Guest Interview: Michael Sutton of Kind Home Painting Company “The Tools to $10 Million” Series: Episode 5

Published On: May 22, 2023

Categories: Podcast

Michael Sutton
In this series titled “The Tools to 10 Million”, Michael Sutton of Kind Home Painting Company will be discussing professional tools to enable growth to $10 million.  It is a 5-part series.
In episode 5, final episode, Michael will break down the real challenges of entrepreneurship and how to overcome those.
If you want to ask Michael questions related to anything in this podcast series, you can do so in our exclusive Painter Marketing Mastermind Podcast Forum on facebook.  Just search for “Painter Marketing Mastermind Podcast Forum” on facebook and request to join the group, or type in the URL facebook.com/groups/paintermarketingmastermind.  Again that URL is facebook.com/groups/paintermarketingmastermind.  There you can ask Mike questions directly by tagging him with your question, so you can see how anything discussed here applies to your particular painting company.

Video of Interview

Podcast Audio

Topics Discussed:

Episode 5
– The Real Challenges of Entrepreneurship

Audio Transcript

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Welcome to the Painter Marketing Mastermind Podcast. The show created to help painting company owners build a thriving painting business that does well over one million and annual revenue. I’m your host, Brandon Pierpont, founder of Painter Marketing Pros and creator of the popular PCA educational series, Learn, Do, Grow Marketing for Painters. In each episode, I’ll be sharing proven tips, strategies and processes from leading experts in the industry on how they found success in their painting business. We will be interviewing owners of the most successful painting companies in north America and learning from their experiences.

In this series titled The Tools To 10 Million Michael Sutton of Kind home painting company will be discussing professional tools to enable growth to $10 million. It is a five part series. In episode one, Michael discussed the professionals who supported his growth and how you can find your own support network. In episode two, Michael covered the books that have empowered his growth to date. In episode three, Michael deep dived into the key employees he could not do without. In episode four, Michael will lay out the numbers that make his business thrive and in the final episode, episode five, this episode, Michael will break down the real challenges of entrepreneurship and how to overcome them.

If you want to ask Michael questions related to anything in this podcast series, you can do so on our exclusive painter marketing mastermind podcast forum on Facebook. Just search for painter, marketing mastermind podcast form on Facebook and request to join the group or type in the URL facebook dot com forward slash groups forward slash painter. Marketing mastermind. Again, that URL is facebook dot com forward slash groups forward slash painter. Marketing mastermind. There you can ask Mike questions directly by tagging him with your question. So you can see how anything discussed here applies to your particular painting company.

What’s going on, Mike? Not much, Brandon. How are you doing? Great man. Episode five. Yeah, excited to uh get together again and have, have another great conversation. Thanks for having me. Always, man. Yeah, it’s a pleasure to have you. I am uh excited slash uh apprehensive. I’d say of this episode because I know this one’s getting real. This one’s gonna get real hopefully. Uh and, and maybe not, who knows. Uh Well, let’s uh I, I know one of the things you and I have collaborate, commiserated, discussed um empathized with each other on is the, the real challenges and struggles of entrepreneurship.

I know a lot of our listeners can empathize with that. Uh It’s not as glorious as they make it look like in the movies, I think. Let’s get, let’s dive in. Yeah. You know, and um I’d love to start by kind of putting the foundation to this conversation and how it came about. Um We’ve been talking about shooting the series for quite a while now. Uh three or four months that we’ve been talking about it. And, uh, I know when you followed up with me and asked if we were ready to get started, um, it was probably beginning of March and, um, as many painters now, uh, there tends to be some cyclical nature to the painting industry, especially when your bread and butter is exterior painting.

And, uh, when you first reached out to me, I was struggling with the idea of getting on a podcast and talking about anything of value to help anyone because I felt like I needed all the help myself. Well, at the beginning of March, um, and I, I think I flied back of, you know, if you really want to do this, the only thing I can talk about is what not to do, uh, and maybe warn some people about what they’re getting into because, uh, it’s hard and, uh, we’re now sitting here on May 3rd when we’re shooting this May 4th and we’re back into our exterior painting season.

And my goodness, it feels like all the worries and cares that I had before are gone. Life is good and houses are painting and paint is flying. So it feels a little different now and coming out of a cold winter. Interesting. Um, well, I appreciate you being willing to, to start the series even though you were having, you know, some personal doubts and struggles and, and insecurities with the business. And it’s also, I appreciate you sharing that because your, your company is a whole lot bigger than, than most of the companies that are owned by our listeners.

