#247 – Why Everyone Should Think Like An Entrepreneur With Sean Castrina

Thomas Green here with Ethical Marketing Service. On the episode today, we have Sean Castrina. Sean, welcome. It’s great to be on the podcast. It is great to have you. Would you like to take a moment and tell the audience a bit about yourself and what you do? Yeah, so I’m an entrepreneur, you know, I’ve written four best selling business books, I founded the Weekend NBA and I host the 10 minute entrepreneur podcast and that’s just because I’m kind of addicted to entrepreneurship. I think next to faith, nothing gets, nothing changes lives more than entrepreneurship, so every, kind of, everything I do is around starting growing businesses and then showing other people how to do it or talking about it. Thank you for the introduction. I noticed from doing prep on the episode, you’ve got a lot of experience, years wise, and I wanted to attempt to have a crack at your story if that’s okay. So if someone was to say to you, you know, where does your business journey start, what would you say? I lost my dream job, I was in graduate school, one class away, you know, had the white picket fence type of situation going here and then I heard these incredible words, if you ever hear these words, what comes next is never good. When you hear the words, we’re going in a different direction, it’s never something you really want to hear unless somebody’s driving a car. Other than that it’s not going to bode well for you.

So you know, I kind of, I realized then that your job, no matter how good it could be and I had a very good situation, can be shifted in a minute literally, you don’t know what other people are thinking behind the scenes. So when I went through that I was like, hey this is, I’m never gonna work for anybody again other than to get myself going, put some cash aside survival. But once I figured that out, I’ll never be employed by anybody and I wasn’t and since obviously been starting businesses for well over 20 years, try to seek something every year. I’m like a crackhead on businesses. My son was sitting down with me yesterday. He goes, you know, I got a friend and he’s looking to do a b c and d and I’m like good, why don’t you bring him over tomorrow by my office around four o’clock. I can’t help myself but to look at it and listen to the business plan and see if I can either help or invest in it. You said it was your dream job. What was it that you were doing?

Yeah, I was working for a non-profit in DC and just fun group of people, but the senior leader who I came to work for was getting ready to retire. He was like 72 and somehow I figured he’d just make it to 100 and that didn’t happen. And so when they brought in a young team, they brought in their team so they didn’t want anybody who was loyal to, they didn’t want any residue of his philosophy and or thought process. Well you’re in a position then where I think a lot of people have been, who could probably benefit from some advice and so if you were to say to someone, let’s say they are in the position where they’ve just lost their job and they’re not sure what to do. What do you say to them? Get another job immediately. I mean the problem is that you lose your job and you think I’m going to start a business. Worst time to start a business, because your weakened. I mean realistically your self confidence to some degree just took a hit. See I say you’re typically not at your very, very best. So a, replace your income. Then in the back of your mind, you know that this is just temporary. So even if it’s 2 to 3 year plan, you kind of, you play defense, you solidify things, you fortify if you were in war, you fortify your, your defenses and then you start strategizing for the next stage.

But I think it’s hard to strategize when you just lost your job and you’re trying to survive. I think it’s hard to focus on two things like that. So, what I did is I immediately figured out how to generate income again, and then when I did that, then I immediately started looking for businesses that I thought would work and you know, of that nature. And so did you find one? Yeah, yeah, and they’re, this has probably been the genesis of everything since then. I don’t look for sexy companies, I don’t look for things I’m passionate about, I’m passionate about golf, tennis, I haven’t figured out how to make money doing either of those. So I think passion is a entrepreneurs mistress. You need to be passionate about something within business. Like I love marketing, I’m an addict about creating brands and creating that conveyor belt of customers chasing after us. I love all of that, but the specific business really doesn’t make a difference to me if there’s a massive wanting audience. So, my first one, I took a job selling life insurance when I lost my job.

