Father of David and Leia // Founder and CEO at BizON
Written by Jessica Gedge // Photographed by Joelle Segal
Nunzio is the Founder & CEO at BizON, an online marketplace where people can buy, sell and grow businesses or franchises every day. We were put in touch with Nunzio by the Vaughan Business Enterprise Centre, which provides one-stop services for aspiring entrepreneurs and existing business owners. In (one iteration of) my former life, I had the pleasure of working at one of the business enterprise centres where I was able to coach up and coming entrepreneurs – and let me say, there are a TON of amazing resources available that founders can tap into and a great network of people (like Nunzio!) that you can connect with.
The thing that immediately struck Joelle and I upon meeting and talking with Nunzio is how deeply entrenched in family he is. He suggested having our photoshoot at Amazon Indoor Playground – a business that was successfully sold/purchased through BizON – and featuring his wife and kids in the shoot, which we absolutely loved.
Here’s our conversation with Nunzio where we really got to dig deep into his thoughts about parenting while being an entrepreneur.
How did you begin your entrepreneurial journey?
After my hockey career, I decided I wanted to go to business school. Out the gate, as a mature student, I was extremely motivated to fast track through my Bachelor of Commerce program with a focus on accounting – just like my father. However, I quickly realized that accounting just wasn’t for me. From there, I explored the entrepreneurship program (relatively new in 2009) and was intrigued by the similarities it had with the world of professional sports. Being an entrepreneur and an athlete are very similar. Like sports, entrepreneurship is grounded by hard work, focus, team effort, discipline, time management, taking action on uncertainty, speed, rebounding from failures and the list goes on.From there, I was hooked, I found my new “hockey”, something that drove me towards uncovering my “calling” in life – and that is “creation”. I am absolutely obsessed with turning ideas into something real, and entrepreneurship is the vehicle.
Where do you see your business in 5, 10 years from now?
I don’t know – I think setting 5 – 10 year plans are kind of tough. The truth is that businesses of “today” change way too fast and are filled with too many uncertainties to have a 5-10 year plan. Truthfully, you can have a 6-month plan that can potentially be obsolete, so it’s critical to be fluid in your thinking and adapt/evolve with clarity and speed. With that said, I can give you the answer as to where I see my business in the next 2 or 3 years, because as a leader it’s important not to get pulled into “today”. If we get too short term in our thinking, we miss opportunities to be truly creative and go a level deeper in terms of what we’re trying to build and if we get too long term our plans may be obsolete, so for me a 2-3 year plan is a balanced approach. With that in mind, I focus on looking at the business environment and world through a model I call S.E.T. This allows me to question everything through the lenses of social, economic and tech trends. This guides my vision and direction. So, in the next 2 or 3 years, I definitely see BizON as the market leader in the business & franchise for sale micro market – a marketplace serving a global community of professionals and business owners looking to buy or sell businesses or franchises between the prices of $1,000 to $5,000,000. I see BizON developing forward thinking technology that can help these segments grow and do better business. I see BizON as the go-to marketplace that empowers people to love what they do.
What is your favourite part of your work and why?
Seeing when a buyer connects with a seller via our marketplace and that connection leading to a successful sale. I just love seeing that we had a role in helping someone change his or her life for the better. Whether that be the seller looking to sell in order to fund their retirement or if it’s giving a 9-to-5’er the opportunity to find and buy a business or franchise that empowers them, inspires them, gets them jumping out of bed in the morning to do great work as their own boss. We are grateful at BizON to be part of this journey – a journey that can be challenging but yet fulfilling. This is my favourite part!
Being entrepreneurs (and parents) we tend to get a ton of (often unsolicited) advice. Any words of wisdom really stuck with you?
The best piece of advice I’ve ever received is that – “you’d rather own 1% of Microsoft than 99% of a startup that can’t get off the ground”. This reinforces the true motive of an entrepreneur, and that’s to build a business that adds value to the world.The motive shouldn’t be to get rich (yes your business needs to make money – there’s a difference). This advice sets the tone for how I build businesses. That’s why at the early stages of BizON, I was okay with dishing out equity to find the right team. My motive/passion was (and still is) to see my idea come to life and not to build as much wealth as possible. To be wealthy is the by-product of creating something special – it should never be the motive.
Do you have a mentor?
Many. I definitely put value on talking, reading and hearing from the people that have created what I aim to create and that is a business that adds value to the world and a family that positively contributes to the well-being of our society. I think mentors (personal or professional) are super important because they do 2 things: 1) Set you with direction 2) Kick you in the butt with some reality checks.
If you could meet anyone, who would it be?
Richard Branson – I think he’s super cool and balances intelligence, fun and family the way I wish to. Also, his mindset on “doing good is good for business” is something that I align with. Nevertheless, it would be cool to play some tennis and have some drinks with him on Necker Island. Richard – if you somehow read this, my family and I are waiting for an invite haha.
What does a typical day look like?
