TGG Episode 106 – Nick Huber
Fri, Jul 28, 2023 11:14PM • 1:28:32
company, business, nick, build, entrepreneurship, year, call, buy, twitter, talking, tweet, college, sweaty, started, shepherd, work, business owner, money, couple, storage
Nick Huber, Clint Murphy
Clint Murphy 00:00
Nick, welcome to the growth guide podcast. We’re going to have a pretty windy, fun conversation today about everything Nick Huber, Sweaty Startup. And where I want to start is where you got your first startup. So Nick’s 13 years old, your dad leases you a lawnmower. So it doesn’t give you a lawn mower, he leases you want to start your first business? Can you take us all back to the young boy in Indiana, who starts his first business at 13.
Nick Huber 00:36
Clint, thanks for having me. And I think that’s a great place to start. So I started on third base as an entrepreneur. And it wasn’t necessarily because my father had a ton of resources or his own big business, but he was fascinated in entrepreneurship. And he wanted to teach me how it all works. So as a 13 year old, my father was working for a real estate owner developer in a local town, the person who was in charge of mowing about, you know, three apartment complexes, a nursing home and two big retail strip centers, had a had a heart attack, and the person who was fine, they just, it was middle of the heat of the summer, and they just could not move anymore. So they needed to find a new company. And my boss, my dad’s boss said Tim, find a company to help us know all these lawns and my dad naturally, instead of going out and finding a reputable lawn care company, he said, I’m going to train my 13 year old to do this. And he’s going to take on, you know, 15 hours a week of commercial lawn care. So I was 13, he sat me down at the kitchen table. And he said, Nick, you know, you’re not just gonna go out there and mow these lawns. This is exactly how it’s going to work. He showed me how a profit and loss statement works. He showed me what expenses I would incur, showed me what I would be charging. We did the math on you know, if it takes me this long, this will be my hourly rate. As a business owner, if I can do it faster, it’ll take me a little bit, you know, my hourly rate will go up. And next thing I know, I was full on headfirst into a lawn care company in the 95 degree, July heat in southern Indiana as a 13 year old and it was, you know, I was in the deep end.
Clint Murphy 02:02
And how long would you say you did that? Did you just do that that summer for the person while they were recovering? Or did that become a business that you ran during the summers before you went off to college?
Nick Huber 02:15
The guy didn’t ever come back, he retired, he moved to Florida, it was a happy ending for the person who was mowing the grass before me. But I ended up you know, building a bigger book of clients. And by the time I was a senior year, and you know, senior in high school, I had, you know, 30 hours a week of mowing, and I was, you know, doing sports and trying to graduate and trying to have a little bit of fun as well. And it was just an amazing learning experience. I ended up hiring because I was only 13, so for three years, I had to hire somebody to come and drive me to town. So I was the boss as a 13 year old paying an 18 year old senior at my high school to show up at my house, get in my truck, drive my truck, my trailer, my mowers into town, I was getting home from these jobs as a 14 year old and I would be going to the computer and and creating the bills and faxing them to the office so that I could get paid and get my checks in the mail. So it was a crash course in entrepreneurship. And it didn’t come without its hardships. I mean, doing that stuff as a 13 year old. I was barely mentally capable. I mean, the first day, I cried, I threw fits. I said I don’t want to do this anymore. I want to quit. But when I got that very first paycheck, my dad didn’t let me quit. He showed up on the side of the road, he put it put a cold towel around my neck, said, Nick, you know, you can stop this, but you got to do it for the rest of the summer. It’s July the grass is gonna grow from the three months you gotta do the rest of summer. We made a commitment, you made a commitment, it’ll be worth it for you. We’re going to do this. And he sent me back out on the mower, kind of coached me through those first couple of weeks, I got a bit better, got a bit more help. And it was just a blessing. I mean, I went to college, knowing how to manage people in a very small scale, but feeling comfortable being a boss, and also, you know, I had 40 grand in my checking account when I went to college, which was a lot more than my friends. You know, not a lot of folks my age could say.
Clint Murphy 04:02
You have most ended up in student debt, which is a travesty that they almost never pay out of and I know that’s something you talk about a fair bit. Your first day, there’s a little bit of litter on the grass. Young Nick decides I’m just going straight over it. What was that conversation with your dad like what he saw what you did?
Nick Huber 04:21
He drove me the first day said I’m gonna charge you $10 an hour for my time to drive. I’m gonna drive you to town to drop you. I’m gonna park the truck and then I’m gonna go about my day. He dropped me in the truck trailer off it was 95 degrees and he went to work. He comes back an hour later. And I was halfway through the very first big lawn but I was just mowing, I didn’t pick up any of the garbage first. When you’re talking about a shopping center. This is where the movie theater was, there was a a little you know, clothing store next door ,tire shop after that. This was a high traffic area, a lot of litter and there was 3 or 400 pieces of trash in the yard when I started and when I was halfway through after mowing with a 50 degree you know zero turn mower there was 300,000 pieces of litter because I had just chopped it all up into pieces. And it obviously you can’t just leave that there. So then I had to spend, you know, probably two hours picking up all the chopped up litter. It was a disaster, I was crying, I was upset, it was hot, I was overheated. And that’s when my father came in, put his arm around me and said, you know, you’re not allowed to quit. You can stop at the end of this year. And you can never do this again if you don’t want to. But right now where we are right now you’re not allowed to quit this, like, get in the car. We’ll put some put some ice on yah. We’ll cool you down. I know you’re upset. I’ll help you he babied me along. But he didn’t let me quit. And that was a I’m thankful for that.
Clint Murphy 05:37
And so we’re gonna get to Twitter later. But Sweaty Startup for you that really started right there at 13 years old. That was your first sweaty startup. Does that tie into where that name eventually came?
Nick Huber 05:50
Absolutely. I think we live in a day and age now where I look at, I’m a father, I have a son who’s about to turn six years old. Another one, that’s three or four just turned four. And I see a lot of the way parents treat 10, 12, 14 year old kids nowadays. And it was pretty radical what he did, like putting me out on that mower as a 13 year old. It was radical, I got a leaf blower I was 110 pounds. I was you know, five foot six. I couldn’t see over the dash when these folks were driving me around or no, I wasn’t I was five foot like 4’11. You know what I mean? So this is a pretty radical approach to parenting. And a lot of folks nowadays would look down on that and shame that and say, you know, why would I ever put my child through that, you know, traumatic experience. And it’s just, I’m thankful like, that’s how I want to raise my kids, I don’t want to raise kids who are 13 years old, sitting in their room playing video games all day nonstop, have never worked a job that’s 95% of 13 year olds, I want to teach my kids how to work. And so I was sweating from a young age. And I think that kind of stuck with me. And I realized pretty quickly that if you’re willing to do some of that uncomfortable stuff, if you’re willing to get sweaty, if you’re willing to not maybe do what’s fun and what you’re passionate about and you want to you know, go get excited about making little bit of money. Amazing things can happen when you do that and have that mindset for 10-15 years.
