Do It For The Right Reasons
The Inventive Journey Podcast for Entrepreneurs
Do It For The Right Reasons
The Inventive Journey
Starting and growing a business is a journey. On The Inventive Journey, your host, Devin Miller walks with startups along their different journeys startups take to success (or failure). You also get to hear from featured guests, such as venture firms and angel investors, that provide insight on the paths to a successful inventive journey.
Get New Episodes
Get 2 brand-new podcast episodes sent to you every week!
ai generated transcription
well make sure you're you're getting into the business for the right reasons i would say don't chase the dollar signs don't get involved in an opportunity solely because you believe that you're gonna make a fortune uh if you really don't enjoy doing what you're doing it's pretty easy to give up when you run into some roadblocks [Music] hey everyone this is devin miller here with another episode of the inventive journey i'm your host devin miller the serial entrepreneur that's grown several startups in the seven and eight figure businesses as well as the founder and ceo of miller ip law where he helps startups and small businesses with their patents and trademarks you ever need help with yours just go to strategymeeting.com and we're always here to help now today we have another great guest on the podcast brian winch and to give you just a bit of a background so brian in 1981 was a 21 and was working a full-time job as a shipping receiver real i didn't want to do that forever did a bit of self-reflection um also at that point he was reflecting on his dad that had passed away that was a janitor and did a lot of side hustles one of the side hustles these did was uh cleaning up some litter um by buildings always kind of stuck in his head and wondering kind of thought would there be a business there started to dive into that build a business around it stuck with it and i think for 40 years and you'll have to correct me if i'm wrong and it seems like that's what i have but that's a long time so that's awesome and uh scaled up the business and uh did it with uh or built an army of people has built it into a full business and going from there so with that much is an introduction welcome on the podcast brian it's great to be here devon thanks for having me absolutely so i gave kind of that brief introduction and i kind of walked through but take us back a little bit to graduating from high school doing your shipping receiver job and how your journey got started there well you know you're right it it has been 40 years since 1981 and uh time flies when you're having fun i guess but you know back then you know one of the first part-time jobs i got while i was in high school was working at this large sporting goods company and and i actually i worked the sales floor and selling sporting equipment and when i graduated high school um i started working there again on a full-time basis and uh but they moved me into the shipping receiving department and uh i did that for a while and i didn't mind the job but i couldn't see myself doing that for the rest of my life and you know seeing as i didn't have a college education i realized my opportunities for advancement in the company weren't that great so i started looking at you know what could i do for myself and um you know i always wanted to kind of you know work for myself at some point i i remember when i was five or six years old uh instead of just the lemonade stand like a lot of kids tended to have uh i instead grabbed some of my younger brother's toys and cleaned them up and put them on a card table in front of the house and started to sell them and they were too happy with me but uh i you know i made a few uh bucks there and my parents i think were kind of impressed you know with me showing the initiative at such a young age so uh so yeah i i was looking at different opportunities i i barely graduated high school i didn't have a lot of money in the bank and not a lot of skills other than what i had kind of learned from working in the retail business for a while and uh i had that memory of my my father who had recently passed away back then um always doing something on the side to supplement the family income and and yes he you know he did clean up litter from uh the outdoors or the outside of a commercial property a small strip plaza in the neighborhood and he'd taken me along with him a couple times and all we did was just walk around the property the the sidewalks the parking lot the surrounding landscape and sweep up any litter material into our litter collection tools and in just a matter of minutes of the time it took to walk the property we were done and you know he went to work and i went to school and and so i thought you know what let me see if there is a market for this business you know a full-time i could turn this into a full-time business and that's how it all got started and i you know i i at first it was just something on the side and and it was learning from the school of hard knocks i had to learn all the things you need to do to start a business and to market the business and how to deal with customers provide customer service and once they got comfortable um you know i i was doing very well as a one-man operation but uh decided to scale it up to uh you know where we hired people and but one question now let me just dive into this one question before you scale it so you you know i get you you have the idea and said okay you know i can't see and i think a lot of people have been in there where hey i don't mind my job it's not a bad job it's not one where i can see myself doing it in 40 years or those type of things or i can't see it being a long time job and so you start to say now what can i do and alternatively you're different so you know i definitely commend you know that and not only to say hey i don't want to do this job but actually taking the steps to do that now as you say okay you know first of all figuring out he didn't want to do that and then figure out hey here's one thing that my dad did that i think was a good idea that to see if there may be a business there how did you go from that to actually