You have a very big painting company. So the fact that you are willing to be open about your insecurities and wonder whether you’re even really succeeding or have the answers, I think can be at least comforting to a lot of people. Um I can say that anyone who’s struggling, they’re not alone. And, uh you know, I spend a lot of time with wise people with uh a lot more experience than myself. And I hear this consistently. Do you know what happens when you grow an unprofitable business?

You become more unprofitable, your problems get bigger and it’s not hard to miss your mark by a couple of percentage points in this business and a couple of percentage points can make a huge difference. Um And the bigger the numbers, the more risk there are when you miss something by a small amount. Yeah, mistakes get magnified. Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah. So, I guess let’s, let’s go down, uh, you know, maybe some of the, what would be considered, maybe more of the, the negative or the challenging, um, aspects of the headspace of, of running a painting company, really painting company, a company in general.

Uh, and then ways that you have found to, to still win, you know, to keep your sanity to come out the other side, stronger, better for it. Yeah. Um. Mhm. So, share her story, uh, end of our first year. Uh, I remember I sat down with my now wife’s grandfather. He’s an accountant. I had been a CPA for many years, owned his own firm, worked with thousands of businesses and, uh, I was having him get to work on our taxes after our first year of business and he said, um, Michael, here’s what you need to do.

You need to shut your business down, you need to file for bankruptcy and you need to walk away from this and you need to do it now. That’s great. That was, uh, our very first January, uh, as a business. It’s awesome. It’s awesome. Um, we missed our profitability mark by 2%. 2% of $2 million is 50,20213 or something, $40,000. Uh, and, um, that was the first time I realized how important 2% was for anything. And, um, I went to, uh, we had a team meeting the next day and I brought everyone that was in the company together and, uh, there was something like 14 or 15 of us on that day.

And, uh, I shared with them the advice I had been given. I opened up our profit and loss statement. I showed everyone the numbers and I said, hey, this is what we lost. I have no more money. I’ve spent everything in my savings account. Uh I’ve borrowed all the money I can borrow right now. And uh you guys need to know that some smart people are telling us that we should hang up the, you know, hang it up here and walk away. But you’re, you guys are as much a part of this as I am.

What do you wanna do? Do you wanna walk away and get a secure normal job or do you wanna try to fight through this and be 2% better? And that year I ran the numbers and if we had a 2% higher profitability, 2% higher gross margin, a 2% higher closing ratio and a 13% higher conversion ratio from each department, we would have made something like $300,000 $400,000. It was somewhere in that range and that was for every single person just performing 2% better. And I showed them those numbers and I asked, can you, can everyone commit today to doing 2% better in each one of their jobs?

And if so I’m willing to figure out how we, we make the next steps. And then, uh, I kind of did the Zappos Tony shea thing and said, if you know anyone wants to walk away, I’ll pay you a month salary today with the money I don’t have. And, uh, three people left the company that day. So, movie man, that was our, basically our first kickoff, uh, January meeting after a full year. Um I don’t think people talk about that. They don’t talk about those moments where your business is hanging on by a thread and you don’t know what to do.

Um I was in a, a group the other day and I saw somebody chat and say, uh that they had taken out a significant amount of loans to get through a season and, uh, you know, uh I’ll share the loans that I had to take out and it was our first year of business and maybe this isn’t something someone should say. But, uh, one thing I learned is people don’t give you money when you need it. People give you money when you have money, not when you’re broke or you’re upside down.

Uh, but there are certain people who will and they are hard money loans that have very fast repayment terms and they have uh incredibly high interest rates. In our first year, we financed the first several months of our business going into our second year with a high interest loan, 27% interest with weekly installment payments over one year. Right? And uh I would do it again. 27% makes credit card debt look cheap. Very rarely. Do you find a loan to make a credit card look cheap? That’s insane. Uh My advice to somebody who, uh, may have cash flow issues or may have experienced something similar, get an American Express card.

Uh, probably the best advice somebody could have given me and they didn’t give it to me until year three. Um It is absolutely incredible for a business and something that anyone who’s running a small, small painting company or a midsize painting company or a multimillion dollar painting company. If you don’t have an American Express card, get one. What makes, what makes an Amex so good? Um They oftentimes don’t have spending limits. Yeah, so they can scale with your business, they can cover your workloads and if you need financing and mending, they’re an incredible organization to help you with it.

It’s good. Uh Oftentimes their line of credit will far exceed or outperform a bank’s line of credit. So that was uh our first winter. Um It sounds stressful, Mike. Uh It was a tough couple of months. Yeah. Um and it’s a stress like very few people know, I uh I was talking to a gentleman recently and uh he asked me, are you a, are you a founder or are you a CEO said Well, I’m a, I’m a founder. I, I started the business. He said, do you have partners or did you do it on your own?

