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Young Entrepreneur

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YEC Member Dan Price is Named Entrepreneur Magazine's 'Entrepreneur of 2014'

YEC member Dan Price, CEO at Gravity Payments, has been awarded Entrepreneur Magazine’s “Entrepreneur of 2014.”

The award nominees were narrowed down to 15 finalists by Entrepreneur Magazine's Editor-in-Chief Amy Cosper and VP of Marketing Lisa Murray, as well as The UPS Store VP of Marketing and PR Manager -- Michelle Van Slyke and Chelsea Lee, respectively. From there, readers voted on a winner.

Price was awarded this honor for the success he has experienced from his values-based business principles and practices, and for his company’s disruption of the payments industry for small businesses.

Gravity Payments, which pulls in about $150 million annually in revenue, is a credit card processing company that launched more than a decade ago. The company has since added new services, including loyalty programs and point-of-sale consulting. Beyond its services, Gravity Payments is known for its enthusiastic support for independent business owners.

The company grew out of Price’s high school business, a consulting company that helped his small-business clients negotiate lower prices with credit card processing companies. This opened his eyes to a huge pitfall in the industry.

“I was really upset at this industry for the way they were treating my clients, and I just wanted to blow the thing up. So I was like, ‘I’m going to charge a third of what everyone [else does],’” Price said to Entrepreneur Magazine.

“One of the things I love most about my job is the opportunity to work with such amazing people. Every single person that works here is a key decision maker. And that’s a culture that we’ve just maintained from the beginning,” said Price in a YouTube video. “It doesn’t matter if they need to break some rules. It doesn't matter if they need to go outside of the scope of their job — they’re willing to do whatever it takes.”

Gravity Payments gives each of its employees about $1,000 each year to put toward a charity of their personal choice, and creates opportunities for team building with activities like volunteering together on a regular basis.

YEC: What was the biggest draw for you to want to help small business owners succeed?

dan priceDan Price: The biggest draw for me in wanting to help small business owners succeed was just being exposed to independent businesses at a young age. When I toured with a rock band at 16 I was exposed to a lot of communities where independent businesses were predominant. Playing at different venues around those communities allowed me to see how great of an impact small businesses made on those communities. I also was able to see how difficult it could be at times for independent businesses. They brought a huge amount of value to a community, but they wouldn't capture a lot of value; they wouldn't get a lot of it, even though they did so much for everybody else.

YEC: What has been the most challenging aspect of your startup journey? Any advice you can give to the next generation of entrepreneurs?

DP: A big challenge for my startup journey was having no outside funding, and I’m actually thankful for that challenge. It made Gravity work really hard for our clients.  Ultimately, the only way that we were funded -- outside of my own personal life savings and debt -- was by having clients and the revenue that we would achieve by having those clients. It was a big challenge, but my advice for the next generation of entrepreneurs would be that a challenge shouldn't stop you because it can actually help you in the long term. Another piece of advice? Don't take advice. Trust your own instincts.

YEC: You decided to take the bootstrapping route. Why not seek outside investors?

DP: When you take money from others, their vision needs to be accounted for. The investors need to be at the top of the food chain because they’re risking a lot. By not taking that money, we could keep our clients as our top stakeholder.

YEC: As a business leader, what is the key to building a strong team that wants to work with you, rather than just for you?

DP: The key to building a strong team that wants to work with you is to actually care about your team. If you think that answer means you should try to make people think you care about them, then you’re probably in for a lot of trouble. Actually caring about each individual is the most important thing. If you have good skills, tactics, and know how to be respectful, but also hold people accountable; all those things can help. I don’t think they can replace a genuine care for each individual. Most people reading this will think that’s ridiculous, and that’s fine. Most people maybe aren't in a situation where that’s really necessary for them. Maybe they’re not in that leadership position, but I think people that are in a leadership position will get it.