Who is your hero? (In business, life, or both.)
Chet Holmes. Chet wrote an amazing book, The Ultimate Sales Machine, and passed away in 2012. He accomplished so much in his life and always shared a wealth of information.
What’s the single best piece of business advice (unorthodox tips welcome!) that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
I teach business owners all about the home service industry. There are several problems I often find: hiring the right people, learning to work on your business (instead of in your business), setting up an online presence for success, charging more money, the right way to compensate employees who will stay with your company forever, and much more. The largest problem with hiring is that most owners don’t take the time to create a hiring and training process. My advice is to take the time to develop a great ad and keep posting the ad to the right spots. Hire people slow and fire the bad ones FAST.
What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?
I would definitely say finding the right bookkeeper. Most business owners are not great at inventory, sales tax, city tax, certain permits, special licensing, etc. I was not paying my city taxes correctly and ended up paying huge fines, which set me back. The bookkeeper or controller is likely the most important position in the business. Create checks and balances and make sure to have a third party audit once every quarter.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
My morning consists of a deep plan of what needs to be done that day, week and month. I work with my assistant to make sure that the day is set up for success and I have an outline of how my day looks. Basically, the beginning of the day consists of time management and short-term goals. The reason behind this is personal accountability. Time management is probably the largest problem with young entrepreneurs.
What’s your best financial/cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
Set up a Roth IRA. This is huge. Currently, you can put in up to $5,500 a year. Now here’s the awesome thing: you can do a self-directed Roth IRA with the money. After five years, you should have about $40,000. Then you can take the money and invest in real estate, business and other successful ventures. Why do this? It’s tax-free, whereas a conventional IRA or 401(k) is tax deferred. The problem with tax deferred is that if you have a business and investments when you retire, you’re still in the high-income bracket (probably 50 percent), so you’re losing half of your take-home to the government. With a Roth, you keep all that money.
Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
Online presence by far. I spend over $20,000 a month on online reputation, SEO, videos, citation-site creation and social media. This doesn’t even include paid ads such as PPC, ads on Yelp, etc.
I make a killing on online lead generation, so the cost per acquisition of a new customer is far less than any other source. You need to start with the right structure and create a strong, long-term plan. This should include having some full-time virtual assistants.
What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?
I hold myself to high standards, so my definition is being the most profitable business in the different industries I’m associated with while being ethical and making sure my employees are taken care of. Anybody can make eight figures, but creating a money machine takes time, strong marketing, systems and structure. It’s not just about one person. It’s about creating a powerful team. I focus on sales and marketing, and meanwhile I have the best in the business focusing on operations, accounting and other key ingredients for a successful business.