100% on my own? And he said, well, a lot of business owners, they don’t understand the experience that you have, especially a lot of CEO S were people who bought into a company because they oftentimes didn’t use their own credit. They didn’t use their own money. They didn’t look at people and say, ok, I’m putting everything I have on the line here. House car credit future. I’m gambling at all. Right now on this working and oftentimes CEO S aren’t playing with their own skin in the game and they don’t, uh, quite feel the same stress when everything was yours from the start.

And, um, it’s, uh, it’s a little bit different. So, yeah. Yeah, that’s a lot, a bit different. I don’t think that’s a little, a little bit different. It’s a heck of a story that was year one. Um, and we’ve had good years and we’ve had tight years and that year was tight. Uh, year two was great. You learn from your lessons and then our third year of business, uh, was 20203. Hm. So, uh, for somebody who’s been running a painting company over the last three years, God bless you.

Uh, I hope this is not normal or is normal, just not normal. Um, you know, I carry a, a pretty heavy weight for the people on our team and the more people you employ, the more lives that you touch, the more individuals who are, are counting on you and relying on you. So the pressure goes up and uh I was really active in early 2020 with kind of the pre shutdown pandemic is starting. I would be lying if I were to say I um spent my birthday on January 5th watching videos in China of people falling over from COVID on Twitter.

Um I remember going to the home and Garden show in Denver, happened uh over February early February and I’ve shown people videos of this COVID thing in China. I said, I don’t know what’s happening guys, but it’s kind of weird here. Uh looked like people were just dying at that point. And uh I would say March 17th was one of the hardest days I’ve had in business. At that point. We had 22 full time employees, something right around there. And uh when Colorado passed the shelter in place law, it was like this immediate instant tear of what does this mean for the people on our team.

Uh You, we just started painting houses. We started in March, you come off a winter and it takes every dollar that you have to get our company through payroll over the winter time. And as we were approaching this shutdown and you’re hearing people discuss what are they gonna do with the economy. Are we shutting down? Are we staying open? Are they, what’s happening? All I can look at is the cash in the bank account and say we don’t have a runway. We got two weeks runway. If our painting stops entirely, we have three weeks runway at most.

The second they turn us down and say you can’t work and um you’re going through and you’re thinking about every person on the team and how are they gonna pay their bills if we have to shut down even temporarily? How do they pay rent? How do they have insurance, health insurance to take care of their family if they were to get sick if that happens right now. Um, and for a brief moment, we furloughed something like 26 or 2100% of the company on March 270th, the day that they announced a shelter in place which uh was one of the harder days.

The ipad, we just didn’t have another way to say like we could, we could keep this going knowing that we weren’t gonna be able to paint. Yeah. Um How I personally handle that said, ok. Uh Well, I’m gonna keep doing estimates. I’m not gonna ask anyone else to keep doing this unless you feel safe and you’re comfortable and you want to do it out of my five salespeople, do any of you volunteer to do this with me and I had a one person. So I’m in, I’ll do it with your games or something?

Yeah, we didn’t know what it was. Yeah. You know, uh, is this life threatening? Is this dangerous? Are people dying? It was too early to tell. And, um, he raised his hand and he said I’ll do it with you. And, uh, I did something like 22021 to 21 estimates a week, um, seven days a week for about 703 months straight. It’s a lot of estimates. Um I was doing the estimates for three people and the goal was to book a pipeline of work, they gonna to bring everyone on the company back and, uh, within uh less than 270 days, I had the entire team back and we’re running a full schedule.

Um, people don’t talk about working 215 days in a row or something. You just don’t hear that. You, you, why would I have to go and do bids every single day? Um Well, sometimes you have to carry a cross, you have to do something to take care of the people who have trusted their lives with you. And that was one of the wilder, more difficult periods that hopefully we ever have to go through as business owners. Were you running painting marketing pros at that time? Yeah, for us, it’s a bit different.

Uh, I mean, we’re, we’re kind of dealing with the ramifications on the other side of it, you know, with you guys not knowing what’s going on. Then obviously that comes back to us. Why are we spending money on marketing? Right. So that’s its own challenge. Um That wasn’t a fun time, man. You know, it ended up actually, we fought, we saw a kind of turnaround after some time and the the demand ended up far exceeding the supply for a lot of our, our partners and those who were able to keep going and keep their marketing and keep um investing into their business, which not everyone of course, was able to do that.

But those that did, we saw them gain a ton of market share and then we also saw kind of the flip side of that, right? Some people shut down and, and ultimately their team disappear and their company ultimately disappeared. But like you said, it was one of those things you don’t, no one knew what was going on, no one knew what the future is. And I think that was the, that was the scariest thing is kind of the unknown. And the government saying, hey, stay in your house.