building the business meaning did you walk around to the strip malls and ask them if they wanted to be your clientele did you send out in those days you know the little postcards in the mail and say hey here's my business or kind of how did you start go from that being an idea to actually building or starting to build a business around that okay you know no that's that's great um so i recognized when i got started that my clients or my prospects were property management companies and not the individual businesses or stores that make up every commercial property so and and my dad i remember him talking to his client a few times and and i remember seeing the business card and it was a property management company so you know i that much i knew and then i i got from my from my dad so so what i started to do with the test to market was just uh you know the internet of the day was the big fat yellow pages telephone directory and and i started thumbing through real estate management or property management or you know property development companies and just started making cold calls and and refining my elevator pitch and uh i guess five or six calls in um um the prospect indicated to me that oh this was a very opportune time for me to be actually phoning it because they were just having this discussion in the office that they weren't happy with the the contractor they were using to clean the clean up their uh their property and would i be interested and so i went out and i took a look at the properties and and developed what i thought was a fair price and got back to them and they accepted my proposals and it all started with those first three uh uh properties so now you know so you go and you do that you use yellow pages and just out of pure curiosity how you know what was the success rate of starting to look things up and go to them from the yellow pages whether it's giving a call or go visit their property was it a pretty high batting rate or did you have to go to a lot of properties to find a few clients or kind of how did that work out well i mean every city i mean this is a niche service so every city only has so many property management companies it's it's not like you know you're selling pizzas and you've got a huge everyone that lives in that you know vicinity of your your store or whatever so uh but the great thing about your prospects other than the fact that you know who they are is they all manage a multitude number of properties no nobody gets into that business to manage one property uh you know they have a whole portfolio could be three seven 12 you know 20 27 properties so you know once you get your foot in the door with one and they try you out and they like your service at you know at you know one or two properties they try out you know chances are really good uh if they like you and you you know you're you provide great customer service that they're going to send more work your way so you really only need a handful of clients depending on how large you want to get your business so so basically i was kind of taking this low and slow and learning the business as i was going along and gradually adding more and more buildings and clients to my portfolio to the point where i i couldn't handle any more just by myself and so i had to make the decision am i going to start turning down business or am i going to uh you know get people to work for me and and then you know continue to grow and and we did that and as i gained more comfort in in managing the business and operating it that way we kept adding more and more people and so we scaled this business from a side hustle to one that uh initially brought me you know uh you know about a hundred thousand dollars a year just as a simple one-man operation uh and to one that now where we're billing out um sometimes up to 700 just over 700 000 a year and that's only litter cleaning we we don't do any other cleaning janitorial landscaping snow removal any other services other than just what we we specialize in now let me dive into just one other thing that i think is interesting i had a question on which is you know it's looking back it always sounds easy oh yeah we we built it into a huge company and we you know we had them we had to hire people on and everything else you know at the beginning it's a lot of times it takes a lot more time and effort and everything else that we often times people don't realize so as you're saying hey you know first you know give us a bit of time period of how long did it take how long was it a side hustle how long did you get it to grow to where it was enough to replace your income you moved over there full time how long is it was until you brought on employees and kind of how long how was that progression how long to take place okay well when i started this out um i was working you know my job still and i i had the opportunity i think that's a great way to start any business is on the side or as a side hustle um so you still have your full-time job to pay the bills if you will and so um i i did that for only about three or three or four months uh and as as on the side part-time but i was making more money working part-time for myself than i was full-time as as a shipper receiver so you know i did the math and i thought well you know what this is crazy uh there's only so many hours in the day so i left my job and devoted my time full time to to my business and continued to grow it so that um i was working full-time and i was content doing that actually because the whole reason i went into business was not to create some huge massive huge empire but it was to be independent and be able to do something i enjoyed doing and working for myself but as i mentioned earlier um you know i got to that point where um i i i i either had to grow or start turning down business and i and i just didn't want to turn down business so then we brought people in you know maybe uh one or two people to work part-time or full-time and you know over the over the years we continue to grow and we kept adding more people to working for us whether it be part-time full-time and you know the business has always been growing at a pace that we are comfortable with um and um and it