Being a founder, entrepreneur, or a business owner can have many exciting and thrilling moments. But it is also punctuated with periods of doubt, slump, and anxiety. So how does one successfully and healthily ride the highs and lows of Entrepreneurship? In this series, called “How To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur“ we are talking to successful entrepreneurs who can share stories from their experience. I had the pleasure of interviewing Bob Baumgart.
Bob Baumgart and his wife, Janet, jointly own the Home Instead office based in Waukee and Ames, Iowa. Their office opened in 2002 and has served the needs of seniors in Central Iowa. Bob was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska. He has a business background with a bachelor’s degree in agronomy from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. Bob and his family moved from Omaha to the Des Moines suburb of Waukee, Iowa, specifically because of the opportunity to own and operate the Home Instead office based there. Their mission is to professionally and compassionately help people craft their own vision of aging. Through this mission, they continue to positively impact the lives of hundreds of families in Central Iowa by giving them the ability to stay independent and safe in their own homes. Bob also sits on a national advocacy team that regularly speaks to their legislative delegation in Washington, D.C., regarding access to care for seniors in Iowa.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Bob Baumgart: I grew up in Omaha, Nebraska. I’m married, my wife’s name is Janet, and we have two children. I attended the University of Nebraska and have a business background. Janet is an RN, BSN.
What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
Bob Baumgart: Home Instead’s international corporate offices are based in Omaha, so my wife and I were very familiar with their commitment to providing personalized in-home care services for older adults. Some 13 years ago, my grandfather’s health declined, and my family was dealing with the very struggles that Home Instead assists with at difficult family times like these. That experience created a personal connection.
In your opinion, were you a natural born entrepreneur or did you develop that aptitude later on? Can you explain what you mean?
Bob Baumgart: Growing up, my dad owned a local grocery store and restaurant, so the spirit of entrepreneurship was already in my blood. However, I think that began around my dad, in his store, watching the way he handled himself, and his customers probably were more the determining factor. He was a great coach, and I learned valuable skills from my dad about owning my own business that I use every day.
Was there somebody in your life who inspired or helped you to start your journey with your business? Can you share a story with us?
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?
Bob Baumgart: Great question. I have worked for a number of people in my life. Most of those work experiences have taught me how NOT to be a good leader.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them create a work culture in which employees thrive and do not “burn out” or get overwhelmed?
Bob Baumgart: Foster positivity! In my experience, people learn more around those who encourage and operate well in a positive environment. Positive cultures are problem-solving cultures, and positive cultures are fun to be a part of.
What would you advise other business leaders to do in order to build trust, credibility, and Authority in their industry?
Bob Baumgart: My advice would be to always follow through on your commitments, treat people with respect, and understand that you are the expert. That’s why people come to you.
Can you help articulate why doing that is essential today?
Bob Baumgart: Unfortunately, I think the level of cynicism in the world is on the rise. When people find others who actually follow through on what they promise, who live up to their word, do what they say, take ownership in their actions, they can be a little taken aback and, as a result, let their guard down. Then you have the ability to make raving fans.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Bob Baumgart: I think sometimes business owners believe we know what our customers want without paying closer attention to their needs. I would advise taking a step back and avoid making those types of assumptions about your customers. Listen closely to their needs and use what you hear and learn to guide your actions for your customers.
Ok fantastic. Thank you for those excellent insights, Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview about How to Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur. The journey of an entrepreneur is never easy, and is filled with challenges, failures, setbacks, as well as joys, thrills and celebrations. This might be intuitive, but I think it will be very useful to specifically articulate it. Can you describe to our readers why no matter how successful you are as an entrepreneur, you will always have fairly dramatic highs and lows? Particularly, can you help explain why this is different from someone with a “regular job”?
Bob Baumgart: I think the answer is included within your question. IT IS NOT A JUST JOB. It’s a life and not just any life, it’s YOUR LIFE. It’s your name and reputation out there. You as the owner are what people come to know and remember. You’re responsible for serving every customer and for every employee’s livelihood. There are no 9–5 hours. Your hours are all day, every day. If you want to go home at the end of each day and not think about work, you don’t want to be a business owner.
Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually high and excited as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.
Bob Baumgart: I think any time you are having the success you’re feeling pretty high. We recently had our best month ever from a revenue standpoint. We also have had our best customer reviews and feedback ever at the same time. Things were firing on all cylinders! The team earned a bonus because of this great performance. I was really excited to hand them those checks!!!
Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually low, and vulnerable as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.