I mean, that’s, it’s like, it’s like martial law. I mean, it’s, this is like something you see in a movie but it doesn’t happen except, oh, wait, now it’s actually happening. Yeah. Right. Um, and, and they don’t offer business owners. Unemployment. No. Yeah, that’s one of the, there are a lot of benefits and that’s one of them, a lot of benefits, you know. Uh, and this was a moment. Of fear for us during that period. Uh, I didn’t know what was gonna happen and, you know, looking back on this, it probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do, but I cleared every asset for my name in case I had to file bankruptcy.

I didn’t want anything associated to me. And you’re thinking, how do I protect everything that I’ve got up to this point? And what all are we gonna lose at this? Does it turn around? Right? Has it changed how you, I guess how you handle stuff like that or how you think about things moving forward? Having had such a, a harrowing experience, you know? No, no. Uh other than um you can get through it and I say it all the time when something comes up or issues arise, there’s always an answer, there’s always a solution, there’s always an alternative and having that growth mindset walking into any problem is so powerful.

Um One of my favorite books, not one that’s been mentioned up to this point, I believe is Carol Dweck growth mindset, not 210% applicable to this, but in another way, it is, is that things aren’t fixed, an outcome isn’t set in stone. Who you are as a person isn’t always who you will be. And if you look for the improvement, if you look for the opportunity, you’ll find it. And there is an opportunity and there is an improvement in almost every situation. So I use that actively. Uh, I read it about once a year, twice a year.

It’s, it’s a weird thing. I, I don’t think I’ve actually read that book but it’s something I started doing, like, four years ago or something when I realized how much being a business owner sucks. And I was like, this is, this sucks. You know, things are always going wrong and I, I had to figure out how to mentally shift, you know, make a huge mental shift or I needed to exit entrepreneurship, right? One or the other because it’s too, it’s too much stress. There’s too, too many things that are going wrong.

Too many things depending on you all the time. And I figured out that if you look at things, it’s that full term limits to lemonade, that cliche statement. But when you have a hardship or a problem or really anything that comes your way, I have, I have not yet experienced since I made that mental shift. I’ve not yet experienced a situation that happened. That was bad that I didn’t end up being thankful that it happened because I looked for how to make it a win. And then I come out, it sometimes it takes a bit, it takes a bit.

Sometimes I like there’s no way to turn this into a win. But if you keep looking hard enough, long enough and you focus on that. Almost always. I say almost always, I’ve always found a win. But almost always have I been, man? I don’t know what I would have done. Had that not happened? That’s the insane. It goes from being like, oh, whoa, is me like this happened and that happened. I can’t even believe I’m still in business and I’m like, thank God, like, thank God, I don’t know what I would have done had that not happened, you know, and all these things that were not on the face of it really very good things.

Isn’t that weird? Yeah, it’s um finding that um it, you know, I think of Joe from the Bible who just had all the things happen and he was grateful and he was thankful uh for every story, for every experience that he had. And you look back on it and you say thank you for the opportunity that I had to grow. And um 2020 was the first year that I really was able to lean on our uh the experience of the people around me and some of the, the mentors that I had and I saw how they navigated it as a business.

Um I can say that personally, the business group, I’m a part of Tab Tab International. The alternative board was my rock during that period because I was able to talk to the six business owners who are in the exact same seat that I was who are watching their contracts canceled tomorrow, watching their pipeline go from a million dollars to $0 and, like a week. Wow. Yeah. Um, and, uh, I’m, I’m grateful for it. I’m grateful for how it strengthened me and, uh, what it turned me into, uh, which is slightly more fearless.

But I think the stress that we feel isn’t even related to fear. Maybe, maybe it’s a disappointment. It’s sorrow. It’s sad when you’re concerned that you’ve let people down, we trusted in you. Um, we, and I think that that’s a feeling that you have when you wonder if like is this gonna work. So I wanna continue to do this. Um And I talked, maybe we’ve talked about this but uh this year I started tracking personal hours that I put into my business. I have a spreadsheet and every week I record how many hours I’ve worked and uh using my calendar religiously so that I know and you’re like, ok, 50 hours, not bad, 55 hours, not too bad.

65 hours. OK? That’s starting to feel a lot 75 hours like, man, well, that’s actually a little more than I think that’s a little more than I expected. You, you hit like 153 83 you’re like, man, this is a lot of time. Um And you hear people mention I work 12 hour days every day and um maybe they do, but I encourage people to put it down and actually look at it and, and you start to realize this is a lot. Um, and it’s, I know it’s something that you and I have talked about. Yeah.

