This 27-Year-Old Military Vet Hit 18,000,000 in Sales in Just 3 Years (Without a Plan) – 238
Many of us dream about starting a business of our own. However, we usually have a laundry list of reasons why it’s not a good idea. At the top of that list are things like, a lack of business experience, no game plan, no mentors, and very little money to invest.
If that’s the case, you definitely want to listen in because our next guest had the same list before starting his own business. In this episode of the AM/PM Podcast, Tim Jordan welcomes Josh Harris, who talks about how he turned an idea into a business that’s now generating 18 million dollars a year in revenue with over 300 employees in the US.
Josh says that between his military background and his partner’s career in law enforcement, building a security firm was an obvious choice. What wasn’t obvious were the skills that a lot of people imagine might normally accompany a successful new business venture.
Josh says that at a few junctures early on, they “just didn’t know what to do.” But they worked hard, hired a few key employees, and began to develop scalable business processes. That along with a pragmatic vision of the future helped them to grow faster than they ever thought possible.
In episode 238 of the AM/PM Podcast, Tim and Josh discuss:
- 03:30 – Military Intelligence and Learning Chinese
- 07:00 – A Golden Window of Opportunity
- 09:00 – Starting with 1800 Dollars
- 10:00 – From Zero to 18 Million in Under Three Years
- 12:30 – Telling White Lies to Get Business Quotes from Competitors
- 15:30 – Slowly Building Up a Workforce
- 19:30 – A First Key Employee Creates a Little Breathing Room
- 21:00 – Hiring a “Senior” CEO Changed Everything
- 26:30 – Managing Business Partnerships
- 29:00 – Any Struggles on the Horizon?
- 32:00 – “Plan Five Years Out with a Pragmatic Vision”
- 35:00 – The Book, “Zero the One” is Josh’s Business Must Read
- 37:00 – How to Connect with Josh
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Tim Jordan: With no business experience, with no mentorship and frankly, no real game plan, our guest today started his business just a few years ago. Today he’s doing over $18 million in revenue with 300 employees in the US. This guy is making his first podcast debut on the AM/PM Podcast to share some of the struggles, some of the cool lessons and some of the methods that he implemented to be able to start this business and grow it to the point where it is now. Stay tuned. You’re going to like this episode.
Tim Jordan: Hi. I’m Tim Jordan and in every corner of the world, entrepreneurship is growing. So join me as I explore the stories of successes and failures. Listen in as I chat with the risk takers, the adventurous and the entrepreneurial veterans, we all have a dream of living a life, fulfilling our passions, and we want a business that doesn’t make us punch a time clock, but instead runs around the clock in the AM and the PM. So get motivated, get inspired. You’re listening to the AM/PM Podcast.
Tim Jordan: Hey, everybody, welcome to another episode of the AM/PM Podcast. For those of you long time listeners, you know that most of us come from the e-commerce space, but it doesn’t mean that all of our guests do and today’s guest does not come from the e-commerce space at all, but he has a pretty interesting, and I think very exceptional story, we’ll say about his business, how he got started, he’s still in his fledgling years of it, but he’s doing exceptionally well, I would say. And we’re going to talk to him today and find out how he landed in this position, which I don’t think he ever planned for until it kind of happened accidentally. And then how he has managed the incredible growth that he’s experienced to date. So Josh Harris, welcome to the show.
Josh: Thank you. It’s good to be here.
Tim Jordan: Now, Josh and I, before we started recording, we’re talking about the fact that the AM/PM Podcast was the very first podcast that I was ever a guest on. And I remember being absolutely terrified and scared to death being a guest on this podcast. And this is also Josh’s first podcast. So, Josh, I think it’s cool that we share that in common and I’m incredibly honored to be able to tell your story about your business and share this insight that you’re going to give to our listeners. I can honestly say folks, you heard it here first, AM/PM Podcast, story of Josh Harris. All right. So, Josh, tell us a little bit about what you’re doing in the military specifically. So I don’t know if you went to college or came straight through high school, but you got into the military doing military intelligence and being attached to like some special operations teams, give us like the three or four minute rundown on your military history.
Josh: All right. When I was 19 years old, I thought it was a good idea to leave my second year of college and joined the US army. I joined as a human intelligence collector and a Chinese linguist. So, it took about two and a half years of military training in a sort of boot camp environment a year and a half in California spending about 10 hours a day, learning Chinese, and spent some time in Taiwan. And then I was, I finally got my job description. And about six months after I graduated from that program, I ended up getting deployed to the middle East.
