Jonny Nastor: We're back with another episode of hack the entrepreneur and today we have a very, very, very special guest. Brian, welcome to the show.
Brian Scudamore: Thanks for having me, Jon.
Jonny Nastor: Absolutely, my pleasure. This is going to be a blast.
Brian Scudamore: Looking forward to it.
Jonny Nastor: Nice. Let's jump into it, Brian. Brian, as an entrepreneur, can you tell me what is the one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your successes so far?
Brian Scudamore: The one thing. Wow, that's a tough one. I think it really is a whole bunch of little things that add up to a one thing but if I had to pick one thing I'd say it's my ability to put in writing a vision or what I call a painted picture of the future. And I will crystal ball, I will dream, I will think about what the future could look, feel and how we would act. I'll put it in writing one page double-sided and I share it with everyone in a specific brand of ours.
Whether it's WOW 1 DAY PAINTING or 1-800-GOT-JUNK? We share the painted picture of what that brand's future looks like, not how we get there, but where we're going and if the team sees it and believes it, it's the most powerful thing I've ever experienced.
Jonny Nastor: Wow. I love it. You've been at this game a long time now. When did you adopt this practice?
Brian Scudamore: So I've been at this business world or entrepreneurship experience for 27 years. More than half my life. Love every day of it, even the hard days because you learn, you grow, you get better.
But this whole painted picture, it happened when I was eight years into my business, 1997, I was a million dollars in revenue and I had believed that there were a lot of smarter more talented entrepreneurs around me who were having greater success, sexier businesses. They had the money, the education, all the ingredients you needed and I found myself in a bit of a doom loop, a little bit of a depression wondering, "Could I even build a business bigger than a million?"
So what I did is I said, "What if I get rid of the negativity and I just dream and I just think of pure possibility. What could 1-800-GOT-JUNK? become? Top 30 metros in North America? Featured on the Oprah Winfrey show? We'd be the FedEx of junk removal with clean, shiny trucks, friendly uniformed drivers."
Brian Scudamore: I put this all in writing and I was very clear about my language that not we would hope to be or want to see those things happen, but that they would happen.
We would be in the top 30 metros in North America, and I put it to writing and started to share it with everybody around me it seemed that the picture that I locked on to other people were able to see. It divided my company into two. One camp of people that said, "Yes, I see it. I want to be a part, let's make it happen." And the other group who said, "This isn't for me." And they left and by the end of 2003 that painted picture did happen and did become a reality because we had people believing in where we were going. We didn't know how to get there, but we all worked together as a team to make it a reality.
Jonny Nastor: I love it. And just the idea of not even keeping everyone, just keeping the ones who are aligned with your vision.
Brian Scudamore: They kept themselves. Anyone that didn't believe and didn't buy-in and said, "This wasn't for me." And they slowly worked themselves out of a job and they got on a different track working on a vision that they might've believed in and it works out for everybody.
Jonny Nastor: Yeah. And to clarify, you didn't know how you were going to get into all of these cities. You didn't know how you were going to get to these revenue marks. That's not what the two pages is about, right?
Brian Scudamore: The faintest clue. What I did know is I believed in that picture. I believed in the possibility of where we could go. So it would be like someone going, "Hey, I'm going to go on a trip to Iceland. I don't know how I'm going to get there. I don't know exactly when, but we're going to figure it out." And they put the details in place to make it happen. How they raised the money, whatever they need to do to make that trip to ice on a possibility.
This was a destination with full color. What that picture looked like, didn't know how to get there and that was going to be up to the team to figure out and I think looking back, that was the most challenging yet exciting part. Was the team saying, "This is where we're going. We're all aligned with the direction. Now let's figure out how to get there."
Jonny Nastor: I love it. And in 1987 you are nine or 10 years already into business, right? At this point.
Brian Scudamore: Yeah, I was eight years into business, a million in revenue and the future was not so bright because of me, the leader who was starting to question. Not that I didn't have a viable business, but whether or not I had a business that could really explode into something much bigger than just a million-dollar business.
Jonny Nastor: Right. Okay. So let's go back even further if we can, because oftentimes going through it it's not clear, right? That's how life and business is but looking back, there's usually these points in time I think in every entrepreneur's life when they realized one of two things. That either they had this vision to make this huge difference in the world, or as mostly seems to be the case, they found that they were just unemployable and couldn't work for somebody else anymore. So, Brian, I'd love if you could tell me which side of the fence you see yourself on and then if you could take us back to when that happened in your life.
