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Episode #50 Transcript: Starting a New Business – Self Employed King, Mike Kawula, Explains How - How To Quit Working
Episode #50 Transcript: Starting a New Business – Self Employed King, Mike Kawula, Explains How

Episode #50 Transcript: Starting a New Business – Self Employed King, Mike Kawula, Explains How

Jeff Steinmann:  Hello, and welcome to the How To Quit Working show. Today, we’re going to be talking to Mike Kawula who’s got a really interesting business strategy and I think that you are going to be shocked at how incredibly, incredibly simple it is and how extremely effective it’s been for him in growing his multiple businesses online and off. He’s got some great stuff to share with us.

But before we get into that, I wanted to read a review that came in recently on How To Quit Working. And this comes from Jennifer who’s in St. Louis and she says, “I can’t count how many times I’ve wondered how to quit working. I think more than people that not have. This book gives the reader a guide to changing not only the rest of their working life but something even more important than that. A new way of thinking that most of us wish we could incorporate into our day to day life. Steinmann managed to write a book that gives the reader a new way of perceiving things and changing his or her life in a way that is informative but also educational at the same time. This book is unlike any I have read before or since and I would highly recommend it.”

Jennifer, thank you for the awesome review. I’m so glad that you took awesome, great stuff from the book and I wish you the best of luck with everything. If you would also like to pick up your copy of How To Quit Working, you can go to howtoquitworking.com/book and you can pick up a copy there and it comes for a limited time with $150 worth of additional bonus video trainings and audio and much of great stuff. I’m throwing an audio program if you go to that list, to that website as well.

All right, without further ado, let’s get into our guest for today who is Michael Kawula. Michael, welcome to the show.

Mike Kawula: Hey, how are you?

Jeff: I’m doing great. You are a guy that is a connector. You’re clearly a connector, I would say like, four, five of the folks that have been on my show, I have met through you and I have, I think, been on four or five other podcasts that are of people who I’ve met through you.

Mike: Wow, that’s awesome.

Jeff: Yeah, yeah. So, I always like to frame up when I see somebody who’s doing something really, really good. And I imagine that while I think that’s just part of your nature, you’re just a social kind of a guy and you just do that because you’re a nice guy. But I imagine that has a lot of really positive impact on your business.

Mike: Huge impact. Huge impact. It’s just that giving mentality. Obviously, we all know that from this book by Burg just put out, The Go-Giver but especially onto online community. It’s awesome that you can… I was speaking to somebody in Hong Kong last night before I went to bed. I connected him to somebody in the West Coast here in the U.S. He’s a Forbes writer.

So is it part of my marketing strategy? Kind of. I do enjoy connecting people. But the more you give to folks, I just notice that the more I get back also. I’m not looking for anything ever because there’s just folks I give to all the time that will never be able to… they’re in different circles, and that’s okay. But if I can help them, I feel good and the more I help other folks, I just notice it comes back at me two times.

Jeff: You’re the second guest that’s referred to Bob Burg’s book, The Go-Giver. So we’ll link that up below the show again. But tell us a little bit how do you go about connecting people? Is that something you schedule a time of your day and you sit on it, you pump through that, or how does that work?

Mike: Well, I love social media so I’m on social media all the time. I’m very big with building lists and keeping organized. I mean, I think that’s part of the problem where most folks start out in social media. I’m a small business coach so I coach folks a lot and I always see them say to me, yeah, I tried that “The Facebook” or “The Twitter”. It doesn’t work. Okay, well, let’s look at what you were doing. We’ll pull up an old account and it wasn’t working because either they were constantly saying “buy this” or “do this for me”, “do this for me”.

So one thing I do is when I see that all the time, I’ll do a quick screen capture and give somebody a great advice. I’ll spend five minutes and do that. So every morning, I have certain things I do for mindset. I need to make sure my mind feels positive in the morning so I read certain things in the morning. I have an email that comes to me very first thing in the morning. It’s the only email I look at and it’s positive affirmations.

When I’m done with that, I go to a page on Facebook and I’ll give it to you at the end so you can link up to it. Anybody can like this page but it’s got a whole bunch of inspirational messages from folks that just post positive stuff all day long. So some folks call it law of attraction. One of them is a law of attraction site. I look at all of that so by 5:30 in the morning, I’ve had such good things going into my head.