Tim Jordan: So how do you go from having to stop college – I’m going to sign up for the US army. And how do you end up in military intelligence, specifically learning Mandarin? That seems super random. Was that planned or like just pure luck?
Josh: So I was looking at all the jobs that I really wanted to do. Human intelligence sounded interesting to me. I mean, all I knew was a three sentence blurb on the recruiting website, where they gave me the option to learn a language as well. And I figured, well, I want to learn the language of business or something for the future. And my dad told me to do Chinese, so I learned Chinese.
Tim Jordan: So you went through all the training, you got deployed to the middle East. Tell us just briefly about what that deployment looked like, what you were doing, who you were attached with, kind of give us the rundown of your Middle East experience.
Josh: All right. Yeah. So, my unit out of Washington state was attached to the fifth Special Forces group out of Kentucky, running all around the middle East for operation inherent resolve. For those that don’t know, that’s the fight against ISIS. So we were in three to four different countries, over that year that we were there.
Tim Jordan: Got you. And then after that you hung up your military boots, so to speak and left the army?
Josh: I did. Well, technically I’m still a member of the Washington army national guard, but that’s just one weekend a month. But I left active duty and I came back to the States.
Tim Jordan: So why did you decide to leave active duty military? I know that a lot of people do that. A lot of people make a career out of it. What was your driving force for essentially walking away from full-time active duty?
Josh: For me, the military was something that I could always use to get a step ahead. Something that they taught me Chinese. They taught me a lot of things about leadership, a lot of things about dedication. And then once I learned those things, I wanted to take that and go sort of make my own destiny, as a lot of people with that entrepreneurial spirit want to do.
Tim Jordan: All right. So you had all this time and training all this time in the Middle East, you signed your papers, you left and you had a grand vision or a grand plan of what you going to do in the business world. Right?
Josh: That is absolutely not true.
Tim Jordan: Okay. So explain that you walked away with no plan.
Josh: I had zero plans. I ended up back in Washington state. I was living in my dad’s rental house with two roommates off of Craigslist. I had zero idea what I was going to do, except I was finishing college online, part-time, running around, looking for a job to I’m taking interviews at banks of all places is trying to figure out that next step when, out of nowhere, I got a call from Asa Palagi an old friend of mine from college and he said, Hey, why don’t we go start a business? Well, and then--
Tim Jordan: Did you think he was insane? Are you sure, of course I want to start a business.
Josh: Well, let’s be clear. Asa is insane. But, when we were in college, back when we were 18, 19, we had all sorts of crazy business plans, ranging from we’re going to go get investors and we’re going to start developing a certain piece of land in Northern Idaho to, Oh, we’re going to go start a ranch. But then none of these things actually came to fruition, but we had sort of this golden window of opportunity where I wasn’t doing anything and Asa wanted to leave his current position as a deputy sheriff to go do something that he could really call his own. So we were 24 years old and just decided to pull the trigger and go for it.
Tim Jordan: I feel like pulling the trigger is a great pond for a soldier and a Sheriff’s deputy. Not sure if you plan that, but it was good. All right. So, what’s the grand plan? Now you guys said, Hey, let’s start a business together. Did you have any idea what the business was going to be? Did you have any clue how to go about getting this started or kind of walk me through that now.
Josh: So idea one was, Hey, we want to start a private military company. We want to go out and do these big DOD contracts, Department of State contracts. We want to work for, you know, small countries out there and be their military, but within about an hour or two of searching around, we realized that it’s just not possible.
Tim Jordan: Had a whole hour of research to kill your business model. I love it.
Josh: But yeah, we looked at our own backgrounds, and it was military and police. That’s what we had. So security was just kind of a, shoo-in like, well, we know security, we can do security. So with a couple of weeks of research this time, we decided to start a continental US-based physical security company.
Tim Jordan: Okay. So that sounds great on paper, but I’m sitting here picturing in my head and I’ve started a few businesses. Like how would I go about starting this business? Did you guys have a ton of capital? Did you have mentors? Did you have contacts in the security industry to get you started? Or were you starting from scratch?
Josh: None of those. It was all from scratch. My parents both worked for the state. Asa’s parents. They didn’t work for the government, but they never did anything really in the big business realm. We didn’t have any mentors. We had no contacts and we only put $1,800 in the business to start.