was a learning curve along the way as well i mean i had to learn how to market it and you know a good elevator pitch when you when you get on the phone you don't want to waste your prospects time you want to sell the benefit of your service or in our case how we can give our our clients a cleaner litter-free property for less money and and we start the conversation you know we'd like to send you some more information and and show you and let you know how we can do that and so it's not a matter of where i i even expected uh when i first started out that i would get on the phone and bang make a sale and and uh but i had no sales skills and i'd like to tell people a lot a lot of times people say well i can't sell anything but if you look at your past life experience you've you you know when you have to be a salesman you definitely can be i mean when you were a kid and you you wanted to raise your allowance you went to your parents you would sell them on the fact that you know why you needed that raise and allowance and when you got older when you were dating you had to sell yourself when you were in your first job interview you had to be presentable and you learned different tactics or skills to make yourself an attractive candidate and you again you had to sell yourself so and i think on that note you know oftentimes we make excuses as to why we can sell ourselves right in the sense it will say oh i'm not a natural people person or i don't know how to sell or i feel bashful about asking it i think a lot of times the best way to get over that to become a sales person if you think you're not is just to get out and sell it you know go hit the payment hear what they have to say and he you may bomb your first few sales pitches you may absolutely walk away and they may laugh you out of the door but you're gonna figure out what the what makes sense what doesn't make sense what works what doesn't work how to interact with people how to what they're looking for what to charge for it and everything else and a lot of times the best ways is to get out and do it and overcome that fear rather than using it as an excuse to never go out and build anything exactly and that's a good point and i learned two things early on is you know you have to kind of plan your day and you have to kind of you know plan your week and say i'm going to do or make these many calls today and follow up in the next week etc and and just stick with it and just get it out of the way and do it and it really isn't that difficult i mean whether it's my service or or or whatever else if you believe in your product or service it's not difficult to sell it because you're not you know you're not selling really a product if you will if you if this makes any sense to somebody you're selling uh what the benefit is and how your your your your prospect is going to benefit from doing business with you and so it's a win-win situation and and i think if you truly believe in what you know what you're what you're in business for um you know it's not really it's not a hard sell you you want to explain to the world or your prospects you know how you can you know give them a you know a better uh property a better cleaner property or whatever the case is whatever the product or service that you're you're selling no and i think that i like that i think that if you really believe in your product you know if you're a founder co-founder you started a bit if you believe in your product it's really not hard to sell in the sense that you're not really selling people you're just telling how awesome you think your product is you should love your product and you just walk in and say here's what we do and here's why it's great here's why i love it and exciting you know in your case and if i'm making it up you know hey we love to you know don't you love to have a nice clean building where people come in and you can be proud of it and it's not you know not run down doesn't look you know look like trashy but it looks great you know and that's even what i found like on the um lost side one of the things that i do and it's not by any means ground or groundbreaking but i send emails where i record a quick video and just interact with people because a lot of our clients don't come into our office and as simple as that is it's something that so many people don't do just because they're afraid to put themselves out there or sell it and yet you know if you're just willing to to take that little extra mile do that extra little bit of sales and uh and just tell people what you're you know be that human and personable then it makes such a big difference so i like how you approached it well and that that's right 100 and i i just want to point out that i'm an introvert i'm not an extrovert i'm not a person well a lot of people think you know a natural born salesperson and the person just talks and talks i'm not that person at all but when it comes to talking about my service uh i get excited about it or or my you know my product i mean i wrote a book which tells people how to start and operate this business in their city for example and i get excited talking about that and it's not difficult to to you know to explain the benefits of that product or service whether you know if you're an introvert or extrovert it just it comes natural if you really enjoy what you're doing exactly so now it's now kind of taking us to the future you know or to the present sorry so you know you do this and you do it for i think it was around 40 years and you grow the business you bring people on you know you do all these different things now where you know are you still doing it today did you sell it off did you wrap it down did you retire did you shift to something else kind of where did you know as you built this business or 40 years sounds like it's successful like it grew you brought people on kind of where did you where did that lead you to today okay well i'm still doing it because i still enjoy doing the work uh but obviously i you know i i've been doing for such a long time and i have other people working for us i've scaled back the number of hours that i do uh the actual cleaning but you know i realized that this was a great