September 16, 2016
Kerry’s guest Friday will be Little Rock IT Entrepreneur R.J. Martino.
The following is a short bio about Martino: “I founded my company, iProv, in 2001. We started out creating websites for a few local businesses and grew into a multi-functional business as an IT Managed Service Provider and Digital Marketing Agency.
I have always been passionate about all things “Web” and iProv is an extension of that passion. Running a business with two sides has made me an expert Jack-of-all-Trades in IT Managed Services as well as Digital Marketing and Inbound Marketing.
I have dedicated more than half my life to the pursuit of perfect innovation and entrepreneurship. I have a B.S. in Computer Science as well as a Law Degree. I also bought and managed almost 2 million dollars worth of real estate and successfully turned it to profit during arguably the toughest real estate market of the century. I believe that true leaders never stop bettering themselves, never stop striving for greatness, and never stop trying to help others realize their vision of the future. I believe in the power of mentorship and shared knowledge, which is why I often write and speak for industries interested in web services.
As an entrepreneur, it’s hard to say “I have arrived!” You become almost addicted to the rush of work, of growing your business from the ground up, of never doing enough. But 15 years later, iProv has grown to include 15 employees – who service our hundreds of businesses nationwide – and is succeeding in ways I never let myself dream of! Recently, I have been featured in Arkansas Business Magazine, Inc.com Magazine, and Stack Overflow.”
[0:00:03.1] TB: Welcome to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy. Be sure to stay tuned till the end of the show to hear how you can get a copy of this program and other helpful documents.
Now, it's time for Kerry McCoy to get all up in your business.
[0:00:19.2] KM: Hello, I’m Kerry McCoy and thank you for tuning in to our very first show. For the next hour, I will be taking calls and answering questions to help you with your small business or your dream of owning a small business. You may be asking yourself, what makes this lady qualified to do this and I’ll tell you, experience.
In a minute, you can call and ask me anything, my experience is deep and wide and my advice is free. Unbelievable. 40 years ago with just $400, I started Arkansas Flag and Banner. Since then, it’s morphed into flagandbanner.com with sales nearing four million, that’s worth saying again, I started Arkansas Flag and Banner with just $400 and today we have sales almost four million.
I started by selling flags door to door then went to telemarketing. Next mail order and catalog sales and today we rely heavily on the internet. In addition over the last 40 years, I’ve navigated Flag and Banner through two recessions and two wars. When people find out I’m that woman who owns Arkansas Flag and Banner, they often say, “Oh I have heard about you” and began asking me business advice.
I amaze even myself with all the knowledge I’ve gained. If you call me for advice, you will not be given text book answers or theory. But you will be given candid advice from real world experience. Be prepared for the truth, it’s not always easy to hear.
For instance, you may not want to hear this. In business, there are very few overnight successes. Starting and owning a business takes persistence, perseverance and patience. When I started Arkansas Flag and Banner, I supplemented my income by waitressing.
All while I peddled my flags door to door. After nine years, did you hear me? Nine years of working a part time job, the company had been to grow and solely support me. My first hire was a book keeper to handle the clerical side of my business.
My first expansion was to begin the manufacturing of custom flags in house. So a sowing department developed. The next decade ushered in desert storm war. Flags were scarce so a screen printing department was hardly built to meet consumer demands.
In addition to sales and manufacturing, Flag and Banner now has a purchasing department, a shipping department, technology department, marketing department, call center and a retail store. I spearheaded the development of everyone of this departments.
My experience is deep and wide and my advice is free, you’ll be able to call me in just a minute. But before we start taking calls, I want to introduce the people at the table with me. We have Tim Bo, our technician who will be taking your calls and pushing the buttons.
[0:03:18.0] TB: Hello.
[0:03:20.7] KM: My guest entrepreneur today is RJ Martino, founder and president of iProv in Little Rock Arkansas. 15 years ago, iProv started by creating websites for a few local businesses. Today, their clients are nationwide. RJ says, “iProv is an IT managed service provider and digital marketing agency.”
My favorite thing RJ says about himself is he’s always been passionate about all things web. RJ’s been written up in many publications, some of which are Arkansas Business Magazine, Inc.com and Stack Overflow. What a great guest to answer your questions. Not just about how to start and run a small business but also about how to build and market your website.
Welcome to the table RJ Martino, president and founder of iProv.
[0:04:16.6] RM: Hey.
[0:04:18.6] KM: RJ, what does IT managed service provider and digital marketing agency mean and do?
[0:04:27.9] RM: You know, I’ve always told people in a simplistic view of what we do, we are the full time IT department for about 30 to 50 organizations in the state of Arkansas. That means, anything you’d expect your IT department to do whether it’s get on the phone and sit on hold with Comcast because the internet’s down.
Fix a printer because the printer’s broken or design and develop a server infrastructure, everything you’d expect your IT department to do, that’s what we do.
[0:04:56.8] KM: That’s a lot.
[0:04:57.1] RM: it’s a ton of work.
[0:04:58.5] KM: Most people want to specialize, they either want to do desktop support, they want to do networking or they want to do web development, are you saying you do all of those things?
[0:05:07.2] RM: Yeah, we’ve got two different divisions, you talked about your divisions, we’ve got a IT division and then we’ve got a marketing division where again, we are the full time marketing department for about 50 to 60 organizations around Arkansas.
What I found out was that most people do want to specialize and want to be just the guys who fix the computers and what I learned after a decade of doing this, just like what you described, I did this for a decade and was just scraping by for 10 years until I realized what my customers wanted is they wanted results.
They didn’t care if the computer worked or didn’t work, they didn’t care about the billable hours, they just wanted it to work. We changed our model to be one flat fee and we would handle all of their problems.
[0:05:51.8] KM: Really, one flat fee? I need to go back to using you.
[0:05:56.4] RM: You know, for a long time, but we would just – I would do the same thing as I supplemented my income through doing hourly projects here and there or special projects and it takes a long time to build a business. I mean…
[0:06:09.2] KM: Yes, that’s how we met. I hired you for special projects.
[0:06:12.1] RM: Yeah, you know, what’s funny is, I saw you, we started working together after you had seen success. I saw you as, almost like everybody probably sees me, as an overnight success. It’s great to hear other business owners and talk to them and realizing, there is no such thing as an overnight success.
