#176 – The best business lesson I learned from my grandfather

Show notes from Episode #176 of the Sweaty Startup Podcast.

Last month Nick attended his grandmother’s funeral via Zoom, an emotional experience that made him think about his grandparents’ lives and what they did for his family. Lately, he’s been reflecting on what he will be most proud of at the age of 85, and realized that ultimately what he wants to do is provide a foundation to live a better life for his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.

This reflection got him thinking about delayed gratification, which is a common topic on this podcast. Nick constantly encourages us to view entrepreneurship in a 5 year lens and has developed the Sweaty Startup podcast around that. Nothing comes overnight, despite the media’s best efforts to make us think so; but with 5 years of work and diligence, you can live the life you want for yourself and be happier than you ever were in an office.

Delayed gratification isn’t limited to a 5 year window, it can be over decades and span generations. The sacrifices that Nick’s parents and grandparents made have paid off now for Nick decades down the road. Nick’s family growing up wasn’t wealthy but wasn’t poor. His grandparents, however, grew up in poverty during the Great Depression, and every generation beforehand were poor. Nick’s grandfather broke that cycle, joined AT&T as a union lineman, and worked for 30 years before retiring. He instilled values in saving money, investing, and being wise with your finances, and that not only gave him the chance to break out of poverty, but it allowed him to pass those principles on to his children.

When Nick was 13 years old, his dad sat with him at the kitchen table and taught him how to run a lawn care company, including how to market, how to sell, how to bill, and how to manage. This wasn’t a one-time occurrence, Nick’s dad worked hard to instill the concept of business and wealth.

Without the wisdom, knowledge, and effort of his dad and grandfather, Nick wouldn’t be where he is now. And now Nick hopes that the knowledge he’s gaining and principles he instills on his children will live long past him, which is encouraging.

The sooner that people can understand that they can break away from the cycle and work towards building something, the sooner they can work towards the future. The average American thinks about their next paycheck, or looking forward to the weekend, not about what they can be doig now to improve their future. Delayed gratification is shifting your thinking towards working on the important but not urgent tasks right now, and it’s a huge key to success.

When starting Storage Squad, Nick’s friends were graduating school and going off to high paying jobs in Washington D.C., New York City, or Philadelphia. When Dan and Nick decided to move boxes, their friends laughed about it, and they made just $3K profit in their first year. Their friends had immediate gratification, but 10 years later Nick has built up a company with $10M in real estate, almost half a million dollars in annual revenue, and is on his way to wealth and freedom so that he can build up his family, relationships, and things in his career that he’ll be proud of when he’s 80.

The mission of the Sweaty Startup podcast is to pass on the lessons from this 10 year journey, telling the story of starting a company that isn’t sexy and that people will laugh at because they see them as little, small ideas that can’t lead to life changing wealth. Nick started his business by moving boxes and slowly evolved into owning and operating self storage facilities; where you are right now and where you start does not determine where you’ll be in 5 years. Put in the important work today, this week, and this year, and you can build towards whatever you want to remember when you’re 85.

What can you do in your life right now to break the cycle in 5 years?

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About Me

I started the Sweaty Startup in December of 2018 because I believe the Shark Tank and Tech Crunch culture is ruining the real spirit of low-risk entrepreneurship.