Then from 5:30 to 6:30, I do my social media for the day. And what I do is I send out everything and schedule it and then I start just reaching out to people randomly that I use a program that tells me who I haven’t spoken to in a while. And then I just reach out to them. I look at the way they’re. I look at who shared their content and then maybe try them in if I feel I can help that person out. Also, you need to start meeting people and it’s like loops and weaves that grow into the ground. You just start kind of your tentacles everywhere that if you pay attention, you’ll start seeing ways that you can help out.

But again, if you found the wrong people on social media that have nothing to do in your niche, like, you and I speak to the same crowd a lot, right? So I speak to newer business owners. You’re speaking to folks helping them get into business. So while speaking to the same folks, it makes sense for me to talk to the folks who you speak to everyday because you offer a great service. But if I was to be jacked to somebody that had nothing to do with what I do, that wouldn’t make sense. So I’m very focused on my social media and how I use my time on there.

Jeff: Awesome, awesome. But really, at the end of the day, you’re very focused, but really at the end of the day, you’re just looking at how can I help some other people? How can I put other people in touch with people who might be able to help them?

Mike: Definitely. You know what I learned from it? Because I know you know Nick Loper because I think I introduced you to him, right? Side Hustle Nation?

Jeff: You did. He was on the show last week.

Mike: Awesome. He is an amazing guy. He’s also an action taker, which is what I love. And I admire him a lot. I had reached out to him regarding a tip on SlideShare. I’m like, hey, I think you could do really good on SlideShare because you’re just an amazing graphics person. I’ve been doing this on SlideShare, blah, blah, blah and I’ve had some great success with it. Just thought you might be able to use it also.

Well, within a week, he took action. And he created a similar SlideShare presentation to what I did. I had 100 low cost business ideas. He had one that was like, 80 low cost business ideas. But he was so talented with his graphics that his SlideShare presentation made it to the home screen of SlideShare. If you look at his presentation today, he’s had 55,000 views, thousands of downloads and shares whereas mine’s had only… I don’t know, 10,000. And I did it a month earlier than him.

But what I learned is that it makes sense going forward for me to outsource this to somebody that can make it look all pretty because the quality of it—I mean, we had the exact same content but the quality. And he just did one the other day, actually, on SlideShare. I think it was 55 quotes from his favorite books and it made it to the home screen again. He’s had thousands of views on. So just amazing, but by giving and by talking, I also learned a lot from it and it’s helped me. So it’s a win-win situation.

Jeff: How awesome. How awesome. Well, Mike, you haven’t always been doing this. So you’ve finished high school at some point. What did you do next?

Mike: Well, during high school, I had a side business. It was actually at the end of the weekends. I used to spend a lot of my summers now to Jersey Shore. I would hang around the boat yards and I would see all these nice boats coming back and people are always complaining about having to clean their boat. And on Fridays, when they came down, they’d be complaining about having to load the boat up with supplies and what-have-you before they head it out for the weekend on it.

And what I did is I started a business that basically they could fax in—back then, it was faxes—they would fax in what they wanted loaded on the boat and we’d make sure that everything was there: food, drinks, what-have-you. And then when they bring the boat back at the end of the weekend, we would be the ones that would clean it down. I built it up, I had a crew doing it. It was super cool, but here’s the problem: my parents had said to me that that—and this was a good business, I was making good money—that this wasn’t what I could do with my future being a boat cleaner and a runner for somebody. “You have to go and get a job.”

I mean, I grew up in a wealthy town so everybody worked on Wall Street, so I was told, “Guess what? You have to go to college,” and sure enough I did. And even when I graduated college, I had a little side thing going that was doing phenomenal. But my mom had said to me—my father had passed away—and she had said to me, she goes, “You can’t continue doing this.” And I was running an insurance office. It was amazing. I was making phenomenal money, six figures. And she’s like, “You can’t do this. Everybody works on Wall Street in our town and you need to.”

And that’s what I did. So I went and worked on Wall Street and I kept stuck there. I got addicted to a paycheck like a lot of folks, maybe your listeners can relate to. I also start to build these fears that I never had before. It took me a while before I finally escaped from those handcuffs and ventured back. I did well and I made great money, don’t get me wrong but it wasn’t who I was.

Jeff: What’s interesting is when you go back and we look at your boat cleaning and boat loading business, I think what’s so interesting about that is you were just down there on  the dock, you were hanging out because you’re just a kid. You liked hanging out there, I’m guessing. Right?

Mike: Loved it.

Jeff: Okay. So you were just hanging out, having fun and you start to hear people complaining, I don’t want to load this boat up. I had a great weekend on the lake or the ocean—I couldn’t think of the word ocean. But yeah, I had a great weekend on the ocean and now, I got to clean this boat. So you identified a pain point that people had. And then you said, well, how can I address that pain point? Well, I can clean and load their boats for them.