Um, you know, one of the things that they don’t talk about is how owning a business, it permeates into your mind and the shut off becomes very, very, very difficult. Um, and that’s something that business owners or future business owners, I don’t think, recognize how challenging that can be. Um, and how challenging it can be for a significant other. So when you have a relationship, a partnership, a marriage, uh and one person is constantly focused on a single thing that creates tension, it creates stress. Um And it’s not something that anyone told me that would happen if we started a business. Yeah.

Uh I’m curious. Have you experienced that in your own personal life? Talking about work and your wife is begging you to talk about anything else? No, no. My life and my and my uh relationship are perfect. All right. Next question for you, Michael. Uh It sounds exactly like us. Yes. If she were here very emphatically agreeing. Uh and actually empathizing with your wife. Uh because it has been a big pain point for my wife. Uh over the last several years, you need a very specific partner and um not all partners can do or, or handle what happens when they become sun up to sun down, hard to talk about something else.

And it happens every day. I am seen a lot of concerts and I enjoy live music and I go see concerts, what I have found myself over the last three or four years consistently doing. And in a way, this breaks my heart in another way. I, I, I’m proud of it and it feels like every time I go to a concert, I get inspired, I feel a ton of creativity and I start thinking about creative solutions to solving problems. And I end out with my to do list on my phone, writing an outline of all of the things I need to accomplish while working.

And my friends consistently are. What are you doing, man? Get off your phone. I can’t, it’s gold. I’ve been thinking about how to handle this for weeks and it just came to me, I gotta put it on paper, that’s fine. Um wheels are always turned and that’s that curse of it’s stuck with you. It’s, it’s embedded itself in your brain. Um Went to a concert with a, a teammate and my phone died while we were there. And I didn’t have a, a pin in my pocket. And the last thing I did was I went to the bar and I asked them if I could borrow their pin so I could write a little message down on my hand.

I go, OK, that’s the last one I promise. Um And uh as we were walking out, we were joking and I go, hey, you’re gonna love this, it says, what do you do? And that was the last note and he goes, I have no idea what that means but whatever you’re gonna download from that, I’m sure it’s gold. Um, so that’s a curse that I, I don’t think people talk about before they go into this. Is that the commitment that it’s gonna take both mentally and, um, but the direct output of time. Yeah. Yeah.

It’s pretty all consuming in a lot of ways can be. Yeah. And I think, uh, I think it’s kind of up to us, the business owner to try to somehow put a fence on that, you know, somehow limited because it, the business ownership is gonna take, it’s gonna take whatever you feed it. I don’t think it, I don’t think it’s ever going to run out of hunger. You know, that’s one of the things I figured out, no matter how much I feed it, no matter how much I work, no matter, no matter how many different things I do, it’s never gonna be satiated.

So there have to be, you have to forcefully input some sort of boundaries, limitations, balance whatever it is while acknowledging that you are probably going to work more than most people, at least for some period of time. And it is going to be more stressful for you probably than for the average, you know, W-2 employee, uh, for some period of time and for me and for, I think a lot of business owners, it’s sort of a delayed gratification. You know, you’re gonna do your time, you’re gonna build something substantial but you can’t lose yourself or your family.

You know, some people lose their families, um, because they just become all consumed with it and they lose focus. You can’t lose that in the process because otherwise, what was the point of the whole thing in the first place? It didn’t make your life better. It made it a whole lot worse. Yeah. And you, I, I hear that all the time. Um, doing interviews. Uh, right now we’re in a hiring period and we’re hiring about a dozen employees. So, every day I’m doing, you know, 2 to 6 interviews and you hear story after story of people who used to own their own business and how they, they ran it with their husband and wife and the divorce happened and now they’re shut the business down and we’re doing this and I just, I hear it all the time.

Yeah, of, and I personally am not the best fence builder. Yeah. So the work in progress for me as well. I’m, I’m not the fence builder but I’m trying to get better at it. One of the things I’m doing a lot too is, is, uh, meditation now. So I have a, a coach, um, bit of a life business coach and he’s, he’s working through some meditation and things like that and I find that helps tremendously because you’re right. It, it doesn’t turn off right. It’s in your mind, you’re always thinking you’re, you’re responsible, you’re the visionary, you’re the growth, you’re the quality control for at least some period of time.

Probably quite a while in your company. You’re doing a whole lot of roles and if you’re not focused, then some ball somewhere is gonna get dropped while you also have to be the visionary and actually leading from the front. So it’s a lot to balance. Uh And that’s where you almost have to be a Jedi of mind control. You know, you have to have like AAA much higher control of your mind than the average person does of their mind. You also don’t have the time and, and sort of the luxury if you will of uh Netflix or this or that or however they’re gonna kind of waste their time.

