Rockstar Entrepreneur: Nathan J. Reis, Entrust Bankcard

At first sight, Nathan J. Reis is not your typical CEO type. Wearing a black Steve Job’s T-Shirt (Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish), you wouldn’t think that this small-town boy from Wisconsin would hit it big in dry, arid Arizona.

But Reis is a wildly successful “big growth” Arizona entrepreneur. He candidly told his story at a business seminar jointly organized by the Mesa Chamber of Commerce and Mesa Community Colleges. He began with three failures and then talked about starting Entrust Bankcard as a bootstrap initiative. Entrust provides merchant processing products and services and  is now Inc. 500’s 18th fastest growing company in the nation. As the company grew, Nate realized he “didn’t have the vocabulary to explain to employees about this fast growth in business.”

The supersized growth came with trade-offs. “If you wait to grow your business, put all the NO’s up on the wall.”Entrepreneurs must decide “what you don’t do.”

He credits the growth of his company to the work culture that he has created. Well, what is culture in a business? Is it reverence ? Is it conformity? To Nate, culture is being as “loud and noisy as possible.” “People will tell you to keep your head down.”

According to Nate,  extreme success happens when we  create a for-profit approach to a social problem. And, he is aiming for the sky. He wants to grow Entrust 50% year on year and increase his customer base to 250,000 small businesses. He believes in CRM software and the future of cloud technology. At the same time, he has started preparing for where he will be in two years.

What makes a place fun to work?

This weekend, I analyzed key sentences from the Phoenix Business Journal’s “Best places to work” section (December 9, 2011). What are common themes that create really enjoyable places to work?   The following tips will help those working, those in transition and others just starting out in their careers.

1)Good places hire the best. They wait to get the right fit and provide them great benefits.

2)You have a “feeling that you are part of something.” You do not get treated like another aisle in a grocery store.

3)Good places have people with integrity. They will have a high moral and ethical code.

4)Good places motivate you. They keep you moving forward.

5)They provide continuous training and the ability to advance.

6)They “invest a lot in the front-end to make sure people are successful.”

7)The “culture recognizes that workers have lives outside the office.”

8)They are “fun places to work.”

9)Good places “don’t overreact to a tough economy.”

10)Good places “make use of a disruptive moment and convert loss into opportunity.”

Lastly, a note to human resource managers. Invest in what you have and that will help you in the long run.