Mike: Exactly. It was keeping your ears open. God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason. So listen to folks and you’ll be amazed. If it’s not what you already know inside, if you just listen to folks, it’s amazing.

Jeff: You said something interesting. If it’s not what you already know inside. What do you mean by that?

Mike: Well, a lot of us, I think, most folks just don’t realize that inside of each of us, we have businesses brewing. It’s just knowing how to capitalize on the… either it’s the knowledge or the talent that we have already. I think folks just don’t give themselves enough credit. And again, it might be as a child, you remember when your parents would say, “Don’t touch the stove.” But you’d do it anyway, kind of, right? You had no fear or you would stand up as a child your first few times and you fall down, you hit your head, you cry. But you get back up, right? But all of a sudden as we grow as adults, we start to build these fears and these insecurities and we think about the negative sides of it or if I started a business, I might fail or I can’t do this. I know nothing about business.

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One of my favorite quotes is, “Imperfect action beats perfect inaction.” Just do it. Just try it. And we have the knowledge already inside of us whatever we do. Now, if it’s not a passion, maybe we can talk about that also but if you’re doing something, you enjoy it as a J.O.B., chances are, you could take that talent or that knowledge, bottle it up and make it your own and not be held captive by somebody else’s choices.

Jeff: Absolutely. So we’ve got stuff inside us. Everybody’s got something inside of us that could be a business if we could just figure out how to capitalize on it and make it work.

Mike: No doubt about it, definitely.

Jeff: Awesome, awesome. And you said, imperfect action is better than perfect inaction. And I’ve never heard it said quite like that and I love that because I think most folks have really, really mastered the perfect inaction.

Mike: Definitely. And most of the time, when you peel back the layers, it comes down to the fear of so-called failure. That word, I cannot stand the word failure. Because in my mind, the only person that ever fails is the one that doesn’t try or that doesn’t get back up because it’s just a setback. And then unfortunately, I’ll tell you as an entrepreneur who’s had several businesses, you are going to get punched in the face and have plenty of setbacks just as you do in all parts of your life. But you learn to keep going.

And for some people, they look at business and say, look at this failure rate. You know what? The failure rates that are published that day where they say 80% of business fail within the first few years, it’s actually… that’s not a very true stat. Most business, most folks that start businesses are doing it on a part time basis and they’re trying things out. But they’re not losing money.

When that stat is put out there, a lot of folks here are failure and they think, oh my gosh, bankruptcy, the world has ended. No. It’s people who have started, opened up something, tried it, closed it, and then they opened up and tried something else. And that’s all part of the stats. You’re going to try things. You need to try things. You need to learn and you improve, you tweak, you pivot, and you get better.

Jeff: Yeah. Yeah. That’s a theme that I think it’s so interesting because it comes up with literally every single guest on the show is redefining how you think of failure in some shape, form or fashion is the trait of successful entrepreneurs that it’s probably the number one trait that I’ve seen in speaking with successful entrepreneurs every single week for over a year on the show is you’ve got to look at failure in a different way.

Mike: Definitely. I agree. Can I recommend a book to everybody?

Jeff: Absolutely. And we’ll link it up below. As long as it’s not like, it’s not horrible.

Mike: No, no, no. All right. This is a must-read for everybody whether you plan on becoming a full time entrepreneur or not, and it’s not an entrepreneurial book. It’s called The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Dr. Joseph Murphy. And what it teaches you to do is our conscious mind, our conscious thoughts are always talking to our subconscious mind. And when we go to bed at night, our conscience does close down but our subconscious never goes to sleep. It’s wide awake.

So if you’ve had a bad day and you hone in on that bad day before you go to bed at night, your conscious closes but your subconscious is now honing in on that bad day, bad day. You get up, all of a sudden, you feel groggy. What Dr. Joseph Murphy teaches you how to do… and it’s kind of like a Bible, I guess you could say, it’s only like, five pages per subject so if you’re having a bad time in real estate, a bad time about money, a bad time about anything in your life, you can go to that chapter and read. He gives you techniques to train your brain to think differently.

And I’m telling you this stuff works because I’ve done it over and over again and it just helps because our subconscious mind creates the realities that happen in your life. So if you folks say, think it, believe it, you’ll see it and you’ll have it. It’s true! So if you can train your mind to think differently, good things can start happening in your life. So love the book. It’s phenomenal.

