E-Commerce secrets to scale

008 - Why Surrounding Yourself With The Right People Will Help You Find Success

008 – Why Surrounding Yourself With The Right People Will Help You Find Success

E-Commerce Secrets To Scale is a marketing and entrepreneurship podcast that revolves around hearing the stories and strategies of successful entrepreneurs and e-commerce professionals to uncover scaling secrets that will impact your online store.

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Tanner:

This week on the show, I have Chris Wirthlin. Chris is a serial entrepreneur. He owns and runs several different businesses. And Chris and I talk about exactly how he does it and how he manages all of his businesses. Chris is a really inspiring guy, and there’s a ton of value in this interview. I really hope you guys love it.

Welcome to the show, Chris. I’m super excited to have you go ahead and introduce yourself to the audience.

Chris:

Yeah. I’m excited to be here. Thank you for having me. I appreciate the invite. You know, my name’s Chris Wirthlin and introductions are always kind of hard. Right? But I’m the CEO of a company called Wirthlin Inc. Wirthlin Inc. is a company that manages all of the different business interests that I have. So we primarily focus on construction, real estate, technology, and we’re expanding into healthcare and entertainment.

It was about me. I hated it and so I taught myself how to code and to automate all of those tasks.

Tanner:

Awesome, man. How did your career get started? Can you kind of walk us through this long journey of yours?

Chris:

Sure. Yeah. So actually my career started when I was about 17. So when I was 17, I started a tuxedo company. It was called MCM tux and it was also called Prominent Tuxedos. And so when I was 17, I went out and I had started a business that had totally failed. And it was supposed to be a really good idea, whereas I was taking receipts and I was printing advertisements on the back of receipts and I thought it was the best idea ever. It was like right when QR codes were coming out. So I thought that it was going to blow up. So now I was out there door knocking on all these businesses, trying to sell them on the vision, sell them on the idea. And apparently nobody wanted to do it.

So I had spent a little bit of money at the time. It was like probably 500 bucks, but, you know, it seemed like a ton of money trying to get that company to go. And totally, nobody wanted it. Nobody wanted to trust me with it or anything that and so then I knocked on a dry cleaner and tuxedo company, like I went into their office and started talking to the owner and the owner kind of explained to me that he had the IRS coming on Monday. This was like a Friday. So the IRS was coming on Monday and he hadn’t paid taxes on any of his inventory for like 20 years. So essentially I was like, okay. So, you know, I called my dad who has been in business a long time.

I was like, Hey, what do I do here? He’s like, just write a bill of sale. And if you write a bill of sale for it, then you’re good. So I wrote a bill of sale. I paid $5 and I acquired about 25,000 tuxedos for $5. So then over the course of six months, I went and was, you know, running the business. We got a storefront. I mean, we did the whole nine yards. I was 17. So I couldn’t even get an EIN to pay taxes. So we were like trying to figure out all of that. And then we went into different high schools, sold a bunch of tuxedos, you know, rented them out. And then we did that for about six months and then we liquidated the company.

Tanner:

Wow. That’s insane. I can’t believe that you acquired that many tuxes with $5 just because that guy didn’t want to get arrested and sent to jail. Right?

Chris:

That’s, that’s pretty much what it was. Yeah, man. I mean, when you talk about 25,000 tuxedos, we’re talking like a 200 square foot room, right? Filled floor to ceiling with tuxedos. I mean, we took everything he had, he had been in the business for like 20 or 30 years. So he had acquired all of these tuxedos, and we got all of them. So that’s where my career really started in entrepreneurship. And I kind of like got the entrepreneurship bug after that. Those six months were, were crazy. I mean, even my high school, let me kind of not go to school to run the business. I had a really great marketing teacher at the time. He was letting me take my marketing class as running the business. You know what I mean? And I had talked to a lot of different people in the high school to allow me to do that.

So I was running this business essentially full time. And, it was the whole, like 16 hour Workday, had like five employees, people were sleeping in my basement. It was a crazy time like and so after that, after we kinda got out of there and got rid of it we, we sold it to a guy named John in Indiana. And after that, I was actually pretty burned out on the whole entrepreneurship thing. And I kind of told myself, I was like, I don’t know if I want to do that again, because it was so much time, so much stress, so much energy.