If you’re fairly good communicator, that’s an easy job to get. And I remember sitting in a sales meeting, we had every Monday, it’s the first time I really saw very expensive cars regularly. I mean, it was just like one after another BMW Mercedes Mercedes Mercedes Jag, you know, Lexus, Lexus Lexus And it just hit me in my car, was sitting out there and I wasn’t looking as good as it should and I was like, it’d be great if while I’m sitting or somebody could come clean, my car this is before a car wash every 600 yards and all that nonsense and I was like, like literally if they came to the parking lot, this was 30 years ago and cleaned it literally while I’m sitting here, that would be great, they have water in the truck. And so I created a company called wax master mobile detailing and I just set up really the structure of it, somebody would call, we give them four different prices inside, outside, you know, van and or car, you know, it’s kind of pretty much what everything was about 30 years ago and somebody would go do the job and then at the end of the week he’d bring me all his checks and I would cut him a check back for half, that’s kind of how it worked. And so that set the blueprint in place that I’ve used for 30 years.

A service business, love service business involves a human being to this day, I don’t want to compete with amazon, I don’t wanna compete with software and I don’t want to compete with ai It’s too volatile, you know, it’s just the next thing knocks out the next thing, you know, it’s just, you know, something big for a while and or gets knocked out or it’s my brain can’t get around, I just know human beings are like the most amazing thing in the world, evidently like, like Ai at its best I heard is 1% of the brain of an ant. I literally just read that 1% of the brain of an ant. So to me, a human being is probably the most extraordinary thing. So if I can build businesses around services where amazon you can’t go on amazon, you can’t get a software to do it, you can’t get a I to do it. I feel like that’s a durable company that’s a durable business proposition, you know, and it’s the simplest things that could be taken a dent out of your car? You know, it could be cleaning your gutters, could be putting a new roof on your house, whatever it is, there’s so many, I could list 100 of them effortlessly, literally going all the way just looking around my house that you know, that you could do.

And I’ve just found those to be not sexy but extraordinarily durable. And the key is to find the ones that have the best margins under the easiest market and have the best repeat customers. So there’s there’s a few that make it more attractive than others. So how do you go from having an idea regarding your car wash company to actually implementing? Yeah, I mean that’s why I wrote the book, the world’s greatest business plan. It ain’t rocket science, but it’s kind of like scheduling like planning a wedding or a vacation. What is the outcome you want? You want a successful company. Okay, so you just kinda gotta work back from there. Who’s my competition? So am I competing with? What’s their pricing, what’s my pricing gonna be? How am I gonna stand out? Why would anybody buy from my company over this company? What what can I yell from? You know, what can I regards marking, What am I gonna say? That’s gonna attract the customer over them, like, okay, we’re gonna have a shouting match, who’s gonna win? Um You know, we got the pricing, we got the shouting match and then we’ve got to create this, how are we gonna fulfill it?

You know what, who am I gonna need to get this business to do what it is? We’re selling, I need this, I need that. You know, you just kinda work back from those very, very simple things you start with, why is anybody gonna buy this? And is it gonna be a big enough market to where it can work Others. I don’t want to, you know, unless, you know, little markets only work for selling like, you know like islands and, and jets generally you need a pretty big wanting audience. I wanna be able to go in a restaurant and six out of 10 people say I would buy what you’re certain would you sell? I’m not saying I’d buy it from you, but I buy that I need that in the next few years, I’m gonna need that. I want something like that. Very, very consistent type of thing. Um and they just work, I’ve made so much money, millions of dollars, just millions and millions and millions and millions um by doing that, just the most simplest of companies that provides services and then if you, you know, assuming you have a good demographic where you, you know where you’re providing the service, you know, there’s certain counties, anywhere, there’s certain places in the world where you’re gonna make money anywhere, that’s just reality.

So you need to find areas where these services are at a premium and the people are willing to pay for it. So at what point do you, have you exited that business or are you still, I’ve exited a few, but no, this one that I’m speaking of, I have and it’s, it’s just a juggernaut II constantly like pinch myself on how much I make and how easy it is. But we, but the key is we just keep adding niches. What you end up doing is when you do a business like this. First thing you do is you get a group, you do one thing. Well, okay, let’s, let’s understand it’s business is fairly simple. I’ll break it down 33. There’s only three things you have to do in business, You have to attract customers sell customers and fulfill what it is, you sell rinse and repeat. That’s it. There’s only three things you do in business. But but with that being said, you got, you got to be so good at something that customers just really do love you. If if your if your objective is to get customers to completely fall in love what it is that you either sell, you know your food, your whatever. It’s like amazon, you can’t but shop at amazon and go, how do they do it?

