7 Business Lessons From Our CEO You Should Steal

Success in the funeral business relies on working smarter and harder. To help you see things from a new vantage point, we asked funeralOne CEO Joe Joachim, to share lessons learned.

An entrepreneur since the fourth grade, Joachim is the president and founder of funeralOne. Joe Joachim came to the profession after working — as a teen — with big brand companies to help them best leverage the Internet. In 2001, he decided to use technology to help funeral professionals innovate, connect with their families in new ways, and become more profitable. Described as the “Walt Disney of Funerals” by Barbara Walters, his unconventional business approach has been recognized by USA Today, Forbes, BusinessWeek and more. He was willing to share the ideas behind the innovations for this blog.


Lesson #1 — Fail fast — Be bold, take risks.

Joe Joachim started in the funeral profession at 19 while living in his parent’s house. He set out to sail the waters no one else was sailing. Looking back he may have made some crazy decisions, but by refusing to wait for the perfect plan, product or solution he was able to grow his company by leaps and bounds. He says, “You’re going to make a few wrong decisions along the way…But, the faster you make mistakes, the faster you learn from them.”

Put it to work for your business: Don’t get caught up in offering vanilla services or doing things simply because the competition does. Instead, take the time to think about what you would want as a funeral service consumer, stick to your guns, and offer those services.


Lesson #2 — Good is the enemy of great​.

Don’t treat great as a destination — It’s a starting point. “When we hit a homerun on a project, we don’t celebrate…we find a way to make it even better,” Joachim says. “I’m the obsessive type who won’t ever settle for good, even it means changing a product two days before its release.”

Put it to work for your business: Embrace the challenge of trying to make a real impact. You have to work hard already, but you can thrive in what you do by focusing on making a difference.


Lesson #3 — Hire people smarter than you.

Back to the first business he started in elementary school, Joachim already understood the need to work with others. Since he was too young to go door-to-door selling his special occasion banners, he hired eighth graders to do the work for him. The idea of finding people who bring new strengths to the operation still holds true for him. Joachim suggests, “​Never be the smartest person in the room. Surround yourself with people who teach you, inspire you, engage you, and make you want to do better.”

Put it to work for your business: Build relationships and be open to talent wherever you can find it.


Lesson #4 — Put passion over everything else​.

Working long hours and making sacrifices is tough, but if you’re doing the things you’re excited about it won’t feel like a job, but more like fun.

One of the joys of innovating in this profession is knowing you can have a positive impact at a difficult time in people’s lives. Let creating opportunities for family and friends to truly celebrate a loved one, inspire you. Make sure that you are surrounding yourself, too, with people who will share your vision and be as passionate as you are about helping people to grieve and heal.

Put it to work for your business: Find out other people’s passions and find ways to leverage that energy in what you’re doing.


Lesson #5 — Everything starts with building the ultimate customer experience.​

While data matters, focus on the emotional impact your services will have on customers. “We’re dedicated to WOW-ing our customers by going far beyond what’s expected,” Joachim says. “If you are thinking of offering a new service, new product, new anything, ask yourself one question… is this going to help me create the ultimate experience for my families? Is this going to get me closer to the best experience possible?”

Put it to work for your business: Create experiences. Families and friends don’t always know what they need; build solutions that they are going to want by putting yourself in their shoes. Focus on people — educating, empathizing and helping them to fully celebrate loved ones.


Lesson #6 — Get sh*t done​.

Refusing venture capitalists and investing every dollar in his ideas, Joachim had to stick with it through lean times and trust his intuition. At funeralOne, he says, “It’s about rolling up your sleeves, being laser focused, and doing more with less. There’s no instruction manual and no rules, so just figure it out and create it.”

Put it to work for your business: The focus today is on being “data-driven,” but Joachim emphasizes the importance of connecting the dots and trusting your gut. “Just jump in,” he says. “That’s the key. You’ll figure it out.”


Lesson #7 — A great idea can change the world.

“We aim high, think big, and reach beyond the possible. If there’s one thing we use more than anything else, it’s our imagination,” Joachim says.

Don’t chase your great idea unless it fulfills something inside of you. But when you find an idea you can’t stop thinking about, grab on to it and just keep moving forward.  

Put it to work for your business: When you have a great idea, take the initiative to move forward. The hardest thing is the first step. Aim high: “We’re not here to create something average, we’re here to change the world,” — And we’re just crazy enough to think we can.”


Do you want to help shape the future of funerals? Become part of the funeralOne Dream Lab — a place where innovators, dreamers and doers come together to collaborate on ideas, solve challenges and imagine new ways to approach the funeral profession’s biggest challenges.  

Get notified when we launch by signing up at funeralone.com/dreamlab.

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