Bob Baumgart: A few years ago, the business had plateaued, and we just couldn’t get any momentum going to push us forward. I could see that the team was uninspired. It was my job to be the head cheerleader and get them going. It’s tough to put on that cheerleader face when things are not going well. When you are thinking about things like letting people go due to low business volume while spending all day telling your team that we are on the edge of something great happening, that’s a tough dichotomy to have in your head.
Based on your experience can you tell us what you did to bounce back?
Bob Baumgart: I don’t know if I did anything specific. I analyzed our processes for red flags and revisited recent interactions to see if we could have influenced them differently. I kept pushing. This is where that positive culture comes into play. The team kept grinding and kept going. Together we turned it around.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Five Things You Need To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur”? Please share a story or an example for each.
1- Focus: With business ownership, there are multiple things vying for your attention at all times. The ability to focus on activities with the highest payoff is key. When these items come up, I quickly delegate items that, while important, are not where I should focus my time and energy. A quick example is when an employee calls in for work on short notice. I could spend my time making phone calls to rearrange schedules to find a suitable replacement. However, I’m probably better off focusing on long-term partnership strategies with our Referral Providers and letting the scheduling department make those calls.
2- Process: Businesses that build themselves with processes are more efficient, provide consistent results, and are reliable long term. All good things! In my business, all clients have regular Plan of Care (POC) reviews based on their current needs. Specifically, timed Quality Assurance (QA) visits evaluate that POC process on an ongoing basis. Issues uncovered in those QA visits will trigger specific reactions from our administrative team to ensure our clients’ needs are always satisfied. Having a process like this in place helps us all achieve success for our clients.
3- Daily Respite: Everyone needs a way to turn off their brain daily, even if for just 10 or 15 minutes. This could involve meditation, prayer or a hobby you enjoy. For me, it’s running It’s one of the few places where I can let my brain go blank consistently. The sound of my feet hitting the ground and the rhythm of my breathing is cathartic to me.
4- Feedback: Life as a business owner/entrepreneur can be lonely. Moreover, it’s often your job to insulate your people from certain aspects of the business. Yet, you will still need to talk through your own thoughts and decisions with someone. So, find yourself a person to use as a sounding board or advisor, maybe two or three. I have three people I reach out to bounce off ideas or discuss a future vision. None of the three people I use to know each other, and they all have differing expertise. So, the person I reach out to depends upon what I am wanting to talk about or accomplish.
5- Patience: When dealing with the ups and downs of entrepreneurship, often we want to react immediately to “fix” or create some magical solution to problems so we can move on. I have found that taking the time to step back, analyze problems from multiple angles and then move forward logically is the most productive path. My approach often aligns with this quote: “Be in love with the problem, not the solution.” Over time, jumping to a solution before truly analyzing a problem usually leads you back to the same spot. We have tried evaluating potential solutions by three measures: Is the solution desirable? Is it feasible? Is it viable? If a solution can check all three of those boxes, we move forward.
We are living during challenging times and resilience is critical during times like these. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Would you mind sharing a story?
Bob Baumgart: I think about the tough times my dad experienced when I was in eighth grade. The city we lived in shut down the only access road to my dad’s grocery store for nine months. There was no way in or out. I know that my parents had hoped they would be able to hold on. Looking back, it seems clear that the outcome was going out of business Watching how my parents dealt with that adversity absolutely shaped how I handle things and how I move forward. Knowing that outcome was not a fault of my dad’s, not his management, not his decisions, not him over-extending himself or the business, was a lesson I have kept in the back of my mind ever since. That it was out of his hands.
In your opinion, do you tend to keep a positive attitude during difficult situations? What helps you to do so?
Bob Baumgart: I try to always be positive. Its my role as a leader. I have to perpetuate the behavior and attitude I want out of my team. If I need to vent, I try to do so privately away from the team by calling a few people I use for a sounding board.
Can you help articulate why a leader’s positive attitude can have a positive impact both on their clients and their team? Please share a story or example if you can.
Bob Baumgart: Again, I have found that fostering positivity is the way to go. In my experience, people learn more around those who encourage and operate well in a positive environment. Positive cultures are problem-solving cultures, and positive cultures are fun to be a part of.
Ok. Super. We are nearly done. What is your favorite inspirational quote that motivates you to pursue greatness? Can you share a story about how it was relevant to you in your own life?
How can our readers further follow you online?
Bob Baumgart: My business has a Facebook account:
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with
this. We wish you continued success and good health!