Whether you like anything about their anything, you have to be just, I’m flabbergasted that. I can literally place an order at four o’clock in the afternoon is deliver the next step, right? I’m flabbergasted when I send uh something FedEx and it’s there within 24 hours anywhere in the world. I’m flabbergasted when Zappos was willing to give me a one year return on anything. Like the point is is that when you do something extraordinary and customers fall in love with you, then you just need to figure out what more I can offer them. I mean that’s what amazon did. They started with books. But books at the time was the heart. The largest product line. There’s more books than any single product line of anything. So if you knock that one down, Everything else is gonna be doable. They slayed the big giant and the rest actually, they already had everything in the basic model in place to just offer anything. So how long did it take going from starting your business to having sort of raving fans in that particular business. I mean it generally takes you about two years to build up enough of where they’re talking about it.

But you should start from the very first week. I mean we started surveying customers. We had a survey in place for questions from the very first customer. We still do that survey 23 years later and we literally hand mail it to people with a $5 Starbucks gift card to just say thank you for you know, for new customers you’ve got to when people love what you do. I am shocked how often they’ll spend money with you and I’m shocked how easy it is for them to spend money with you. Like I would have been happy about a $2,000 deal 20 years ago where now it’s 200,000 it’s the same customer. You know Sean. We did this but we’d like you to do this. We’re like I mean the car company now it’s it’s more like can we do, are we available to do it? We’re not even, you know, bidding on it anymore. It’s kind of like we know we want to use you if there’s any way your company is available to do a B C. D. E. F. G. H. Any of these. We prefer to use your company and I have a digital marketing company that we’re getting ready to franchise. Same.

The uniqueness about it is we service local business owners. So we literally get in front of them every month and go over their digital marketing plan. This is what worked. What didn’t work. This is where we think we should pivot whatever. We don’t try to do that where you email them a little report at the end of the month and nobody can understand it. I did that before. You know, you get those reports from like India or whatever the case may be and it’s a big spreadsheet, nobody on the planet understands it but they get you to do it. You know, it’s a certain amount but you never meet the people. I even did that and then I moved to a company, United States and I didn’t understand any more than I did the company that was overseas. So I was like there’s gotta be a better way to do this. And I went back to my model human beings that can get in front of customers and provide a service and we did that and it’s, you know, we’re three years into it. Got an eight figure evaluation and and we’re getting ready to franchise here in the next 12 months. The formula works. I don’t care what it is in regarding service companies. So yeah, I like service companies but the idea of business is still the same. Three fundamentals, attract customers in masses, sell customers at a margin that allows you to stay in business and keep you interested and then build your model around fulfilling people in such a way that they fall in love with what it is.

You sold them. If you do those three things, you got something that works, you got any thoughts on, I’ve spoken to a couple of people in the service industry and they’ve had some issues with scaling. So when they’re involved in the business, they can sort of oversee it and they can make sure that the work is excellent. But as soon as they try and add more people, the more people, they add, the more it kind of goes away from that excellence that you’re referring to. Any thoughts there. Yeah, Well two things are not doing probably a is, you gotta, you gotta pay the next tier. If you’re trying to duplicate yourself, you’re not gonna duplicate yourself with a typical salary. So you need to understand the level of person you’re looking to hire now. You’re either gonna hire that person for a lot of money. I’ve always partnered with people. What I’ve done over 30 years is always partnerships. So I’ve only found the only way to get a person of that stature is typically to partner with them. You gotta part, you need to get somebody who has a, has some, you know, skin in the game and and those people and I’ve brought on people like that and I’ve got them all around me now, but they’re making, you know, 100 and 50 to $250,000 a year.