Brian Scudamore: I wouldn't say I wasn't employable, but I definitely was one who I got fired from every job I ever had. My grandmother fired me from working in our army surplus store because I always wanted this freedom. I wanted to do things my own way. I had my own unique ideas and I didn't fit the mold of a regular job or even school. I went to 14 schools if you include kindergarten all the way to college and the only one I got a diploma from was kindergarten. I'm a typical entrepreneur if there is such a thing in that I don't like to be told what to do and didn't like as a kid growing up trying to fit into a mold. So I was employable. I did well at some jobs, but they always ended up in me getting fired just because I was done. I had enough or I challenged the status quo. So I found myself as an entrepreneur who thought, "Okay, if I could come up with these big hairy, audacious goals, big dreams, and goals." The challenge became, "Okay, proving to the world and not really the world, but more myself and probably my parents that I could do this." And with hard work and great focus and discipline, I was able to make these things happen.
Jonny Nastor: And I mean even through the '90s, I mean, not even till that recently I find. This word entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, in general, seems to be very new and very well accepted now to the point where so many people that I talk to, so many people that I know never really considered themselves an entrepreneur. You just did things, right? You created stuff. But could you Brian, could you define entrepreneurship to me?
Brian Scudamore: Yeah. Entrepreneurship. It comes from the French word entrepreneur, which is undertaking and you are undertaking something. You're taking risks, your taking on this workload and this energy to try and make big things happen. So my undertaking has always been coming up with a possibility that nobody believes in, that I can rally people together and say, "Let's make things happen." So an entrepreneur is a leader of sorts and I believe that many people want to start businesses but don't have the courage to go out and do it completely on their own. If I look at our family of O2E Brands and all the different people we've got on board, what we did is we developed a new concept. What used to be called franchising, we call entrepreneurship. And what that means is finding someone who we can help find an entry point into the world of entrepreneurship through a platform, if you will, at O2E Brands where someone can build something with us together much better than they could alone.
Brian Scudamore: Then when they are successful, say Paul Guy in Toronto who has built a seven million dollar, eight million dollar junk removal business. He is able to pay it forward and find other entrepreneurs people who he can build businesses with. Other locations, other brands of ours. So this entrepreneurship model is one where it's this flywheel that continues to build great momentum. The more people you bring into the world of entrepreneurship or we bring in, the more they will help bring in others and it becomes this generator of a small business and it's working phenomenally well for us.
Jonny Nastor: I love it. It almost goes back to your vision of painting that picture and now there's this, it seems like a mindset you have of, it's not one of scarcity where entrepreneurship where you can kind of give basically all your secrets to people to get them started in business and just think that, "Well, they can just take it all and just run with it." It seems like you have that. Like where you want to help, you want to empower people to do and to be able to grow as entrepreneurs themselves and then it in turn obviously helps your company as well.
Brian Scudamore: It's an abundance model of so many great people who have so many great ideas to share that can help us all build better businesses. The more people we bring in, the greater the opportunities for everyone. So it really is a ... People often ask, you know, "Why do we have four brands? Why do we have a goal of building 10 brands?" It's more of a great thing. It isn't more money, it isn't more greed, it's more how do we bring in talented people who are meant to build a business and us have the power behind us of all building these great businesses together?
Jonny Nastor: I love it. I love it. So your one thing is that ability to paint a picture. You obviously have this abundance mindset and you are obviously also a brilliant leader. Now, every business expert talks about 80/20 rule, right? So you're supposed to do 20% of the work, get 80% of the results. You're supposed to do what you're good at and delegate the rest.
Brian Scudamore: Right.
Jonny Nastor: Brian, can you tell me something that you are absolutely not good at in your business?
Brian Scudamore: Most things. I think I've learned, Marcus Buckingham always says, "Play to your strengths. Don't try and improve your weaknesses." What I've done well I believe is identifying my weaknesses and there's an awful lot of them. I identify them, I accept them. I'm not great at hiring. I'm great at tracking people to an idea and having other people go through the rigorous process of recruiting, but when I sit down and I interview someone I fall in love with their passion, their energy. I don't really get to their skillset and I'm just not the best interviewer. I'm too ADD to sit down through too many interviews, but I think I'm able to draw people into an idea and have that idea grow but have other people do the recruiting. I'm not great at details. I'm a very detailed, well-organized person, but I know that the financials, the rigor, the discipline that you need in the business, there's other people who love that stuff. So I've been able to take my weaknesses and say, "I'm not going to try and improve them. I love the person I am. The leadership that I am about. The values we have as a company." I stick to those and I stick to the things I do well, which is very few things. Culture, vision, possibility, and then we've got teams of people as we've grown to do those other things.