Clint Murphy 07:13
And we’ll fast forward. You mentioned training for sports and getting ready for college. You went to Cornell for track. What events were you training in and or running at at Cornell? And what was your training program like in high school that you’re running this business, you’re doing well enough in school that you’re getting into Cornell because they’re not taking you in just for sports, you have to be getting good grades, too. And you’re training in athletics so that you can make the team. What did that look like, Nick?
Nick Huber 07:49
I had a very well balanced high school athletic journey. Today. I feel like kids are at you know, travel, travel baseball, travel basketball camps, you know, summer teams, school teams, you know, pre workout, all these things all year long, and they kind of stick to one sport, and it’s nonstop and overload. And for me, it wasn’t that way, I dabbled with football, I played baseball, I played basketball, I had a lot of fun with high school basketball. And when basketball season was over, I’d start you know, getting ready for track. And I would do that. And track is one of the there’s kind of two sports that you can get away with just kind of some natural ability. One of them is football and one’s track. You see, there’s a lot of stories of folks who didn’t pick up and even start playing football until they were in you know, towards the end of high school and still became a professional football player. You don’t hear those stories in golf or basketball because they’re more dexterity, more fundamentals, more skills that you need to learn. With track and field, I could go out there and run for an hour and a half. And that’s about all I could do. Like you can’t train your legs too much or you’re gonna get injured. So I, you know, worked on track and field for an hour and a half, two months a year and I was just gifted with a body that could run fast and I ran fast and got accepted to Cornell, went to Cornell and I chose Cornell partly because I didn’t I knew that you know athletics wasn’t going to be in the game for me. I looked at all the folks who were trying to become pro athletes and realize that that’s not a it’s not a sustainable lifestyle. Once you graduate college I wanted to pick a really good school. Go there have a balanced experience at school. And also it was Ivy League track it wasn’t SEC, or big 10 track where you have 6am workouts, then you got you from one to three and then practice from four to eight. It was alright schools first Cornell we want you guys to become you know high powered people in your careers. We don’t necessarily, you know, focus 100% on Track and Field. Went there had a great balanced experience and an hour and a half running each day and had a lot of success. But in high school I did hurdles, 400 meter dash and some sprints, high jump. In college I expanded and learned to pole vault, javelin discuss, shotput and became a decathlete.
Clint Murphy 09:57
Yeah, as soon as you started adding the other three it was like oh, you went full on decathlete that’s I mean you’re not giving yourself enough credit for being a well rounded athlete when you end with I was a Ivy League decathlete, love that
Nick Huber 10:13
The decathlon is interesting because if the best athletes in the world did decathlon. I’m talking about you know the folks LeBron James and Usain Bolt and some of these other people. If those caliber of athletes trained for decathlon, little Nick Huber would not be able to compete. I had some success in the hurdles, I won a couple Ivy leagyue championships in the hurdles, the 400 meter dash, I could compete in the high jump, but I was never going to be a national caliber top 10 in the nation hurdler. Was not fast enough. But if you put me in the decathlon where, okay, there’s only 100 people each year that actually complete the decathlon in the whole college, all college athletics, there’s maybe 200 decathletes in the entire system. So that’s I just looked at to say, hey, where is it? Where can I go? Where the competition is the least? Like, where can I go where all the good athletes are doing their individual sport, individual events, I can be the one who I’m not really a master of anything, but I’m a jack of all trades, I can, you know, kind of just take the path of least resistance and I end up doing decathlon and I succeeded, went to the USA championships top, you know, I think I got 11th in the USA championships and was really close to making the Olympic trials.
Clint Murphy 11:23
And Nick, when you talk about it that way, there’s an element of, let’s say, in demand skills versus rare skills. And when you went for decathlon, you’re looking at rare skills. You know, we’ll talk later probably about what people tell young kids and how most of it’s bullshit, you know, they tell them to go after the in demand jobs. And then arbitrage makes them worth nothing. But when you look at the rare skills, you’re on Twitter, you’re learning to be a writer, you have your podcast, you’re a public speaker, you’re raising money through all these channels, you’re doing your real estate business. So you might not be number one in any of them.
Nick Huber 12:04
you want to go, the biggest rare skill of them all is delegation. where in the world are we taught or encouraged to delegate. All the way through to high school 12th grade, we’re never ever, ever taught by our teacher to say, hey, see if you can get somebody else to do this paper for you in fewer hours than you that I want you to do this for, you know, see if you can figure out so you can get somebody else to do the studying and get your you know, your proofs correct for your geometry class, that does not happen. So if you think about the people who move on into their careers, and they’re really good at doing everything right in high school, and in college, they become people who are really good at one thing in the workforce, whether it be software development, you know, it’s in demand skills, just like you said, and one that’s very rare, is delegation, because leading other people and telling other people what to do, is not taught and not practiced by anybody until you know, they’re kind of thrown to the fire.
Clint Murphy 12:58
Yeah, and it’s surprisingly very hard to train that into certain people, especially as they age. And I know we’re going to talk about that later as one of the biggest challenges we have in business. So we’re at Cornell, and you’re gonna go home for I think it’s your first summer break, and you stumble on your second sweaty startup, totally by accident. Can you bring us through how Storage Squad gets started?
Nick Huber 13:31
Yep, it’s the end of junior year. So we’re, we’ve done a couple of summers, Junior year is coming around. I have an apartment for lease on Craigslist because I’m going back home to Indiana for the summer. And like everybody else in my college town, they also wasted their lease, you know, listed their apartment for lease because their 12 month leases we only need nine months. And nobody reached out to the lease my apartment. The town was full of empty apartments because all the kids vacated. I ended up finding somebody through an ad, they reached out to me about my empty apartment. Hey, can I put my stuff in your apartment? I said, okay, well, nobody’s gonna lease it. So I’ll go pick up your stuff. I made a deal with this mother who had a kid and one of the dorms. I went up to the kid’s room, I put his entire dorm room in my car, drove it to my room and put in the corner of my room. At that point, and I charged her 200 bucks for the summer for all that stuff. I drove there in my Cadillac Deville 1999 to pick it up. I then realized I could not lease my apartment. No longer can I lease this apartment. I gotta fill it up with stuff now. So then I made ads for you know, people’s stuff and I went to the, you know, the frat meetings towards the end of the year I went to the, you know, Panhellenic clinics for the sororities I sent an email to all the listservs for my track team and everybody else and before and I put flyers all over the dorms and went up and slipped flyers under the doors. And after about three days of nonstop blitzkrieg marketing, my phone was ringing off the hook of people who wanted me to drive around to pick up their stuff to put it in my in my apartment. A couple of days later, my apartment’s full shut the door, lock it. My roommate’s apartment, he was going back to California for the summer. His apartment was full, shut the door, lock it. The two apartments downstairs in my house, both full, shut the door, lock it. I’m out of room, my whole apartments full. But the next year in three months, my lease starts at a new a new place and college town. That’s where my business partner today, Dan Hagberg was living. I called him up and said, Hey, Dan, you want to partner on this thing with me? I got way too many people calling. You have a big car as well. He had a 1995 Buick LeSabre, I had a 99 Nine Cadillac DeVille. And he’s like, Yeah, this sounds awesome. So while everybody else is partying, partying after finals week, and you know, getting ready for the Ivy League track and field championships, Dan and I are driving around in our cars picking up stuff. And again, a six bedroom apartment, we filled every room full of stuff, we filled the basement full of stuff. It was a whirlwind two week experience, from idea to end of the pickup season was two weeks. In that time, I had a 50% partner now, Dan Hagberg, and I had $3,500 in cash sitting on the bed. And we had 45 people who, you know, actually, we probably had six grand in cash, but 45 people with boxes and stuff all over both of our apartments
Clint Murphy 16:06
And one of the interesting things that always is a challenge you see with people is they don’t start. So they they noodle ideas forever and don’t press go. So what was it about that first call that told you, hey, wait a second, it’s going to be way more profitable for me to just store people’s crap in these apartments, as opposed to subletting it? Like what was that switch that told you that? And then you you must have been pressing go almost immediately.