So you gotta be able to share the pie. I always said I’d rather make a percentage of a lot Than 100% of a little. So to me, you know, the pot just gets bigger and get some more fun. You have more people involved in it, but you’ve got to wait a scale is you either gotta pay somebody really a lot because you got to duplicate yourself, it’s a different level higher. You’re not gonna, you’re not gonna duplicate yourself with just a run of, you know, an add on Indeed. And think you’re gonna replace, you know, somebody who cares about the business as much as you do or has an eye for whatever, you know, whatever technical skill you brought to the table, interesting. So the, the idea being that the only way you get hold of someone that is actually able to implement, like you would is literally giving them a share in the company. Yeah, that’s the only thing I’ve ever found is is that because even the ones you give 100 K two, they eventually leave you, they either go start their own or somebody lures them away. The only solution I’ve ever found that I can sleep at night with is partnerships.

What would you say to someone who maybe they’re not there, they’re a bit, they want to hold on to that that equity, they’re not they’re a bit should we say hesitant to give it away. Their their stubborn and you’re gonna you’re never gonna grow and you’re gonna be the guy who micro manages everything and hold onto it for dear life and and you work 80 hours a week and you know that’s great. I mean I I can’t fix stupid, I can fix a lot, I can’t, you know, I can’t fix stupid. So you know the way I look at that is that look at that perfect example the high level hires, they’re out there, but I’m gonna just go through a few and let’s look at what they make. Bill Gates hired Steve Bomber in 1980. Graduate degree from Stanford in 1980. He paid him $50,000 a year to be his assistant. Do you have any idea what $50,000 a year was in 1980? You see what I’m saying? Exactly. So that’s an extra. I mean remember Microsoft is in the start up phase then this is not like 1989, this is 1980 but he knew the value of that.

Okay then then you go with take another one, you got steve jobs Larry cook. I mean which one called Tim Cook? I mean look at these level of hires and you got Mark Zuckerberg spends three months trying to woo Sharon Sandberg Okay, meets her at a dinner party and literally spends three months going over her house talking to her and her husband to try to woo her to come to Facebook her. I think her share in Facebook is like 1.5 billion Steve bombers are worth over 50 billion I’m saying. I mean do you see the math here to get the big fit, you know, the people that move the needle, you got to give them, you know, a tremendous amount of something to get them to come join you and and dedicate their life to, you know, to doing what it is, you know, to moving your company to the next level. I mean C bomber has been around for a long time. So as Sharon, you know, so it’s obviously tim cook, I mean you’re not gonna get the extraordinary hires for just a certain amount of pay. It’s not, it’s not gonna happen. There’s one thing I wanted to ask you about um and it’s maybe a quote from yours or a point that you made, and the quote is why every person should think like an entrepreneur.

I was wondering if you could go into what you think about that. Yeah, I mean the idea is is that even if your employee, this is how entrepreneurs think entrepreneurs see a problem and they see they immediately go into there like a heat seeking missile problem must solve problem was solved problem. How can I I solved it? How can I see if other people have it. Maybe I can monetize it Like like we we see a problem, we’re not crippled by the average person sees a problem, avoid it, deny it right? I you know pass it on to someone else, pretend it’s not there. It’ll go away. It’s a completely just a completely different mindset. The average person sees the problem and they want to get away from it as far as they can or an entrepreneur, somebody with an entrepreneur mindset goes okay, that’s a challenge. All right. How can I figure this out? Okay. And however they solve it and they go way is there an opportunity here an example? A lot of people are having trouble sleeping and then all these sleeping aids came about, you know the mouth guards and mattresses and you know that because somebody realized that sleeping was an issue then there was energy.