So then I after that I went to college and worked a couple of different jobs. I had this thing where I didn’t know what I wanted to, and so of course I wanted to be a paramedic firefighter because, you know, that was a childhood dream. So I got my advanced EMT worked as an EMT. I worked security at the Hogle Zoo, did a couple odd jobs through college. And then where I kind of started my career in tech is, I landed a job as a manual quality assurance tester for a tech company in Draper, Utah, it’s just outside of Salt Lake. I worked there for about for about three years and in that three years kind of my entrepreneurship brain turned on. And I noticed that there was a really big need in the market. So I taught myself how to code. I built, it was an automation platform. So essentially quality assurance. It’s a lot of like manual repetitive tasks. So I taught myself because it was death man, like going to work and having to like click log in button and then go over to the little note pad and write log in button works.

You know, it was about me. I hated it and so I taught myself how to code and to automate all of those tasks. So then I built an automation platform that was actually really robust. And then I became fairly good at automation, eventually became an automation architect. And then I quit that job went to a different job where I implemented a pretty complex automation system for a company. And then around that time, I launched a company as well of my own on the side. And really took the automation platform and made it into a software as a service. Then I launched that company in like July and by like July 18th, we did like a hundred thousand dollars in revenue. It was just under a hundred, it was like 92,000 in revenue.

And so that was, that was crazy. Right? And I noticed, like I was working full-time I had launched this company. I was working 20 hours a day and I am married and I did want to stay married. And so I decided that I had to figure out something. So anyway, that company ended up being acquired by another company called out code software. And so that’s kind of where, like the whole entrepreneurship thing started for me.

Then after I launched that company, that’s when I started to realize I was pretty good at launching companies and getting traction and revenue quickly. So I went and was in talks with that company that we had talked previously about to do research and development for them and innovation bring new products to market. They, they were struggling with product fit. So that’s when I started doing all of that. And then I did that for about a year and a half or two years, and then recently, was actually let go by that company. They kind of got what they needed to out of me. They had two or three really good products that they were taking to market and kind of was a business decision, to say, Hey, we don’t, we don’t really need your skillset anymore, which is great because while all this is going on, I had started a construction company, a couple of real estate companies, a tech company, and those were really taking off. So it kind of worked out perfectly. So that’s, that was my background. I don’t know. It’s a very odd, I think it’s an unconventional path, but yeah, hope that wasn’t too muddy.

Tanner:

No, that was great. I really liked hearing about that. I’m sure anyone listening will really appreciate like the path that we take as entrepreneurs and how we get to where we are now. It’s always an interesting story, right? And we always fall into these weird opportunities or get these weird ideas or, you know, something bad happens, but in reality there’s always a silver lining, right. It always leads us to a much better opportunity or gives us an opportunity to really collect our thoughts and build something really cool.

Just jump in, just figure it out and, and just know that everything is going to work out for your benefit.

Tanner:

So what would you attribute your success to over the years? It sounds like you’re a workhorse and it might just be the fact that you just working, working, working, you don’t give up type of thing.

Chris:

Yeah. I mean, I think that there’s a couple of things that I have found to be to be an attribute to my success. So one of the things was I grew up in a family where entrepreneurship in business was something that was always talked about. My dad ran one of the biggest companies in Utah, and he did that for about 20 years. And so just being around him hearing him talk about business, you know, he would take me to, I mean, I remember he was an adjunct professor at Weber State. I was like seven years old and I was in like business finance classes, he’d like, let me tag along to the 6:00 AM class. So it was like sitting in the back and obviously I didn’t learn anything cause it was way over my head.

But I think just being around that, growing up, you know, hearing him talk about stuff, hearing him prepare for board meetings, he would run board meetings past me. When he was going to go present to the board he would let me kind of listen to what he was going to do. He was a workhorse. I mean, he was he worked all the time and because of that, like he’d always be on the phone when we were in the car or something. So I think that just through being around on all the time really gave me a huge leg up. Like my dad never gave me any money or anything like that. And he still hasn’t and I’ve been really grateful for as well, because it’s forced me to struggle.

I remember when I first got married it was like I was going to school full-time, you know, 18 credit hours working, two jobs, just grinding, trying to get it done. My wife was working, just trying to make things happen. And so I’m really grateful for that time. But I think that, when you talk about success, you have to look back at like the people around you that helped you get that. And so for me, I feel like I was very privileged, although I was never given any money or my dad didn’t give me a million dollars or something like that. It was like just being around my dad growing up, I think was a huge factor. I also think that I have a tendency to just do stuff. And I think that that has been a huge part of the success.