[0:06:29.1] KM: You probably didn’t know all that about me did you?
[0:06:30.9] RM: No, I was sitting over here smiling because I thought “man, I thought this was all just handed to Kerry.”
[0:06:36.4] KM: Right.
[0:06:38.8] RM: You seem like the kind of person that just attracts success but it’s good to hear that it’s hard work for all of us.
[0:06:42.8] KM: For everybody. You could call in and talk to us. Tim, what number do they call?
[0:06:47.8] TB: The number to call is 501-433-0088 and we will take your questions.
[0:06:54.0] KM: Yes, I think RJ is a great guest today because like I said, he started his own business so he knows what that’s like but everybody today is interested in how to get on the web and a lot of people think, if you build it, they will come and that is so not true.
[0:07:12.7] RM: You know, we did that for a long time, I can’t tell you how many times we built the most beautiful website you could think of and we spent a lot of money on a lot of client money on the beautiful website and then out of nowhere, we post it and nobody would come to the site.
We always said, it’s like putting a billboard in the middle of a desert.
[0:07:33.0] KM: I like that. All right. RJ, when I first met you, you were dabbling in real estate. You're like so many entrepreneurial’s but more specifically, you were doing apartment complexes, tell me how you got into that and if you’re still doing it and what you’ve learned.
[0:07:48.0] RM: Yeah, you know, I think like most entrepreneurs, you see opportunity everywhere. I walked in and the second you told me about what we were doing today, I thought, “what a wonderful opportunity”. I mean, the people that I’m going to get exposed to is great for me.
But also the people that are listening to this, I know I’m dying to hear other entrepreneurial stories. I see opportunity everywhere and this was back in 2004 whenever I got started. If you remember which you probably do and some of your listeners remember is that the real estate market was just exploding and it was the wildest thing. I would buy a piece of property, do nothing at all and six months later, it increased in value by 15, 20%.
I thought I was going to be a billionaire that way.
[0:08:31.5] KM: Boy, the good old days. Okay, so you see opportunities everywhere, I know it drives me crazy, I wish I had millions and millions of dollars but you just can’t do everything you want to do or hours and hours of time, nobody gets an extra hour in the 24 hour day, we’re all working in the same 24 hour span.
[0:08:48.6] RM: That’s right.
[0:08:49.6] KM: You started doing real estate, thought you were going to rich, are you still doing it?
[0:08:53.6] RM: Well, so, I’ll tell you that story real quick. I would take money out of the IT business and invest it into real estate.
[0:09:01.2] KM: So you already had your IT company?
[0:09:02.5] RM: Yup, at the time I already had the IT company but I would pull the profits out of that and throw it into this real estate. Well, unfortunately, in 2008, that market just collapsed and the stuff that I was buying that I thought was worth, let’s say $100,000 was really worth about $60,000.
It was a tough time to be in the real estate business and unfortunately, I was doing like everybody else. I was leveraging, was the big term back then. I was borrowing every bit of it that I could borrow, I would borrow all of it.
It was a scary place to be and had I listened to mentors that were telling me to be very careful, I wouldn’t have been in that. I’ll tell you one other things that has allowed me to be successful as I am is finding other business owners, mentors and people that have done it before.
That’s why these listeners are getting so much out of this. They’re going to get in an hour what took me a decade to learn.
[0:09:54.9] KM: Yeah, but we don’t learn, we don’t listen, you know one of the great travesties of life is that wisdom is not transferrable.
[0:10:01.8] RM: That’s so true.
[0:10:03.0] KM: I know right?
[0:10:03.8] RM: Because those guys were telling me, there was so many red lights, warning signs, all the way through the whole process and you just…
[0:10:12.0] KM: If it’s too good to be true, it is.
[0:10:13.9] RM: It’s too good to be true. It’s funny you say that because we’ve said that over and over, me and a couple of partners that have done some real estate deals together is, you find this deals that you just think are – it’s too good to be true and it is.
[0:10:27.3] KM: You’re still doing real estate?
[0:10:28.9] RM: Still doing real estate. I am trying – I paired it back so I sold the apartments, sold all the multi-family so I’ve got single family or commercial. That’s because what you just described is eventually, you diversify so much that you realize time is the most valuable asset we all have and I don’t care if you’re an entrepreneur or if you are an employee and you’re retired.
Time is the most valuable asset you have.
[0:10:53.3] KM: And the least I think sometimes that you have. I don’t know, money may be the least thing that you have. I think that’s interesting too that every entrepreneur has almost bankrupted themselves once or twice.
[0:11:04.1] RM: At the very least, we’ve all been in valleys, we’ve all been in low times.
[0:11:08.5] KM: I heard Mark Abernathy say one time after August in Arkansas was such a bust, he said, “You know, the problem with entrepreneur sis they start believing their own bullshit.” He really thought August in Arkansas was going to be a great idea and it just didn’t work out. He took it years to pay it back.
[0:11:26.9] RM: But how many times has that same positive mental attitude really paid dividends? If we listen to all of the reasons why something couldn’t happen, if you listened to all the reasons to say no and you don’t fight those fights, we wouldn’t be where we are today either.
[0:11:43.6] KM: You know, that’s exactly right. In fact, I think that’s one of the things that I would like for this show to be about is about following your dream, listening to life, you do have to be prudent, I do believe that but you also have to be courageous enough to take those first steps. How did you start your IT business?
[0:12:03.2] RM: I’ll tell you kind of the short version and then I’ll tell you kind of extended from there. Originally, I was working as a network administrator, an IT guy for an ad agency and that ad agency at the time didn’t provide website development.
They had clients that needed websites and like all entrepreneurs, I think I can do anything and I said “Hey, I can do that. I can solve that problem that you have, I can itch that scratch you can’t scratch.”
Roxane who is my sister and cofounder of iProv, she did all the art work and I would develop this websites and slowly but surely we start getting more and more clients. There was also kind of parallel to that, this opportunity called The Governor’s Cup which was a business playing competition and I don’t know if you or if any of the listeners have heard about The Governor’s Cup.
It’s a wonderful, I don’t know, is it an extension, you might know, you know?