Brian Scudamore: Now, the first eight years of my business career before I developed a painted picture, yes I was doing absolutely everything from accounts receivable, accounts payable, all the recruiting, you name it, the junk removal. But over time I've been able to realize the more I can let go of, the more that I can put into the hands of other smarter, more capable people, the better for the business, the better for myself.
Jonny Nastor: Do you think you realized this too late about yourself early on where you didn't play up to your weaknesses like you do now with obviously a massive infrastructure of resources around you to take care of lots of the things?
Brian Scudamore: I think we always wish that we could do the learning, the heavy lifting sooner, but it happened when it needed to happen. I needed to make a bunch of mistakes and fall flat on my face before I could have that learning and realize I can't do it all and I need to let go. So I learned it when I did and I'm still learning. I mean, that's the great thing about being an entrepreneur is there's not one entrepreneur out there in the world that I go, "I want to be exactly that person." There's no one I model after. I've got tons of mentors but we all have such a unique way of doing things that I think the beauty is you do what you do the best you can and you continue to learn from the mistakes that you make and be willing to make mistakes. We have a culture at O2E Brands that we call WTF. Which actually stands for willing to fail. We want people to have a willingness to fail, to make mistakes, to learn and grow, and that's what makes us better.
Jonny Nastor: Nice. WTF. And so, I guess, pushing people to go beyond what your either skillset is or what your comfort level is right now. Once you're pushed out of that, that's when ... You can only do that if you're willing to I think be wrong and make mistakes, right?
Brian Scudamore: Absolutely. We want people that don't play it so safe that they're never willing to fail. We want people to push themselves, be willing to fall down, make a mistake and admit the mistake, but then say, "Hey, this is what I learned." It's a great statement when I hear people say, "This is what I learned from this. Here's what I won't do next time around."
Jonny Nastor: Excellent. Excellent. All right, Brian, let's move to projects if we can, and we can even take this into a full-on big, like a new business if you want. Because you mentioned you have four really, really excellent businesses and brands running under the O2E brand, but you have a goal of 10. So I would love to know what your process is, whether it's a written process or just an internal process between you or a team around you, but what is the process that you're going to go through when you decide what the next venture is that you guys should put your time, energy and resources into?
Brian Scudamore: There's quantifiable things and then there's things that you really can't measure. So one of the things I look for is does it feel right? Is the timing right for us to expand? Do we have too much on our plate or can we actually afford to start a fifth brand? Does the brand have a name and a feel about it that we adore, that we know customers will fall in love with? There are more measurable things like does it have at least a hundred million dollar potential? Does it have a seasonality model to it? Does it work in all markets or? Are there some places where you go, "Hey, this is a warm-weather business, a cold-weather business." Snowplowing, for example, doesn't really thrill us because there's a few markets where that business would work over a very short season. It has to be something where it's an ordinary business but has exceptional potential. O2E Brand stands for making the ordinary business of X exceptional, from ordinary to exceptional.
Brian Scudamore: So if we were presented with a business model in a world where that service was already exceptional and we were going to be the number two exceptional business in the space, we wouldn't go after it. We want to find something like junk removal that was ordinary, fragmented, mom and pop, no professionalism, no upfront pricing and really revolutionize that space to make it exceptional. We're doing the same in moving. We're doing the same in painting. So that's the big evaluation is, is it something that fires us up? That gets us excited? That we can make exceptional That we can grow to beyond 100 million? It seems to be, at this stage anyways, that it's probably got to be home service-based. We are big believers in grow where you're planted and we're in the home service industry with all four brands currently so it makes sense to stay in that space.
Jonny Nastor: Yeah, no, I was going to say there's a real sort of correlation between that, I guess business to consumer, right? When you say you want 10 brands under this, do you think that there's room for 10 more brands with a hundred million dollars a year revenue around that market of dealing with homeowners?
Brian Scudamore: Absolutely. The homeowner space, if you think of all of the services, it's a multibillion-dollar space. So we're looking to take a small portion of that, but there's many different places that we could look to. If I think of the moving space, for us to be a hundred million dollars in revenue in a $19 billion market, you know, just in home moving, that's a huge opportunity for us. So I think that some of our brands have the potential of being half a billion dollars or north of that. So it's got to be a minimum hundred million dollar space and it's got to have that great growth potential otherwise it doesn't interest us.
Jonny Nastor: Yeah. And then you have to have the room, right? I guess now the determination is whether to put more effort into growing one of these existing brands or to remove some of those people that open up another shop and try again.
Brian Scudamore: Exactly.
