The 10 Most Innovative CEOs in Business to Follow, 2024

Ryan Niddel: The Global Architect of Growth

The 10 Most Innovative CEOs in Business to Follow, 2024

In the dynamic field of business, few names resonate with the transformative power of growth quite like Ryan Niddel. A perpetual learner, swift executor, and dedicated entrepreneur, Ryan has crafted a legacy marked by his role as the Chief Executive Officer of MIT45 Inc. and his strategic presence on the boards of multiple enterprises. As an equity holder in a burgeoning portfolio of growth-focused companies, Ryan navigates the business landscape with an astute eye for opportunity and a penchant for progress. 

Hailing from the heart of Ohio, Ryan has earned his stripes as the state’s foremost business growth specialist. His expertise lies not only in rapidly elevating revenue but also in fortifying profitability, a dual achievement that propels companies toward a trajectory of sustained success. The ripple effect of his strategic interventions becomes evident as businesses experience a surge in earnings multiples, culminating in transformative change of control events and transactions that redefine financial landscapes. 

Ryan’s entrepreneurial journey commenced at a tender age, marked by the humble origins of a neighborhood lawn-mowing business at the age of 10. The seeds of ambition planted during those early years found fertile ground when, at 14, Ryan found himself under the mentorship of a local business luminary. This pivotal experience not only altered the course of his life but also imparted invaluable principles of business and success. 

In this exclusive feature, join us as we delve into the entrepreneurial odyssey of Ryan Niddel; a visionary leader shaping the future of business through his unwavering commitment to growth and prosperity. 

Early Entrepreneurship and Business Growth Achievements 

Ryan embarked on his business journey from a young age, launching a local lawn mowing operation at the age of 10. Guided by a local businessman who served as his mentor, he honed his skills and acquired valuable knowledge. In his twenties, Ryan successfully marketed and sold various products, including cars and technology. His initial triumph came with a start-up web hosting company, subsequently acquired by a subsidiary of one of the world’s largest web hosting corporations. 

Ryan’s focus on refining processes has been instrumental in achieving operational efficiency and harnessing the benefits of lean manufacturing principles to enhance a company’s EBITDA and overall value. His streamlined business processes not only optimize operational efficiency but also significantly elevate the valuation of the companies under his guidance. Functioning as a business growth specialist, Ryan has tripled the revenue of more than six companies within a span of 3 1/2 years, resulting in an additional $975M in valuation. 

Emphasizing the paramount importance of sustainable growth and the necessity of maintaining clear expectations in today’s business culture, Ryan brings a pragmatic approach to business development. 

Going Beyond Routine Tasks  

At the age of fourteen, Ryan’s mentor imparted a crucial lesson to him, emphasizing that excellence should be the norm. An illustrative incident occurred during one of Ryan’s assigned tasks, which involved weekly office cleaning. Having completed what, he believed to be a satisfactory cleaning job the day before, he and his mentor walked through the building the next day. To Ryan’s surprise, his mentor ran his finger across the tops of the doorframes and windows, revealing a layer of dust. 

When questioned about his perception of cleanliness, Ryan admitted that he did not consider the dust as part of the cleaning. Despite having vacuumed, taken out the trash, and cleaned the toilets, his mentor offered a valuable insight. He pointed out that if any aspect of the task did not meet a standard of pride, it wasn’t truly completed. According to him, the task was not done up to the level of capability. The mentor stressed that the standard of completion went beyond routine tasks like vacuuming, emptying trash, and dusting. It extended to meticulous details such as cleaning the back sides of the toilet, door frames, and every nook and cranny to ensure absolute spotlessness. This commitment to excellence became the driving force behind their work.  

Drawing Insights from Diverse Sales Experiences Across Industries

Throughout his career, Ryan has been fortunate to accumulate diverse sales experiences spanning various industries. These experiences have expanded his knowledge and comprehension of different markets, profoundly influencing his approach to business growth.

For example, in the technology sector, Ryan learned the paramount importance of staying ahead of the curve and embracing innovation. Recognizing the rapid pace of this industry, he understood that adaptability and openness to change are essential for success. Developing a keen eye for emerging trends and disruptive technologies became crucial, enabling him to proactively identify new growth opportunities and position businesses accordingly.

Conversely, his tenure in the retail industry provided insights into the significance of understanding customer behavior and tailoring strategies accordingly. Recognizing the diverse nature of consumer preferences based on the target audience, product category, or geographical location, Ryan closely monitored consumer trends and analyzed data. This analytical approach allowed him to craft effective sales strategies that resonated with customers and propelled business growth.

Moreover, navigating through different industries has exposed Ryan to a spectrum of marketing techniques applicable universally. From traditional methods like direct mail campaigns and telemarketing to contemporary digital strategies such as social media marketing and content creation, he gained firsthand insights into what works best in various contexts.