opportunity for a lot of people out there across the country that that you know where maybe we're in my shoes uh you know when i was 21 years of age you know and uh they'd be you know looking at this opportunity uh maybe you know this is an offline opportunity you still have to have some online skills somebody in term in terms of marketing etc but it it really is a simple business and uh if people are looking for an opportunity like that i thought you know what why not write a book um i looked at franchising it this is too simple to franchise in my opinion people are not going to want to pay ongoing royalty fees franchise fees so i wrote a book very similar to a franchise operations manual it comes with my free support and uh i i basically you know take you by the hand and show you look at it this is how this business uh operates and and this is what you should do and and uh if if you need free support it's my way of um you know giving back to an opportunity that's provided so well for myself and i really enjoy helping people get started and growing the business what and you know everyone's motivation is different some people just like to do it on the side make a few uh extra thousand dollars a month some people eventually want to work for themselves they want to leave the corporate world or or leave their shipping receiving uh job if like similar to me and do this full-time and feel good about the service they're providing in their community no and i like how you know right you say oh this is i can find a lot of people say let's franchise on that but you're saying hey this is simple people could do it rather than exciting a large franchise fee which they're going to come to regret or it's going to create an adversarial relationship let's give away the information so to speak for free or for a book you know not completely free but give them the the tools and ability to go do it themselves because hey there's plenty of opportunities there's a large market for it definitely i think it makes sense and i think it's a great way for people that are looking to make that transition to utilize it so that kind of now shifts to i think a good transition to you know to the last two questions that we have because where we're now kind of the present as to um shift to the questions i ask at these end of each podcast so we'll jump to those now which are the first question i always ask is so along your journey what was the worst business decision you ever made and what did you learn from it well about four years in um my clients you know were so happy with the service i was doing you know cleaning their parking lots i i guess now looking back it was pretty natural for them to come to me and say well what other services do you provide and and rather than stopping there they would go on and start telling me this is what i'd like you to do for me i have a little piece of grass on the side of the building can you cut that for me oh and i have a little sidewalk in front of the building it's not much can you clear the snow for me and we were afraid to say no and you know there there's a lot of conventional wisdom out there that dictates or tells people that you know yeah the customer's always right you always have to give them what they need etc and so we did that for oh uh you know maybe a half dozen years and we hated it we absolutely did not enjoy doing any of that work and so we made the conscious decision of getting out of that and to our surprise we only lost maybe one or two clients the rest of us had no problem they said well you know we can find somebody else to do that and but we definitely want to keep you guys on uh you know to maintain uh our properties litter-free because we realize that's what you do best and and uh that's great not an issue and so we we learned you know to set boundaries and it's all right to say no sometimes to your your prospects or your customers and and just say no this is what we do and we specialize in it and we guarantee you we will do it better than anybody else no and i think that's a good point because you know there and i always call i call the contractor's dilemma but i get i have the exact same thing in ip law i get anytime you get in the service industry because the rea and why i call it contractors you always have you know if you ever built a home or done any construction they're always taking on more work than they can realistically do and they're always running behind schedule they're always having delays but it's the idea of oh i don't want to if what ends up work slows down and they've been through those beasts and famines and when you hit the famines you're always saying well i don't want to go through a famine again so i'm always going to take on more work that i can reasonably do and that includes taking on work you don't necessarily want to do because you don't want to go through those famines and so then you can start to get into things where just to your point i don't love this or i'm so i'm always behind or i'm delayed or i'm not doing any number of things because you're taking on jobs that you don't want to do or that you don't you're passionate about and i think to your point it's much better to hey we've got a good business we've focused in let's niche down do our a great job there and expand the business there as opposed to taking on the jobs or you're saying hey i just hate this or i don't like it this isn't where we do our best so i love that it's both the mistakes we make because i think it happens all the time especially in service industries but it's a great thing to learn from yeah so now we'll jump to the second question which is if you're starting if you're talking to someone that's just starting out in a startup or small business what'd be the one piece of advice you'd give them well make sure you're you're getting into the business for the right reasons i would say don't chase the dollar signs don't get involved in an opportunity solely because you believe that you're gonna make a fortune uh if you really don't enjoy doing what you're doing it's pretty easy to give up when you run into some roadblocks and you know you can make excuses well you know what i i you know it's not worth