Jonny Nastor: So I guess finding out the market where it is, where the cap is and how close you are to the top of it.
Brian Scudamore: Yeah, we definitely want to come into spaces where if we're not the number one in the space, that we know that we can take that position and we believe in taking that position by delivering exceptional customer experience. So if I look at the moving space, Two Men and a Truck, they are a $400 million business. They're seven or eight times our size. However, we will absolutely get to that number one position because we're obsessed with customer experience. It's going to take a lot of years and a lot of hard work and money, but that's the spot we chase.
Jonny Nastor: Yeah, I love it. All right, Brian, this has been an absolute blast. I want to wrap up on one final question for you.
Brian Scudamore: Sure.
Jonny Nastor: It's this idea I'm calling the entrepreneurial gap. So it's this gap that I think we live in sometimes as entrepreneurs, as dreamers, we're always projecting our successes into the future, right? In one month when you hit that metric, in three months when you get that metric, in one year when you open up another business and it's successful, that's when you're going to see yourself as successful. Yet, right before you hit that metric you're going to set five or 10 loftier ones into the future. It's what we have to do to push forward.
Jonny Nastor: And from the outside, you've had a massively successful career for us watching for about side of you, but I know that inside we often still ... We're always walking forward and like walking towards the horizon the further you walk the further it gets away.
Brian Scudamore: Right.
Jonny Nastor: So we end up in this gap, but I would love it, Brian, if you could stop right now and turn around and look behind you at the last, I think you said 27 years in this journey. The highs, the lows, the wins and, the losses and tell me how you feel about everything you've accomplished up until today.
Brian Scudamore: I feel perfect. I feel like everything I've learned, the ups and the downs, they were all meant to happen. I needed to learn lessons from the mistakes I made. So people often ask the question, "What's one thing you would change?" And it may sound a little too oversimplified, but it's a heartfelt statement that I wouldn't change a thing. I needed to fail. I needed to make mistakes, I needed to be knocked down. There's times when I just about lost my business several times, but it's those things that help you learn how do you make things better? How do you care more about your people? How do you stand out more from other companies? Whatever it might be, and it's at the end of the day, you know, 27 years, I look back and I love every moment I've had. They're stressful times, but they certainly fueled the good times and looking forward, I know that will be hard times and there'll be lots of more learning, but as an entrepreneur it's a lifelong commitment to learning. You just don't ever give up on learning because those who are entrepreneurs that think they know it all I think I've reached the end of their journey.
Jonny Nastor: Beautiful answer. Beautiful answer. All right, Brian, we've got to talk about your business in passing. Can we know specifically tell the listener where to find out more about this entrepreneurship you're talking about and also where they could track you down online.
Brian Scudamore: Two places seem to be most effective. O2ebrands.com. That's letter O, which stands for ordinary. Number two, E for exceptional. So o2ebrands.com and at the bottom of the page there's a link to all our social media, my LinkedIn. So that would be the second place I'd send people to is LinkedIn. Connect with me if I can help you in any way. Being an entrepreneur I think the responsibility there is to help others who are on the same journey and I'm a big fan of that. So appreciate you having me on your podcast and it was a fun half an hour together.
Jonny Nastor: Oh absolutely my pleasure, Brian, and please just keep doing what you're doing cause it is awesome and inspiring to watch.
Brian Scudamore: Thank you very much sir.
Jonny Nastor: Wow, that was quite the conversation. Brian is quite the human being, quite the entrepreneur. 27 years at it and from the, I don't want to say lowliest start because it's not at all but starting a company and going around and collecting your own trash to then having this vision and taking what most people never see as something big and I mean as we intro, we talked about $215 million in revenue under O2E Brands and it's astonishing. I absolutely love the story. I enjoyed that whole conversation. I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did and got as much from that as I did. And I mean he's a Canadian. Come on, let's give it up for the Canadian entrepreneurs.
Jonny Nastor: So my favorite part always is next to being part of those conversations and getting to talk to so many smart people all the time is getting to go back. Getting to go back through the conversation. Getting to go back and see what I missed or get a second perspective on what I think I heard the first time through. So I went back and I listened, and there was a handful of things that really stood out to me. So I went back again and I listened again, and then it went back one more time and listened and the third time through there was something so clear that Brian said. There was something that he said that to me, it was the one thing. It was that thing that he said. Did you get it? Did you hear it? Let's do it. Let's find the hack.