I think that a lot of times we have this paralysis of like, do I want to start this? Or should I go do this? Or, you know what I mean? It’s just, you kind of are in this decision-making cycle. And I think that for me, I learned early on that if I just jumped into something I just figured out and consequences be damned type of thing. Right. Just jump in, just figure it out and, and just know that everything is going to work out for your benefit – if you’re working hard, you’re being honest, you’re being ethical, you’re helping the people around you. So I think that those were probably the two biggest things that attributed to, to where I am today. Yeah.

Tanner:

You know, Chris, I could not agree more with you about the whole just jump in and figure it out thing. Because I think as an entrepreneur, you really can’t be successful if you don’t have that mentality. Because in the beginning it’s just, you, there’s no one else to help you. You have to figure everything out. And whether that’s learning to code or learning some sort of skill, you have to figure it out. And if you don’t have that type of mentality, how are you going to be successful? And going back to the influence that your dad had on you and I’m in the same boat as you, my dad he owns a business. And so I’ve always been around them their whole life. Same as you. I didn’t get handouts. It’s always been up to me to make my own money.

Right. I think along those lines, like who you surround yourself with is also a giant factor, right? Because you know, before I started my business, I was hanging around people that, they were like the party friends, right? They weren’t really adding any value to my life. And I think weeding those people out of my life has really helped me be successful because now I’m networking with other business owners. I’m having intelligent and intellectual conversations with people. And if you’re not surrounding yourself with people that build you up and help you grow as a person, then that’s also going to be able to hinder your success, I think.

Chris:

Absolutely. I mean a lot of times what I found is, you tell people when somebody asks you what you do. For me, it’s always a hard thing to say because I’m diversified across very many things. So you know, I don’t really know how to respond to that, but you find that a lot of people are out of the gate negative. Just, there’s almost a negative connotation too. There’s a really sexy connotation of being an entrepreneur. And I think that people like to conceptualize it as something that’s amazing and so cool. And that it’s trendy. Right? But then also at the same time, you’ll notice that a lot of times, when you tell people that you are an entrepreneur or that you’re launching a company or you’re getting product feedback, or you’re doing something that the overwhelming response is negative, where it’s like, Oh, well you’re probably gonna fail.Or you’re probably going to get sued. And there’s just a lot though. That’s really risky.

There’s a lot of people out there that, that are probably close to you that that will have that kind of energy and that kind of negativity around them. And I have found that, you can’t cut everybody out, but distancing yourself from those people and then letting other people who are positive fill in that gap of space, for me has been really helpful because I have surrounded myself with a group of people where I call one of them and I’m like, Hey, I want to do you know, a $50 million real estate deal. How do we get this to happen? And every single one of them is all they go into like creativity mode, like, okay, who do we know that we can go raise $50 million from, okay. Like, Hey, we need to go find the property. And instead of, Oh, that’s just an unattainable.

I think that if you just surround yourself with the people that are going to propel you to where you want to be, and if you look around at, you know, I think everybody in their mind’s eye has the vision of the person they want to become, right? Like you’re always in shape, right? You have a nice car,  your house is always clean and all that stuff. Right. And I think that in our mind’s eye, we think about that. And so I’ve found that surrounding myself with people that are like the person that I want to be helps propel me to become the person that I want to be. I’ve found that there’s almost like an energy around it where creativity feeds creativity and it becomes a momentum.

If you can define what success is for yourself, it’s going to allow you to align your life in a way that you will be successful.

Chris:

I think the hardest part about being an entrepreneur is getting that momentum. But once you have that momentum, you’ll notice that the negative people who come into your life will slow you down and slow that momentum down and the positive people will accelerate that. And so I could not agree more that if you surround yourself with positive people and people who are driven and ambitious and going places, you are going to become more driven, more ambitious, and you’re going to go places.

Tanner:

I’m glad that you agree with I think it’s super important. I think that if anyone wants to be successful, they need to surround themselves with, I mean, not necessarily people that are successful, but people that also want to be successful. Right.

Chris:

Oh, it’s huge. There’s so many people that would just rather sit in their basement, smoke weed all day. Right. You surround yourself with those people, you know, naturally you’re going to want to sit in your basement and smoke weed all day. And that’s, that’s a true thing. Yeah.

Tanner:

Yeah. I totally agree with you. I think a lot of people will probably disagree with that because they don’t believe that, but they are the people that fall into that category. Right?