Jeff: Awesome, awesome. Well, we’ll put a link to that below so that you could get it on Amazon if you’re listening. So Michael, you were working on Wall Street. We’ve had a number of guests who worked at Wall Street at some point because that’s where all the money was. That’s where all the successful people went and had a big check and everything was going great, so to speak. But then, what happened for you?

Mike: 9/10/2001, I come home from work. I was working in the city and I got home that night and my wife says to me, “Let’s go out to dinner.” And we never went out to dinner on work night. It wasn’t a thing because I worked until typically 8, 9, 10 at night and would be back in the city by 5 in the morning, 6 in the morning, what-have-you.

Jeff: Did you have kids at the time?

Mike: Okay, here’s the thing. We had no kids but she wanted to go out and talk to me for whatever reason and true enough, we went out to my favorite bar. We sat down. I ordered a drink and said, “What are you having?” and she said, “I’ll just have.” I’m like, okay. Kind of weird, but whatever.

Jeff: So this is September 10th, 2001. I want to make sure that they heard that. Okay.

Mike: And she told me that night that she was pregnant, she had learned that day. So, now it’s like, wow, we’re going to have our first child. She had said I travelled a lot, worked very long hours and our marriage was tough as it was because I was never home. Imagine now having children. So she said, “Hey, this is maybe the time for you to make some changes.”

So what I ended up doing, we made that decision unfortunately. I was up all that night, I remember. Oh my god, I was so nervous in my head, I was like… because when I get something in my head down and do it, I just do it. And then 9/11 happened. It was like, holy cow. My wife worked right across from the river. It was just a nightmare. We all know it.

But what ended up happening was I was addicted to that paycheck. So it was really hard to leave a multiple six-figure job to go out and start something and not know so what I ended up doing was, I pivoted and I went to a job that paid me much less but offered me the freedom to kind of have the flexibility in my schedule. So what I did is I would work two days a week and get done what most people would do on a full week. And then the other three days a week, I was looking at all these different businesses.

Jeff: Well, that’s awesome. So you changed your work situation to be more compatible with starting something on the side, right?

Mike: Exactly. I was able to find a business, start the business, get income coming and then at that time, get out of the company that I was with.

Jeff: But you had to make a really tough decision. You had to make a decision to take a pay cut. How are you able—with a kid on the way, living in one of the most expensive regions of the United States, and you had a kid on the way, how are you able to get your head around that decision and be able to get comfortable with that?

Mike: Again, I was… I had a huge addiction to the paycheck but one thing I was very good at always was living underneath my means. And what I mean by that is, is I remember my first—when I worked on Wall Street, one of the things they did is the first time you bagged an elephant, opened up your first account. If you ever saw the movie Boiler Room, that’s where I worked. Literally, the first account that you close, they’re going to cut your tie and it had to be an expensive tie. Back then, I think it was Hermes, which were like, $100+ tie.

And I remember I knew in my head that day, I was going to close my first account. And I stopped at… I forgot the name of the big clothing store. But I bought like, a five-dollar tie and I put it on before I walked in. I remember the guys all making fun of me and all and like, “Look at your tie today. It’s the cheapest looking thing.” I said, “Well, I’m going to close my first account today.” They’re like, “You can’t do that. You got to cut an expensive tie.” I’m like, “I’m not wasting money.” And that was just the mentality.

I remember these guys at the end of the month before the commission check would come, guys that are making six figures—I’m not joking—were  broke sometimes at the end of the month. They were spending well more. The first big commission check you got, you had to buy a presidential Rolex. I didn’t do it. But almost everybody next to me, all my buddies did. That was a $20,000 watch. I mean, absolutely sickening and insane. So I was always the saver. So I had the capital. But it was just that fear, the insecurity of by going in to the workforce and getting into societies, norm of having that J.O.B., it was very hard. Looking back, I wish I didn’t go to college.

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Jeff: Oh, wow.

Mike: I’ve spoken a lot about this on podcasts, folks are like, “Well, do you wish the same for your children?” Yes, I do wish the same for my children. I want them to get into something or take a year for themselves after society’s norm of going to schooling. And at 18, I want them to go find themselves first. And if schooling is what they need in their life, then so be it. But if it’s not, I don’t want them to build those insecurities that it forces us into because it forces us.

I think kids who are graduating now that I help all the time for fun and kids who are in college right now don’t learn the basics of what it takes when you get out to succeed whether it be as an entrepreneur meaning an entrepreneur inside of a job or outside. They’re not learning that. So I just think it scares the heck out of me. I want my kids to take a year off and find themselves. And if that means going back and getting higher education, so be it. But if not, I want them to go out and try things.