Tim Jordan: All right. And just to, to skip forward a little bit and make you guys excited, this was what year, 2018, you said?
Josh: 2018, correct.
Tim Jordan: 2018. You had zero business plan. You had zero business model. You had no shoo-ins for clients. You had no mentorship. You literally just said, Hey, I was a soldier, you were a police officer, let’s start a security company and you put $1,800 into this. And if I remember right, you said that this year, or in the past 12 months or last year, your annual revenue was what?
Josh: About 18 million.
Tim Jordan: 18 million in what? Three years?
Josh: Two and a half. Three years. Correct.
Tim Jordan: All right. So I love this for a lot of reasons, and there’s a lot of us listeners and myself, and all the listeners here that really have a lot of deep anxiety about business growth. Hey, if we get this thing started, are we going to be able to see it through? Are we capable? Are we qualified? Are we educated? Do we have enough connections to get this business going? And Josh you’re telling me that you and a business partner, essentially both walked away from your full-time jobs, had really nothing going on. $1,800 to start a business. And right now you’re doing $18 million a year and growing. You’ve got 300 employees throughout multiple States, right?
Josh: That is correct.
Tim Jordan: I love that. And I can honestly say that that’s a phenomenal accomplishment that a lot of people would like to say that they have achieved themselves. But I think what’s interesting is that you did this with no pedigree. You did this with no business experience. This is your first shot at a business, and apparently it’s going well. So what I’d like to do is ask you some of my personal questions, you know, like, Hey, if I’ve got the next 30 minutes, sit here and talk to you, what do I want to know? And then those questions I think would be super valuable to our listeners. Cool?
Josh: Well, within reason, of course.
Tim Jordan: Within reason. Alright. Got you. So talk to me about a business plan. All right. Did you actually like to follow the process for a written business plan? Did you have really a clue what you were going to do when you started trying to acquire your first client? Or is it one of those, Hey, get a client first and then we’ll figure it out from there?
Josh: Well, step one was actually sitting down and creating the whole business plan. We used a life plan, which I think is a pretty popular one. A couple of years ago, they had a free plan, which is what we use, and then just downloaded the PDF. We spent probably two whole days putting together a plan, without any clients or anything of the sort. We just started going. And we made projections based off of what we hoped. We went around to get pricing from competitors, emailing, looking for quotes, the normal thing that small new businesses do.
Tim Jordan: We’re talking about quotes. In the security field, what you’re talking about is like executive security, security for building security for businesses. If you walk into a big high-rise building downtown X city, it’s the security guards that are there at the front desk essentially. Right. So how are you getting quotes where you are calling these companies and saying, Hey, if I had a building that I needed security front desk managed, give me a price quote, is that essentially what this was?
Josh: Yeah. You call them or you email them and say, I do have this building.
Tim Jordan: Okay. Yeah. So you were fudging it a little bit, but I like that. So you basically started calling around to these different, big security firms. You were figuring out what their business model was. You were figuring out how they made money. You’re figuring out the types of services they provided. And you were essentially calling the other companies, their competitors, and getting a quote for those services. Right? So by making these phone calls, you were building a business plan, building the business model and spying on your competitors.
Josh: As we were gathering more quotes and we learned how much guards were actually paid, we learned sort of their process and how they would respond to clients, sort of their customer service model. Going out and actually physically seeing a site before you do security, like, that sounds like something obvious that you would do, but we didn’t know that. And we didn’t know a lot of things because neither of us had ever worked in private industry. I mean, I worked at a taco restaurant for about six months when I was 16, but other than that, literally no private experience.
Tim Jordan: All right. So you’re basically just attempting to build this thing. That’s actually a very complex business. This is not as simple as a lot of business models that people run. This is going to be labor intensive. It’s going to be compliance intensive. It’s going to involve a lot of human labor, which of course means hiring and all that stuff. So at any point during this business modeling and getting these quotes and doing the competitor analysis, did you ever say, Hey, this is too much, we can’t handle this. Like, did this ever absolutely terrify you? Because it should have
Josh: No, I think we were too young and possibly a little too naive. We just thought this was going to go great. We didn’t see a downside.
Tim Jordan: That seems absolutely terrifying to me.