Chris:

Oh, absolutely. And I think that it’s also important to define what success is, right? Because success is so such a broad term for so many different people. And I think that if you can define what success is for yourself, it’s going to allow you to align your life in a way that you will be successful. You know, I have found that as I have really taken, you know, a hard look at myself and understood what success means to me, I’ve realized that I become more successful because actually know what I’m working towards. I think a lot of times people just don’t even know what – they have this idea of success, but they’ve never defined it. And so to success to them as well, I want a hundred thousand dollar car, I want a big house, or I want to like, whatever it is, how they’re defining success.

I found that a lot of times it’s like almost like a, a fantasy rather than a reality, like realistic. And so what happens is that nobody knows where to go, right? You don’t know where to, you don’t know how to move forward. You don’t know if you need to move backward because you don’t know what success is. And I think that that happens to so many people who end up smoking weed in their basement is they’ve just never defined what success is to them. So they don’t even know where to go. And you know what success may be – for a lot of people it’s being a great person, being a great dad or a great partner, or you know, or a great mom or whatever it is. But until you can define that, you don’t know where to put your energy to make it happen.

And I think that that is something that gets overlooked a lot, especially about entrepreneurs who are in the space of like just wanting to start their own thing. They’re kind of sick of their nine to five job. They know that they want something greater. Maybe they’re looking at their bank account. They’re like, I save a thousand dollars a month. And at the end of the year, I only have $12,000. You know what I mean? Like stuff like that. I think that people in that stage where you’re starting, if you can define what success is to you, I think that you’re very quickly able to move towards success and, and make things happen and kind of get rid of some of that decision paralysis.

Tanner:

Yeah. I completely agree with you. Of course success is a very subjective term to most people, but I completely agree with you. Like, if we don’t know where we’re, how are we going to get there? I think, like you said, the people that just smoke weed in their basement, they have this idea of success. And like you said, it’s a fantasy because they haven’t really quantified it by any means. Like, not necessarily just having a company or achieving a certain level of success, they just want it to be rich. And of course, everyone wants to be rich, but no one wants to work for it.

Chris:

Yeah. Being rich is an interesting concept, because I think the more wealthy you become, the more you realize how, how variable wealth is like, you know, when you go and sit across from somebody and you ask them for $50 million for a real estate deal, right. I don’t have $50 million, but this person does. And so when you look at it, wealth is a very, is a very interesting thing. And I think that people, they want to be wealthy, but they don’t know why they want to be wealthy. I think that if anybody starts a business for the purpose of being wealthy you’re just gonna, even if you’re sick, even if you succeed in your business, you’re going to be miserable because entrepreneurship is just too damn hard to go out and work.

I mean, I got home at 11 o’clock last night because we had to go get a deal done. And so I was going to go out and I was going to go do what it took to get the deal done. You know, I left at 6:30. I was home at 11 at night and that’s what’s required. If it’s not something you enjoy doing, leaving at 6:30 and being home at 11 o’clock at night is going to be a grind and you’re going to be just as unhappy as you were somewhere else. So I think that it’s an important thing to understand.

Tanner:

Yeah. Yeah. I liked what you said about that. You know, starting a business is more than just trying to become rich. Right? It’s not about the wealth, but successful business owners are successful because they have a reason why they started their business or they actually enjoy what they’re doing. Like you said.

Chris:

It’s like, it’s like a drug. When I, when I wake up in the morning, it’s like taking a drug, you know, when I get to jump on my first meeting you know, eight 30, nine o’clock, whenever that first meeting is and get to go, it’s like feeding an addiction, you know, it’s the funnest thing in the world to take something that doesn’t exist and to create it. And that’s what I, and maybe this is why I fall, I think more into the – is why I’m pursuing so many different things and not just focusing on one is because it is like a drug to me to get a business started to get it out, making money, and then bringing in a really good team to scale it. I think that for me, that’s just, I don’t know if I could ever stop doing that.

I think that if people could identify that, they’d be way farther on their path to entrepreneurship.

Tanner:

Yeah. I can see that you’re your creator. You always have to be building something. And I think that’s the case for a lot of entrepreneurs. I think the true definition of an entrepreneur is someone who just wants to build things. I mean, once you build something and you see that you’re actually gaining some traction, like that’s a great feeling, right?

Chris:

Oh yeah. I did. It’s next level for sure. I mean, my wife will like cringe – she’ll hear me on the phone and be like, yeah, let’s totally start this business. You know, I’m talking to one of my business partners or something like that. And it’s just like, Hey, let’s totally start this. Then my wife is like, Oh my gosh. Like, I don’t know if I can have you do that. I don’t know if you can do another one. And so for me, it’s just, you know, it’s just a lot of fun. And really like, if you look at what we’re doing, like real estate construction technology, right. And worth lending, all of these things that we’re doing, they’re actually really all pretty similar, like software, we’re creating software, we’re creating something right.