You can’t really do a whole lot of that because if you’re not spending quality time with your family or health or whatever it is, you, you maybe would be better spent working on your business than watching Netflix every night. At least that’s, that’s what I have found, you know. Um, and I enjoy working on the business more. Yeah. Yeah. Weird. Um We like the, uh what it, we’re, we’re masochist. We, we like, well, um, you know, I don’t know if it’s the pain that I like, but it’s the, the problem solving yeah, the uh opportunity to look at a, you know, a challenge and, and seek out an answer knowing that there’s a solution and trying to find it.

And when some of these things are intangibles, it’s not like, hey, a true story from today, our painters got paint on artificial grass in somebody’s yard. Uh and they overs sprayed the fence onto the turf. Well, there’s a set of problem solving that happens there where you’re like, ok, how are we gonna get this paint stain off of the grass? You know, that’s a fairly easy problem solving. Well, let’s try, option A, option B, option C and let’s see what happens until we get to the end.

There’s another set of problems which is a little bit more difficult. How do you get a top performer who’s fallen off, who isn’t hitting their numbers and has lost their motivation back into a top performer mindset. That problem to me seems much more challenging. When you say uh leads are down. We projected to generate 100 leads this month, but we’ve only generated 70. What do we do about it? That problem is, um, it’s not quite as easy as trying. Let’s try mineral spirits. Let’s try denatured alcohol. Let’s try warm soap and water.

This is problem solving. That takes time. And next thing you blink and your season is over when you’re trying to solve a bigger problem within the business. Um When we talk about traction I DS identify, discuss solve problems. One of the challenges that people have self implementing traction is they have a, a hard time identifying what a good issue is. Uh And oftentimes people will bring a challenge or an issue to the table like may pipeline not enough jobs. Ok. What’s the real issue there? Is it closing ratio?

Is it we’re not doing enough estimates is the average job size too low? Is do we have too much capacity? Do we have too many project managers? Do we have too many crews per project manager and trying to really identify what that real issue is, becomes really, really difficult? Yeah, so um goes back to some of that data that uh the know your numbers episode we recorded, you know, knowing what all your numbers should be. Knowing what they actually are, allows you to dive back and, and actually figure out what the real under under uh I guess the real root of the problem, the underlying cause of the problem is.

Yeah, you know, uh another challenge that I think entrepreneurs don’t experience uh or they don’t know that they’re going to experience. Um Now this might feel a little bit different. If you’re a sole pune, you just work by yourself, you don’t have employees. But if you do have employees, one of the hardest things that I’ve had to learn how to deal with was experiencing stress and concern but not showing stress or concern and having to show optimism and excitement. Meanwhile, you have cash flow issues, you have client issues, you have bandwidth issues.

But what you have to wear, what people have to see as a leader is the excitement is the encouragement is the confidence. And I’ve personally struggled with that. It’s, uh, something I think emotionally is very difficult for somebody to feel something and show something to other. Mhm. It’s like you have to act, it is acting. Um And that’s, that’s tough. And that was advice I was given uh years ago that somebody said when I’m running my own business, you’re gonna have to not wear your emotions on your sleeve the way you do currently because however you feel is how everyone else will feel.

I did not know how hard that was going to be and, and how difficult that component was gonna be. You’re actually the CEO or the whatever physician you call it when you’re at the head of an organization and you’re trying to steer the ship. Do you have any advice for people who are listening, who, who maybe are struggling with that or could foresee themselves, struggling with that, how to work on it? Self awareness. Um And acknowledging how you feel um self awareness I think is something uh that a lot of us don’t acknowledge and we don’t uh acknowledge our own experiences and our own feelings having uh how do I say it?

I have found that it, it helped when I was able to be dishonest about the feelings and have somewhat of a plan in place. It’s very, very difficult when you’re feeling the stress and you’re trying to show excitement and you don’t have a plan in place. Um, and I remember, you know, 2021 1 year after 2020 we had a paint shortage. I will, uh, our primary product, uh, is Emerald, 70% of the houses that we paint. We paint in Emerald. I’m Sharon Williams. Uh We tend to align ourselves with using the best products.

Uh, personally believe it’s the right thing to do for the environment if a paint job lasts longer, that means we’re, the life cycle has increased. And, uh, I will never forget when I got the phone call that said there’s no more Emerald in all of Colorado. But, uh, excuse me, uh, you guys said we were gonna be ok for the last six weeks of the season. Well, we don’t have any products here statewide. And, uh, that phone call, I remember very clearly where I was standing when I took the call and I realized, wow, we’re not gonna be able to do our job next week.