Nick Huber 16:38
I think the there’s a lot of people that get small opportunities in an email inbox. And I got a small opportunity an email inbox and said, Hey, I don’t want to rent your apartment. It said that in the subject line, I don’t want to rent your apartment. And below it, it said I want to store my stuff in your apartment. But you need to come and pick it up. Would you be willing to do that for some extra cash? What percentage of college students, their junior year, when they’re on a sports team, when they’re studying for finals, when they have a girlfriend, when they got friends they want to go and party with, how many of them would actually drop what they’re doing, and go sweat for two hours to get that stuff picked up and put in their room? I’ll say at Cornell University 5% of people would do that would answer that email. I got I didn’t only answer the email, I got excited about it. I said, Hey, here’s a little opportunity, I’m going to get excited about it. And then, you know, okay, so let’s fast forward, what percentage of people when you get this stuff in your apartment, and it was really sweaty, it was really hard and it’s in the corner and you made your 200 bucks. How many people would take that 200 bucks and go spend it on food or beer or a night out or whatever, and forget about it and never do anything else with it again. I think that’s another like of the people who pick it up. Maybe 10% would want to go out and do more stuff. I don’t know what it was that clicked in my mind. But I was excited about it. And my friends literally made fun of me. Like, what the hell are you doing? Why are you doing this? This doesn’t make any sense. You’re running around picking up people stuff. A year later, we had a cargo van we bought for $1,500 on Craigslist, people were calling us insane, that we were excited about this. There was nothing exciting about this opportunity for most people. Most people, even the ones who consider themselves entrepreneurs, they were excited about scalable businesses. They were excited about new ideas, tech startup, they’re watching Shark Tank, they were doing all these things that were the other other end of the spectrum of entrepreneurship. I was doing the sweaty startup entrepreneurship. I don’t know what it was, but I was just I had the energy. I had the excitement about it.
Clint Murphy 18:28
So let’s dive into a couple things on that one is all these other people in your classes. And I believe you took a class on entrepreneurship, if I’m not mistaken. And all these people are talking about tech startups or new idea companies. And you fast forward, Nick, you must be 12-13 years out of college roughly. And most of them are just working day jobs, regular jobs, and you’re still going in entrepreneurial journey number 3, 4, 5,6, 7, I think we’re probably at 10 or 11. Now, why did they all die out? Versus you keep going with the sweaty startup versus all these tech wannabes we’ll say,
Nick Huber 19:14
Yeah, I’ll take you back to that class. So after junior year, we had picked up the stuff and me and my business partner said okay, look, we’re gonna have to go big at this because our friends are getting jobs in New York City for 70-80 grand a year. Like we gotta go big, we got to take a little bit of a risk or opportunity cost is huge to continue the student storage business model. So we said if we don’t get 250 customers, we’re gonna give this up. Let’s go big. So the next year, we had already signed up for some classes, we dropped some we added some we started taking we took an entrepreneurship classes, the first semester of senior year. First day of the class, they’re like, Okay, everybody bring in their business idea. And we’re gonna, you know, the next week, we’re gonna have a little round robin pitch, everybody’s gonna step up in front of the room. We’re gonna give our business idea and we’re gonna spend a whole semester working on it. That’s the exact curriculum of every single entrepreneurship class in America. Think of an idea. Spend the rest of semester working on the idea. Well, all 30 kids stood up in front of the room and gave their pitch. And it was apps, it was, you know, a camera video thing that can identify plants, it was all these different, you know, scalable tech startups, revolutionize a new social media platform, you know, with clips of this or that, or like a collaborative tool online where we can scale to millions of users. Every single idea was like that. Every single one except for mine. And mine was, hey, I’m going to pick up and store boxes, and I did not win the pitch competition. The professor asked me and grilled me in front of everybody said, What’s your moat? How are you know, how are you going to scale this? What’s you know, what’s the next, you know? What are you going to do? If you raise venture capital? What’s what’s the plan? What are you gonna do differently than the three companies at Cornell that already doing this, they’re already doing it. And I stood up there and said, I don’t have a moat. I’m looking at how these companies do it. And I don’t think they’re doing it very well. And look, I don’t need and the last thing is, I don’t need all the money, like these companies here in town are making a half million dollars a year doing this business, I only need 150 to be happy. And then they kind of just like, oh, okay, here we go. That was my entrepreneur, class experience, of Nick, no way your ideas gonna work, you need to think of something more scalable, and you need a moat. Fast forward, 10 years from now, all those folks, most of them didn’t even really want to start those jobs, they were just taking the class for fun. They went and got jobs, but the people who actually did try to start the new, you know, new idea, tech startup stuff. Turns out that stuff really hard. Turns out educating the markets really hard. It turns out, raising cash is really hard. It turns out, you know, a new idea, a brand new idea that’s never been thought of before and has never worked before the turns out, the odds are low, and that your risk is high that that probably won’t work. So most of those folks have jobs now. And what they didn’t really understand is that entrepreneurship is kind of about momentum. In order to start a company, you really need, you need some things, you need some cash, you need some skills, some ability to actually run a company, and you need a network of people around you who can work with. A college student has none of those three things. So instead of sort of trying to dive in with a big world changing idea where I need all three of those, and I don’t have any, I said, Okay, I’m gonna start a company with a little bit of cash, I’m gonna build those three things, I’m going to build some cash, let’s save up some cash, I’m going to build my skills, I’m gonna build my ability to run a company, my ability to hire people delegate, do all these really you know hard things. And lastly, I’m gonna build a network, I’m gonna become an expert at something, I’m gonna become a resource that other people want to know me through or think I’m, you know, I’m a worthwhile person in their hub of people they invest time in so that I can add value to their life. So as business goes, and as the years went by, the decisions just kept getting higher stakes and the, you know, opportunities kept getting bigger. And yeah, we didn’t, we still don’t, we don’t still run that moving and storage company. That is indeed they were correct. It was not scalable. It was not easy. And it was, you know, not sexy. It was a classic sweaty startup. But guess what, that company put 500 grand in my bank account, by the time I was 25 years old. We use that to invest in build a self storage facility, we built it for $2.9 million, it’s worth over $10 million today. That is a life changing amount of money. And then we kind of kept that snowball rolling down. And we bought more self storage facilities. Now we have 63 of them. We have a company of 45 people buying and managing self storage facilities. We have we sold that company that we had started for seven figures, we had zero debt on it. So it was a life changing amount of money when we sold that business almost three years ago. And here we are today doing bigger, more exciting, more scalable, more fun, more fun things. So but they don’t understand that business is about momentum. If you don’t have those three things, the network, the capital and the ability, the experience, the operational chops. It’s really, really, really hard to make money in entrepreneurship.