I wake up around 5:30 am every morning (usually in some sort of S position with a foot in the eye courtesy of either my son or daughter – whoever decided to wake up in the middle of the night and call out for mommy or daddy, lol). If I can get a workout in, I will (usually on my spin bike), if not, I shower and meditate. By 6:30 am I am getting my children ready with my wife for the day. I usually kickstart my day by reading for 45 minutes at 7:30 am. After that, my day is scheduled minute to minute with tasks and meetings. I aim (when I can) to get home by 4:30ish to start cooking dinner for my family (something I absolutely love doing). We’ll usually eat around 5:30/6 pm and then my wife and I will get the kids ready and in bed by 7:30/8 pm. By 9 pm my wife and I get our adult time in (unless something with my business needs to be addressed). Then by 11 pm we’re in bed and resting for the day to come.
Being that the days are so jam-packed, how do you carve out family time, or time for yourself?
I stay committed to a consistent routine. This allows me to control my time and how I want to spend it. The bottom line is – I have 2 strict rules: 1) Allocating time and focus into sitting, reading, thinking and meditating – the things that centre me, energize me and keep me moving forward 2) Aiming to make it home for dinner every single day.
Being home for dinner every day is a great goal to set.
One of my role models is my dad and he made it a point, despite how busy his work schedule was, to make it home for dinner every day and I’m inspired by that.
How do you stay organized?
A lot of structure. I literally schedule everything in my calendar and then work and live by that calendar. I have realized that it’s not about the amount of time I spend on one thing, but rather how I spend the time – this keeps me super organized and efficient.
Sometimes we can be a slave to our calendars – ever feel this way?
No – I control my calendar and that way I own my time and can stay disciplined. I have structure but I’m open and can be agile. Also, I surround myself with the right team set with high standards, operational principles and culture where my business can operate without me.
The concept of owning your time is really important to us, too. Speaking of time management – what is your childcare situation?
Do you really want to talk about this? How do I put it – it’s brutal! Ontario has the highest childcare prices in the country. Luckily my wife and I make it work and don’t look at it as a burden. However, everyone’s financial situations and obligations are different and it’s concerning because daycare has a ton of benefits for children. I implore the government of Ontario to look into this more diligently. It makes no sense (at least for me, from the outside) how other Provinces are able to subsidize childcare more than Ontario. I believe the most vulnerable and pressed segments in the world are the elderly, and new/growing families. More attention must be placed here.
This leads us to our next question about challenges that you face as a parent and entrepreneur?
Honestly, I am extremely fortunate to have the wife I have. She understands what I am doing, absorbs more of the “parenting” tasks and is extremely patient. As an entrepreneur, this is beyond important. When building a business, you experience high-highs, low-lows and relentless, hard work 24/7. Having spent 7 years with Melissa by my side, she has embraced these situations and continues to have the level of patience that inspires me to do so many things others would deem impossible. Because of this I rarely experience challenges when it comes to parenting as an entrepreneur.
What about being a parent has changed the way you run your business, or has it at all?
It has – I am now a big believer in working smarter, not longer. This has changed a lot since becoming a parent because you value your time way more – which is great since it forces you to run a business that is truly committed to operational excellence and finding efficiencies (doing more in less time). Moreover, being a parent has led me to think more long term, creating a legacy mindset. This means that I aim to create something that will make my family happy and proud, something (if they want) they can be part of in the future and something that will outlive me.
Someone told me early on that having a family and building a business doesn’t mix – there can often be a stigma that you can’t do both – I think that’s totally wrong and you can absolutely be an entrepreneur and have a successful family life, where no tradeoffs exist.
What are 3 books you would recommend on either parenting or entrepreneurship/business?
Truthfully, I’ve never read a parenting book, but I can suggest 3 books for entrepreneurship/business: 1) Little Black Stretchy Pants (actually talks about building a business with a growing family) by Chip Wilson – Founder of Lululemon 2) Good to Great by Jim Collins 3) The CEO Next Door by Elena L. Botelho, Kim R. Powell
What are your favourite tunes to listen to, to get motivated?
When it comes to music I am not the most loyal listener. I will just hit some random playlist on Spotify and if I like it I will listen, if I don’t, I skip! In general, I am a very motivated person, I don’t need mechanisms to motivate me, my “why” in life is super strong and I am super focused on driving towards my goals every single day.
Who inspires you?
Deep question. So here’s a deep answer: My wife’s patience inspires me. My children’s smiles and persistence inspires me. My mom’s love and encouragement inspires me. My father’s focus and discipline inspires me. The fact that even the greatest in the world have failed and succeeded inspires me.
To be honest we could have hung out with this fun-loving family all day! You could feel the love, kindness and shared sense of humour between these two parents – with two kids under the age of 3, this is a feat unto itself! Melissa took time out of her busy work schedule – just one example of the support, empathy and understanding that she provides as a partner to an entrepreneur, and how no successful business person is an island. To learn more about Nunzio’s business (or if you’re interested in either selling or buying your own business and starting your entrepreneurship journey!) check his website here, Twitter here, or Instagram here.