Construction. I can’t swing a hammer. I’ll tell you right now. I flipped my first house by myself and it was bad, like the work, and it was bad. It just looked awful. I mean, my wife did most of the work and she ended up redoing all the work I was doing because she’s actually really good at construction. I was really bad at construction but I love the idea of creating something that gives me so much respect for the construction employees that I have, because they can do something that I can’t do. I can’t go look at a house and frame it. Right. I can’t lay tile. I’m really bad at it. It’s just not how my brain works. But I love being in the construction business because you can take something and it’s like the essence of creation, right? Like you can create something truly beautiful and it’s almost artistic.

And so software is the same way. You can create a beautiful software that impacts people’s lives. Real estate’s the same way, you know what I mean? It’s just, everything kind of has this, it’s all the same to me, the creation aspect, the building something aspect is what I think I drives me the most and building a legacy those types of things. And so I think that overall the, when I look at what I’m doing, that’s the thing that I have found that drives me. And I think that if people can find the thing that drives them, if they care about climate change.

I hear so many people, like, I’ll tell you a funny story about my sister. She’d be super embarrassed. She was, but she called me one time and she’s like, Hey. She’s out at UVU right now. And she called me and said, do you know how big of a problem pollution the ocean is? And I was like, not really. I don’t really follow that very closely, but you know, I’ll trust you that if you say it’s a really big problem, I agree with you. It’s a big problem. And she goes on this huge thing about plastics in the ocean and all of this stuff. And then she’s like, so what I want you to do is she’s like, I want you to buy all paper straws and never use a plastic straw again. Like she asked me to do that. And she’s like, I also want you to tell your friends and all of those things. And I was just like, I just don’t know how to do that. Like, if I go to a restaurant, I’m not going to be like, no, take this straw away.

I just don’t think I’d remember. And so I just told her, I was like, well, if you’re super passionate about this, you should start a business around Well, how do we replace all of the plastic straws and restaurants and create a business that solves that problem? And if you do that, you will wake up every single day making, you know, probably like $2 a day. But, you’ll be feeling super fulfilled because you’re getting out there and getting it done and you’re solving a problem. And I think that if you can find what, like, for me, it’s the creation and the building aspect, the solving problems aspect. But if you’re super passionate about something and you want to start a business, I think that getting in there and understanding what is going to make it so that you want to get home at 11 o’clock at night, what is going to make it so that you get up at four in the morning? Because you just have that extra bit to do, not because you’re a workaholic, but just because you enjoy what you’re doing. And I think that if people could identify that, they’d be way farther on their path to entrepreneurship than if they just looked around for something to, you know, replace their nine to five.

Tanner:

I completely agree with you. Like it has to start at the why. Start with the passion. It has to be able to get you out of bed in the morning. And then it’s got to get you on this path to fulfillment because that’s what matters. Right? That’s all that matters. So you talk about how you cater to your need to build things, but you can’t actually do it yourself. So you hire people to do that. So you’re what you’re doing is you’re catering to your strengths and you’re hiring people for your weaknesses. Right. Which is what you should do.

That’s the million dollar question, right? How do you get a business to scale?

Tanner:

How do you get these businesses to scale? Because obviously one guy can’t manage all of these by himself.

Chris:

No, you’re right. And that’s the million dollar question, right? How do you get a business to scale? How do you do it? I think that, so there’s a couple of things, right. So I found that one of my strengths is building really, really good teams. And as an entrepreneur sometimes, and I was talking to my chief of staff about this the other day, and I was just told her, I was like, I feel so guilty sometimes asking somebody to do something for me. Right. I don’t know what it is, but I feel so guilty about it where it’s like, Hey, I need you to do this. And it’s probably like more of a repetitive task or it’s data entry or something like that. And I just feel awful about it, you know?

I don’t know why it is. It’s like, I can totally do it, but it’s not the most important thing for me to be doing. I think that’s one of the things like you talk about imposter syndrome, right? Like imposter syndrome and guilt. And I think that as an entrepreneur, I’ve experienced both of those things. What I’ve kind of realized is, is understanding that in order for everybody to be more successful, I have to delegate the tasks. I mean, if I could clone myself into 3000 different people and I could run everything, you know, honestly, like I do have some pretty serious weaknesses and stuff, so some of it probably wouldn’t go super great. But at the same time, if I could do that, it almost seems easier. To just say, well, I just want to do everything.