[0:12:56.4] KM: It’s Arkansas Capitals Scholarship Fund.
[0:13:00.1] RM: It’s a business playing competition where we would do literally are competing with others who have written similar business plans and the good thing that we got out of that is we wrote a business plan from start to finish, we wrote a business plan.
[0:13:12.7] KM: Did they help you?
[0:13:14.6] RM: We had a mentor, a professor, a college professor that kind of helped guide us to how to do that.
[0:13:19.3] KM: How’d you find out about that?
[0:13:22.1] RM: One day in class, I’ve always been real ambitious and most of the people around me know that I’m always looking for opportunities and a professor came to me and said “Hey, Arkansas capital corporation has a business playing competition, do you think you’d be interested in writing a business plan?” I said “Yeah.”
I’ve never done that before, it sounds like fun.
[0:13:41.3] KM: You found out about it through your college?
[0:13:43.6] RM: Yup, UALAR. I was studying computer science at that time.
[0:13:46.7] KM: I wonder if people can enter that aren’t in college?
[0:13:50.6] RM: That’s a good question.
[0:13:51.2] KM: I asked Al Hodge, Mark, of Capital to come on next week but he’s got a conflict, he’s coming on October the 7th so we’re going to get really deep into how, who’s eligible for the Arkansas Governor’s Scholarship because I’ve been several years.
[0:14:06.2] RM: You should, if you’re not judging there, they always need more judges too.
[0:14:10.7] KM: That’s just what I need to do.
[0:14:12.0] RM: Yeah, you need more things to do.
[0:14:12.7] KM: Give my opinion to more people.
[0:14:14.3] RM: Yeah.
[0:14:16.2] KM: You won?
[0:14:17.5] RM: Well, actually, we didn’t win, we actually did all of the research, we presented and we realized how inexperienced we were with writing a business plan. We did all the research but the business itself wasn’t fleshed out very well, we got second place in our first competition if I remember correctly.
[0:14:38.3] KM: Did you get any money?
[0:14:40.8] RM: I don’t quite remember but I don’t think we did.
[0:14:42.3] KM: Man, your memory, we’re going to talk about that on another show. When you’re talking about money, you got to remember that one. You didn’t get your money there.
[0:14:52.1] RM: But we wrote a business plan, we had researched and learned everything about iProv and that is – we really built iProv around that business plan. What’s interesting, it’s a completely different business.
[0:15:02.7] KM: I think you’re saying that you didn’t start with any money, that you sold a website to somebody and they paid you for it and you used that money to put back into your business and then you sold another website and you took that money and you put that back into your business and you did that over and over for how long?
[0:15:20.3] RM: To this day we don’t leverage loaned money anymore, ever. We never had at iProv. I did that with the real estate business but we’ve never done that at iProv, I’ve always just reinvested back into that.
[0:15:33.0] KM: The company that you were working for that was giving you a salary and you said, “I’m going to start taking some of your clients and building them websites.” They didn’t see that as a conflict of interest?
[0:15:42.1] RM: Actually, I went to them, I went to the owner and we were close friends, we’re close friends to this day, I love him to death and I said, “I’m going to start this new business called iProv, I want you to have 10% of it and if you're fine with that then I’m going to get started” and he gave me his blessing, that business is no longer in business anymore but…
[0:16:01.9] KM: Are you all still partners?
[0:16:04.1] RM: No we’re not. Two years later, we bought his shares of the company, some things in his personal life made him get out of…
[0:16:11.3] KM: Yeah, I think that’s really nice that the owner of your company or the owner of the company you were working for was not jealous or greedy and did not want to try to squelch your opportunities. I find that working for me, one of the most important things I do is mentor the people that have good ideas. If you have a good idea, you know, bring it to me, we’ll talk about it, I don’t want any part of that company, I’ve got enough to do.
If you want to leave me to go better yourself, it’s really hard to lose those people, I don’t want to lose them, I can think of several right now that have gone on to be entrepreneurs themselves in other areas of commerce.
But you have to be happy for them that they’re smart enough to move and go and grow and give them your blessings and mentor them and give them advice on all of that.
[0:17:03.0] RM: Yeah, you know, I agree with you, I take a different approach where often, if it’s around the business that we’re doing, so right now, one of the latest things we’re doing is video production work.
[0:17:12.8] KM: Well they can’t take that business from you.
[0:17:14.1] RM: Well, I’m just thinking, How do we bolt it on but put them in positions where they’re not only held accountable or allow them to do what they want to do but also compensate on whatever things are going really well with them. If it’s something we don’t have an experience with, we try to cultivate entrepreneurship as much as we possibly can.
[0:17:32.6] KM: I don’t want a conflict of interest either.
[0:17:34.8] RM: I agree.
[0:17:35.9] KM: That’s no good. Unlike me, you have a lot of education, I actually tell people, “Why go to college, just jump in there and get started” but you went to college and got a BS in computer science and after starting iProv, you decided to go back to college and get a law degree.
[0:17:53.8] RM: yeah.
[0:17:54.4] KM: You’re crazy but tell us why.
[0:17:55.9] RM: Well, computer science was the natural track, ULR gave me a great scholarship, there was a program called East Lab which I was involved in and still am involved as a mentor or professionally still involved with East Lab. They gave me a full ride scholarship to the university of Arkansas at Little Rock, I studied computer science, I got out.
[0:18:14.7] KM: That’s why.
[0:18:15.8] RM: Yeah. It was a great opportunity. I would have went to college anyways but I definitely wouldn’t have racked up the kind of loan bills that a lot of our graduates are coming out of school with. I just – I think that’s life altering decisions.
[0:18:29.4] KM: Yup, you could buy a house with some of these loans.
[0:18:31.7] RM: It’s terrible. You know what’s wiled is whenever people graduate college and they literally get their first jobs with $100,000 in debt and then there’s no way I can pay you enough to compensate for that type of debt.
They just drown forever.
[0:18:48.3] KM: One of the things I’d like to tell my employees when they come to work is you have to get to work on time because at college you don’t. You have to take a bath because at college you don’t, you have to wear clean clothes because at college you don’t. You know, cover your food in the microwave, put your dishes up in the kitchen.
