Wayne Waaramaa | Crain's Connecticut

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Wayne Waaramaa


A downtown Hartford resident, Wayne Waaramaa started the Barnstorm Group out of his home about a year ago, following the closure of the advertising agency he worked at during three different periods beginning in 1989. Barnstorm, whose clients include Dassault Aviation and the National Business Aviation Association, is a communications firm that focused on the aviation and aerospace industries. Waaramaa’s other Connecticut advertising work includes W Group, a business he started and ran for 10 years.

The Mistake:

Not setting limits.

One of the things I used to believe is that I should be totally available at any hour. I felt the responsibility was all mine. I would take responsibility for things I shouldn’t have taken responsibility for. I worked crazy hours but always with a smile on my face. You run yourself dry that way.

I needed to find a balance. It’s something I’m still wrestling with – finding that balance. I don’t take vacations and that’s a problem.

It’s not learning to say “no” but saying “yes, but…” – meaning there are limitations.

When your business is starting out you’re always afraid to lose a client. You have to get past that. There’s no point in doing it all yourself. You’ll drive yourself crazy.

I worked crazy hours but always with a smile on my face.

The Lesson:

Establish boundaries.

I don’t say that I’m unavailable but I turn off my devices. I put my phone on airplane mode. It’s important for people to take time away.

The advertising business involves creativity and inspiration and you need time to get recharged and refreshed. I make sure to take walks.

I hand off responsibilities. My colleagues are great. They all have different skills. I have to schedule them right.

Team is very important. The team only makes you better; by critiquing, by the exchange of ideas, by seeing different perspectives.

When you ask people for help, they want to say “yes” and want to help you. It’s really rewarding to work as a part of a team.

I have always been self-reliant and an entrepreneur but now I’m a better entrepreneur because I’m focused on building a bigger and better team.

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