But in reality, you’re never going to be able to create a repeatable, scalable business unless you find a team. And so I follow four different key processes. And this is kind of based on when you talk about scaling, there’s a lot of really smart people out there that much smarter than myself that actually, you know, study the scaling of businesses and are really, really good at it. And so a lot of those people have written books and one of the best books I’ve read about scaling a business is called scaling up. It’s by like I think it’s Vern Harish. I probably slaughtered the name there, but it talks about the Rockefeller habits. Right. And, what those are, is I believe it’s people, strategy, execution and cash, and that’s kind of the four things that you follow and I’ve modified that a little bit.

I’ve changed it to people, cash, process, execution to scale a business. So people meaning the first thing you should do, you should do. I’m a very people driven person. I don’t believe in hiring some, I mean, some jobs obviously like your accountant, you want your accountant to have hard skills, but in a lot of things, I don’t really care about their hard skills. I care a lot more about their soft skills. I want to hire the right type of person because if I hire the right type of person, they’re going to learn it and they’re going to be driven to even be better than what I would even do or they’ll push the boundary themselves. And so I really believe in hiring the right person. So I go through and I look at it and I say, okay, people, what people do I need?

For example, right now we are scaling up one of our companies that, what they do is they acquire underperforming assets. So, I mean, you’re talking in real estate, it’s often called wholesaling. I don’t know if anybody’s familiar with that, but essentially you find a property that’s in distress, you put it under contract and then you sell your contract to an investor. So that company does a lot of that. We also go and we try to find underperforming businesses, right. Businesses that are in distress that we can come in and we can acquire, we do it with assets like cars. Can I find a car that is, you know, on KSL for way cheap, because it needs a new battery and can we go in and flip that car? You know? So that company, like right now, for example, that company needs a leader and needs somebody to run it.

If that makes sense. And hold on one sec, sorry. This is my dog. You’re good. Get out of here, go upstairs.

So that company needs somebody to really take it to the next level, because between me and my business partner, our bandwidth is just so stretched that we just don’t have enough time to do everything that we’re doing if we’re actually running that company. And so the first thing is like, okay, what type of person do we need to run this company? I want someone young. I want somebody ambitious. I want somebody who hasn’t gone to college. I want somebody who is not afraid to go out and knock on somebody’s door and say, I want to buy your house right now. Right. And that’s really scary because sometimes they come out and they tell you they’re going to blow your head off.

And, you know, it’s different things like that. And I want somebody who’s totally fearless, right? Who’s not scared of failure and who’s going to be humble and teachable. So we put all of those traits on a board and we say, this is the person that we want. Okay. How much cash do we need to have to pay for that person? Okay. So let’s say we need a hundred thousand dollars a year for that person’s salary or 80,000 or whatever it is. Right. okay. So let’s identify that. Okay. So what processes do we need to change right now in order to pay for that person? What process can I put in place that is scalable so that I can scale up without having to go horizontally as well. For every hundred dollars I scale, I don’t want to have to spend $50 on an employee because that’s not, it’s like the C curve, right.

It’s not sustainable. So what processes do we put in place to make sure we’re repeatable and we’re scalable and then execute. Okay. Like we have to execute on the process in order to drive the process to build it up. Right. So we go through that thing for every aspect of the company. So right now, in my construction company, it was like, okay, we gotta hire a project manager. Okay. What attributes do we want for this project manager? We went through all the attributes. Okay. We need to pay this project manager between 60 and 80,000 a year. Okay. What do we need to do to make that happen, to get enough revenue in the door to afford that person? Do I go and take a loan from, you know, from somebody? Do I go and just increase my sales? Do I go? And just, you know, scrappily figure out how to make $60,000 a year, which is usually the answer there. And then what processes already need to be in place for that person to just come in and just hit the ground running. And then how do we execute on our plan to make all that happen? And we just recycle that every single day, every single leadership meeting I’m in, that’s the format and that’s how we do it. I found that works really, really well.

Every business partner, my chief of staff, anybody that I have around me compliments my weakness.

Tanner:

I think that’s incredible, actionable advice. I think anyone listening should take what you said, obviously adapted to work for them. But I think that that’s really valuable. And I truly believe that the secret to scaling in business is two things, people and processes, just like you said, okay. So if you can hire the right people and that’s more than just looking at their resume and seeing that they have the skills, like you said, like hard skills are great, but they shouldn’t be a determining factor upon hiring the person. They should start at the core values of your business. All those traits that you talked about, that’s what we should be hiring. So like one of, one of my core values is we embrace failure. I want to hire people that are willing to fail and know that it’s not going to be the end of the world. Because failing means we learn and that’s super important. So failing is important.