I am amazed at how many college students that I get that don’t have any life skills and I’m not sure you know, what the answer is to that but sometimes a kid that’s been not in college that’s been out working rather than going to class has got some better life skills that work in a business environment better because they know to dress appropriately and wear deodorant and…
[0:19:34.6] RM: No, I agree with you completely and I don’t think it’s sometimes, I think almost always, the sooner you can get out into the real world, the better you are going to be prepared, you start learning things like interpersonal communication, you start learning how to present and going back to the last or whenever I went to my former boss and said I was starting a company.
He was a very gracious guy, love the guy to death but it wasn’t just because I said “I’m going to start this business and you’re going to like it”, I presented it as an opportunity for him.
“Let me focus on building this business, I know I can grow bigger, you’re going to be a partner and you’re going to see the fruits of my labor.” Those kind of skills, you don’t learn in college, you don’t learn that in high school. There’s good programs out there that try to give you that interpersonal communication. You learn that in the real world. I agree with you 100% just get out there and get started, that’s the best way.
[0:20:29.3] KM: Yes, you know, a lot of people don’t realize that I graduated from a one year course, like a vote tech schools, I went to a vote tech school for fashion merchandising and in 1974, there was one of the biggest recessions we’ve ever had.
It wasn’t that gas was expensive, there was no gas. People were in fist fights at gas stations to get gas. Of course, when you know, we’re in a recession, nobody’s buying clothes and I just graduated from school from a little vote tech school to be a fashion merchandiser for what I hoped was Neiman Marcus, I wanted to grow to be a buyer for Neiman Marcus, I wanted to grow to be a buyer for Neiman Marcus and live in New York and travel to Paris and those were the dreams that I had.
But it didn’t work out and I had to have money and so I took a very – I took a job selling flags for Betsy Ross Flag Girls in Dallas. Sometimes I hear people say, when they graduate from school, “Oh that’s not what my degree is in, that’s not the field I want to be in” and if I had taken that approach, if I could have taken that approach, I had to have money so I didn’t have that option.
If I had taken the approach, “I’m just going to wait till I get the right job”, I wouldn’t be in the flag business today. You know, I think a lot of people have big dreams and I think you need to be a big dreamer and have big dreams and follow your dreams. But if they do move in another direction, you’re never going to find a dream if you’re sitting on the couch.
[0:22:01.9] RM: Yeah. You know, I can’t tell you, I said it earlier. The business we planned in a formal business plan is nothing like what it is today. You have to, in life, pivot as obstacles come in your way because it’s going to happen. You know, you had a dream to be a buyer one day and that didn’t work out so you pivoted and you hear this term pivot all the time but it’s always been a necessity.
You can start in a certain direction today but in five months, you’re going to learn of an obstacle that you never thought of. The key is just get started, take the job and see if you like it and if you don’t, pivot from there. You got to take opportunity, I mean, it drives me crazy how often people say my degree is not in that so I don’t think I’m going to do it. Instead, I’m going to sit here and keep living off credit cards.
[0:22:54.5] KM: Yeah, actually, my job where I learned the flag business, I pivoted because I didn’t like that guy very much and so I ended up moving back home and realized there was no flag company in Little Rock and so I started my business like I said in the introduction.
Yeah, you do have to pivot and it’s funny you should use that word because the other day, I was reading and it said, “Which of this four cardinal rules and not roman catholic cardinals but rather, the Latin meaning of hinge, thus being pivotal rules, best explains your management style?”
When you think of four cardinal rules, they’re not religious rules, they’re pivotal rules. Listen RJ. Prudence, temperance, we can actually talk about all of this if you want to, justice and fortitude. Wow, what a heavy question right?
[0:23:52.5] RM: I need a dictionary just to be able to define.
[0:23:54.5] KM: Let’s take the first one, prudence. Prudence is not just about being conservative, it’s also about being wise and think thoughtful. That’s not mine. I’d go crazy, I just jump off the lid.
[0:24:07.9] RM: I’ve met guys that are very good at that, you know, they can analyze a problem and come to a conclusion. I on the other hand will get analysis by paralysis if I allow myself and so I just don’t allow myself to do that, I can’t over analyze, I am a guy that will say, “We got to make a decision today”, making the wrong decision is a lot better than making no decision at all.
What drives me crazy is meeting people that can’t make a decision. Make a decision…
[0:24:35.9] KM: That’s me.
[0:24:37.0] RM: I mean, I think you got to be that way. I don’t know if I started that way, I probably didn’t now that I think about it, I probably was trying to be a lot more strategic in a lot of my decision in my early career but what you realize is that you can analyze it all day but at the end of the day, it’s a coin flip.
You’ve got to just land on heads or tails and then go from there.
[0:25:00.0] KM: I wonder if that’s in all the DNA of all entrepreneurs because I can’t even got to eat with people who can’t make a decision about what to eat on the menu, I’m like, “Just give me the damn menu, you’re grabbing the chicken.”
The other one is temperance.
[0:25:13.2] RM: Okay.
[0:25:14.0] KM: temperance. That sounds like no decision at all, what is the difference.
[0:25:18.1] RM: No, temperance is your temper, how even killed you are.
[0:25:21.8] KM: Is that a strength, are you calm in a storm, are you even keeled all the time? I can tell you right now, my pendulum swings both ways to the extreme. That’s not me either.
[0:25:33.2] RM: Yeah, I think that that might be a commonality with entrepreneurs. I would love to hear, I mean, I can’t wait to continue to listen to your show and you asked these same questions to other people because I’m the same way too you know? Sometimes, you just feel down in the dump and sometimes you feel like you’re high as a kite. It is a roller coaster being an entrepreneur.
I mean, I wouldn’t take it away for anything in the world but sometimes you feel, I heard the founder of Candy Bouquet once say, “Sometimes you feel like an entrepreneur and sometimes you feel like entremanure.”
[0:26:08.1] KM: I’m writing that one down.
[0:26:10.1] RM: It just feels. I would love to be even keeled. You meet those people who are just you know even keeled all the time and you think, “Man, I would love to be like that. Nothing bothers that guy.” That’s not me.