Josh: So the terrifying part was like two, three months in when we didn’t have a real job yet. Then right around that mark. So at this point we weren’t doing any online marketing. We weren’t doing any brochures, we weren’t doing any. We were kind of, we were trying, we thought we could do word of mouth. That was our idea. So we were going to the chamber of commerce. We’re going to networking meetings and we just weren’t finding that much until we actually got our first gig working for an amateur soccer team in Lacey Washington. It was every other weekend. We had two people doing four hours to provide security for the stands and for the entrance. We’re essentially giving out tickets.
Tim Jordan: How does this specific model work? You essentially hire part-time security officers. You throw them a uniform and you tell them what gigs to go be secured yet essentially.
Josh: That’s how it started. Yes. We just had a – we had probably 10 guys that were all part-time with us. We had a few ex-marines who were working, who were at the community college down the street. We had a few guys who were working for other security companies that whenever they were off shift, they’d come work for us. But over time we built up a base of full-time employees and sort of the full-time jobs that we do, year or two year long contracts, where you have people there, or 80 hours a week, not one person. It’s 80 hours a week. That’s two people.
Tim Jordan: You said a couple months in, you began to get a little bit worried. Talk about that. Like what was the thing that concerned you going a couple months in, and at what point did you start to realize, Hey, this is going to be a little more work than we thought it might be. And you had to start making some adjustments. Talk about that.
Josh: So I wouldn’t say it was more work than we thought it might be. We just didn’t know what to do. They say 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration, but it’s really like 110%, sleep deprivation is always just staying up all night, trying to figure out the next step. What do you do? Because again, we didn’t have any mentorship telling us what is that next step? So that time of fear, that sort of April, May area of 2018, it was a lot of us just sitting at the kitchen table in this rental house we had, just trying to figure out what to do. We started and we started cold calling, which didn’t work out all that. Well, no jobs from that. Then we, I think Asa had the idea to go ahead and call some of the other more regional security companies and subcontract for them. And that’s really what got our feet wet and actually getting contracts and got us rolling along.
Tim Jordan: So that was the big breakthrough. It was actually calling back those competitors and saying, Hey, we’re open for business. We’re operating. Have you got anything that you need done that maybe your staff can’t handle, you can subcontract, is that right?
Josh: Correct. Yeah. We subcontracted out all of their armed security. There’s a lot of these companies, they don’t want to do anything armed just because of the liability, but being 24 straight out of the military, we were not worried about the liability.
Tim Jordan: Which again, to me sounds absolutely terrifying. So that was the big breakthrough we actually started bringing in more revenue, right?
Tim Jordan: So 2018 is plugging along. You’ve got some revenue coming, you’ve got a few different sources of leads coming in. What was the first big hurdle that you ran into where you felt like you were going to have to put your head through the wall?
Josh: The first big hurdle was actually right when we started getting those subcontracts coming in, because all of a sudden we actually have work, which is new. We had to go and do the work somehow. We had to hire people. We had to pay the people we had to schedule them. We had to monitor them, all well Asa and I were actually doing the security as well. So there was about two weeks where Asa was in one location. He was doing like, Oh, probably 15 hours or more, a day of security while trying to schedule all the guys and monitor their whereabouts. We had probably five full-time equivalent jobs at that point going on. And then I was up about 150 miles away doing the same thing. Well, I’m trying to run payroll and everything while working, I was working at one place for seven hours a day, and then about an hour and a half away, there was another location that I was also doing security 12 hours a day. So it was just that two week block of straight not sleeping. That was our sort of crucible is whether or not we could make this work.
Tim Jordan: So how did you get through that? Like I imagine you had to start implementing some SOPs or you had to start outsourcing the admin worker. What was the next big step? And to put this in context, I think that this is typical for most small businesses where the founders just take on so much that at some point they have to stop and say, Hey, I can’t continue working 20 hours a day. This isn’t going to work. So what was the first big step you took to start getting out of that temporary insanity, so to speak.
Josh: The first big step we took was hiring one of our best guards as what we call an operations deputy, basically a first-line supervisor to go around and check on the site. So that’s no longer something we have to do. So then he was his job to actually be up all night, checking on people because most of the security work is at night. So then we could have the day free to be doing the same thing and actually be running the business end of things. And that freed us up for quite awhile.
Tim Jordan: Got you. So we’re nearing the end of 2018, right? You’ve actually started to promote some internal management, some internal leadership. You’re starting to offload some stuff. From the time – from the end of 2018 to now, going to $18 million a year in revenue was massive. Talk about how you handled that growth. Because for me, every time something starts to blow up, I have a hard time delegating. I have a hard time offloading processes and procedures, and I have a hard time putting structures in place to scale. So, how did you guys actually go about doing that? Because knowing what I know about business, it was a tremendous amount of adjustment that you had to make at that time.