Jeff: Well, college does a great job of preparing someone to go get a job. That’s absolutely what it’s designed for.

Mike: 100%.

Jeff: Yeah. Well, that’s awesome. I love hearing people say that they wish they hadn’t wasted their time in college. I’m a firm believer of that. You won’t get any arguments of me. And I get a lot of opposition when I say that.

Mike: Oh, I know.

Jeff: I see you do, too.

Mike: All the time. Folks are welcome to leave comments below or even connect with me because I’m a strong believer in it and it’s right for some folks. I just think kids are too young. They’re graduating with six figures in debt now and most of the time—most, if you look at the studies—70% are wasting their first two years in school. They don’t know who they are. They don’t know what they’re going to do. They’re graduating with diplomas they’ll never use. And it’s like, oh my gosh, it just whacked away all this money and really had no direction. Take a while. Find your direction. And then focus in it and hone in on it.

Look at our schooling. Think about it. If you’re a good owner in a business, what do you do? You focus on your strengths. You outsource your weaknesses. But schooling doesn’t do that. They want kids to graduate in a basis and be well rounded in everything and know a little bit. Why not focus in on what somebody’s good at and make them a master in that? That’s what I want to do.

Jeff: Yeah. Awesome, awesome stuff. So you got yourself into a job situation that gave you more flexibility to pursue your own business. What did you pursue?

Mike: Well, so I spent a lot of time looking at… being addicted to that paycheck, I thought that I needed a business that was already up and running and had income coming in. So I was looking at a couple of different businesses and at three times, three times, I came very close. Once, that was a car wash. I came very close to buying a car wash and that I had somebody out there along with myself, counting the number of cars that were going in and out and the books are just… the numbers weren’t making sense. We had somebody count cars for a week and the numbers that they said they were doing just didn’t add up so that fell through.

I almost bought a kid’s batting cage facility. I had arcades, parties, batting cages. That came before the week. At the end of the week, we were going to close on it and I had an inspector go in and inspect the buildings, inspect everything inside and we ended up finding out that it needed around another 150-200 thousand dollars in renovations that they knew but didn’t make us aware of. And that needed to be put into the price and they weren’t able to negotiate and what-have-you.

And then I almost bought actually, believe it or not, a coffee shop. And this puppy was packed. It was across the street from the train station where I used to catch the train. And when I saw it’s for sale, I’m like, this place was always jammed here. I’m like, it’s a gold mine. And I’m so glad that I didn’t buy it because they wouldn’t sign a non-compete meaning that I don’t want them to open up anywhere near them.

And what ended up happening which I didn’t know but somebody else bought it and within three months, the people that had sold it had opened up another location on a corner down the street, made it something else but they had the relationships already with all the people. It’s just a scummy thing to do, I feel, but the person that bought that ended up going out of business and that was because they weren’t sworn enough to say a non-compete needed to be signed.

So I got burned out looking at all these businesses and I said, you know what? Maybe I need to start on myself. So we all think that franchising is much safer than being an independent business owner so I went that route but what happens is, when you’re buying a franchise, they won’t let you… they won’t tell you how much you can make and earn because it’s a regulated industry. So you get what’s called a UFOC. It’s called something different today.

But since I couldn’t figure it out, what I ended up doing was buying a franchise that helps others buy franchises. So it’s a franchise helping others by franchising. They teach you this methodical process you walk people through. They give you leads. It’s pretty cool. We had a 100+ franchises in all different industries we could work it. So it was really, really cool. My goal, when I bought this, it was only $50,000, was that I would learn a lot about all the different franchises by helping others.

And therefore, within a couple of years, I’d be able to find a franchise that makes sense for me. Well, a long story short, I ended up buying it and within six months into it and helping tons of people, I found another franchise and that was a cleaning franchise which was great. I bought the cleaning franchise after that, grew it to a seven-figure business. I had 35 employees and I sold it back in 2012.

Jeff: Well, this is interesting because you were able to build a successful cleaning franchise by helping other people. It’s an interesting way that you seem to go about everything. You seem to start by helping other people. And then success follows for you.

Mike: It does. It was funny. Because here’s the situation: the first franchise, it was called the Entrepreneur Source. And they would give you these leads but they will only—I’m just a cold calling machine back then when I was younger. So I’d get these leads and I’d be done with the leads within an hour because I was never afraid to pick up the phones so I’d be done with them. I’m like, I need more leads. I need more leads. So, what I did is I said to myself, who’s my avatar? Who’s the person that I ultimately want? I wanted somebody that had money and that money wasn’t an issue, that had structure.

