Our mission is to help people do common things uncommonly well. To help people beat the odds and buck the 9-5. To help people start companies in a low risk way that have serious potential.
I took an entrepreneurship course at Cornell with a professor named Dan Cohen. Each person in the class of 60 was tasked with coming up with their own business idea. 9 out of every 10 business ideas were social media or app based businesses. They were sexy. They were scalable. Dan would ask each one how they planned to make a profit. The answer was always the same. Ad revenue.
The tech industry is mature. The opportunities are hard to come by and they’re being gobbled up by the giants with venture capital in silicon valley. Your new app idea will cost you a minimum of $500k to get to profitability and you’ll need to raise a bunch of money, give up a bunch of ownership, risk a few years of your life and a bunch of money, and the odds are still slim to none that you’ll succeed.
Life is all about choosing your competition wisely. Starting a tech company is like challenging Lebron to a basketball game. You might beat him once in 5000 tries. But you’d be a hero! Thats sexy!
What if I told you there is another industry that hasn’t matured yet. An industry that has low barriers to entry and is growing faster than the tech sector. Well its there. But you have to sweat to play.
I’m talking about the sweaty startup. The one that will never have a $500M valuation. One that is ignored by venture capital because its HARD to scale.
What if I told you you could get rich doing it? You could carve out your peice of the pie and design your lifestyle exactly how you want?
The sweaty startup focuses on the service based economy. Consumer services. Business services.
When I say service I’m talking about anything that a computer program can’t do and an actual human has to do. Google could fire everyone, outsource the maintenance on their programs and hardware and the all powerful computer they have built would make billions upon billions of dollars for years to come.
The service industry on the consumer side of things is exploding. Do you know anyone who works in this space that is hungry and doesn’t have work? I don’t. Even the people who don’t know anything about business have work running out of their ears. They don’t even have any time to get caught up and send out their invoices so they can get paid!
The number of consumers who hire out every day things is staggering. You think its a coincidence that every person you know over 50 knows how to fix random stuff and build random things? We call those people every time we have an issue. Who are our grandkids going to call when they have a problem? Your company! Its a specialized world now and people don’t have to spend years of their lives learning a little bit about everything in order to survive. People specialize and get good at one thing and hire out the rest. 20 years ago a having a lawn care company cut your grass was a luxury only afforded by the richest among us. Today 40% of people with a lawn hire out everything from the mowing to the fertilization to the pest control and the tree trimming. This makes perfect sense if you think about it. Its the natural Uber effect. These really nice $2000 lawn mowers that people used to buy to cut their lawns would sit in their garages for 99% of the time. Does that make any sense? Its not efficient at all. The economy is kicking that to the curb and a company can now have 1 nice lawn mower and cut 40 peoples lawns. People are relying on services more and more and entrepreneurs who are willing to sweat are cashing in.
I’m talking about business to business services too. Businesses are outsourcing more and more of their accounting, graphic design, call centers, HR, payroll, marketing, and even admin/secretarial work (I’m looking at you tim Ferris). It is the smart way to run a business. Stay as lean as possible and only keep the people on staff who are needed to directly offer the product or service that your company sells.
This type of business is hard to scale past 5 or 10 employees. Its hard to make $50MM in profit. But its not hard to make $500k in profit. If you work smart and you choose your area wisely you can dominate in this market. There are hundreds of thousands of Americans who are making great money owning and operating a sweaty business. A lot of them are making millions of dollars running companies that are 40 years old and still operate like they’re in the stone age. They fax things to customers. They don’t answer sales leads. They send employees out on trucks without GPSs and with clipboards in their hands. They have a lot of overhead in their office and employees that aren’t specialized in what they do. They don’t know how to use the internet. They arent good at selling to customers and leading employees. They spend all of their time putting out fires and very little focusing on growing and maintaining their asset. But they still make great money.
You can get started with very little money or even none at all. You can get started before you quit your day job or before you graduate from college. You can get started without taking any risk at all. If you work smart, and not just hard, you can design the life you want and ditch the cubical for 60 hours per week and the hour car ride each way to get there.
Now I’ll ask the question again? Who would you rather compete with? The big money silicon valley companies or Joe plumber down the street? If I offered a million dollars to the winner of a game of one on one would you rather play against Lebron or my 6 year old niece?
The goal of this blog is to tell my story and the lessons I’ve learned while building my business. This blog isn’t for those with dreams of starting the next $100M budiness. This isn’t about a thinking of a totally brand new idea, chasing venture capital, and racing to market. Nothing against that type of entrepreneurship – it just isn’t my space. This is about building a business that can give you the life you want without you having to risk it all to get there.
I heard a statement recently that has stuck with me. There are only three levels of wealth in this world and beyond that money doesn’t matter. The first is being able to feed your family, pay your mortgage and not stress about going into debt. The second is going to a restaurant and not worrying about what restaurant it is or the prices prices and just ordering exactly what you want. The third is not worrying about the cost of trips or flights but just going and doing what you want to do. Beyond that it really just doesn’t matter. How much money do you need? I bet it isn’t 100 million dollars.
I’ll tell you the story of how I built my business that now generates about $300k in annual PASSIVE income. I’ll tell you everything I’ve learned along the way.
Was my idea revolutionary? It wasn’t. Was it new? It sure wasn’t. I’m just your average guy who worked smart, studied and took calculated risk. The opportunities arose and I pursued them.
It isn’t about hard work. Many of the self help and business books I have read preach and preach about hard work and hard work and long hours and super hard work. This isn’t the key. The person down the street who runs a cash cow restaurant and works 60 hours per week and can’t vacation and doesn’t know her children is not a successful person in my opinion. Of course you have to work hard. I’m not saying you don’t. But this is America. Everybody works hard. You can’t differentiate yourself by working harder than the next person. You have to work smarter.
I’m 29 years old at the time of this writing and my business, which I started with a partner in May of 2011 as an undergrad, has grown to $2.5MM in annual revenue and we operate at 12 locations in 9 states. I’ll tell you everything I learned while building it over the past 8 years. My partner and I each own 40% of a self storage facility valued at nearly $6MM. We made this happen without putting a single dollar of our cash into the deal. I’ll tell you how I put this deal together and what Ive learned about real estate.
I live in Athens GA with my family and work as much or as little as I want. I fish, ride my bike, brew beer, cook, travel, and spend quality time with my closest friends and family. I don’t make hundreds of millions of dollars. I don’t drive a mercedes. I live in a modest house and drive a 5 year old Dodge Grand Caravan.
The goal of this blog is not to brag about my exceptional skill or prowess as a businessman or individual. I don’t believe there is anything special about me or what I’ve built. What qualifies me to give you advice? I simply have some lessons that I’ve learned and strategies that I’ve employed that have led me to be able to design my lifestyle exactly how I want it.
Life is all about momentum. Tiny opportunities are all over the place and each one that you seize is bigger than the last. Its about being comfortable in uncomfortable situations. Its about suppressing your ego and delaying gratification.
I’ve been a student of self help, business management, real estate, and small business taxes for several years now. I’ll share with you exactly how I got here, what I’ve learned, and what I would do differently. I’ll also point you to a ton of great resources to read and absorb on your own journey. Enjoy the ride!