And processes, if you don’t have a specific process for everything in your business, nothing’s predictable, right? I mean, have you got your employees walking around like chickens with their head cut off, they don’t know what to do. They’re calling you, they’re asking you what to do, what should I do here? But if you have a process in place that doesn’t happen. So that’s how you separate yourself from the business, right. That’s how you step into that CEO role where everyone is asking you for help on every single little thing.

Chris:

Yeah. I think that you’re exactly right. I, I found that there’s a difference between being an entrepreneur and being a founder and being a CEO. And I think that it’s really important to understand as an entrepreneur when you need to get out. If you look at a lot of the big fortune 500 companies, a lot of the psychological profiles of those CEOs, they’re very rigid. They’re not creative. They’re very process driven. They’re very numbers, data driven. They’re not so much people driven. Right. I think that as an entrepreneur, it’s important to understand what your strengths are there. I am not great at executing process. I’m not great at even honestly creating the very detailed process. And so I have to surround myself with people who are, and my chief of staff, she is amazing at that. I mean, she gets down to like the detail that I’m just like, I can’t even comprehend that detail.

Tanner:

I can imagine, Megan’s a very smart woman.

Chris:

It’s very rare that you can look at your chief of staff and say, I need you to go run a company. And then she’s like, okay, I’ll go do it. And then she can scale that company with hundred percent growth in the first month. She’s there. So she’s a doer. She she’s a doer and she’s very good at what she does. And she’s very complimentary to my weaknesses, right? Every business partner, my chief of staff, anybody that I have around me compliments my weakness. And then they get out of the way and let me focus on my strengths. And I found that that dynamic has really worked well for me. But I think that as an entrepreneur, you need to know when to get out of the company and hire a CEO, if that’s what you’re doing.

I’m not a great, I don’t know if it’s because I have ADD or whatever – I love doing so many businesses or whatever, but being the CEO tends to be too slow for me. And it’s not fast enough, like I just need it to be faster. So that’s like why I started seven companies. I’m the CEO of those seven companies, because, you know, it’s a little quicker that way. Because a lot of times the CEO, when you start to get bigger, when you start to get into that, I found like 150 to $200,000 a month revenue range, where you’re over a million dollars in your business. What I’ve kind of really found is that things move a little bit slower. You can’t pivot as fast, you know, and the organization, you start getting to 15 employees, 10, 15 employees, the organization just takes a little bit longer to shift on some of those things.

And so I’m not good at that. Which is why I bring somebody in eventually after I’ve started the company we’re usually a hundred, $150,000 a month in revenue. And then I’ll bring somebody in to run it because that’s where I’m at. I understand that not every entrepreneur is like that. And there’s a lot of different, you know, like, look at Mark Zuckerberg, right. I mean, he’s running Facebook and he founded it. But for me, I’ve just found that, I don’t think it’s that I couldn’t do it. It’s that I don’t want to do it. And as an entrepreneur, accepting that it’s okay to not do things because you don’t want to do them. That’s okay. Right. You just have to adapt and overcome and get the right people in the right seat. Yeah.

Tanner:

That’s the beauty of being an entrepreneur. You get to do what you want. You don’t have to do what you don’t want. Of course, in the early days, there are things that you definitely don’t want to do.

Take a step back and enjoying slogging through the mud.

Chris:

In early days, man, with my construction company, I tell you every Saturday, Sunday I was in crawl spaces and attics. I couldn’t do anything so I’d have to be the grunt labor man. Because I had no skills. So I was the guy taking, ripping out the tile with a hammer drill and all that stuff because that’s what needed to be done because we were behind schedule. So I had to go to that. I mean, I’ve thrown sod for my construction. I’ve done it all in the beginning. And I can tell you what, at 5:45 in the morning, the last thing I wanted to do on a Saturday was get up and throw sod for 10 hours. Yeah. Do what you gotta do. Right.

I think that that’s also a super important thing for somebody who’s starting out on their business, you know, don’t wish away those times. Like don’t wish that you’re just through that. And you’re at the end of your journey or your quote unquote journey or where you want to be.  I found that there’s been a couple times where I just wish I would have sat down and just taken a second to enjoy what I was doing because oftentimes I had the tendency to just put my head down and work as hard as I could to get through it because it was honestly, it was, it was yeah. I mean it, wasn’t fun. I’ll tell you that much, you know, but I think that I don’t wish those times away because I think they’re very formative.

