248: My Grandfather Taught Me the Most Valuable Business Lesson

Last month I attended my grandmother’s funeral via Zoom. It was an emotional experience that made me think about the lives of my grandparents, and what they did for my family. Lately, I’ve been reflecting on what I’ll be most proud of at the age of 85, and realized that ultimately what I want is to provide a better life foundation for my children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and beyond

This got me to reflect on the concept of delayed gratification–a common topic on this podcast. I constantly try to encourage everyone to view entrepreneurship with a 5 year lens. It’s the whole reason why I started this entrepreneur podcast! Nothing happens overnight, despite the media’s best efforts to make us otherwise. 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 my parents and grandparents made have paid off for me now decades down the road. Growing up, we weren’t poor, but we weren’t wealthy either. My grandparents, however, they grew up in poverty during the Great Depression, and every generation beforehand were poor. My 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 finances, and that not only gave himself the chance to break out of poverty, but it allowed him to pass those principles on to his children.

When I was 13 years old, my dad sat me down at the kitchen table and taught me how to run a lawn care company. He taught me how to market, how to sell, how to bill, and how to manage. This wasn’t a one-time occurrence either. It was a lifestyle for my dad and he worked hard to instill the concepts of business and wealth.

Without the wisdom, knowledge, and effort of my dad and grandfather, I wouldn’t be where I am now, and I hope that the knowledge I’m gaining will be able to help me instill principles in my children that will live long past my own life.

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, looking forward to the weekend, not about what they can be doing 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, my friends were graduating school and going off to high paying jobs in D.C., New York City, or Philadelphia. When Dan and I decided to move boxes, our friends laughed as we made just $3K profit in the first year. Our friends had immediate gratification, but 10 years later, I’ve built a company with $10M in real estate, almost half a million dollars in annual revenue, and am on my way to wealth and freedom, building up my family, relationships, and things in my career that I’ll be proud of when I’m 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, one that people will laugh at because they see these companies as little, small ideas that can’t lead to life changing wealth. I started my business by moving boxes which 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.