Jim Creason | Crain's Nashville

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Jim Creason

Background:  

Based in Franklin, Tennessee, Censis Technologies is a leading software company focused on assisting hospitals and surgical centers manage and organize surgical assets such as instruments and equipment. Jim Creason has been with the company for 11 years, but also dabbles in real estate as the president of Trust Development

The Mistake:

Not focusing on achievable goals.

Back right before the Great Recession, the real estate market here in Nashville was extremely hot just like it is now, and I began buying up property in the North Nashville area. 

I have a strong belief in preservation and I believed in the North Nashville area, with its walkability to downtown. I had a vision that the city was going to put the new Nashville Sounds baseball park back on the historic location of the Sulphur Dell, and that turned out to be a bet that I ended up winning. I was very keen on working to transform areas, especially in North Nashville.

While I didn't get too far out in front of myself, I did find myself owning some property – as the economy continued to spiral downward – that I could do absolutely nothing with. That was a long time for a lot of people who were in the real estate business to be left with a situation that you could do nothing with. You obviously couldn't develop it, and for the longest time, no one in the banking community wanted to assist.

I'm very focused on a small number of goals for my team to achieve.

The Lesson:

I wound up weathering that storm, but what it taught me was not to get too far out in front of yourself in your career. Don't spread yourself too thin; stay focused on lofty goals, but make sure they are digestible goals. Set yourself up for success versus, putting yourself in a situation where you have so many things that have to go right, it puts you in a position to not succeed in 100 percent of what you are trying to achieve.

At Censis, I'm very focused on a small number of goals for my team to achieve. I keep them focused on a three-month basis and work hard to hit those goals so that we are creating and building on momentum and success, as opposed to the negativity of failure.

I definitely take less risk when I purchase property now.

Don't get greedy. Be willing to appreciate that you may have to pass on the opportunity to keep the right balance of risk within your portfolio. That's the one thing I'm much more respectful of as a businessman: stay focused on the smaller chunks of projects. I don't always bite off an opportunity that comes my way just because there's some strong upside in it. I'm much more measured in my choice of projects that I take on.

I got through this mistake with a lot of persistence to see it through. I knew things would get better. I think I was very lucky to have found myself in the North Nashville area from a real estate holding standpoint because it was a little quicker in coming out of the recession than other areas in Nashville. I was able to get out on the uptick given the fact that areas like Germantown and Salemtown and Historic Buena Vista came out of the recession quicker.

Follow Censis Technologies and Trust Development on Twitter at: @Censitrac and @TrustNashville.

Photo courtesy of Jim Creason.

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