Clint Murphy 23:51
So what you are almost looking at that business for was this will be a training ground for future businesses that I will do. This isn’t necessarily and you might not have known this yet, or you might have this is not the business, this is a business that will teach me for when I get to the business, or the business is.
Nick Huber 24:16
I didn’t know that at the time. I had big plans. I had big energy. I thought that that business was going to make me a wealthy man. But it turns out that me being excited about something that not very many people were excited about and me being you know, excited to go after all this hard, sweaty work. It was a training ground and it brought me the things that I needed the skills and the cash to go and do bigger and better things. Absolutely right.
Clint Murphy 24:39
And Nick, Nick, what did you end up majoring in?
Nick Huber 24:42
I majored in exactly what the track coach told me he could get me into college for he said he had a spot and industrial labor relations at Cornell. I said I don’t know what that stands for, but I’m in.
Clint Murphy 24:52
Labor relations was never what I would have thought that you majored in. Just make Is all of the tweets that much better now that now that I know that Nick, I love it.
Nick Huber 25:05
All my classmates, I mean, the labor relations school at Cornell was invented, brought in a built in 19, after the 1935 Wagner Act, which gave employees the right to unionize. So in 1935, these unions started taking over American industry. In the end, the economy didn’t know what to do. The government didn’t know what to do. Nobody knew the Wagner Act. Nobody knew how unions can work. So they had to train people on the unions. So they invented, they put together the state school inside of Cornell called ILR, industrial labor relations. And it trains people how to deal with labor law, basically, and a lot of people go to law school, and a lot of people go to HR, and then another 30 40%, just do random things, whatever. But yeah, it’s a it’s a great curriculum. It’s a great baseline with econ, and, you know, labor relations. And then you you build on that. And as we know, kind of college degrees are a lot less about what you actuallylearn and study and a lot more about who you meet and how you grow as an individual and learning to sell yourself and your ideas to other people.
Clint Murphy 26:05
And while you were there. While you’re running Storage Squad, you had the idea of the Self Storage business that you talked about there. For a couple of years, though, you wanted to build a site. But the biggest challenge early was coming up with the cash. And I believe I read you said it took you one and a half years of pestering friends family, the network, because what we haven’t when we talked about growing up in Indiana, we didn’t we didn’t necessarily say hey, Nick grew up, middle class family. So you’re not coming. You’re not coming from a wealth of money. You’re coming from a set of parents who taught you some of the lessons of entrepreneurship, but didn’t necessarily have the cash to say, well, here you go, son start the business. And so you spent a year and a half raising the money. What were some of the lessons you learned on on that journey that have served you throughout the rest of your entrepreneurial journey, Nick,
Nick Huber 27:04
Looking back, I didn’t get enough advice from people who had done that before. I was arrogant. I was excited. I was I thought the world was simple. And I thought I knew everything. So I didn’t get advice from real estate, private equity folks. I didn’t get any advice from self storage people. I invented my own little structure. Me and Dan did our own a ton of research to try to figure out where to build a self storage facility. We found a site in upstate New York. We were about to break ground, but we needed a half million dollars of outside investment. And yeah, my dad worked for a developer, my mom was a school nurse. Our entire county, Perry County, Indiana has, you know, 8000 people in poverty and a lot of a lot of areas of our county. There’s no Country Club in the in the county. And I had to scrounge to find that money. And it was me abusing my father’s network. Hey, Dad, who do you know that I can go sit at their table and go ask them for cash. It was all my dad’s friends. You know, from three hours around from Indianapolis to Louisville to Evansville, I was driving around sitting at tables trying to raise the money for that first deal. 100 visits later, I finally found four people that actually had the cash, including talking the realtor who sold us the property to build our first building in upstate New York, talking him into stroking S125,000 check, which was the last bit of money we needed. We had already broke ground, talking him into stroking that last bit of money into the deal. So we could actually get it finished.
Clint Murphy 28:29
And so then you start construction, you’re estimating 1.9 And as we all know, in general, 50% over budget, you weren’t quite 50%. But you’re 500 grand over budget. So now you have to go back to these people who you worked your ass off for one and a half years to get your original money, your original half million. Now you basically have to go back for a second half million. What did that look like for you?
Nick Huber 28:55
I remember the conference call that I had, because everybody was spread out. We had a couple of investors in southern Indiana, one in St. Louis, one in Indianapolis. And I had a conference call and said, hey,his is not going well. Like I’ll be frank, it’s my fault. I have no idea what I’m doing. Our $1.9 million budget is out the window, we’re going to spend $2.4 million to get this thing built. And I had to go back to them all and ask him for another you know 40% of what they had originally invested which is a massive chunk of money and an uncomfortable amount for looking back at the people that I was raising the money from one of which was my father. He had to take a mortgage out on our on our childhood home to finish his investment in this deal, which I didn’t know that until five years later. Super, super stressful situation. Got the property actually built, got it open. And then our operational chops like I was talking about our ability to operate a company took over and once we got the thing open, it started going really well. We started leasing a lot of units, started growing, it became cashflow positive a year and a half after we opened it and we bought the property across the street to finish out the deal for another 500 grand. So we’re all in for $2.9 million on that deal. And we just started fill it up slowly 30%, occupancy, 40%, occupancy, 50%, occupancy, 55% occupancy. Then in the summer of 2019, we’re like, we went back to the bank and said, this thing is printing cash. We want to do a refinance, we think it’s worth about $5 million. So sure enough, we got it appraised. It was generating about $400,000 of net operating income per year, which is a lot, we’re covering the debt service for spitting off a lot of cash to our investors. The property at this point we know is already going to be a success. Go back to the bank and say hey, we need to get this thing reappraised we want to put some longer term debt on it. And we want to just sit on it. Get it reappraised, $5.2 million, pull out, you know, $3.2 million of straight cash, all the investors get all their initial investment back, me and Dan, get a big chunk of cash as well. And the rest is history. We use that cash from the refinance to buy a couple more properties and continue to grow from there.
Clint Murphy 30:57
And that still, conservatively that rings around a seven and a half percent cap rate – is that is that roughly what the refi that would have? Yeah, so that’s, that’s still still conservative, that’s still a conservative number that I imagine would have driven down even further through COVID. But but we’ll get to cap rates and COVID and what that did to your business in a bit. At the time, so you’re saying that’s late 2019. Now you’re coming into 2020. And we’re coming into COVID. And at the time, you’re building the Self Storage business, but you’re still running Storage Squad until you decide you’re not and you got to get out of Storage Squad, what was the straw that broke the camel’s back that said, hey, we got to let go of this, we got to let go of what we were building that was our baby. And we have to go all in on this. What happened there?