So I looked at folks in outplacement firms. And I started cold calling outplacement firms and saying, hey, I’d love to come in and talk to your folks who have just been let go from jobs. In my head, I knew they got big severance packages. I said, let me come in and do a presentation and share with them about franchising as an opportunity. And they loved it. They’re like, definitely. This would help a lot of these people. Sure enough, they easily  because they always had choices of what meetings they were going to do. These meetings were always packed.

I just started getting tons of people and I started being able to put people through all these different franchising models and I started putting them through this one franchise which was called the Cleaning Authority. And each time I worked with the Cleaning Authority whether I made a sale to somebody or not, if it wasn’t the right franchise for them, I always appreciate the way they treated everybody which was like family, treated them with respect and it wasn’t about making the sale to them. It was about making sure that you are a right fit for the franchise and the franchise was a right fit for you.

And the way I saw them doing that, I was like, you know what? I’m just a family guy. I was like, I like this culture. I thought it was cleaning so I was like, you can’t make a lot of money cleaning and I don’t want to clean a toilet. But it’s got nothing to do with that. It’s got about management and sales and human resources. I grew a big business and I’m glad I did. I got out of my other franchise that other franchise was more of a business based on you. So it wasn’t a very saleable business because it was more of a coaching business. But this next business was great. Throughout that time, from 2005 to 2008, I was gung-ho on it. I was very strong in it. I built the business up but then in 2008, I start separating myself and started my next business.

Jeff: And what was that?

Mike: I started an online company. In 2008, as we all remember, the economy start to go back into crapper again. People were upset. They were losing their jobs. A lot of cleaning company’s businesses were down because people cannot afford a cleaning service. Mine was actually doing real well because of the area that I was in. But all the other franchisees were complaining that the cost to supplies were actually going up at that time.

So what I did was I said, hey, if I was stable, I’ll kind of do a group purchasing and offer you at that, a major discount, would you guys shop for me? And they said yes. So I said, okay. Then I talked to another franchisee who I knew was in technology in the past and knew how to build a website and I reached down, I said, hey, could you build us a website? He said, of course, I could. I said, let’s go partners. You handle the tech side and I’ll go out and get all the suppliers to agree to sell with us. So what I did is I reached out to these big suppliers, Hoover vacuums, Oreck vacuums, some cleaning supplies and struck deals with them. I said, hey, if I could get you a dedicated a couple of hundred folks who want your product, will you offer me a great deal? Oh, yeah. The economy sucked in 2008. They said yes.

So they signed deals with me. The business exploded. We were focusing strictly on cleaning companies. I did postcard mailings so I do it with offline marketing tactics. So I obviously was in my cleaning franchise but then I reached out to other ones like Merry Maids and Molly Maids and we did postcard mailings to them. The business exploded. And then in 2010, a lot of them came back to us and said, hey, we’d love if we could buy our office supplies from you just as cheap.

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So, I ended up reaching out to a very big distributor that actually does all the delivery for Staples. So when you order from something from Staples online, it’s really not most of the time coming from Staples, it’s coming from this place called United Stationeries. I struck a deal with them and next thing you know, we had 200,000+ products on our website. We were rocking. 2012, we were ranked by Ink magazine as 144th fastest growing company in the U.S. So things were good. I mean, I learned so much. I had a lot of failures during those times, a lot of challenges. I went out of business almost a couple of times. But it was a ton of fun because again, I’m not an online guy, although I’ve owned online businesses, it wasn’t my so-called “strength”. It was those offline relationships which always helped me.

Jeff: What’s so interesting is you have—and we’re going to get to this in just a second, but you have done, definitely done some online—a considerable amount of online stuff but as we were even chatting before the call as I was working through some silly, technical issues with this podcast, you don’t care for the technology. You don’t like it but you were still able to have success in the online world which I think isn’t a really important lesson for folks to learn. And that you don’t have to be a techie guru to have an online business.

The other thing that is so critical that I want to go back to is, I pointed out how when you started the boat cleaning and loading business in high school, you started off by listening to what were people complaining about. They didn’t want to load and clean their boats.

Then, you’re in this cleaning business and what did you do? You listened to people who are complaining about these damn suppliers are so expensive. So you said, how can I figure out a way to fix that problem for them?

Mike: Exactly. Have you heard of Dane Maxwell?