I mean, I think there’s pros and cons. Yeah, he’s even keeled all the time but he doesn’t seem passionate about anything. Me on the other hand, you know if I’m in all in because my eyes are bigger, I stand up straighter, my voice tone probably increases. Temperance is probably a problem for me.
[0:26:42.0] KM: I would not have guessed that about you. Really, I wouldn’t have.
[0:26:45.2] RM: Yeah?
[0:26:45.4] KM: No. I mean, I would not, I mean you do give great hugs though you are really you know, rigorous but I would not have thought you were a pendulum swinger. Justice.
[0:26:55.8] RM: Okay, what does justice mean to you?
[0:26:57.6] KM: Doing the right things and being fair. This one is me.
[0:27:01.2] RM: yeah, I think you got to be. I mean, I always say because of Arkansas is just a small state. You know, doing the right thing goes a long way and doing the right thing even whenever it hurts. You know, even when it’s not easy, there are a number – I mean, there’s hundreds of times where you know, legally, as a company, we’re in the right, contractually, what they’ve signed off on were in the right.
We are – I’m just making up an example here but we are owed that money. That money is ours for all intensive purposes but you do the right thing and you kind of stand in their shoes and you know what? It’s probably not worth the fight, it’s probably better if we just do the right thing and give them the money because they’re not happy.
For no other reason than they’re just not happy.
[0:27:50.0] KM: We got one more to ask him. Give the phone number again for us Tim, what is it?
[0:27:54.9] TB: It is 433-0088, give us a call.
[0:27:58.8] KM: Yup, if you want to talk to RJ or me about any business question, about your small business that you actually own and currently are having issues with marketing, hiring, that’s always a big one, sales, advertising, manufacturing, procrastination, I mean, I’ve had them all, it was no problem at all to come out with like 52 topics one for each week when I did this, it took me like 30 minutes.
The last one to talk about is fortitude and that’s perseverance.
[0:28:30.9] RM: Fortitude in perseverance.
[0:28:32.4] KM: You got that one, you’ve all got that.
[0:28:34.0] RM: You got to, that’s what I said, I mean, we were scraping by for a decade and that’s just part of it. I mean, it stinks that as entrepreneurs, we are positive to a fault, you will keep cutting checks for payroll even though you see the boat sinking, we are positive to a fault but that is paid off so much because it’s always darkest before dawn.
It always turns around in the last second. If you don’t have that grit, you might as well not even get started because it’s, no business is easy, I’ve been a part and have friends in every business in the world and if you don’t have that grit, if you are not committed to your future self, if you don’t have a vision of what the future looks like and you’re just committed to it rain or shine. It’s not for you.
[0:29:31.2] KM: Are you a day dreamer?
[0:29:33.5] RM: I don’t think so. I’m just – I always stay busy.
[0:29:36.7] KM: When you dreamed about yourself – when you were young and you dreamed about growing up, what did you see yourself doing? I saw myself wearing nice clothes and living in New York City.
[0:29:44.4] RM: Yeah, I saw myself swimming in coins like Donald Duck’s uncle. Uncle Scrooge.
[0:29:50.0] KM: Are you kidding? You wanted to be rich.
[0:29:54.5] RM: That’s what I thought I wanted all of my life.
[0:29:57.4] KM: I think everybody does.
[0:29:58.2] RM: Well we grew up without any money. I mean you know and I think I thought money was going to solve all of the problems so as a young –
[0:30:06.2] KM: It does solved a lot.
[0:30:07.1] RM: Oh it does. There are many problems that stem from the lack of money so it definitely does.
[0:30:13.0] KM: I think that being rich is really important. When I hire and interview employees and now I’m giving out my secret to everybody in the world if they’re listening, I always ask them why they want to work and if someone says, “Because I like to help people” I’m like, “No” you’ve got to want to work because you like money. Those are the people that I want to work for me. People that are ambitious, want money, want to buy things because if you don’t want money, I’m not even sure why you’re working.
[0:30:48.7] RM: Well especially in the sales world. If you’ve got a guy who wants to sell for you but wants an outrageous salary and doesn’t care about commission, I just think if you don’t want commission why are you wanting to be in sales? In sales that is really important.
[0:31:09.7] KM: Yes and I guess in nursing you want people to help people but in my business because we’re in sales, I sell products of course you have a very graphic company. You probably like artists, there are probably different reasons you hire them but yeah, you’re right. It’s in sales, you really want people to say, “I work because I need the money and I want the money” because I find that a lot of people that don’t need money or have to have money, I wouldn’t be where I am today if I had had or you had had wealthy parents.
[0:31:41.6] RM: You know I struggle with that right now. I’ve got a four year old and a two year old and I think, “Man I hope they’ve got the same drive” because I don’t know if I had either. I told my future self I was swimming in money. That’s what I was thinking about. That was a lot of my drive early on is that I wanted money and if our kids don’t need the money the way that – my mom she didn’t pay for anything and I love her to death and she would give it to me.
There was just no money to be had so if I were to be given all the things that I give my kids today, I’ll always have this internal battle if I am doing the right thing.
[0:32:20.1] KM: Well parenting is a whole other subject.
[0:32:23.9] RM: Oh and a whole other show. You could do another show.
[0:32:25.6] KM: You could do a whole show on the guilt of parenting. No one told me when I was having my four children what a guilt trip it was. I knew it would be a lot of work but no one said, “Oh and then there’s this whole bunch of guilt that goes with it” and you’re like “what?” Well and then when they get older, you get to be really proud so it pays like that. You’ll do a fine job. So, you’ve touched on this already but do leaders ever stop in their pursuit of entrepreneurship?
[0:32:55.0] RM: You know this goes to a question that I think you could dig into as you talk to more people too. It is, are entrepreneurs made or built overtime, you know? And I don’t know that answer. I know that they teach entrepreneurship in colleges now. I know that it is, I do believe it’s a skill that can be honed overtime but for me, I think I’ve always just been built on looking for opportunities. So you are always honing that skill of looking for opportunities.
[0:33:27.5] KM: There are so many subjects that we could talk about on topics. One thing you said and I think we talked about how great entrepreneurs are and we’ve talked about how positive they have to be and how you always have to look for the silver lining but to get down to more the details of running a business, let’s talk about maybe the pros and cons of having employees and I hope your employees aren’t listening so let’s not do the con thing.