Nick Huber 31:50
when we did that refinance in 2019, we had seven figures put into our bank account. Me and Dan, were sitting back there on that night that it happened. And we’re having a couple of beers. And it’s kind of a celebratory night, because we were it was a very stressful project. And now it was like de risked and it was in a better better spot. And we said, and it just hit us, we’re like, oh, my God, this self storage project. This was a side project. This this project, even though it was stressful, even though is a new development. This has been 20% of our work, 20% of our energy and 20% of our stress for the last three years of our lives. And it has just generated more cash in one go than we ever have ever generated in a two year span, let alone a you know, a three month span when when it all went down. This is a better business. This is a fundamentally better business than part time employees running around college towns, we’re in 12 states, we’re at 25 colleges, we’re doing 14 different locations, we have 300 part time employees at times, it’s an it’s an insane company that we were running, and we’re getting good at it, and we’re making money, that was fine. But we just done the side project, just this little side project, we built this self storage facility and made millions of dollars. And we looked at each other and said, This is the future, we’re gonna sell this company. And he said, yes, we’re gonna sell this company, and we went to bed that night, knowing that Storage Squad needed to be sold. So that we could focus on building a real estate company.
Clint Murphy 33:20
Love it. And I always say not enough people understand the power of a real estate business, in the fullness of time, given leverage, inflation, immigration, etc, etc, we can we can keep going down the list. But you realized that pretty young, I love that. Let’s go away from business for a bit. And then we’ll go to something that ultimately became the biggest driver of your business for you. And so let’s spend a little time on social media. You started your Twitter account somewhere around 2018. But where I think you really blew up, if I’m not mistaken, is in the 2020 range with the original, the original game of what later was referred to as the as the thread boys. So what prompted you to say, Hey, I’m gonna go on Twitter, and I’m going to use it as a tool to start building a bit of a future or was it just for fun at first?
Nick Huber 34:25
So in 2018, before this, you know, this self storage building was open. We were running our students storage company, we were starting to accumulate some net worth, some resources. I started the Sweaty StartUp podcast at first .I was I was talking about the podcast on Reddit. And I secured the sweaty startup real estate or the sweaty startup twitter handle at that time, but I didn’t tweet. There’s no tweets on Twitter until late 2019. And I got serious about early 2020 A couple of months before COVID hit. But I was recording I was doing a mentorship called my brother who was starting a lawn care company and a landscaping company while he was in college, and I was like, I just need to record some of this some of these thoughts I would, I’d be really interested to hear myself later on. Starting these thoughts. I was also into podcasts at the time people recording podcast, I’m like, I’m gonna start a podcast, I got really excited about it. Like I do everything. And I record a podcast every week for a year in 2018. And nobody listened. Nobody listened, I was getting less than 20 downloads per episode. For the whole first year that I was doing the Sweaty StartUp podcast, it was on small business management. And I go back and listen, my first episodes are quite funny. But at the time, I was trying to drive traffic to my podcasts, someway, somehow, I had no idea how I’m just giving lit releasing this podcast into the into the oblivion. So I found the entrepreneurship community on Reddit. I started posting there, I made friends with a couple of mods. And while many, many people roasted and hated on sweaty startup on Reddit, just as they do here on Twitter, a couple of people reached out to me and I made a couple of relationships through through that Reddit group, one being Michel Baldrige, who was my CPA and business partner now. And another one being Moses Kagan, who at the time, was active on Twitter and was tweeting me, Moses followed me and started, you know, reaching out to me every now and then he called me out of the blue one day, and I knew that Moses was a successful real estate investor, and I’m like, wow, how is this guy calling me? He was five years ahead of me on my career journey. And he called me and said, Nick, you gotta get on Twitter. Like these people on Reddit. They don’t understand. They’re not in the trenches, they’re not doing business. They’re hanging out in their parents basements, you got to come over to Twitter. That’s where the dealmakers are. And I said no way, Moses, Twitter’s where people get angry about Donald Trump. That is, that is not a place where I want to be, I don’t want to hang out on Twitter. There’s nothing good that happens there. So I ignored him, and I did not listen. Six months later, he calls me again, said, Nick, you’re writing too well, you’re doing bigger things, you need to come to Twitter, come over, make a post. I’ll try to get you a couple followers. And let’s just see what you can do on Twitter. This time I listen, I’m still thankful to this day that he called me a second time, that Moses called me a second time took it out his time. Even though I ignored his advice the first time he called me back to get on Twitter. I got on Twitter and made a deal breakdown, full deal breakdown on one of my self storage facilities, profit and loss statements, how we, you know, the occupancy reports, all the things about our storage facility, I posted it, Moses retweeted it with a comment and said Nick would be a worthy follow. Moses had about 3000 followers at the time. And then boom, I had 350 engaged followers later that day. And that’s when I was hooked. And I was building and people were DMing me. And I was starting to meet people with cash, who wanted to invest in storage deals, and they were real humans. And I could look them up on LinkedIn. And they were actually building businesses instead of just anonymous seven letter accounts on Reddit who were just meaner than a snake, right? People on Twitter, were in the trenches, they were building companies. And I stopped posting on Reddit, and I started posting on Twitter, like the next day.
Clint Murphy 37:49
I always hear people who say, you know, it’s a toxic place, it’s … it’s, Hey, you curate your own feed. Like, it’s only toxic. If you’re toxic. It’s the place where you you can meet business partners, you learn from some of the best at what they do. It’s an absolutely gem of a place. So let’s fast forward, not all the way to today. 2021, you write, that at that time, and I know this is probably 10x now relative to then you write, I wouldn’t sell my Twitter account for under a million. In fact, it would have to be a number much bigger than that. I’ve generated a million dollars in or I think it was $900,000 in income this year from consulting, affiliate income, sponsorships down the list. And later, I’ve heard you write that you in that timeframe, the last few years, you raised about 40 million of outsider money, 90% of it in the Twitter DMs, like that blew my mind when I heard that first podcast blown away. So when you look at that, can you take us back to now that’s only a year and a half after you finally listened to Moses and got active. So what was it that turned it from hey, yeah, like I’m making some connections to holy it, this is changing my life.
Nick Huber 39:22
That was happening from the very beginning on Twitter, just nobody, nobody knew. I was in the DMS talking to a guy who is now our largest LP. This is like my, I had less than 1000 followers, like people think, oh, if I’m really gonna get serious about Twitter, I need 300,000 followers like Nick has its supercharging his career. My life changed when I had 1000 followers on Twitter, because they were the right followers. They were the people in the trenches, they were the investors, they had capital, they had opportunity. And they saw something unique. They got a live feed of my brain. They started to trust Nick Huber because they got a live feed of what I think about all day long. So in the DMs I started to build relationships with frankly, just badasses, like people who people who kill it at life and business. So yeah, but by the time 2021 came around, I got, what, 10,000 followers or so. And the snowball was rolling down the hill. And that’s when I had met a lot of investors and added, you know, $10 million to my future net worth with just the real estate that I had bought with those investors and over the previous year, and then, you know, it’s only accelerated from there to mind blowing levels. So it’s been, yeah, you somebody could say, Nick, I’ll give you $10 million tax free right now free to never tweet again. And I would say no, no way, that number would need to be $50 million or more.