Cash flow is going to stop. Um, we had a team meeting following, you know, like the next day, it was uh an absolutely terrible experience to uh stand there and tell people, I don’t know. And I have no solutions right now to what we’re facing for next week. Right. Bear with me as we try to figure something out for our painters, for our employees, for our clients who we’re all expecting, you know, to be painted uh the following week. Um And I think at that moment without having a plan, how difficult it was versus times where you, you step up and you say, ok, uh this is down, but, you know, we’re gonna start a sale starting, you know, next week and our Memorial Day sale is going live and this is how we’re gonna feel fill the end of the main pipeline with our Memorial Day sale.

So when you have a plan, it’s way easier to help uh balance those feelings of both leadership. Yes, stress and uh it doesn’t help with trying to manage the time because you realize you have to put a lot of energy into figuring out a plan. You have to spend a lot of time analyzing data to come up with a solution to try. Um So I would encourage somebody who is experiencing that to work on finding some solution and it allows them to have a little bit of hope and excitement even when they’re concerned about cash flow or bandwidth or personnel issues.

Yeah, man, that, that is uh this is getting deep. I knew it was gonna get deep. I like it. I think that the plan is good. What I also really like um, the plan gives you hope, you know, it gives you some security. So you’re not just freaking out thinking that you’re totally lying to everyone and that everyone, it’s like the, uh, I like the show, the office, you know, Michael Scott. And there’s a scene where they thought they were going to get downsized. I think it was like episode or season one.

And he’s like the best thing. The only thing I can do as a leader right now is put on a brave face for everyone. He walks out and he’s like attention. We are screwed. It’s over, we’re done. But you know, that that thing is largely outside of his control. In that instance, as a business owner, you do tend to have more control. So I like the plan, but I also like acknowledging your feelings and I think that goes for business, I think it goes for, for everything.

I think, you know, when you sit and you actually take time to yourself, not, you don’t have to tell other people necessarily if you want to. Ok? But sit and just acknowledge, hey, I’m scared. I am not feeling confident in my business. I don’t know that I can recover. I don’t know that I have the capability to get another product. Now, we’ve been relying on this and I don’t know how I can do it. I’m not sure I’m capable as a business owner to do it. I’m afraid I’m going to fail.

Everyone’s gonna find out I’m a failure and I’m gonna let my whole team down and they’re all gonna lose their jobs. So I’m afraid and just open it, acknowledge it. Sit with it. Right. I’m angry, I’m angry. I’ve worked so hard and now this happened, it’s outside of my control. I’ve worked so hard and I’m angry because now I feel like it’s being taken from me and it doesn’t feel fair sit with it as soon as you let that out and you sit with it, then you can move into a plan, then you can go out and you can do the opposite of what Michael Scott did and not present it and say we’re all screwed.

Uh It sure does feel like that’s what you wanna do at moments, right? Yeah, you, whatever you immediately want to do, you probably are gonna wait and then do the opposite of that thing. Yeah, they could take some time. Um You know, and it was early March this year when somebody on my team, he was on the leadership team said, I think you need to take a vacation. Um That’s when, you know, you’re, you’re just looking dynamite, man, you’re rocking. He took it out of here, you know, uh man, that response for me, uh I felt, you know, I still carry some guilt around it but I snapped back so fast, but that’s you.

Um I would like to take a vacation too. Uh, but I also want to make sure that you have a paycheck next week. Um, so, no, uh, I appreciate your concern. Um, that being said, uh, I do have a, you know, uh, we’re taking our baby moon next week, so my wife and I are expecting the first point and, um, you know, this is a story. I, I, I share as well. Uh, we got married in our second year of business and, uh, rather than gifts we asked for, contribute to our honeymoon fund.

And, uh, yeah, we never took a honeymoon, um, turns out taking five days off. Uh, when you’re in a scaling business seems like an impossible thing. And, uh, you know, you, you remember these like moments and I’ve shared a few of them where you just remember them and I remember making this phone call and I remember where I was sitting and I said, uh, hey, baby, um, do you have a second? Uh, hey, I just wanna let you know, um, I’ve had to use all the money from our honeymoon fund for payroll next week.

Um, so if you check the account and it’s empty, uh, it was me and I’m sorry, uh I’ll pay you back. That’s a, that’s a nice conversation. Um, and those things happen, I think, uh, and, and what I found from spending time with business owners and, and spending time with half a dozen every month, uh, being in a group of 15 CEO S, this isn’t a unique experience to our business and it happens with startups, it happens with young companies. It happens with old companies, businesses fail, banks fail.

And, and it’s a part of this that um when you’re an employee, you think that every person above you has an easier job when you think that these things are secure, but in reality, they fail. And what I found from spending time with these business owners, all of the experiences that we have are the same, the problems that I experience are the same problems that engineers experience or accountants or people who run marketing firms, they have cash flow issues. They have accounts receivable issues they have in personnel and hr issues, they have marketing issues we share in the same experiences regardless of the industry that we’re in.