[0:34:01.3] RM: Oh they are. They know of the struggles. One of the things that has been important and that I found overtime is a good thing is just being honest with the employees. Telling them things that you struggle with. So it is uncomfortable but I always say it’s uncomfortable for me to hold you accountable for both you and me but it works out in both of our favors. You’re going to go home knowing you are good at your job because I’m going to tell you if you are not good at your job.
[0:34:29.9] KM: Do you thank your employees when they leave every day?
[0:34:31.6] RM: I’m not sure. You know I probably don’t. I probably should do that more often. I hope if someone is listening, if one of the employees –
[0:34:38.9] KM: Write that down and remind you?
[0:34:39.9] RM: Yeah, tell me that tomorrow.
[0:34:41.9] KM: Or you can just go and say, “thank you” right now. Thanks guys.
[0:34:44.0] RM: Thanks everybody.
[0:34:45.9] KM: Working in your business or working on your business? That was a hard move for me to make for working in my business to working on my business and I read this book called –
[0:34:56.2] RM: E-Myth, is it E-Myth?
[0:34:57.5] KM: Yes.
[0:34:57.8] RM: Oh I was going to say, so I had a mentor who came to me one day and he said, “RJ you’ve got a great business but you really need to read this book” I picked up E-Myth and I felt that I was reading my diary. It was speaking to me like no book has ever spoken to me. I don’t think I would have ever appreciated it until I had done it for 10 years. I think if I would have read it day one, I would have rolled my eyes at it and said “this is going to be easy” but after a decade of running the business, E-Myth read like my diary and it talked about how important it was to work on the business because before that, I wasn’t. I was just in the business every day.
[0:35:39.7] KM: I sewed flags, I sold flags, I wrote checks, I answered phone calls.
[0:35:47.0] RM: Yeah and all with good attentions thinking you are doing the right thing.
[0:35:51.7] KM: I know.
[0:35:52.6] RM: And working on the business is critical.
[0:35:55.8] KM: And for people that don’t know what that means, in the E-Myth they talk about how this woman was great at making pies and that she made pies and she made pies and she made pies and she decided she was going to start her own business so she began to sell pies and then as her business grew, I’m paraphrasing so correct me if I say something wrong, and so she kept making pies in the back thinking she was the only person good enough to make the pies and she never would teach anybody else how to make the pies and so her business could never grow bigger than the amount of pies that she could cook in one day.
[0:36:30.1] RM: That’s right.
[0:36:31.3] KM: Is that right?
[0:36:32.1] RM: You realize at some point even if you’re growing and we were growing, at one point I was the thing that was starting the business and the business wasn’t growing unless I was out there doing it and so I was the one that was selling something and then I’d come back and do the work and then at some point, you realize that you become the bottle neck of growth because you think you need to control everything.
You think that you don’t have any time because “I’ve got to write the invoices, I don’t have any time because I got to do the work. I don’t have any time because now I’ve got to go sell it” and overtime you become the thing that is keeping you from growing. So E-Myth is a great book that describes it.
[0:37:10.1] KM: The bottle neck of the growth. I like the way that you said that, that is exactly right. So she finally quit making pies in the E-Myth and began to teach somebody else her recipes and now she has two people making pies and she can now sell twice as many pies and she went out to the front counter and began to get customers and began to hear what her customers wanted and then she was like, “Oh they wanted Cherry Pie instead of Pecan Pie”.
So now she is making what the customers want and yeah, I see this over and over when I talk to entrepreneurs about how to, they talk to me all the time about how they cannot find good employees so they cannot grow their business because nobody can do what they do and that to me is the E-Myth.
[0:37:56.2] RM: Yeah, I would agree with that completely.
[0:37:58.1] KM: And I even go to these breakfasts or lunches and they’ll ask me to come and speak and you could go around the table and one of the number one and this is probably happened to you but you can think about this question, what is the number one thing that people asked you when they want to start a business and mine is, they ask me or they tell me “I’ve got a small business but I can’t grow it because I can’t find good employees” and I have two answers for them. You either can’t hire or you don’t know how to train.
[0:38:27.4] RM: I’d agree.
[0:38:28.8] KM: And then the third one I guess if you were going to say one is, you’re not quick to fire.
[0:38:32.8] RM: Sure, that’s the accountability metric that I talked about earlier. It’s hard, it’s uncomfortable for everybody but by not holding someone accountable, by not firing somebody you are not doing them any favors.
[0:38:47.1] KM: I’ve been fired from three jobs, thank you.
[0:38:49.0] RM: Yeah,
[0:38:49.8] KM: Well it allows them to go out and do something that they are probably a better fit for.
[0:38:56.6] RM: Exactly but on the flip side and you said it earlier is that you’ve got to have a plan whenever you hire somebody. So many times small business owners, you see them hire somebody because they think that they are the right person but there is no training plan, there’s no what they’re supposed to do. They don’t know. They’re just going to bring the person in and hope they do good work and that was our first probably 10 hires.
And we made a mistake earlier on where the first thing is we started hiring or we were trying to hire sales guys. They look like they can sell, we’re going to bring them in and they’re going to be sales guys and that was a mistake. We made many mistakes hiring people.
[0:39:35.7] KM: Why was that a mistake?
[0:39:36.8] RM: Because we didn’t have a training plan. We didn’t have a way to hold them accountable.
[0:39:39.8] KM: So what did you do? Just give them a map and throw a dart at it and say, “Go out there and start selling”?
[0:39:44.1] RM: We gave them the yellow pages and just said, “You’re a member of the chamber of commerce, can’t you sell something?” we didn’t have a training plan at all and so it was nothing that they were doing. It was our fault they were failing but for some reason I would go home and complain about we had the wrong sales guys. “RJ you got the wrong leader in that position” so.
[0:40:06.7] KM: You figured it out. A lot of people never figure that out. Can you talk about your daily tasks, how does your day look like on a day’s time? What does an entrepreneur’s day look like?
[0:40:17.1] RM: I always tell people it is my job to remove obstacles so that you can be more successful.
[0:40:22.9] KM: That’s good. I am using that.
[0:40:25.8] RM: It’s good. I probably stole it from somebody else.
