For our latest Entrepreneur Spotlight, we sat down with Dan Pahos of Home Instead Senior Care to talk about his experience with EO Birmingham, and his experience as an entrepreneur with a growing business. Read on for our Q&A with him!
Who Are You and What Do You Do?
My name is Dan Pahos, and I am originally from St. Paul, Minnesota. I never thought I would be living in Birmingham, Alabama, as I had no relatives down here, and had never visited here. But I met a beautiful blue-eyed southern girl from Birmingham in 1993. I moved down to Birmingham for love, and have been here ever since. My wife and I live in Vestavia, and we have two children who are currently in college.
How Did You Become an Entrepreneur?
I’ve always had a natural curiosity about things. You know, why they work the way they do, and how they can be better or improved upon. I’ve also had a strong bias towards action, meaning I like to create things and get things done. That is kind of a competitive spirit I guess I’ve always had, so I think I’ve always had an entrepreneurial bend to me. I wasn’t so much afraid of failing as I was regretting down the road not even trying. I can remember even as a teenager not wanting to look back at my life, say when I was 65, and say, “I wish I would have at least tried something. I can handle failure, but I can’t handle not trying.” That innate drive, along with my natural curiosity to learn about trends and ideas in a macro sense, were key to my making the leap to start a company.
Now, as to Senior Care specifically, that was my mom’s idea. She said the world is getting older, and the WWI generation and Baby Boomers will need more help to stay in their homes. She also said that my temperament, persistence, ambition, and disposition might all be good ingredients to start a company.
What Prompted You to Join EO?
My friend Scott Walton encouraged me to take a look at EO, as he said it was a big part of who and what he is, and the growth of his company, Walton Financial. It took about 18 months, but finally I attended an EO Birmingham luncheon that Scott invited me to in 2010. I quickly found that I was meeting other entrepreneurs who were open and honest about the challenges and opportunities they were dealing with, and it was incredibly helpful to know that I could not only get to know them, but that they were willing to share their entrepreneurial defeats as well as their victories.
My company was growing, but there were cracks developing that I didn’t know how to deal with—poor company culture, more service issues than we wanted (but they kept happening despite my best efforts), and trying to effectively hire the right people and retain them. I had never been responsible in leading a growing organization like this before, and I had doubts about my ability to lead and manage. In EO, I have found answers to those questions, and many more.
What Has Been the Most Valuable Part of Being an EO Member?
The best part of EO is twofold for me. First, I joined EO because my business was growing beyond my capabilities, and I didn’t know where to turn to get help. In EO, you learn so much from other entrepreneurs via their shared experiences in what we call our Forums. Forums are your local group of 6-8 non-competing entrepreneurs that meet once a month for half a day of curated experience sharing. We talk frankly (and confidentially) about our failures, challenges, opportunities, and threats. I have learned so much from others, both in my Forum, and other EO Chapter members, about how to better run my business.
Second, I found that not only was the business sharing extremely helpful, but the deep friendships that have formed since joining EO Birmingham in 2010 has been one of the unexpected values of EO for me. It can be lonely as an entrepreneur, and the social aspect that EO brings with monthly chapter events, that also include our spouses, is very important to me.
What Does EO Birmingham Offer that other Professional Groups Don’t?
Other groups that I was a part of or tried, often times involved me sharing a problem, and others then telling me what I should do to fix that problem. We all know that it’s easier to be an armchair quarterback and tell others what you should do than it is to be the one actually dealing with the issue. EO has a construct called the Gestalt method. The Gestalt method means that we explain our opportunity or challenge to our Forum mates in a structured format. They then get the chance to ask qualifying questions, and then they get to share similar experiences they have had, as well as how they dealt with it. Sometimes that means they share their failure in that situation, or sometimes it’s a success. Either way, I get so much out of their experience without anyone telling me what I should do. That part is left up to me, but I have several deep, unvarnished examples of what others did—good or bad. That has helped me tremendously in growing and scaling my business.
Lastly, EO is international in scope, so having the ability to travel the world of EO conferences and meet that “instafriend” as one EO’er calls it, has allowed me to learn about other cultures. and business practices from around the world, along with lasting entrepreneurial EO friendships.
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