it um you know and you make excuses and try to justify you know giving up on an opportunity if if if you really don't enjoy doing what you're doing and like for in my case i started out and i enjoyed working outdoors i enjoyed you know a different routine kind of every day i i enjoyed um you know feeling good seeing the results of my work and you know leaving the you know the the neighborhood of community a cleaner uh more litter-free environment um and so i i when i would run into the roadblocks and inevitably when you're running a business you're always you're gonna have good days and bad days but it gives you the power to struggle through and find solutions and you know what i i'm not saying to people that you know you have to find the solutions yourself and just work for yourself and you learn to delegate you know at some point you can bring in a mentor or you know you you reach out to a law firm and you have the law firm you know take care of the legal aspects of your business and you know we reach out to an accounting firm or a bookkeeper and etc etc and you you you develop over the number of years you know a stable of people that you can call upon for that specialized type of assistance and so so you're always growing so that's the great thing about starting i think a business in my case as a side hustle you develop those skills uh and and at some point you know if you just keep the business as a side hustle and you're you're always working your full-time job um you're gonna be a better employee too i think from having a side hustle no i like all that and i think you know the biggest thing that you hit on i think we always tend to make excuses and i think i've mentioned it or chad down the podcast a bit before but you know we always have there's always something in our life that we can give it an excuse for not getting started or not trying and it can be oh you know i just uh graduated from school i gotta get it i gotta get a degree or if i got a degree well i gotta get some experience with the big business first before i can do it and then once you do it he's like well i started to have a family i had like a wife or a kid or anything else and now i can't you know it's not i can't uh put my data at risk and so then you wait a little bit longer and then you get farther and you're like well i've been working for the business so long now you know i don't want to lose my pension or i don't want to lose my retirement or anything else and then i don't want to you know take that risk and then you get old enough but when you could do it you say okay now i'm too old i don't you know i don't know if i have the and you always can make excuses whatever they are for reasons why you shouldn't get started why does that make sense why the timing isn't right and if you're forever making those excuses and you're never going to get to it and you're going to look back and maybe you know maybe it was a horrible business and horrible identity wouldn't have it wouldn't have worked out but if you never tried you won't have that you know you'll never know and you'll always look back and regret it and a lot of times even if you fail the first time you can pivot you can adjust you can learn and do better from it exactly and you know you're going to have failures i mean i've been in business for 40 years but that doesn't mean i haven't failed and so you have to have the the positive outlook on things that you know failures are basically just learning experiences or their lessons and you learn what didn't work and you try not to make the same mistake uh you know uh twice no i i completely agree with that so now as we as we wrap up if people want to they want to find out you know you have your book out you you had your business you're still running the business if they want to be a customer or their client their property management that wants to use your services they want to be they want to start their own business they want to be an employee of yours they want to be an investor they want to buy your book they want to be your next best friend any or all of the above what's the best way to reach out to you find out more well you know if you want to learn more about the book and you know clean lots america's simplest business i suggest you go to my website uh cleanlocks.com and there is a brief video on the homepage about three minutes long that shows me actually cleaning a property and how simple it really is i like to tell people it's almost as easy as going for a walk you know if you use the right equipment and that's the key and uh there's also a free uh um a report that you can download if you want if you if you're not sure about the opportunity and you know it kind of guides you into you know finding the right opportunity for for your yourself because everyone's different everyone has their wants and needs but uh yeah cleanlots.com is is the best place to check me out all right well i definitely encourage i think it's a cool business and i think it's one where a lot of people it's one that's to your point's a simple idea but a lot of people that could do it they would enjoy it it'll give them an opportunity to do something different and would be rewarding and whether it's i could see everything from somebody in high school all the way up to a full-time job to building a multi-employee company i think it's just a cool idea so i definitely encourage people to check it out and find out more well thank you again for coming on the podcast it's been a fun it's been a pleasure now for all of you that are listeners if you have your own journey to tell and you'd like to be a guest on the podcast feel free to go to inventiveguest.com apply to be on the show two more things as listeners one click subscribe and your podcast players so you know when all of our awesome episodes come out and two leave us a review so new people can find out about our awesome episodes last but not least if you ever need help with the patents trademarks anything else feel free to go to strategymeeting.com we're always here to help thank you again brian for coming on it's been a fun it's been a pleasure and wish the next leg of your journey even better than the last thanks devin