Clint Murphy 40:44
Yeah, fully aligned on that. So one of the things you quickly realized, and maybe not quickly, and I love this was in 2021, you make $900,000. A decent chunk of that is affiliate income, and something you’ve written recently, and we’re gonna get into all the businesses that that you you’ve started with, with your Twitter account, and the various guys, I love how you’ve got them all to set up the accounts, Nick, that didn’t go unnoticed. The Cost Segregation guy, that’s a fun one. So let’s take a step back, though. So you’re doing affiliate for Shepherd, and for those who don’t know, Shepherd, offshore personnel, for your business, so you can have someone working in Philippines, Latin America, etc. And you’re an affiliate for them and you’re drivinga ton of cash. When did the flip switch ,the switch flip? That no no, I’m not affiliating for anyone anymore. I’m only talking about your shit if I have a piece of it. And what gave you the courage to either pick up the phone or fly down to the Philippines, meet with your eventual partner and say, hey, I gotta have a piece. Or I’m out. And what did that look like for you on the first one?
Nick Huber 42:05
Yeah, so the amount of learning from Twitter was also phenomenal. And I learned about the fact that hey, I could potentially hire an employee that works for my storage company that is $5 sn hour instead of $25 an hour and they’re in the Philippines, and this company, Marshall Haas, the founder, he lives in Houston, he called me and said, Hey, Nick, I want to get you some employees. And then I want to do an affiliate deal with you. And I went in, and I hired three employees in the Philippines through Support Shepard, and it blew my mind. They’re still on my team today. They’re phenomenal assets. And it has changed my business. I mean, 75% of my hiring now to this day is through Shepherd in Latin America, and the Philippines, across all my companies, we’re talking to hundreds of employees. So I was blown away by the company. And I started, I made a deal with Marshall to start tweeting about the company and say, Hey, anybody who says they found out about Shepherd through Nick, you give me 15% of revenue that comes from those customers. Well, that was in April 2021. And the company was doing 30 to 50 grand a month, it was growing fast, a lot of word of mouth. And I started tweeting about Shepard and tweeting about hey, this is changing my life. Hey, you guys gotta get on to this. This is crazy. You can hire people in the Philippines for exponentially less than Americans. And they’re harder workers. They’re amazing. Well, you fast forward a year of me affiliating. I’m making 30 grand a month from doing the affiliate deal. But the revenue for Shepherd has grown from 40 grand a month to $250,000 a month, the company has the company’s 7X’ed. Not all of its from me, I mean, 50% of the customers that come through Shepherd are returned customers that are coming back for another hire. But still, growth was happening at a massive scale in my Twitter was a big part of it, where they weren’t doing a lot of paid marketing of any kind. So that’s when I was Shepherd, Marshall called him up, I still never met Marshall in person, I’ve been a business partner. Now with him for over two years, he was in Houston, Texas, call them say, Hey, man, look, I need to own part of Support Shepherd, I need to own part of it, or I’m going to like there’ll be no hard feelings, we can part ways. And I’m gonna go start a company like Shepherd. And he said, and he played like, he played ball with me. And I ended up owning, and after some negotiation buying in 15% of Marshalls company Support Shepherd, fast forward a year, again, to today or to earlier this year, and the company had 5X’ed again, you know, we’re on pace to, by the end of the year be doing, you know, hundreds of placements a month, and nearly a million dollars of revenue per month at that company. It’s a big team. And, yeah, that from there, it kind of let me know that I’d never need to blow up somebody’s company, again with a traffic from my Twitter account unless I have some equity.
Clint Murphy 44:53
And when you say 5X’ed again, Shawn, from my first million bought in just in this last year, so it’s not hypothetical, the evaluation he bought in would roughly be four to 5x what you bought in back in the day, so you’re looking at that and saying I’ve already got a five bagger on that investment, which is wonderful. So while we’re on Shepherd, I’m going to read one of your tweets. And which comes out probably every three to four months, which I love. You know, the the trolls don’t even realize that. And the listeners may realize why I chuckled when you told me that it was Labor Relations is the the major that you had. So you know which one is coming here, I think. So this is the one I’m pulling up December 20, 2022. You have 3500 likes on it. 1600 retweets, I can imagine you probably have hundreds of quote retweets, it’s well over a million impressions. Yeah, well over a million people see these. 2.4 million people saw this, 876 comments. That’s the fun part. And you probably wait till you have about 100 comments before you drop the shepherd link below and generate a ton of business from it. So we’re going to talk about that technique that you use there, because you write, my company will weather this economic recession for one main reason, 50% of our employees are located in the Philippines and earn 10,000 a year, on average, you throw in brackets just because it’s this is technique, you’re twisting the knife, as we like to call it, you put $5 an hour. And then you go the next line, no employment taxes, no workers comp, no health care. And then the fun part, also loyal, hardworking, kind team members. And that’s the tweet and you know, when you write this, all right, the fires coming. I’m just going to drop my link, you probably engaged for a period of time and then say, Okay, I’m going to put that away and go spend time with my family. Because otherwise, I’ll have a bit of a mental breakdown at these crackpots who are coming out and just flaming me all day long. So take us through, because we’re having a conversation here in you know, the first time I saw that tweet, even as a pretty pro capitalist driven guy. Like, I was like, oh, this is a bit of a like, I’m not sure about this one. And then I hear you on the first podcast. And I’m like, wow, it’s a very well spoken, thoughtful, deep guy. Okay, this was purposeful. This was marketing. So can you take us through the thought process when you write that tweet in what you realized it’s going to do and so why you’re so comfortable courting controversy as one of your avenues of growing these businesses.
Nick Huber 47:40
So comedians, comedians make a living by drawing attention to the nuance of the world, and saying the quiet part out loud. And a lot of time, it doesn’t quite make a lot of sense. And that’s why comedians are funny. This is no different. I mean, I’m just saying the quiet part out loud. That is the strategy of 499 of the Fortune 500 companies in America. The iPhone that I have right here, my Mac, this camera, this microphone, it was all assembled. All of it was assembled by people who make less than $5 an hour, everybody. I mean, you call Geico, customer service rep you get is going to be making $5 an hour, you call any customer service for any major company, give me $5 an hour employees. This is the way the world works. But just people don’t know it. People don’t know how it works. People don’t know that when they buy an iPhone, it was assembled in Bangladesh for actually like less than $2 an hour. The part that is kind of crazy is that small business owners don’t know. Small business owners don’t know that the massive corporations are doing this outsourcing labor because there’s massive arbitrage. And they don’t know that it’s option that it’s available to them. I’m in the camp that hey, there’s tons of work to be done in America, the people in America are not able to do it all. So let’s get as much of it as we possibly can off of our plate so that we can have more do more fun stuff. But yes, that tweet is simply same strategy as a stand up comedian. Draw the nuance say the quiet part out loud. And it purposely inflame and get angry the people who are ignorant, the ignorant people who don’t understand that that’s a strategy that every company in the world implements. So it’s in any ad straight marketing, like it’s straight marketing. My goal was to make people upset and mad who were ignorant to the way that the world economics work. So that post gets picked up by Facebook groups and Twitter groups and all the anti capitalist and all the woke mob and all the people who are in their parents basements and hate hate companies, even though they have daddy’s Amex in their back pocket. Like they get really upset when that’s said out loud. So I made out loud and I bring a lot of a lot of attention to Shepherd and it’s a win win for all the business owners because 90% of people who see it get angry. I’m like, That’s ridiculous. Well, anybody be allowed to do that, while they’re typing on their iPhone that was assembled in Bangladesh for $2 an hour, but business owners, 10% people who see it our business owner that Wow, is this, is this real? Could this be real, I’m going to click this link, I’m gonna learn about this. And it’s starting to change their lives. They’re making hires on these companies, and it’s changing their lives for the better. So I’ll take the heat any day from the woke mob, if I can drastically positively influence hundreds and you know, 3000 business owners click on that Shepherd link when I make those when I make those tweets.