Josh: Yeah. So we learned very quickly to go out and how to put this – well to hire experts and then let them be experts. So in early 2019, we realized that all of the things that we needed to do were kind of above our heads at that point, things that we just didn’t know. So in order to keep growing at the pace that we were, we needed to get operating cash, we needed loans because we have patrol cars that need to be bought. So we actually hired a CEO to sort of take over that end of the company and also sort of be our mentor in how to do this going into the future. So we hired a guy named Royal Flaherty who then turned out to be probably the best decision that we’ve ever made.
Tim Jordan: Was that a tough decision to make? Because most founders, we’re all a little bit arrogant, we’re all a bit cocky. We want to be the boss, but it sounds like one of your words, best decision you ever made was hiring someone more senior than yourself. Right? I suspect this guy has been in the business longer. I suspect that he’s older and more mature, has more experience. I suspect you had to pay him maybe more than you pay yourself. Was that difficult for you or?
Josh: It was difficult, but it was also necessary. Because at that time the business was making a lot of money, but Asa and I had only, we were only paying ourselves minimum wage because we didn’t even know how to get the money out of the company. So we hired Rory on and one of the – he said, we told him that his first job was if you want to get paid, you have to get the money out of the company. And he did that, and he was able to get us paid a little bit more as well. And we just kept rolling right along. It was difficult at first having him there coming, start rearranging things, hiring new people, firing old people. But we quickly learned sort of the why as to the things he was doing. And as soon as we got that understanding, we knew that it was the right move.
Tim Jordan: Was it tough hiring and managing multiple employees older than yourselves? Because you guys are young, right. You’re still only 27. And I’ve always had a little bit of a hard time employing folks older than me, or even being partners with folks older than me, because I feel like this inferiority thing a little bit, like maybe we’re all naturally inclined to do that. I’m not sure. But was that something you struggled with or how did you overcome that?
Josh: So it’s something I definitely struggled with at first. But what it turns out to be more of a personal feeling inside of the young owner of the business than it is sort of something that the outside world sees. Because when the outside world sees somebody who owns a company like this, who looks young, they’re impressed. And they’re perfectly the usual people are totally fine working for that person. But it’s sort of that inner confidence that you actually need to build for yourself.
Tim Jordan: So how did you go about doing that? Because a lot of, even our listeners on this podcast, you’re very young and that personal confidence is hard, whether it’s trying to manage and hire employees that are much older than them, or people that don’t necessarily understand this business model and are kind of naysayers or, being told no a lot, whether it’s from suppliers or from banks or from anybody, like how did you gain the confidence to overcome this? Yeah. I’m young, I’m completely inexperienced. I have no clue what we’re doing, but we’re going to figure this out.
Josh: Oh, that’s a difficult question because I’m still getting there. Every day I still have a lack of confidence that, you know, I actually can do this. Looking back on it, looking at the history of everything I know that I can, but it just, it’s still something you have to work on. I don’t think there’s any easy way to do it, but there are a lot of naysayers. It could be all of your friends who just, even when you have a large company, they’re assuming that it’s a small company and that doesn’t feel good. All your old friends from high school and such, they still see you as the same person. But is it one of the things that helps with that, at least for me, was having a business partner who was also going through the same. There were also naysayers in his life. So we could always lean on each other and not comfort. That’s not the right word, but motivate each other, and support and that we were doing the right thing.
Tim Jordan: So talk about your business partnership now. And sorry, listeners, I’m just bouncing around from all these questions that I feel are valuable and important. We don’t really have a game plan here. We’re just flying off the cuff. But when it comes to business partnerships, it sounds to me like one, this business never would have happened if you hadn’t taken on this business partner. Two, you guys get a lot of support from each other. Right. And I suspect the third thing would be that you guys offset each other, your strengths may lend to his weaknesses and vice versa. Right. Has it been hard, especially being your first business? I know you guys have made some mistakes, whether it’s in the business, whether it’s the way you guys work together, but has it been hard having a business partner? Are there times when you thought, Hey, I should have done this on myself or he thought maybe, Hey, I should have done this on my own. Or has it always just been a blissful relationship?
