Seven years ago, William Lopez founded Alternative Strategies, which employs a pay-for-performance business model fast gaining traction in the industry.
Clients pay for public relations services only when he delivers a measurable beneficial outcome. Just what constitutes a beneficial outcome is something Lopez and his clients agreed upon in the beginning.
If he doesn’t deliver, Lopez doesn’t get paid.
“I love taking risks,” Lopez said. “Without risk you don’t grow.”
Name: William Lopez.
Company: Alternative Strategies.
Company address: 514 Pennsylvania Ave., San Diego.
Company phone: (619) 858-0322.
Year founded: 2000.
Prior business experience: Marketing/advertising/public relations for Thrifty Car Rental, Enterprise, Nine West and Planet Hollywood.
Average hours worked weekly: 60.
Source of startup capital: Self, no loans.
2006 revenue: $1.9 million.
2005 revenue: $1.5 million.
Number of employees: Nine.
Web site: www.altstrategies.com.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in business and a master’s degree in education from Northwestern University, Chicago.
Current residence: San Diego.
Family: Partner and three dogs.
Hobbies: Running, travel and yoga.
Reason for getting into business: After working in-house for the car rental industry, I made a decision to open an agency that would allow me to work with a variety of people and industries.
How I plan to grow the business: It is essential to surround yourself with the best. This includes your employees, your accountant, your attorney and most important, the marketing agency you hire. I also recommend every business owner to invest in a life coach. It truly has helped me.
Biggest plus of business ownership: Having only one person to blame when something goes wrong , yourself!
Biggest drawback: In our industry you are always working. Being off, leaving your work at home is not an option.
Biggest business strength: Absolutely loving what I do. The “wow” effect we are able to create for our clients is truly priceless.
Biggest business weakness: Saying “no.” I still have not mastered the ability to say “no.” It’s a strength and a weakness at the same time.
Biggest risk: I am most proud of leaving an executive level salaried position to open a business, and to take the risks associated with growing the agency to a nine-person team.
Smartest business decision: Adapting to the San Diego market. We created a pay-by-performance public relations program in 2001 that has allowed us to provide our services to many small companies that would not have otherwise had the opportunity to work with a marketing communications firm.
Biggest business mistake: I should have had the confidence to acquire the office size needed in the beginning that would accommodate our growth. I am happy to report our current office can accommodate 11 people.
Toughest career decision: Realizing that in order to grow, you have to let go. Being that I am a control freak, this was hard to do, yet the best thing I have done for Alternative Strategies.
Biggest ongoing challenge: Technology. I must admit that I am very “low tech,” but again I have a team of great employees that keeps me on track with today’s technology.
The most important part of my business: My employees and my life partner.
My business works best when: We work on a project as a team.
Best way to stay competitive: Focus on what you are doing and not on what the competition is doing.
How I measure success: I measure success by knowing that we impacted the business of our clients in a powerful and positive way.
Goals yet to be achieved: Rid the world of bad commercials and poorly designed ads.
My five-year business plan: This year, Alternative Strategies will grow to an 11-person agency and this will allow us to make our five-year business plan, which is to pursue new industries and additional national clients.
I would sell my business only if: Good question but I will never sell my business. Alternative Strategies is my child. I am enjoying the process of seeing it grow into an adult, but will always treat it like my baby.
Guiding principles I will continue to follow: If you do what you did, you get what you got.