Challenges and Lessons

Ryan reflects on the challenges encountered during the establishment of his first business, particularly the web hosting venture. These challenges primarily revolved around personal hurdles, stemming from his limited experience and uncertainty about navigating the entrepreneurial landscape. Admitting to a “fake it till you make it” mindset, Ryan acknowledges his lack of certainty about how well he truly fared. His journey began with success in sales, leading to a promotion to the role of president and CEO. However, the transition wasn’t solely based on his perceived sales prowess; the original founders recognized his skill set when contemplating a new business venture. Unprepared for the responsibility, Ryan found himself unexpectedly thrust into a leadership role, a move that included the decision to remove the original founders from the equation—an unforeseen challenge.

Another hurdle emerged when Ryan decided to renovate the office to establish a sense of ownership, driven by a desire to make it his own. In hindsight, he acknowledges that this decision, rooted in ego, may have been unnecessary.

Further challenges surfaced as the business expanded globally, introducing complexities related to managing contractors overseas, domestic personnel, and diverse offices with varying pay scales. The most significant obstacle, however, was Ryan’s unfamiliarity with accounting practices. Selling long-term web hosting packages without accounting for deferred revenue or compensation led to a messy financial situation when seeking capital investment.

In recounting these challenges, Ryan highlights the personal and operational struggles faced during the initial stages of building his web hosting business, offering insights into the hurdles and lessons learned along the way.

Adaptability, Resourcefulness, and Dynamic Problem-Solving

When asked about the pivotal strategies or decisions that led to the success and eventual sale of the start-up to a global web hosting giant, Ryan clarifies that he joined the company after its initial establishment. At the time of his involvement, the start-up was already in progress, boasting a team of 20 to 30 employees, along with established systems and processes.

Contrary to conventional strategic planning, Ryan reveals that the company operated without predefined strategies upon his arrival. Instead, they adopted an improvisational approach, navigating challenges without a fixed game plan. The team embraced a “winging it” mentality, taking risks and figuring out solutions on the fly, displaying a willingness to throw caution to the wind.

In essence, the success of the start-up, leading to its acquisition by a major web hosting company, was achieved through adaptability, resourcefulness, and a dynamic problem-solving mindset rather than a structured strategic plan implemented from the beginning. Ryan’s account sheds light on the importance of flexibility and innovation in navigating the uncertainties of the business landscape.

Distinctive Leadership Style

Informed by his varied entrepreneurial journey, Ryan brings a distinctive leadership perspective to the table. His approach to leadership is characterized by an openness to change and a promotion of innovative thinking within his team. Having weathered both the triumphs and challenges of entrepreneurship, Ryan understands the critical importance of resilience and perseverance in achieving sustainable success. 

Ryan’s leadership style benefits from his exposure to diverse sectors, allowing him to leverage a broad spectrum of strategies and best practices to drive growth for the organization. A key focus of his leadership is nurturing talent within the team. He places a premium on mentorship, offering guidance to assist team members in honing their entrepreneurial skills. By fostering a culture of continuous learning and personal development, Ryan ensures that each team member contributes their best to the collective pursuit of organizational goals. 

Also, having personally encountered the highs and lows of entrepreneurship, Ryan recognizes the pivotal role of resilience and perseverance. These qualities are not only instilled within himself but are actively encouraged within his team. He motivates team members to confront obstacles with determination and unwavering focus, drawing on his own experiences to inspire a shared sense of determination. 

Aiming to Impact Over 1 Billion People Globally

According to Ryan, MIT45 anticipates undergoing substantial transformations in the next five years, aiming for over 20% of the adult U.S. population to be acquainted with kratom by the end of this period. The company expresses confidence in its standing as industry leaders, particularly in regulatory compliance, quality assurance, and the consistency of its products. This strong foundation positions MIT45 for an expansive product portfolio that will extend into various categories, including health and wellness markets, greengrocers, mass-market outlets, and international commerce.

As a result of this strategic vision, MIT45 foresees a significant increase in its workforce, with plans to employ 1000 or more individuals across multiple countries. This growth aligns with MIT45’s overarching goal of providing over 1 billion people with the transformative benefits of the world’s highest-quality kratom. By emphasizing regulatory compliance, quality care, and product consistency, MIT45 aims to solidify its position in the market and extend its reach, ultimately making a meaningful impact on a global scale.

Advice for Entrepreneurs

Ryan’s advice for aspiring entrepreneurs or those aiming to build successful businesses in today’s dynamic business landscape is to prioritize surrounding oneself with individuals who possess a higher level of intellect in specific areas than the entrepreneur does. 

Drawing from personal experience, Ryan reflects on his biggest failure in business, which stemmed from attempting to manage a start-up entirely on his own. In this venture, his focus was predominantly on profitability and personal gain, neglecting the importance of assembling a team to support the mission, vision, and values of the business. This approach ultimately led to the downfall of the business, leaving Ryan financially strained. 

Having learned from this setback, Ryan emphasizes the significance of embracing the opposite methodology in business. He highlights the importance of seeking out and collaborating with talented individuals whose skill sets surpass his own in distinct areas of expertise. By building a team of capable professionals, entrepreneurs can collectively contribute to the success of the business. Ryan underscores the importance of keenly identifying the right people and maintaining a vigilant eye for the next opportunity.