Running a business is not for the meek. According to a Wells Fargo/NFIB study, less than 40% of all new businesses become profitable. It is an exercise reserved for the brave and sometimes the borderline mad. These people look at the brick walls of business and accept that there is no easy way to get to the success on the other side. The entrepreneur knows that he is going to have to run as fast as he can into that brick wall. He is going to either burst through in triumph or live to see himself fall into a million pulpy pieces-a victim of one or a hundred missteps, one or a hundred miscalculations.
Josh Millet is not a man for the meek. He is the CEO and founder of Criteria Corp., an organization providing pre-employment and employee testing for businesses. Though today his business serves over 300 clients, he suffered a lot of bumps and bruises while trying to break through to where the sun shined brighter.
Growing up the son of an archaeologist in Canada, Josh was exposed to all aspects of academia. Though extremely bright and excelling in the classroom, he was discouraged by his parents from entering the world of business. “Business was a sort of bad word.” He went through most of his early 20s without giving a second thought to starting his own business. After completing undergraduate work at the University of Pennsylvania, he earned his doctorate in French Medieval History at Harvard University. “I wasn’t thinking about running a software company. I was thinking about Joan of Arc.”
Unfortunately, it wasn’t long after graduation that Josh learned a degree and good grades don’t always lead to where you want to be in life. After failing to find a job as a professor, he still wanted to follow his love of teaching. In college he had given free classes at a local YMCA to kids who wanted extra preparation for the SATs, and found a large need in the community for his services. He decided to start giving free educational courses in the community again, only this time he relied on the money of advertisers to keep afloat.
Sometimes the first brick wall you hit can be the hardest, and this was no exception. The first week Josh taught the class, only five people showed up. He smelled the smoke of failure and only hoped that he could save the kindling with which he was trying to start his career. Amazingly, a different kind of fire ignited within the community. Within weeks, his program needed four classrooms just to fit all of the kids. When he decided to put his classes online, the student body rose to over one million.
After an 18-month run in the education field, he turned his sights to employment testing. The late 90s. An exciting time when people where just starting to understand the full potential of the Internet. Josh knew he wanted in. If he could gather a following of over a million students in just one year after utilizing the Internet, he felt he could change the way businesses evaluated potential employees in much the same way. Getting investors to believe in his idea was excruciating. “We were in the most danger in the early days when trying to get off the ground.” It took over six months to interest enough blue-chip clients to get Criteria Corp. off the drawing board. “It can be discouraging at times when people don’t immediately grasp the concept or see the virtue in what you do.”
Though it took courage and countless hours of relentless work, Josh can now proudly stand on the other side of the wall, and he wants you to come with him if you have a passion to succeed in business. “I always encourage friends to start their own thing. I really don’t see why anyone wouldn’t. So warning people about the perils is really not my emphasis. I always err on the other side, which is saying that anyone can do it.”