10K Independents Week: How to Build a Salesforce Business You Love With Alex Scalzo

It’s Independents Week at 10K Advisors! We’re celebrating the 10K Expert Community and our mission to give people the freedom to do the work they love. Stay tuned to our blog for Q&As with some of our brightest independent experts as we explore what it takes to build a business, how to overcome doubt, and advice for other Salesforce experts with an entrepreneurial spirit. You can follow the conversation every day this week at #10KIndependentsWeek.

Alex Scalzo | Empodio | @empodio1

Q: Can you tell us a bit about your business?

A: Empodio is a boutique consultancy that focuses on Field Service Lightning. We founded Empodio having realized the misunderstandings surrounding Field Service on the Salesforce Platform. For starters, it’s far more specialized than many other product offerings and generally more difficult for new users to learn. It’s also relatively new to the market, so it’s been a learning process and adjustment for Salesforce and their partners to convey what it does and how to successfully implement. The opportunity for Empodio was figuring out how can we capitalize on this niche challenge and enable every organization’s field service journey.

Among the five Empodio core values, we are impact-oriented. Just as much as we want everyone who purchased the product to have the most possible benefit to their organization, it also means guiding customers on when not to purchase FSL. The biggest thing we see in the space is companies purchasing enterprise-grade software thinking it will solve their issues, but not entirely understanding what the product actually does and doesn’t do. Empodio sees FSL as a step by step process, almost like a video game. We guide customers on the journey and show how they can level up. It’s a major organizational transformation and we feel it is vital for our clients to know that from day one.

When David and I stepped out of our past careers, our goal was to create a consultancy we wouldn’t want to leave. The traditional consulting model isn’t sustainable, and we recognize our consultants are human beings that deserve balance. This is our opportunity for disruption in the space – we want our team to feel they’ve been committed to professionally and personally. We’re passionate about challenging our consultants so they can further hone their craft in addition to learning to be their best selves. We hire, fire, sell, and decline deals based on our commitment to our values and mission; it’s something we owe it to our consultants and clients alike. 

Q: How long were you working in the ecosystem before you determined the mission and goal of your business?

A: I’ve been in the ecosystem since late 2016. I first worked at Bluewolf, which was a phenomenal experience. I was really lucky to work with incredible teams and people, traveling and meeting them at the office and in their homes. It was also my first snapshot of what “good” project work looks like. Bluewolf and Salesforce gave me true direction and was what I would consider the inflection point before founding Empodio. 

My positive experience at Bluewolf was empowering, but it ultimately wasn’t enough for me to stay. I realized the value of relationship building and empowering people, especially during the difficult transition of Bluewolf being acquired by IBM. During that transition, I learned I never wanted to work for a massive corporation and that there’s always room for options. You don’t have to sell out for the sake of being comfortable. Being uncomfortable is good, it means you’re growing. 

This all happened before Salesforce purchased Field Service Lightning, so my prior experiences shaped how we built Empodio – as both a service provider and an employer – with intention.

Q: What was your first “ah-ha!” moment before taking the first step to start your business?

A: Mainly, I realized a company’s sole purpose is to put its employees and clients alike in a position to be successful. I personally didn’t feel that was happening for me. Retrospectively, sure, I learned a lot about how that process was trying to unfold where I was(Rome wasn’t built in a day!), but it just didn’t feel quick enough for me. Going through that rat race without feeling I had a say in the direction of the company that I put time and effort into wasn’t going to work for me.

So in late May in 2019, I got a call from a former colleague and friend, David Longhini, about “doing something different” (founding Empodio) and the rest is history. I’ve learned more in a year doing this than in the entirety of my career because, quite frankly, there was no other option.

Empodio has shaped me permanently and changed the way I see both the industry and myself.

Q: Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?

A: I was told by the Small Business Association that we essentially built Empodio backward, which is hilarious. While we were in a fortunate position to not stress over cost barriers, we had major directional issues. For example, I spent hours and hours building out HR policies and legal paperwork, when really that wasn’t necessary until way farther down the road. 

David and I also lacked sales experience, so I wish I would have started the way we’re running Empodio now. The first thing we should have done was to focus on branding and processes. I also think every successful entrepreneur would agree that every mistake and experience forces you to take direction and figure out the necessary solutions. Paralysis by perfection is a very real issue to be aware of, so it’s important to keep chipping away. 

Q: Can you offer any words of wisdom for Salesforce experts looking to start their own business?

A: Consulting is a young wise man’s game, and I’m a firm believer that wisdom can’t be taught (but you should always try). Someone once told me “you’re going to get a lot of advice and you’re going to read a lot of books, but your job as an owner is to be a sifter. Be that kid in the sandbox and sift for the things that will be the most valuable.” 

That single piece of advice helped me refocus from being distracted by all the shiny things. 

Jumping off is also the hardest part, but first, you need to establish your support network. I don’t think this is talked about enough. Entrepreneurs love telling people to just get out and get started but that doesn’t necessarily pay off in the long run. Talk to your loved ones and friends in the ecosystem or adjacent industry spaces. Understanding who you can go to for certain information will stave off burn-out, which is nearly inevitable for any entrepreneur. There’s going to be highs and lows, and the best way to find balance is to have a trusted network to turn to in those moments. It will create stability and sustainability that will propel you through it all. 

Also, there’s no template for being a successful entrepreneur. Don’t waste too much time listening to people who don’t know what they’re talking about, because everyone has an opinion about how to be an entrepreneur. Figure out what you like and consume content from trusted sources, because, in the end, you’re the one deciding what’s best for you. 

Imposter syndrome is real. Just know that this journey is a process and you don’t need to be stellar at everything in order to just get started. Who you are is what got you here, and where you want to go is the process by which your growth will happen.