Stephen and Sterling Carter on How to Achieve Healthy Business Growth
Twin brothers Stephen and Sterling Carter have cultivated distinct careers and ambitions. Raised by a single mother, they each exhibited a keen interest in their academic career, and now hold six advanced degrees between them. Sterling pursued a career in physical therapy, while Stephen sought out a path in finance.
While working in the health-care industry, Sterling would receive countless phone calls from peers looking for jobs and health-care agencies looking for therapists. Noting the lack of supply and extremely high demand, he dreamt up the idea of a health-care staffing company that could bridge the gap between job seekers and potential employers in the industry. Stephen was the go-to for financial guidance and had ample business savvy, so Sterling approached him with the idea of his staffing company. The two put their heads together and in 2011, Sterling Staffing Solutions was born.
After seven years of mega-growth and numerous awards, Stephen and Sterling Carter are lifting the lid on their tactics in their newest book, Double Your Success. We got the chance to sit down with the pair and dive into the secrets of their success.
A|FB: In your book, you state that starting a company takes confidence and heart, but most of all, it takes planning and understanding exactly what your business needs to succeed in its niche. Can you shed light on how someone can understand what exactly their business needs?
Stephen: It’s so important to determine a great business idea, but also to vet that business idea and make sure it’s actually viable and can work. First, you need to identify a desire, or serve your passion. For Sterling Staffing Solutions, we found a need that wasn’t being provided and took that niche and vetted it out. We sat down and wrote a business plan, which forced us to think of competition and the market how to grow over the next five years, how to utilize capital, and how to hire staff to handle the work. Having a plan and having a great idea is just one part of it—you have to execute it.
Sterling: In addition to finding your niche, you need to find your “why” in the business you’re going into. We’ve always been passionate about helping others, so providing an opportunity for others and making a difference in our community was really important. Opening up a health-care staffing company was perfect for us because we were able to touch so many people’s lives in a lot of different ways. We’re able to employ individuals that are then able to take care of family, pay their bills, and have the opportunity to mentor others.
A|FB: Your business has blossomed in growth. What has that journey been like, and how did you manage to keep afloat and maintain a positive attitude throughout the ups and downs?
Stephen: Growth is great, but unmanaged or unplanned growth becomes an issue from a quality standpoint. The worst thing that can happen is to reach an amount of growth but not be able to satisfy clients anymore. Growth for us meant staying focused and recognizing our “why.” We want to make sure [that throughout] our growth, [we] continue to deliver a quality product and take care of our community. Our growth was planned to be successful.
Sterling: To plan for growth in business you have to be agile. You have to be able to make quick decisions and quick changes. Don’t be afraid to outsource. If you’re growing and ramping up, make sure you medicate that growth—outsource it. There are several companies out
there that can help with your growth.
A|FB: How has partnering and creating a business together strengthened your relationship and grown your business?
Stephen: The worst thing you can do [in business] is choose a bad partner. If you don’t have the right partner, it doesn’t matter how well you communicate, it’s still not going to work. Business is a partnership and partnerships are like marriages, so choosing the right partner [means choosing] someone you know you can be with for a long time.
Sterling: After college, we made an effort to develop our own identity and path, and we did really well on our own. Coming back together, [we went] back to where we started, where it looks familiar, but it’s also a challenge. It requires a lot of planning, communication, and patience. Stephen said business partnerships are like being married—you have to be able to share, be open to another person’s opinion, and can’t go off making decisions without consulting the other person.
A|FB: What do you encourage potential business owners to look for in new business ideas?
Stephen: There is nothing new under the sun. When you look at a lot of successful entrepreneurs, a lot of them took an idea and tweaked it somehow—packaged or marketed [it differently]—or found one small weakness in the current service model [that they could exploit to differentiate their product, making] themselves greater and more marketable. If your idea is working already in some form or fashion, figure out how to make it better in your competitive market, and go from there.
Sterling: Once you find out who your competitors are, go and talk to them. Go figure out their pain points, and sometimes you’ll get your answer based on their pain point and what keeps them up at night.
A|FB: What has been your favorite part of this business journey?
Stephen: As an entrepreneur, there’s always that fear of if you have what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur, making decisions and calling the shots. There’s a bit of self doubt and hesitancy to jump out there. For me personally, it was the fulfillment of knowing that this great idea that we had, we made work. It’s a nice sense of accomplishment and a confidence booster. Being able to set your own pace and set your own path is a really nice feeling.
Sterling: In life, everyone has dreams, goals, and aspirations. When you’re able to actually see your dreams come to fruition, there’s just no better feeling than that. Opening up this business and being able to touch as many people as possible is all the satisfaction [we need].
Stephen and Sterling Carter are published ForbesBooks authors.
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This article originally ran in the Winter issue of Authority Magazine.