With the frustratingly slow economic recovery still affecting Los Angeles employment, self-employment has become a more viable option for obtaining job security. Do you have what it takes to manage your own company? Among the thousands of new jobs being created in Los Angeles, management of companies and enterprises were among the top sectors to see the largest payroll gains over the past year. Senior management is on the rise as many take unemployment into their own hands.

One self-made CEO is 28-year-old Jeff Platt who graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a degree in marketing and entrepreneurship. Since graduating in 2006, he has successfully helped build a national all-wall trampoline franchise with 34 locations throughout the United States and Canada. As the CEO of Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park, Jeff has put to use many of the skills he acquired throughout his education.

Jeff Platt, founder and CEO, Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park (credit: Niki Payne)

Jeff Platt, founder and CEO, Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park (photo courtesy of Jeff Platt)

Starting a business starts with education

Platt says that business school has given him a broad range of exposure to marketing, finance and management. As the CEO of his own company, he believes it’s important to have a solid foundation and a basic understanding of these functions in a business. One of the biggest takeaways from his education that really prepared him for senior management was how to think. “It wasn’t necessarily one strategy or one course learning that I now use every day in business. It was about teaching me how to think strategically about making decisions, critical decisions,” says the Los Angeles-bred entrepreneur.

The one class that sticks out in Platt’s mind was Intro to Entrepreneurship where he learned to effectively lead a team in the development of a business plan before presenting their business concept to a group of local business professionals. “I was able to learn how to lead a team, delegate and empower, think strategically and win over investors,” says the young CEO. This experience proved to be invaluable for Platt, providing him with great exposure to building a business and taking people with you, from team members to franchise owners.

Launching a franchise requires more than just a good idea  

Platt says it takes more than a good idea to start a business as it also requires a great deal of passion and hard work. He also recommends surrounding yourself with people smarter than you with expertise in areas that you don’t. Build a team and empower them through recognition for hard work and freedom to do what they do best. “As a leader, you must learn to take people with you along for the ride. They are much more likely to do so if they are driving the bus with you rather than just sitting in the backseat.”

Niki Payne is a freelance writer covering all things Entertainment in Los Angeles. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.


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