Jeff: I have.

Mike: Okay. Huge, huge fan with him. They’ve got a great podcast also. The foundation is just amazing. They teach people how to obviously start software businesses with no money, no technology experience and not even having an idea. And they teach people how to do it by really just listening to people’s pain points. They teach people how to cold call and pull out a pain point and then create a product and even have them prepay you for it beforehand.

I’ve always kind of loved it and I’ve gotten a friendship with a lot of the folks who have graduated from the foundation. And it’s because I just am so respectful of it because I’ve always run my life that way. Just see it again, God give us two ears, one mouth. Listen to people. And I will tell you, if you just keep quiet and know that you’re going to start a business, it will happen by listening to folks. You’ll just kind of hear all these problems coming at you.

Jeff: Amazing, amazing advice. Michael, what are you doing today?

Mike: So I have I would call the Self Employed King. As I had mentioned earlier, in 2012, I sold my cleaning company. One of the challenges of running a business that was that big and not being an active owner is that you really need to be very active because of the types of employees. I had 35 employees. Most of them are high school. Sometimes folks that maybe just weren’t having the best times of their lives and what-have-you and now, you’re sending them in to people’s homes.

It’s just a lot of stress on me. I could never trust the manager to run it the same way that I was. And I know is that the business pulled back from when I was full time in it in 2008. So I sold the business in 2008. I had started the process in 2011. I did well with the sale which are as happy with.

In 2013 November, I had sold my online business to my partner actually, and somebody else. And that was just because the business was at a point that it was ready to either be brought to the next level or kind of keep going along the same pace. My partner had different goals than me. He kind of wanted to keep it at where it was at. I had other goals so we just felt so it would be the best for either one of us to leave. He didn’t want to so I sold my half to him.

And now I’m doing what’s called the Self Employed King. And basically what I do is I work with folks who are looking to really take their businesses to the next level. I share with them different strategies whether they be online or offline strategies and really try to simplify it for them and make it really easy. Again, there’s a lot of good business owners out there but they can be so much better if they just put systems in place to really help their businesses. I don’t know if you’ve ever read the book, the E-myth.

Jeff: It’s one of my favorites.

Mike: One of mine, too. It’s a must-read by all businesses. You need to put systems in place in your businesses and even with social media or even with email marketing or even with… how about earlier today? We’re working out.

Jeff: You’re insane.

Mike: I love that sport. Within the working out, and it was funny, I have 20 minutes into it. I don’t know, I had said to them like, who is so and so that I saw here a couple of months ago? “They stopped coming.” I said, really? I said, how often do you send postcards out to previous clients that were here? “Why would we do that?” Okay, well. There’s an example. I mean, you can make these little tweaks in your business that will have huge results. So instead of just being that business owner that’s surviving, be the one that’s thriving by making these systematic changes in your business and organizing and not let all these little things fall through the crack.

That’s what I do with folks now. I have a podcast that’s launching in two weeks. I have a mastermind group. It’s a community where folks in common, they have to be existing businesses. They’re up and running. And basically what we do is we talk about different ways of growing it inside of the community and then those that want one on one coaching will work with me individually.

Jeff: Awesome, awesome stuff. Selfemployedking.com?

Mike: Selfemployedking.com.

Jeff: Awesome. Well, we’ll link that up as well as all of the resources that Michael referenced are going to be linked below whether it’s a book or a podcast or whatever it is. Michael, what is the biggest piece of advice that you want to leave our listeners with?

Mike: This is something that was left for me. This is going to go back to when I was just in my early 20’s. It was something my father wrote for me. I’d gone out that night and I just had a little bit of a tiff with him. I was going out with some buddies and he wrote me a note that I saw when I came home that night. And it said, “Good things come to those who wait but only those things left over by those who have hustled – Abraham Lincoln.” The quote means a lot to me because also, unfortunately that night, my father passed away from a heart attack.

So it’s the last words he left to me but it’s also… it’s meant so much because that’s the way I run my life and I tell folks that I work with and talk to all the time and try to help out: hustle. Take that imperfect action. Do not be afraid if you have that burning desire inside of you to try something and do something different, they should definitely be connecting with you.

But because you have a wealth of knowledge, I respect you, I love your book. I think what you’re doing is phenomenal. I think people just need to learn to be uncomfortable or comfortable with being uncomfortable at the end of the day. Learn to do that and you’ll start noticing great things happening in your life because all experts were novice at one time. They were a starter. They didn’t know how to do it.