So I can only imagine that other painters can experience some of these, the same challenges. Yeah. Yeah, it is interesting, especially interesting for me working in a A B to B company, you know, because I, I get an inside look at so many different companies and I see the similarities, you know, and my, I have several different experiences in my background in business is business. You know, it ultimately comes down to people and that’s where a lot of the, the greatness is. It’s also where a lot of the challenges are people, whether it’s people on your team, whether it’s the, you know, if you run a service business, the people that you’re serving, interacting with the customers, um, people are people and they make business great.

They make business very challenging as well. Mhm. It’s the, the blessing and the curse I think. And that’s actually the entire, um, that’s the entire series that Jason Phillips. And I just did people make dream businesses kind of the, what, you know, ultimately being successful in business is about being successful with people. Yeah, it’s um you celebrate the wins together in your experience. Hm, you experienced some of the failures together. Um But you Michael, you get to experience all of the failures. Uh that is a little bit different as the owner of the company is the entrepreneur.

Um And it’s something that people don’t necessarily every, every issue or challenge that a business has gets escalated to the top and oftentimes one person or, or a few people carry those challenges and we protect our team from them and we’re there to make sure that they feel safe and secure so that they can perform at a high level. So you bird and you, you, you carry the burden with some of those failures and it’s uh when they say it, you know, that’s my cross to carry, it’s a real thing and the failures fall on one.

And then um oftentimes uh potentially good leaders hand off the successes to other people. Yeah. So we, we’re talking about we’ve talked about a lot of, a lot of stuff here, you know, a lot of emotional stuff that the burdens the, the um you know, what goes with the territory here. Um I know you mentioned the book Growth Mindset, but I’m wondering for any of these things that listeners are listening to and either they are experiencing or have experienced or maybe they’re a smaller company, but they’re like a boy.

You know, I’m probably gonna look forward to having some of these great experiences one day. What other resources uh could you recommend for them to kind of prepare themselves or try to work through some of the stuff or maybe self develop a little bit into the leader that they need to be uh to take on all of this. Yeah, great question. Um Find a good peer group, find a group of people who can experience and share in, in, in what you’re experiencing um when you don’t have a release valve and you don’t have someone that you can talk to about this.

It can be very, very, very, very uh hard to carry and uh knowing that you’re not alone, it’s so powerful. Um And for me hearing one of the most successful people I’ve ever known talk about three companies that he’s run that have gone bankrupt was uh one of the greatest pieces of peace for me that I’ve ever heard. Oh, I’m not, this isn’t just me. Um This is an experience that other people have, find that peer group and find somebody who you trust, who will be there with you. Ideally.

Well, if they’re on your team phenomenal, uh, just be cautious about putting too much, you know, pressure or stress on somebody who doesn’t deserve it from your own team. Yeah, Michael. Do you wanna add anything else before we wrap up? Not just this episode, but your entire series, uh, don’t give up and you know, it’s with stocks, you only lose money on stocks if you sell when it’s down. Just because things are down doesn’t mean that they won’t be up again. Uh And I would encourage anyone uh fight through the challenges and know that there’s always a solution.

There’s an answer on that backside and Brandon, I appreciate all the time that you’ve given me. And uh I just wanna say sincerely thank you for uh spending the time together and getting to know my story. And uh I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to talk to you, my God. I’ve really enjoyed it too. This was an amazing series. Really appreciate your time, man. I know I’m uh I’m pushing hard for you to come speak at PC A Expo. So I think we’re gonna bring you live to the masses uh because you’re, you’re a rock star.

Yeah, I enjoy being friends with you and I’d like you to speak at Expo. So I’m gonna continue to push for that. But thank you for conducting this series. It’s, it’s been uh it’s been eye opening and your, your humble presentation of it makes it makes it really, really great. Given the series is called The Tools To 10 Million. And you’re one of the, the biggest companies we’ve actually had on the show. Uh Brandon, thank you. I appreciate, you know, the time. Appreciate your brother. Thank you, Mike.

If you want to learn more about the topics we discussed in this podcast and how you can use them to grow your painting business, visit painter marketing pros dot com forward slash podcast for free training, as well as the ability to schedule a personalized strategy session for your painting company. Again that URL is paintermarketingpros.com/podcast.

Hey there, painting company owners. If you enjoyed today’s episode, make sure you go ahead and hit that subscribe button, give us your feedback, let us know how we did. And also, if you’re interested in taking your painting business to the next level, make sure you visit the Painter Marketing Pros website at Painter Marketing Pros dot com to learn more about our services. You can also reach out to me directly by emailing me at Brandon at Painter Marketing Pros.com and I can give you personalized advice on growing your painting business until next time.

Keep growing

Brandon Pierpont

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