People were lacking energy and now you got every way of you know, for five hour energy to every conceivable way to have more energy. Like so somebody sees that there’s a problem and they solve it and then they figure out a way to make money doing it. But even if you’re just an employee, so I’m just gonna take this from a base level employee, how you would think like an entrepreneur, I’ll tell you how to guarantee you’ll get a raise, go in every Monday to whoever you work for your main supervisor and just say to them marry or john is there anything I can do for you this week that would make you know that I can take off your desk or take off your responsibility list. Maybe the first week they say no you don’t have to know, I don’t need to do it every single week. Every Monday going there, listen again I’m gonna come in here and every single Monday because I want to take something off your, you know something you’re worrying about getting done and I will get it done for you. It’s just how an entrepreneur is. The rest will happen. The rays will happen. That person ever takes another job. They’re bringing you with them. But you’re, you’re thinking in a different way. The typical employee goes to work and wants to do just enough to get done by the end of the day and leave.

You’re going and you’re going listen, I wanna take, I want to help you with whatever you got going on. I will do it, I’ll do it well I’ll be responsible. Whatever it’s a different way of thinking. So I just think that you know you have that average mentality is I go to work. I worked at the end of the day I leave and I rinse and repeat where the entrepreneur goes, hey okay how can I how can I make something good out of a problem either personally because I’m gonna solve it. I’m gonna bring value to my company and they’re gonna see me more valuable. I mean at the very least you have that, but you may see a problem that allows you to monetize it and create a business off of it. Thank you for the answer. I think you said before about the fact that you pack a lot of value into your answers. So yeah, I can see what you mean by that from our conversation today. I regarding your, your journey, your story, What would you say your biggest challenges have been in business? I think the biggest challenges is finding great partners. They’re the unicorns. So I think, you know, finding someone who’s willing to give up whatever they have to join you on what you’ve established because really they’re joining your vision when somebody joined you as a partner there, typically giving up on something, maybe they were thinking they would do.

So that that’s always a challenge. But I love that challenge because I know that their life is going to be better because of it. It’s almost like I know the cheat cheat, like I love when somebody like I had a guy who joined me and I never forget, we were talking yesterday in the office and when he wanted to come work for me, I wanted to make $850 a week and you’d have thought $850 a week was like gold at the time. It was like, I just, I just got to make 100 $50 a week. And I remember saying to him, let’s do the next interview at my house. He goes, why I go, you’ll know when you pull up. And so I wanted to give him the wow factor like, okay, there’s a whole different level of wealth, okay, like you’re in the survival mentality for you to be a partner with me, I’ve got to get you thinking two zeros down, okay, because 8 50 if you’re making 8 50 I’m not making enough off of this to really stay that interested. So I shared with him that we’re gonna do profit sharing and his check last week, it’s typically over 5000 every week, he makes about a quarter of a million a year. And I just think, you know, his his, his mentality was at a certain level.

So to partner with him, I had to sell him on what I thought five years down the road would look like and even though it was way more than he could imagine, you know, whether he believes that I had to take him to my house so he can kind of see, okay, well he’s made this happen in his own life, so there must be something to this. So I did that, that kind of, you know, for a little bit of validation reasons, but I think if you can, I think the number one skill and really getting wealthy and, and, and an entrepreneurship and anything is your ability to duplicate yourself in whatever it is you’re doing, that is the hardest thing in the world is to bring in that person who’s equally as good as you are, even better than you. You Know, the best coaches have the best assistance. Right? I mean, if you look in sports, they have just extraordinary system that has been with him for 30 years, how does that happen? You know, So you, it’s, it’s an extraordinary skill to have it. But when you have it, it’s, it’s, it’s special. I mean, it definitely allows you to do things in an extraordinary level. And again, Steve Jobs did it, you know, uh, you know, Bill Gates did it.

Warren Buffett did it with Charlie Munger, Charlie Munger was an attorney. You know, brings them on their way to guys like 97 years old. Now they’ve been partners for nearly 50 years. It’s just kills me that the smartest people in the world, partnered Elon musk partner with PayPal, partnered with Tesla? I mean the smartest people, you know, Warren Buffett, Bill Gates Steve Jobs man keep going down the line. Why, Why? Eight out of 10 of the smartest people in the world thought it was a good idea to partner. Clearly they knew there was something that they lacked in terms of definitions because I think it’s an important point. So people don’t just, if they take the advice, they don’t just immediately give half of their company away. What was the definition of partnership partnering is that you’re sharing profit? Okay. That that’s mine and, and that that person is not punching, you know, not working Monday through Friday a certain schedule, there’s a little, you know, you give them the freedom to oversee something completely.

