Tech Entrepreneur, Phyllis Newhouse, spoke with Real Simple about the (not always steady) march to building your own business. 

By Jane Porter
Updated June 29, 2015
Derek Blanks

Phyllis Newhouse was a single mom who had logged 22 years in the military when she decided to start her own business. In 2002 she launched Xtreme Solutions, a tech company that helps prevent cyber attacks. Within two years, the business had broken $1 million in revenue. This year, it’s on track to gross about $60 million. Here, Newhouse shares smart strategies for achieving your goals.

Put your dreams on paper:

“I’ve always been a three-years-out person. I think: ‘What do I want to be in three years?’ and write that plan out. I knew that I was going to be an entrepreneur. I started to do all the things to prep me. I took courses. I researched businesses. I remember getting a blank bulletin board. On that board, I put a picture of a building; I put a check I wrote to myself for $1 million; I put the names of organizations I wanted to work with. Then I started putting people’s names on there—the ideal team. I looked up to that vision board everyday, and there was my company—I could see it. Within a year, three of the people on that board were working for me. Within two years, I was in that actual building in downtown Atlanta that I had cut out of a magazine. When I wrote the $1 million check, I told myself that within three years, this was what I wanted to see in our bank account. In two years, that amount was in the account. Every year, I go back to that vision board and put new things on there.”

Know when to change gears:

“Being a mother gave me a different perspective as a leader. At one point, I had to attend a seven-month leadership academy, and you could not take your children. My son was only six months old. For the first time in my career, I made a decision to decline. I had committed so much to the military and I had to draw a line as far as the balance I needed in my own life. Having personal responsibility outside of myself made me realized you don’t have to always compete at the highest level.”

Be part of your own team:

“We have an accountability meeting every month. You have to get up and tell me three things: how you plan to be impactful as a leader over the next 90 days, what you’ve done in the last 90 days that was impactful, and what value you hope to bring to the organization over 90 days. I also have to stand up and say these three things. I would never ask someone to tell me something I’m not willing to tell them.”

Make time for physical activity:

“I exercise every day, even when I’m on the road. The healthier I am, the more motivated I am. I noticed that most of the entrepreneurs who really live successful lives have some kind of routine that keeps them in great physical shape. I run two to three miles daily.”

Get clear on your motivation:

“Know the reason you want to [lead]. It cannot be for the money. It cannot be because you just want to be a CEO. When I first started the business, my reason was my son. Your reasons have to be so compelling that failure is simply not an option.”