheaded the creation of numerous technology and software companies, all of which were on the cutting edge of their time in the mid-‘90s and early 2000s.
Because of his experience, Borghetti has learned a lot of important lessons about the right way to build a company. He shares some of his most important life lessons here.
Figure out what you don’t want to be.
When Borghetti graduated from the University of Utah in finance in the early ‘90s, he didn’t know what he wanted to be, but he learned quickly that that wasn’t the question he should have been asking himself.
“Everyone focuses on what you want to be,” he says. “The better approach is to figure out what you don’t want to be—both what you don’t like and what you’re not good at. That’s what leads to greatness. Half of the working population is probably not doing what they’re great at or what they love. If you’re not easily replaced and you’re adding significant value, then you’re going to be successful.”
Get corporate world experience.
Borghetti’s first job out of college was working as a general manager in new store development for PepsiCo’s Taco Bell division. It turned out to be the “best possible thing that could have happened” for him because he learned a lot about how the corporate world works. “I think everybody needs to have some of the big-company experience and training early on in their career,” he says. “Then they can understand [things like] responsibility and management structure.”
Be on the cutting edge.
Around 1994, when the internet was just beginning to boom, Borghetti received a call from a friend who was interested in working in the business. Together, they saw the potential of the internet and decided to jump in head first. They started a company, called CyberNet Publishing, which was designed to help companies establish a presence on the internet. That company was acquired in 1996 by VBS. Borghetti decided to leave that company in 1997 to start another software company, called Campus Pipeline (now Ellucian), a company founded to help students, faculty and administrators improve access to online resources like email, course registration and financial aid. Both companies found success quickly because of the innovation and cutting-edge technology behind them.
Solve your awareness problem.
In building his software companies, Borghetti discovered that it’s easy for companies to build a great product or technology, but without the ability to acquire customers, the companies can’t exist. That’s why it’s a good idea to find a way to make your product or service easy to adopt, Borghetti says. “The art of distribution and awareness is really critical. There’s a little luck in there, but clear thinking and understanding the space will lead to a lot of growth.”
Be a chameleon.
Borghetti says some of his friends call him a chameleon, because he’s good at adapting to fit into his surroundings. This is something that’s been invaluable to him during his career. “An ability to be a chameleon in the business world means you can appeal to prospective employees, often younger than you, and relate on their level, and then shift gears and communicate to a different audience, like an investor group.”
Be cognizant of a first impression.
Borghetti says it’s not always good to rely on a first impression. He’s trained himself to have a few interactions with a person before he forms an opinion.
“What I’ve come to appreciate as a business owner, entrepreneur and investor is that oftentimes I’m dead wrong on what my first impression is,” he says. “I’ve had to train myself to rely on a second and third impression before formulating a real opinion on an individual. It’s hard, because it takes time and commitment. But what I’ve found is if I’m willing to take time, I have a much better understanding of who that person is and what makes them tick.”
Borghetti admits it can be hard to find diversity in Utah, but the need to celebrate it is critical. It’s not about hiring a certain number of minorities or women, he says, but “you need people who think, act and are different than you.” He adds, “You never know enough to make a fully informed decision on your own. If you hire people like you, you end up with a myopic view of the path forward.”