Typically when I partner with somebody, they’re going to the next level, they’re gonna have the ability to run either division or something, they take it and they’re gonna be like an autonomous, you know, because if not, they don’t interest me. If I gotta still gotta babysit them, then that doesn’t interest me. So number one, is that their responsibilities at a totally different level. Okay, that’s number one, but again, I don’t give away equity in my company necessarily, I give away, you know, profit sharing. So the way I would do it is if you’re partnering, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with giving away a piece of your company. I mean it may, it may, you may have to do that, but the way I would do, I’ve structured those deals, they don’t get anything for five years, they leave any time in the first five years, they get a dollar. Um, you know, so you protect yourself, you know, you never give them enough to override your shares at the most. They have 49% voting shares, I mean you could use some common sense there, but typically the profit when you give them the 50% profit on it, they, for whatever reason, it shocks me. They never go after the ownership. They’re almost shocked when you give them that kind of money.

So I’ve always given them the money end of it but kept the stock end of it. So that’s how I’ve used it. I’ve done multiple different ways. But you know, I’ve never given up 51% in any mathematical formula to anybody. Nobody is worth that. Thank you for sharing that. I did ask you about, I said before the episode was recorded that I typically ask about what success means in every in every episode. So what does success mean to you? Success means having the time, the money. Um the options, the freedom to do what you want when you want however you want with whoever you want. I mean really that’s what it boils down to is that you, you have the resources via the time, the flexibility finances um just do what it is you want to do like nothing’s got you, you know, you know, you just have extraordinary freedom in your life to you know to spend time with the people you want wherever you want, doing whatever it is you want. Um And you know, I think there’s a point where you you’re you’re all either a get over the financial hurdle where you make enough money where you’re not worried about money and then you may get to a point where you get over the scheduling hurdle where you’re not trapped by responsibilities.

Time wise, you got partners that can do that. So you get past that. And I think when you start getting through you keep going, that progression where you have more financial freedom, you have time freedom, You have levels of responsibility. Your levels of responsibility are now being shared with other people. So you’re not shouldering the burden of everything so your stress level. So I found that really I look at as money time and stress is my my big three. If everything is really good, even if I got money and I got time but I’m dealing with constant stress. I got bad employees. I just everything’s falling on my shoulder like every major, it’s just everything’s falling on my shoulder. The money doesn’t matter then the time doesn’t matter. Then my stress just ruins everything. So I I have just found money. Time and stress are my three biggest indicators of how things are going successfully in my life and so I can do the things I really want to do, because I can’t do anything.

Like going on a vacation when you’re totally stressed out, it’s not very fun. Hanging out with people that you love and it’s all great but you’re so stressed out, it’s not any good anyway. So I use those as my three biggest metrics. So based on that criteria, are you a successful individual? Yeah, I’d say I’m doing, I’d say I’m doing alright. Is there anything I should have asked you about today? No, I think you, you covered it and you know, you, yeah you, I mean, hey, I think you know, I love talking about the weekend NBA. Only because it’s one of them projects, one of them passionate projects that I created. It’s just an incredible entrepreneurship conference that we do every April and so other than that, we can guide them to that in the show notes and if they go to my personal website, they’ll get an invitation to that, but other than that I think we knocked everything down. Alright, well if people do want to know more, where do they go? They go to seancastrina.com, you’ll get a free book and you’ll hear about the weekend NBA and the 10 minute entrepreneur podcast if you like. Something very brief to the point.

This podcast definitely gets very quick to the point. I interview incredible guests but we stay really focused for just a short period of time to give you one good nugget to chew on. You can obviously find me on Instagram, I apologize, yeah, and Instagram as well, sean.castrina. I’m on Instagram as well and we’re always giving great information there as well. Well for everyone listening, please review the links in the description. Sean, thank you for being a great guest today. Great, thank you so much for having me.