Clint Murphy 50:29
Yeah, we had my wife and I were slowly building a business while I’m still a full time, CFO, in real estate development. So I love what you’re doing there. And we had our first call with Shepherd last week just to talk through the process. We’re vetting a couple of different companies. But yeah, like, how did I find it? Through your tweets? So it’s absolutely accurate. And when you first started doing that, the first time you did it, what would you say the revenue because back then you were still just affiliate for them, and what revenue would you have driven off the first time you wrote that one?
Nick Huber 51:10
Yeah, I think the couple months in I got serious about marketing, when Marshall started sending me 10-15 grand a month, affiliate money, and on a big month, where we would do get a really highly visible post with 2 million plus impressions and 3000 link clicks, two months later, I’d get a check for 25 grand. And that’s life changing money. For a guy like me living in Athens, Georgia, when I can make almost $1,000 a day from one tweet I made three weeks ago. That’s craziness. So, you know, that’s just tells you the scale that was coming in to Support Shepherd of revenue and placements.
Clint Murphy 51:46
And the one thing people don’t realize as well, that you you’ve written about and I need to start taking advantage of this is generally the day after you court controversy. You’ve got massive traffic. Because the algo a, it’s been instructed, if you will, the way it’s built, hey, people like this guy. Let’s put his stuff front. And people who are still coming to troll you for the poll post the day before commenting on your posts the next day. So you may follow up the next day, this one, you may follow it up the next day with a thread about your real estate business with a tie in to what you’re doing there and how to invest in that. Is that accurate? And how successful have you seen that as okay, well, I’m gonna make some money for Shepard. Yeah, I’m also really going to drive what I do in the next day.
Nick Huber 52:42
Yeah, the way that Twitter algorithm works is that you’re scrolling through it. If you see a person that you never have seen before, and you click on them, the algorithm will note that you clicked on their tweet, and it will show you their next couple of tweets. Every time it does that, because, hey, this person was engaging to me last time, of course, the algorithms gonna say they are probably going to be more engaged by this person on their next tweet. So when you have one go super viral like that. And it’s kind of top of funnel a ton of people who have no idea who I am, and maybe even makes me look silly. The next week will be a very thought provoking tweet on business and entrepreneurship to try to attract those business owners to follow me and become a fan of mine. So that’s my strategy. As far as you know, building on Twitter, if you have a super viral post, add value, add a lot of value in your next couple tweets, because they’re gonna be seen, they’re going to be boosted by that previous engagement.
Clint Murphy 53:36
Love it. So then we’re 2022, you’re doing that with Shepherd. And then you come to the realization if I can do this for Shepherd. And I’ve been very good at delegating everything I do, because in we’ve talked a little bit about this, if you have a job, it’s a problem, because you’re going to become the bottleneck. So we need to definitely dive into that. But then you realize, well, wait, why can’t I do this for multiple businesses? When did that become the idea that said, I’m going to go from because you’re gonna generate a sizeable net worth over time, but slowly, steadily, with the Self Storage, easiest, fastest way to get rich over a long period of time. But the way you become a billionaire, is you have all of these other businesses. So when did you have that idea that you’re going to start multiple businesses and you’re going to leverage your Twitter account?
Nick Huber 54:35
So about that same time about three months after the Shepherd negotiation with Marshall to gain an equity stake in the business I was doing I had been for the previous year doing the same thing for a Cost Segregation firm for real estate investors, because a lot of my followers are self storage or whatever else and they’re buying real estate and they and they need cost. Cost Segregation when when they buy it. And I was doing affiliate deals for a guy In a one man shop who had grown over the year of me, affiliating with him, he had grown his business from about 350 grand a year of revenue to, you know quite a bit more, it’s growing really fast. At the same discussion with him, I came to him and said, hey, I need to own part of your company, or I’m gonna go start my own company. He said, no, I’m not gonna give you equity in my company. So I call my CPA and great friend, Mitchell Baldrige. He had done a ton of cost segues. He’s one of most brilliant tax, you know, tax advisers that I’ve ever met, said, Hey, let’s start a Cost Segregation firm. Boom, we spun it up that was about a year ago, bought the domain on I think, May 20, something 2022. So a little over a year ago, built the team started hiring engineers started offering the service using my distribution platform, my newsletter, and Twitter to amplify the company and exploded I mean, yeah, it’s a very big business. It’s a company that we wouldn’t sell for $10 million today that we bought that we that we started a year ago.
Clint Murphy 55:58
And I’m blown away by it, it for the audience that’s listening. So cost segregation, we’re effectively saying, Hey, I’ve got a building. And if I don’t do cost segregation, I’m just going to amortize that building n my tax returns over a 40 year period, roughly. Which is pretty shitty. Yeah, it’s taken a long time to get the benefit. If you sold that building, you get to deduct it for tax all right away. But if you if you’re amortizing it, you’re doing 40 years. But what the Tax Act allows you to do is to say, well, wait a second, you can amortize the walls at this speed, you can amortize the wiring at this speed, the appliances at this speed. So your cost segregation guy, Nick is coming in and saying, Well, let’s take your entire building. And let’s break out all the various components. So we can get your amortization to go quicker, which effectively is then saying that we’ll have lower tax in the early years in, in essence, deferring the tax kicking the can down the road, which is what we all want, as one of the ways it’s getting harder and harder in life to save tax. So if you can defer it, you’re getting a benefit. So like the ultimate unsexy business, but you just said, I wouldn’t sell it for less than 10 million. So what made you think this unsexy business can be worth this much and and I’m gonna go for it, I’m gonna build it from the ground up.