[0:40:29.0] KM: You can email me that. Text me that later will you?
[0:40:31.1] RM: Okay, will do but that is really what I’m doing is every day I am fighting fires, making sure that we can remove specific obstacles so that they can be successful.
[0:40:42.3] KM: I love it. We got a phone call.
[0:40:43.9] CALLER: Hello.
[0:40:45.9] KM: Hello?
[0:40:46.3] CALLER: Great topic.
[0:40:47.1] KM: Thank you. Are you going to start your business or do you own one?
[0:40:50.3] CALLER: Well, I was going to make a common about hiring people and so forth. I’ve worked in retail for 35 years, retail sales and marketing and so forth and the gentleman made an excellent comment about hiring somebody and not having the job description. That’s absolutely essential. Can you still hear me?
[0:41:11.2] RM: Yeah. Right on
[0:41:12.6] CALLER: It’s absolutely essential and the thing about sales people, I work in the retail automotive industry. I have for 25 years, effective sales people come in all shapes and sizes and great sales people are a mirror of society. They might look like your mom or dad so when you think of a sales person, you might think of some good looking person or nice hair or whatever flashy, that’s not always the case. Some of the best sales people I’ve ever employed were in the 70’s.
[0:41:46.4] KM: Really?
[0:41:46.8] CALLER: Yeah, absolutely.
[0:41:48.5] RM: Some of our best sales people have been quiet. You think of a sales person and you think of this almost flamboyant or slicked hair, fast talking and some of our most successful sales guys aren’t that way at all.
[0:42:06.0] CALLER: I don’t even have any hair, okay? Here’s the thing though and this is where it starts, this is a very fundamental thing. If you look on Wikipedia or a dictionary and I said to find a sales person what would your definition be?
[0:42:22.6] KM: I don’t know, what?
[0:42:24.6] CALLER: See? That’s the thing.
[0:42:25.8] KM: Is this a joke?
[0:42:27.4] CALLER: No, not at all but if you can’t define it how can you fill the job?
[0:42:31.0] KM: Oh that was a trick question.
[0:42:33.5] RM: Sure.
[0:42:34.1] CALLER: One of the best definitions I have ever seen of a sales person is this: A sales person is an individual that influences another individual to take advantage of his proctor service.
[0:42:48.7] KM: That’s so well said. I’m writing it down.
[0:42:51.8] RM: Yeah.
[0:42:52.3] CALLER: That’s it.
[0:42:52.8] RM: Short, sweet to the point.
[0:42:54.5] CALLER: So a sales person is an influencer and a sales person leads, they don’t push and God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason.
[0:43:06.2] KM: To listen.
[0:43:07.7] CALLER: You listen twice as much as you talk and the average consumer will tell you how to sell them.
[0:43:13.9] KM: That is so true. It took me a long time to learn that.
[0:43:16.5] CALLER: I’ve sold everything from candles door to door to million dollar projects.
[0:43:22.1] KM: Hey, you need a job? I need a sales person, he’s good.
[0:43:25.6] CALLER: We’ll I’ve got a great job with a good company but I will leave you with a four legged stool before I get off the line okay?
[0:43:32.4] KM: Oh give it to me.
[0:43:33.5] CALLER: This is management’s responsibility for staff. First one, hire the right person and that goes with a lot of things, researching what the job is, what you want out of the individual, do they know their job. Number two, do they know what their job is and are you equipping them with introduction, training, whatnot to facilitate their ability to do their job? Give them the tools that they need, okay? Number three, do you give them feedback on their performance good or bad?
It’s just as important to give good feedback performances than it to give is bad feedback performance because how else do they know what you expect so when they do a good job for God’s sake tell them. Now, that brings us to the last leg of the stool.
[0:44:21.8] KM: I’m on edge. I’m waiting.
[0:44:22.9] CALLER: You fire the right person.
[0:44:25.4] KM: Fire the right person?
[0:44:27.2] CALLER: That means you fire a person that doesn’t – firing a person only applies with good conscience if you’ve done the other three legs of the stool.
[0:44:38.1] KM: Oh.
[0:44:39.4] CALLER: And if you haven’t, it’s as much management’s fault as it is the individual that the job didn’t work out.
[0:44:46.5] KM: So don’t fire the wrong person is actually what you are saying?
[0:44:49.5] CALLER: Right but it goes back to hiring the right person but if you have done all of those things you let them go.
[0:44:55.1] KM: And sometimes people think the Maverick is the wrong person but actually sometimes the Mavericks are the best people who think out of the box. They’re really good.
[0:45:00.8] CALLER: We got an old saying, when you have a sales staff we call the Maverick to pepper in the pot. If you’ve got a pot of chili and it’s a little bit bland, there are couple of peppers in there to liven things up because sometimes they move the needle from the entire organization.
[0:45:18.7] RM: Sure.
[0:45:19.3] KM: I love it.
[0:45:20.3] CALLER: Well I thank you for your time and I appreciate your time, okay?
[0:45:22.9] KM: I loved your phone call, thank you.
[0:45:24.6] RM: What was your name caller?
[0:45:25.7] CALLER: My name is Bob.
[0:45:27.3] KM: I knew he was going to say that. Thanks Bob.
[0:45:30.4] CALLER: You know what? You can even spell Bob backwards, B-O-B.
[0:45:34.4] KM: Really?
[0:45:35.2] CALLER: Take care of yourself. Bye-bye.
[0:45:36.9] KM: Bye Bob.
[0:45:36.9] RM: Thank you.
[0:45:38.6] KM: I knew he was going to say Bob, I don’t know how I knew that. What do you all think? Did you all think that on the phone?
[0:45:43.2] RM: I like Bob.
[0:45:43.9] KM: I like Bob, he was smart. Too bad he’s got a job. I’ll put him in sales manager, I’ll put him in human resources. So human resources are really the backbone to me of the company. Your company is only as good as the people that are there. A great company is full of great people.
[0:46:03.9] RM: You know nobody ever told me the hardest part of starting a business is having the right people. I always thought it was get more customers, service the customer and make the money. I thought that’s how it worked.
