Our oldest throwback, Joe Sandin, was featured in our March 2013 Fargo Monthly issue. In that issue we learned about Onsharp, a business Joe and his partner founded in 2000. He shared how he got started and some great business advice. Now, he’s back to share more!
Q: In your initial feature in Fargo Monthly, readers learned about your company Onsharp. Can you tell us some updates on the company and in your life?
A: Obviously, a lot has changed in 9 years since 2013. Around the time of that interview, my wife and I had 3 children all under the age of 5. It was a busy time in our lives starting a family and both running businesses. My wife has her own law practice (Sandin Law), so parenting has been and continues to be a team effort as we work to help each other do the things that have to be done to keep a business moving forward.
At Onsharp, we have definitely grown and matured quite a bit since then. We’ve gone from a very small team to over 35 employees today. We hopped around between a few office locations, quickly outgrowing them to the point where we literally didn’t have a spot for anyone to sit and eat lunch. In January, we moved into a new 13,000 square foot space just south of 32nd Avenue and I-29. This new space will give us the room we need as we continue to grow.
One huge addition in our business was in 2017… adding Jake Dahl to lead our sales efforts. Prior to that, we were really stuck from a revenue perspective. I am a relationship guy, but not the sales leader that we needed to break through that next ceiling. The work Jake has done to establish and mature our sales and marketing efforts has allowed us to more than triple our revenues since 2017.
Q: You told Fargo Monthly the one rule you follow for your business practices is to keep a positive attitude and to surround yourself with positive people. Has that changed?
A: This is still my #1 priority in business. I can’t imagine running and growing a business with a group of people that are not positive and solution-oriented. Company culture is very important to us, and we want to run an organization that lifts everyone up so that we can all do our best work.
I think that one of the best decisions we ever made was to run our business on the EOS system (Entrepreneur’s Operating System). For anyone not familiar with it, go read the book “Traction: Get A Grip On Your Business” by Gino Wickman. He teaches you a practical system for running a business and addressing all the core components of business, such as People, Processes, and Data.
Q: Looking back from 2013 to now, what are some important lessons or knowledge you have learned?
A: One thing I’ve learned that is so important is how to delegate and empower other people to solve problems and move the business forward. You can’t do it all yourself. You have to learn to let go. You just have to have the right people around you that can execute. I am fortunate to have an amazing leadership team and really an amazing roster of talent at Onsharp at every single level.
“We all make mistakes. As a leader, you have to let people make some mistakes so they can learn from them. “
Q: Through the years, have you had any mentors in your professional or personal life?
A: My father-in-law, Mike Bullinger, has really taught me a lot about business.
It’s definitely a privilege to have access to an experienced business leader and watch how he operates. That, combined with the advice he gives me, has provided the clarity to make certain decisions that I may have never made on my own.
Q: What are some experiences since 2013 that have been the most impactful on you, both professionally and personally? What have you learned from them?
A: I think that tough financial times are when you really learn what you’re made of. We had a couple of years in that stretch where we were literally watching our cash on a daily basis. It caused us to put several processes, procedures and reporting mechanisms in place that are still with us today. While it was a stressful time, I wouldn’t trade it for anything because it has taught us how to win tough battles in business.
In the years since Joe was in the entrepreneur spotlight in the magazine, he has learned more about what being a business leader in the community means. Learn more about his business, Onsharp, at onsharp.com, and check out his first feature in the magazine on at fargomonthly.com/archives!
Q: What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs today?
A: You only live once. Work hard and enjoy the journey. You should wake up every day antsy to get to work. If that’s not the case for you, then you need to think long and hard about what you are spending your time doing.