The Salesforce Independents Series: Meet Mike Gill

It’s Independents Week and we’re celebrating by profiling successful entrepreneurs within the Salesforce community on the 10K blog. Follow along with us at #IndependentsWeek and #GoIndependent as we give a peek into each person’s journey to independence, lessons learned along the way, and advice for others who might be interested in joining the thriving Salesforce ecosystem. 

Michael Gill
Co-founder of CloudAva

Michael Gill
Co-founder of CloudAva

Tell us about your business. CloudAva is a technology solution provider focused on helping enterprises of all sizes adopt technology to achieve business success. My wife and I founded the company about ten years ago and named it after our daughter, Ava, who was born around the same timeframe as the launch of the company. 

Our goal is to help enterprises of all sizes with their digital transformation, specifically within the Salesforce ecosystem. Our consultants are skilled experts who understand how to best integrate existing business systems with the cloud in order to reduce and control IT costs and increase sales through enterprise collaboration and social technologies.

Tell me about your “road to independence” – what was the process like? 

My wife and I met while working at NetSuite, our former employer. After the company’s IPO quite a few things had changed culturally — as they often do. We were on the cusp of having our first child and we realized that we wanted to have more control over our decisions and our schedules. 

Admittedly, we had a bit of a rocky start. We had initially planned to focus on NetSuite integrations given our previous work experience. Our first customer was unhappy with the NetSuite offering and was frustrated with its limitations at the time. We ultimately converted the customer to Salesforce and then recognized the significant opportunity that the Salesforce ecosystem presented. Now most of our business is centered around Salesforce integrations and development. 

What advice can you share with others who might be thinking about embarking on a similar path?

First, you have to know your appetite for uncertainty. Starting your own business can be scary, especially if you have a family to support. It’s essential to have money in the bank as a buffer.

My other bit of advice is to start operating as a business — especially where financials are concerned — as quickly as possible. 

What are the best parts of being a business owner? 

The best part of working for myself is being able to control, to an extent, the type of work I accept and the clients I work with. I approach my client relationships with brutal honesty. The Salesforce community evolves so quickly that it’s imperative that businesses work with experts who are knowledgeable, understand their business needs, and aren’t afraid to give fearless council even when the advice is not what the client is hoping to hear. I’ve found that my most successful client engagements are those who trust my expertise and want my honest advice. 

If you could go back and give yourself one piece of advice from the future, what would it be?

Salesforce is an app-centric ecosystem. AppExchage has made it relatively easy for companies to create a revenue stream. I wish I would have invested time and energy into building a product for AppExchange that would allow me to leave my mark on the community.

Stay tuned all week for more advice from successful  “independents” within the Salesforce ecosystem. Follow along with the series to learn:

  • Why all successful entrepreneurs should have a “make your own lunch mentality”