Brian Scudamore: It may sound a little too oversimplified, but it's a heartfelt statement that I wouldn't change a thing. I needed to fail. I needed to make mistakes. I needed to be knocked down. There's times when I just about lost my business several times but it's those things that help you learn how do you make things better? How do you care more about your people? How do you stand out more from other companies? Whatever it might be. And it's at the end of the day, you know, 27 years, I look back and I love every moment. They're stressful times but they certainly fueled the good times.
Jonny Nastor: And that's the hack. Brian, Brian, Brian, I love this. This is just a beautifully thought out and just really, I guess really just true statement that I so appreciate you saying and because I think so many of us need to hear this because you needed to fail. You needed to make mistakes, you needed to get knocked down, you nearly lost your business. And I think that lots of us here, myself included and you listening that we could be in that part right now. Yes, you are now 27 years into it with $215 million of revenue and five really, really awesome companies, but it wasn't always like that. If you would have stopped at that point if you would've stopped when you got knocked down, if you would've stopped when you had failed, if you had stopped when you were tired none of this would exist. All the hundreds and thousands of people that you have helped their lives through your business or through entrepreneurship and helping people build and grow businesses. None of that would've happened if you had quit.
Jonny Nastor: So I wanted to bring this out because I think this is so essential. This is so essential to remember when we are in that position and we want to quit. You can't because you never know what's just on that other side. There's always going to be something in your way, but it's just on that other side is where these things happen. Where these big things happen when you get to look back and be like, "Yeah, dammit. I didn't give up. I didn't quit. I learned from it and I wanted to figure out how I could get better from it." This is so, so important. We've all been there. Anyone who's tried to do anything and create something out of nothing, which is the basis of entrepreneurship, has failed. Has been knocked down, has been mistaken, has been wrong. Whatever you want to say. It's impossible to avoid. The one thing you can avoid is just giving up on all of it. Don't do that. Brian didn't. I haven't up till now and I don't plan on doing it, but I'm so thankful for Brian for sharing and then being able to share your story for that 27 years journey and I cannot wait to see where you go from here, Brian. Thank you so, so very much.
Jonny Nastor: All right. Hacktheentrepreneur.com. It's the place. I just created something new. We're on episode 225 or 20, 30 something like that. 20? 30? No, episode 230 or so. The lot of smart, smart people I've had the honor of speaking to. So I decided to narrow it down to 10. The top 10 episodes. Five of the most popular, absolute most popular episodes ever to come through the studio and five that were either really impactful and transformative to me are also sort of round out the experience that I see as Hack the Entrepreneur for you and to help you on this journey, this experience that we call entrepreneurship, and even further what we just call life. So Hack the Entrepreneur Top 10 exists. You can subscribe to it on iTunes if you want. You can rate it, you can review it, you can do whatever you want.
Jonny Nastor: But if you go to hacktheentrepreneur.com right now you'll see. It up in the navigation menu you can access it or on the sidebar. You'll find a button there and it's a page with just all of the episodes right there for you, the 10 handpicked by me and I think it's a great place if you are trying to figure out where to start. If you haven't listened to all of them or go check out and see if you've listened to all of them. There's no opt-ins, no nothing that you need. Nope. Just go there. It's all for you. Hack the entrepreneur Top 10. I think it's pretty cool. I put a lot of work into it and I think you're going to dig it. All right. It's been a lot of fun. I 100% fully always appreciate you for stopping by. I know you have so many choices of podcasts out there to spend your time and I'm so glad you choose to spend it with me. It's been fun. I thank you, and until next time, please keep hacking the entrepreneur.
Brian Scudamore of O2E Brands is anything but ordinary. He dropped out of high school and talked his way into college only to drop out again.
Finally, Brian Scudamore decided to take his last $700 and start 1-800-GOT-JUNK. Having built this company into a multi-million dollar home services empire, he is now passionate about empowering other small business owners to take the lead in their own companies.
He is the founder of O2E Brands, the banner company for 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, WOW 1- Day Painting, You Move Me, and Shack Shine. They are leaders in customer experience, innovation and franchise development with a combined revenue of $215M.
Now, let’s hack…
Brian Scudamore of 1-800-Got-Junk
In this 31-minute episode Brian Scudamore and I discuss:
- Putting your vision for the future in writing and setting it into motion
- The concept of “entrypreneurship” and how Brian works to help people grow as entrepreneurs
- The value of identifying your weaknesses and being “WTF” (willing to fail!)
- Revolutionizing an ordinary business and making it exceptional
- The importance of weathering the storms of entrepreneurship
The Show Notes
Davinci: With the Davinci platform, finding the perfect meeting room for your face-to-face business meeting is as easy as search, book, meet.
Visit Davinci today and, for a limited time, get 50% off your first purchase.