I just wrote a post the other day showing Gary V, Gary Vaynerchuk’s first video that he did ever for Wine Library TV. And then I compared it to his video to show folks everybody starts somewhere. You can start somewhere if they connect with you. I just think what you’re doing is awesome.

Jeff: Thank you so much, Michael. And I love what you’re doing. I love Self Employed King. I love your giving attitude and I think that if more folks adapted that attitude, they would be more successful in life. Thank you so much for being on the show and we’re going to put your Twitter. I know you’re real active on Twitter so we’ll put your Twitter down below. Is that the best way for folks to reach out to you if they want to?

Mike: I’m always on Twitter. They could also send me an email at mike@selfemployedking.com or even post myself online. I’m okay with folks calling me or texting me, (609) 661-3880. I get them all day. I don’t know why people hide it. Again, as business owners, it’s right on the home page of my website, my cell phone number. Call. Send me a text if you have a question, what have you. I love helping folks just… again, I cannot emphasize, they have to read your book. The folks have got to read your book. It’s phenomenal.

Jeff: Thank you. Thank you so much, Michael. I appreciate that endorsement and I appreciate your coming on here and sharing your years of wisdom. And if you’re listening to this, how can you possibly have any excuse for not starting a business after this? You’ve got Michael’s cell phone number, an experienced entrepreneur. He will be happy to take your call if you have any questions. Michael, thank you so much for being on the show. Best of luck and I look forward to staying in touch.

Mike: Entrepreneurial successes to all.

Jeff: And that’s a wrap. Thank you very much. That was awesome. Awesome, awesome stuff.

Awesome, awesome advice from Mike. Now, there are just really two things that you need to remember from listening to this interview. And they are two really, really important things. And the first thing is that Mike’s biggest part of his business strategy is just generously helping and connecting with people and building relationships with good people, people who he likes. And he just does that. I mean, he just does that. Like I said, primarily just because he’s just a nice guy who likes to help people but that has become a really key part of his business strategy and something that has allowed him to build multiple successful businesses both online and off.

And I love talking to folks who built offline businesses as well as online. So I mean, Mike’s got the expertise in all those areas and he is such a great and giving guy. Reach out to him on Twitter. His email and cell phone are all below. Feel free to reach out to him and just chat with him. He’s a great guy and he’s got a lot to offer. That’s coming from that generosity standpoint that he offers up all of that, all of his contact information and he’s willing to give you a piece of his most precious asset which is his time. So take him up on that.

And the other thing that I want to point out about Mike is that all of his business, all of his successful businesses that we talked about—and if you didn’t get this, go back and listen again because this is so extremely important. All the successful businesses that he started started by identifying a problem that he saw on the marketplace and then he figured out how to solve that problem and he stepped in and created a business that solved that problem. He did not get some brilliant idea in the shower and run out and implement it. No. He looked for problems. He saw the problems. He found the solution and he married the two and he had a successful business.

And that’s how you do it. So many folks, when they’re beginning, start a business. They have what I call the idea mentality. It’s this whole “I have to have a brilliant idea” to start a business. And it just doesn’t work that way. Everybody gets all kinds of ideas all the time. And if it were about ideas, everybody would have a multimillion dollar business. I firmly believe that if business was about ideas, every single person on this planet would have a successful, a hugely successful multimillion dollar business because we all have million dollar ideas inside of us. It’s just executing them is what separates the successful people from the unsuccessful people.

All right. Well, that’s enough of me preaching for one episode but I do feel very, very strongly about that topic. It’s not about the idea. All right, reach out to Mike website, it’s selfemployedking.com. And if you want more information about how Michael and all of the awesome guests on the How To Quit Working show create these successful businesses and amazing lives of freedom, you can get all kinds of information in the How To Quit Working book which you can get at howtoquitworking.com/book with all kinds of bonuses, video trainings and the audio program. You can get all of that thrown in for free for a limited time at howtoquitworking.com/book. So go check that out and I will talk to you next week on the How To Quit Working show.

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About Jeff Steinmann

Jeff wants to help you Live More. He is the author of How to Quit Working, A Simple Plan to Quit Your Job for a Life of Freedom. He hosts a weekly show called The How to Quit Working Show that features lessons from Freedom Fanatics who quit their soul-sucking 9-5 job and created a business that lets them live a passionate life of freedom. Jeff also writes for several media outlets, including The Huffington Post, Lifehack and Elite Daily. Most of all, Jeff is a Freedom Fanatic, fiercely devoted to finding a better way to “do life”.

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