[0:46:18.0] KM: The other thing I think sales people, if you’re just thinking about starting a business out there, I want to give you this tip that I have seen over and over and people will make a great product or have a great idea and they just decide – oh we’re getting another phone call. Hold on. I will get your call in just a second and they have a great idea but sometimes they get the money before they have sales. So if possible, you want to get your sales before you go buy 10,000 of these widgets and fill your warehouse up with widgets and then go, “Am I going to sell them,” you need your sales first and then you buy your widgets one at a time. All right, did we have another phone call come in?
[0:46:56.6] TB: Oh no but I think we could do the wrap up. We got about 10 minutes left.
[0:47:01.8] RM: Wow, the times just flies by with you.
[0:47:04.0] KM: It’s been good.
[0:47:05.1] TB: I know right? That was quick.
[0:47:05.8] KM: You all are great. You’ve been a great guest so I think it’s important like we were saying about making sure you have sales first because I see people all the time make the mistake of investing all their money before they know how to sell it.
[0:47:21.6] RM: I agree.
[0:47:22.0] KM: And that’s the tail – that’s not even like the tail wagging the dog.
[0:47:26.3] RM: Yep, we see it even in the technology world where people will end up spending two, three times the initial budget because they keep wanting to add, let’s say features on the software project.
[0:47:39.2] KM: So I know we got to wrap it up but I can’t believe that no one has called in and asked RJ web questions because everywhere I go, somebody says, “Hey tell me about Google ad words on flagandbanner.com” and I’m like, “Well have you got three months because it takes forever to learn that business.” I don’t even thinking Google knows how it works.
[0:47:59.6] RM: Hey listen, if anyone has questions after this just get in touch with Kerry. She can get you in touch with me.
[0:48:06.0] KM: Yeah, you can go to upyourbusiness.org and send emails and I’ll forward them on to RJ but yeah, I can’t believe no one’s called and ask you any webmaster. I don’t think they use that word anymore, webmaster, do they? But you are a master of the web. All things web, so I don’t even think – I can’t believe no one’s called and asked you questions because they always want to know about Google ad words and they change it constantly.
[0:48:33.1] RM: I mean there are new avenues every day. Now there’s Facebook advertising and Instagram advertising, Snapchat advertising.
[0:48:39.3] KM: And you know what I’d like to say about Facebook advertising? Because I have been on the internet it’s going to shock people when I tell them this. I’ve been on the internet since 1995, since the day it opened. That’s why I’ve got such a good name at flagandbanner.com but I could just teach the web. I mean I have almost bankrupted Flag and Banner because of that web business so many times. They’ll just say, “You know do this and it’s going to work great” and it doesn’t. I forgot what I was going to say.
[0:49:06.7] RM: You were talking about Facebook.
[0:49:08.4] KM: Facebook advertising, yeah, it’s the best bang for the buck.
[0:49:13.0] RM: I was hoping you were going to go that way and not talk about how – because if it’s not working for you, you might be doing something wrong.
[0:49:19.3] KM: Oh it’s the best. It’s cheap and targeted. So anything else you want to say about the internet before we go and about how to advertise on the website because I feel like we really hadn’t done that. What platform do you like to use to build? If you were just a stay at home, what platform would you use to build your website?
[0:49:36.5] RM: If we’re talking about building websites, I don’t care. A website is a marketing tool and it’s just one arrow in your quiver.
[0:49:43.8] KM: But can’t you just build it yourself?
[0:49:44.9] RM: You can build it yourself if you want to.
[0:49:47.3] KM: So who would you go to, Blue Coast or who are those people?
[0:49:49.5] RM: There are hundreds of them out there, I can’t even think of but WordPress.com. yeah, we’re big WordPress fans and it’s easy. There are every type of square – there are so many do it yourself tools out there.
[0:50:05.2] KM: I think when you buy a domain name, that you also – I think when you buy a domain name that they also network solutions, I think that they’ll also say, “Hey let me build your website”.
[0:50:16.0] RM: Go Daddy will do the same thing. Building the website is step one. Again, it’s putting a billboard in the dessert. Now you’ve got to get out there and you’ve got to market that thing.
[0:50:25.6] KM: You know we don’t even do yellow page advertising at all anymore.
[0:50:28.3] RM: I mean, I can’t falter you for that. There are certain instances where yellow pages works.
[0:50:34.2] KM: In the 80’s we advertised in seven states and in the 80’s spent $11,000 a year on advertising in yellow pages and thought that, it almost broke us to do that but we were trying to get the seven states that touch Arkansas.
[0:50:50.8] RM: That’s the future of the web. It used to be that easy. People used to just buy a yellow page ad and be done because that’s how businesses were found and it’s changing and if you want to be on the right side of history, you’d better start learning how to do internet marketing and I think that’s been our big growth factor is that every business is trying to figure that out.
[0:51:10.0] KM: You have to have, even if you don’t want sale on a shopping cart and you don’t have anything to sell, today you have to think of the web as yellow page advertising and you have to throw up at least a home page to say, “Here’s our phone number, here’s our directions to our building and here are our hours” you have to at least have that even if you don’t want to sell anything.
[0:51:32.5] RM: Even if you don’t want any more business, I am using the web and your website is a way to validate who you are and what you say.
[0:51:39.7] KM: I use it to look at phone numbers.
[0:51:41.3] RM: Oh yeah. We’ve all got the yellow pages in our pocket right now. I am looking at it alongside of Facebook. It is my smart phone and that’s the future.
[0:51:51.4] KM: Okay. So I think we’re going to wrap it up. Great first day and guess what? I just got back from Cuba and I brought back a cigar and for being my first guest you get a cigar from Cuba.
[0:52:01.9] RM: Are you kidding? You know how fast this went too? This is awesome. I appreciate it and you just made it enjoyable so if I can do anything to help you or your listeners, don’t hesitate. Just reach out to me and ask me.
[0:52:14.6] KM: You are welcome. Thank you so much. I love you RJ.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
[0:52:19.6] TB: You’ve been listening to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy. Want to hear today’s program again or want someone else to benefit from it? Jot this down. Within 48 hours the podcast will be available at flagandbanner.com. Click the tab labeled “Radio Show”, there you’ll find today’s segments with links to resources you heard discussed on this program. Kerry’s goal: To help you live the American Dream.