Josh: It’s definitely, it has not been a blissful relationship at all times. But when we first started the company, we made the agreement that we’re going to, no matter what, the most important thing is that we stay friends. If we stay friends and we stay focused on this together, then we’re going to succeed. Because like you were saying, it’s sort of complimenting each other. That’s extraordinarily important. I’m much more of a – I want to sit back and think and be logistical about things I need time. And Asa is very, very motivated and ready to go and just do it. But, we put those two things together. It can create friction, but it’s also necessary. I don’t think either one of us would have been able to do this at 24 years old, if it wasn’t for the other one.
Tim Jordan: Yeah. It completely makes sense. And it’s interesting when I hear a lot of different founders talk about these partnerships. I mean, even look at guys like Steve Jobs, if it wasn’t for Steve Wazniak, he never would’ve made it. Walt Disney would have never been Walt Disney if it wasn’t for his brother, like we have to have people that support us. But I think in the entrepreneurial space, there’s so much fear of business partnerships because we hear about the bad relationships. And we hear about the bad partnerships we hear about the internal struggle. So it’s like this, darned if you do, darned if you don’t. Because it looks like the successful businesses in the world, especially the startups have to have that mutual person support, but it also has its downsides. And it has some potential problems. We also hear a lot of people say, Hey, don’t ever hire family. Don’t ever go into business with your friends. What do you think has been harder for you going into business with someone that was as inexperienced as you, or going into business with a friend?
Josh: Probably someone as inexperienced as I was, because they, I was saying earlier that our main problem at the beginning was trying to figure out where to go next. We just, we were so young, we just had no clue what to do. But as we move forward, I know Asa has gotten very good at a lot of the marketing and at a lot of the operations stuff. And he’s an expert in a lot of those things now, but then that’s, as of now, we don’t really have any of those issues we had at the beginning.
Tim Jordan: From 2018 to now, beginning of 2021, you have grown a phenomenal amount. You’ve got 300 employees, you’ve got all this revenue coming in. You’re still young. This is still your first business venture, but it sounds like you guys have it figured out, you guys are growing very, very fast, personally, I mean, like just you’re learning a ton. What are some of the biggest struggles that you and your partner see for 2021 personally, basically like, Hey, here’s our hit list. Here’s your to do list of things that we have to work on ourselves to continue being able to lead this company as it grows. What are those top things on your list?
Josh: Well, the top thing on, I think everybody in the management of this company right now, we’re all working on sort of top to bottom communication. Because as we’ve grown, we have multiple offices in multiple States and we’re based out of Seattle and we have an office in DC. Our marketing team is in Atlanta. We were in Austin, West, Texas. So we’re kind of everywhere. And in a business that’s as geographically diverse is that it’s a lot of times very difficult to, or it’s difficult for the management in Seattle to know what’s going on with the guards on the ground in say, Austin, Texas. So that’s really our one big endeavor at the moment is just to get a communications pipeline from the guards to us so we can know what’s going on with them and how to improve their jobs and thereby improve our company.
Tim Jordan: All right. So that’s your number one struggle this year, your to-do list. We have to fix this. And of course, everybody listening that has a business, they have their own to-do list for what they have to accomplish this year to make a big, a very big difference in the way that they can scale or the managing number of headaches that they have in their business. When you’re looking at this, this mission to figure out your especially top-down communication, is this something that you’re planning on figuring out internally, or are you trying to outsource this or you’re hiring consultants to come in and set the system up for you? What’s your plan to remedy this?
Josh: So we’re lucky enough not to have to hire consultants because our CEO, Rory was a consultant for about 20 years. So he can come in and do a lot of that outside perspective analysis for us. And that’s also one of my jobs right now is to try to stay outside of a lot of the day-to-day operations, so that when I come into that, I come in with fresh eyes and can see places where we can get more efficient, and places where we can improve these processes.
Tim Jordan: You’re standing on a stage with tens of thousands of people listening, your 27-year old guy, that was a co-founder of this company that now is, this year probably going to surpass well, surpassed $20 million in revenue. You’re already profitable. You start at $1,800 in the bank. What would you tell someone that’s sitting in your shoes right now four years ago, right? Like they’re wanting to start a business. They may be overeager, but inexperienced, what would you tell them right now that you wish somebody had grabbed you and told you back in 2017, 2018?
Josh: I would say, set a goal for yourself for five years in the future. Where do you want to be and do everything in pursuit of that goal with what I like to call a pragmatic vision, which is more, just have a vision for the future, like a Steve Jobs type vision, but you got to be pragmatic about it. You have to be logical and break it down, or else you’re just, you’re never going to get there.