And I think that those are some of the fondest, I mean hindsight’s 2020 and the fact that I’m not dealing with some of the same problems now is probably a huge reason why I can talk, like how I talk. When you’re in it, they’re probably just telling me, you know. But if there’s a listener who’s just starting out who is in that position right now, they’re probably just telling me like, you know, shut up. Like you don’t, you don’t know me type stuff, but, but I’ve been there. And from where I am today, where I still am with some companies. The vast majority of our companies are beyond that point now.

Just enjoy it, just sit back and just enjoy it and realize the finish line that you think in your head when you’re like, Hey, you know, when I’m making X number of revenue a month, then I can do X, Y, Z, and I can buy X, Y, Z car. And I can not have to worry about making payroll all the time. And by the way, I don’t think that ever goes away. I can have five months of payroll in the bank and I’m always nervous about making payroll. It’s just like a worry you always have. But you know, don’t wish those things away because at the end, you’re going to get to your finish line of what you thought, what you fantasize about, what you projected out there, what you thought, and it’s going to feel very differently than how you think it will feel now when you actually get there. And so understanding that and just kind of like taking a step back and enjoying slogging through the mud. I’m still trying to do that now, but I wish I would have done that more you know, two years ago.

Tanner:

Yeah. I think that’s great advice. Embrace the struggle, looking back, you’re going to remember it. And it’s kind of like the college days, right? You think back, Oh man. Finals week. That was so bad. But now that I think about it, I kinda miss those days. Because it’s like, it didn’t seem like it at the time, but life was more simple.

Chris:

I think that’s such an important thing to, to recognize, right? Like life is always more simple than what I think you want to make it. And so I think that as you’re, particularly when you’re scaling a company gets exponentially complex, right? When you have four employees, it’s really easy to, because you can call each of those employees and you can make stuff happen. But when you have 30 or 50 employees and you’re kind of starting to maneuver a bigger organization, it becomes very difficult to, to like tell the one person to then have it roll out across the whole organization. And so in any stage of entrepreneurship, you can find things that are really amazing. Like you can find things that you really like, and you can really enjoy at that stage.

I think in my experience was, is oftentimes I wouldn’t notice those things or I’d ignore them because I was so focused on, on revenue. I mean the lifeblood was like, are we making enough money? And you need to be focused on revenue because if you’re not, you’re not going to be in business very long. But at the same time also enjoy the agility of running a really small company or just starting out or just the struggle of just starting out the having to prove yourself. I love that. I love that so much.

Tanner:

Well, this has all been so amazing.

Chris, what’s a good way for anyone listening to get in contact with you.

Chris:

Yeah, I think that’s a great question. We’ll, we’ll do this. If you can email me [email protected] I love collaborating with people. We do invest in companies as well. And I will invest in the things that I believe in. And so the reason why I say [email protected] is that’s a company that we just launched. It’s a software as a service platform and it’s really gonna disrupt the real estate game. I think you know, a lot of people, I listen to them and they want to get into real estate, but the barrier to entry in real estate is actually pretty aggressive. I mean, it’s a pretty high, high barrier of entry. It’s heavily relationship-based. And so relationships take a long time to cultivate. And when you’re new to the game, it’s really hard to provide value to somebody who’s been doing it for 10 years or 20 years. And who has done a hundred deals where you haven’t even done one. And so the hardest part I found when I first got into real estate was actually finding deals.

What brick.works does is the company’s name is Brick, the website is brick.work. So what that does is that gives everybody access to all of the off market real estate deals. So if you’re looking for distressed properties, you can go to brick.works and see all of the distressed properties in Utah, right? All the off market deals, you can go there. They’re all right there. It gives you the contact info of the person who’s selling it. And the real driver behind this for me was it was so hard to find deals for when I first started, it was so hard, man. Like I couldn’t, it’s very scattered. And so the goal of Brick is to bring that all under one roof. And then when we add a lot of features and we will be adding more features that make it easier to analyze those deals, look at those deals and determine if you actually want to buy those deals. So email me [email protected] and check out the brick.works website.

Tanner:

Cool, man. And we’ll also link that up in the show notes so everyone can check you guys out anyways. I really appreciate it again until we meet again, Chris.

Chris:

Awesome. Thanks Tanner. Appreciate it.

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