Tim Jordan: Yeah. Do you think that that’s something that you had to figure out along the way or something you knew from the beginning or something you’re still trying to implement?
Josh: See, it’s something that we all work on. See, Asa had the vision and I had the logical step-by-step, but we put those together and it just worked. And the other thing that I would tell somebody in my shoes is when you’re building a business, if you want to get big, with every decision that you make, you have to think about two things, scalability and sustainability, not sustainability as in eco-friendly, which is by itself. well and good, but are these things that you’re doing things that can be – can they be replicated in the, can they be done by somebody every day for the next 20 years?
Tim Jordan: Yeah. And something you don’t have to do manually yourself.
Josh: Correct. And lucky for us, there’s so many software as a service companies out there and services out there that a lot of things are automated now, which makes that end of things a lot easier, but then scalability is just massively important. If you decide to be cheap on the front end of starting a business and get, say, if you’re in my business and you get a free scheduling software, which is what we did, then you’re going to have to transition to the next one very quickly because the free software just doesn’t work once you have 20 employees. And then once you have 50 employees, the super cheap one that you just switched from, Oh, now that doesn’t work. So you keep having to recreate your, all of your processes over and over again. So, but if you start by thinking about the scalability of anything that you’re doing, you can avoid so much of that hassle.
Tim Jordan: I think that it’s fair to say that you have a pretty impressive story and that you have a pretty impressive business, right. Being able to scale that quickly, essentially starting out without a clue is your first business. You didn’t have a game plan. You didn’t know what you’re doing. You just kind of threw it together. But it sounds like to me, the reason that it worked for so many failed is that you were hyper driven. You were hyper-focused one thing that I love is that you recognize your shortcomings and you recognize your inadequacies and you replace yourself, hiring a CEO. I know how to have been tough, but hiring someone with 20 years of doing this under the belt, man, I couldn’t imagine you have grown the way you have without doing that. So hats off to you and kudos to you. It’s super, super impressive. All right. Josh, as we wrap up, I like to ask every founder, every business owner, every entrepreneur, what book they have on their shelf that they couldn’t do without, what would that book be for you?
Josh: For me, that would be Zero to One by Peter Thiel.
Tim Jordan: Okay. So what from that book made the most impact on your mindset on the way you did business and why do you think that all of our listeners should at least put that on their to read list?
Josh: The biggest thing that I learned from it is a peer tools idea where you, if you’re doing well in business, you don’t even have competition. You want to be monopolistic in a sense where you are the best way to have a business is to not have any direct competition in your space where, and you can see that even though we’re not a tech startup with brand new ideas, all sorts of crazy things that we’re doing all the time. We still work in a space that is between the low level, brand new security companies and the high-end, say Allied Universal Securitas G4S type security companies. Our customer is very different and we found our niche. And that’s something that you can find for almost any industry that you want to go into.
Tim Jordan: Yeah. And I think that makes a lot of sense because there’s so many people that want to copy their competitors. When it sounds like the premise of this book is research, what your competitors are doing and don’t do that. Go find a blue ocean, do something on your own and figure out a unique way of kind of operating within that space. Is that about sum it up?
Josh: Blue Ccean is another good book too. Yeah, that about sums it up.
Tim Jordan: All right. Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Josh, for being on the podcast, we appreciate the insight that you’ve given us. I think it’s really cool to hear from someone like yourself because you know what, standing out in my mind as being a unique guest is that you started this with no vision. You started this no plan you’ve been drinking from a fire hose. You figured it out obviously. And in just a few short years, you’ve massively grown this company and are doing some things that other people struggle with, which is things like outsourcing yourself and hiring more experienced leadership, and trying to be their boss. So, hats off, man. It’s super cool. If anybody wanted to learn more about you or your story, your company, where could they go on social media or website?
Josh: Good, definitely. cg3s.com is the company website. You can find me on Twitter, @Jcollinharris. You can find Asa on Instagram @asapalagi.
Tim Jordan: All right. Awesome. Well, thank you so much for being on. If any of you found value in this episode, comment in the show notes if you’re watching on YouTube, if you’re listening on a podcast platform, feel free to share this, share this in group, share this on your page. Let the rest of the entrepreneurial world know that another episode’s out that you like. We thank you all for listening. Josh, thanks again for being on. And we’ll see you guys in the next episode.