Nick Huber 57:16
Yeah, business is worth what how much money it makes. And if you can create a profitable business pretty quickly, it can be very, very valuable for all those people involved. And yeah, that cost segregation is used by all real estate investors who buy $1 million properties, but it had not really been utilized by people who buy duplexes and houses and, you know, miniature apartment buildings for 500 grand or something. So we did virtual site visits and you know, made it a lot more affordable. And it’s kind of exploded, and yeah, we’re doing $150,000 plus of revenue per month and looking for and it’s the slow time of year, right now, we have 26 people on staff, and it’s just growing really, really fast. So I’m more and more excited and more interested in now at this point, starting more companies and using my distribution in the people who’ve known and trusted me to grow the to grow the companies and also have them all work together. Like my real estate company buys from my cost segregation firm, it hires through shepherd, and it got its website with web run. And you know, these other now that other businesses that I’ve been spun up, that are ancillary services that I use, so I’m basically looking at my profit loss statement, I’m looking at my profit and loss statement in all my businesses, and I’m saying, which one of these cost centers which one of these areas where I’m spending money, every year, a lot of money every year, which one of these can I turn into profit centers. Because if I’m spending the money as a business owner, as a real estate investor, my entire audience is spending money on these things. We’re all buying cost segs, we’re all getting web developer, we’re all doing SEO work. We’re all you know, doing Pay Per Click advertising. Which one of these can I turn into profit centers started, started tighten risk property casualty insurance company with my business partner and chopped Bolt storage’s $320,000 property and casualty insurance policy to more carriers. And we saved ourselves 50 grand on a policy one year with our own company, and then the premiums go to us like this is this is my plan. Like my plan is to build a holding company of companies, partner with great operators, find the best talent in these regions, and then use them to supercharge my own companies. So use Shepherd, you know, Ad Rhino, the Pay per Click company, SEO firm, cost segregation, use them all to supercharge my own companies, and then grow them to also service the people who follow me and the people who trust me.
Clint Murphy 59:27
And you also have the idea that you’re going to do this for other people. So your recent tweet as recently as I think this was in the last three weeks, if not the last two weeks is you wrote, hey, here’s one of the businesses I’m launching, which is NickHuber.com. And I’m going to have a business where you can buy and sell businesses. And if you purchase a business through this site, in the first year, you’ll get access to these businesses to help you supercharge that business. So can you take us through that idea, because what I love there is, is you’re saying, I get the benefit of all of these other businesses. And feel free to highlight whichever ones you want to highlight. And if you buy a business from my site, as a broker, now I’m going into business brokerage. If you buy a business from my brokerage, you can also get the benefit for I think you said one year of these other businesses probably knowing that if they, if they come in for a year one, there’ll be repeat, repeat customers for the long term. So you’re blown up all the businesses, can you take the listeners through that one?
Nick Huber 1:00:38
So on, if we back up just a step an unknown benefit of my Twitter following is my ability to attract talent, I can make one tweet, and it’s seen by 50,000 people and I can find I can get access to incredibly talented people in any one space. So I needed SEO help I needed search engine optimization, I need to link building for four of my companies. So I made a tweet who is the best SEO expert for local small businesses, that you that you know, I got 60 direct messages, I had a conversation with a couple of people that I thought were the best. And the best one I partnered with to create a SEO agency that can then service all of my companies. So the first thing I do when I start, and that’s the same with all these other ones, the Pay Per Click marketing, the web development. So the first thing I do when I start a company, I’m going to start in the kubra.com. I’m having a call with will at web run to build a website, then I’m having a call with Ad Rhino at Ad Rhino to start a pay per click marketing campaign. Then I’m looking at link building and you know, the domain rep domain authority of my website and I’m working with bold through there, I’m recruiting, I’m going to recruit an operator through recruit gentleman and get a Filipino no Latin American admin through support Shepard. It’s a giant flywheel that can accelerate all of my own companies. So then, three months ago, my dad calls me says, Nick, I’m done with my job. I’m done. I cannot do it anymore. I’m making somebody else wealthy. You’ve been talking about having me come work for you. I know you’ve been doing better. Can you afford me, can you put me on the payroll to build something? And I said, Yeah, let’s start buying and selling companies hired my father, hired another person who’s who’s a CFA and a financial wizard to get involved to help us. And, yeah, business brokerage, I mean, most time, they’re gonna post it on biz, buy, sell, and you’re gonna get, you know, the normal distribution. But I have a feeling that when you have somebody like me with 150,000 people on an email newsletter and, and a 475 million impressions a year on Twitter, you can find a whole new reach for these businesses that want reach and marketing. So that’s the concept of my business brokerage. But yeah, when a buyer buys a company through my business brokerage, they’re gonna get access to all these companies like Recruit Jet to find operators in America, Support Shepherd to build a backhouse admin staff to pay per click SEO, that web development, the property and casualty insurance, the Cost Seg, it’s a suite of businesses designed to, to grow companies, because that’s what I want to do. I want to grow companies.
Clint Murphy 1:03:06
And Nick, I imagine the money’s great, and growing the businesses is awesome. And yet something you said right there, you know, your dad picks up the phone, the guy who’s got you started when you were 13 years old, by leasing you a lawn mower. Hey says, Hey, sound like I’m done with where? Have you built big enough that you can afford to have me come on your team? How did it feel to you to be able to say, yeah, Dad, I got you. Let’s do this together and have him join your team. Like what was that? Like, as a dad? of two boys? Like, I’m getting emotional thinking about that for you? Like, what was that like?
Nick Huber 1:03:46
I mean, the whole journey, my life journey over the past year, the past three years really has been a whirlwind. It feels like a hurricane has lifted me up and put me on top of the mountain with this opportunity. And the people that are eager to work with me and join me and the opportunity to build businesses and the financial gain of doing those things has been amazing. And yeah, when your dad calls and, and needs, you know, an opportunity, and you and you can then go do something amazing with your father. It’s spectacular. And my dad was sitting on the outside, he didn’t have a Twitter account. He had seen my career development. He knew that I was doing big things. But he didn’t truly understand it until he came in and got involved. Got a Twitter account, started sitting into my weekly meetings, and just looking at the power of it all. He wasn’t subscribed to my email newsletter until a month ago. He didn’t listen to my podcast. He was just interested in other things. He was working, he was doing the things that he does. So now instead of connecting with my dad over golf, connecting with him over sports, I’m connecting with my dad over building this empire. And he’s kind of, my dad is, I have a big vision for this whole this whole thing and this brokerage, the brokerage will become more to become, you know, a source debt and equity will probably raise a fund will probably start buying a lot of our own companies. So he’s kind of like my special partnerships, person too. he’s the person that can trust most in this world. He’s his last name is Huber. People respect him just from that. And he’s also just a phenomenally competent person. So when you get my dad, on a call with somebody who wants to partner with me, wants me to take an equity stake in their business wants to, you know, shop, any of these companies that are in my, you know, suite of businesses, he can be a very, very good representative of my personal best interest. So he’s kind of like my special projects guy. So if somebody reached out to me in a Twitter DM and says, Nick, I want to, I want you to take equity stake in this web development, or this software development company, and we’re gonna build software for small businesses, whatever it might be, I’ll say, Okay, you need to have a meeting with my dad, get on a call with Tim. And Tim will get off the call and call me and say, you know, I don’t think that was the right fit. Or I’ll say that person was spectacular. I’m super impressed by that person, we need to have another call, whatever it might be. And just seeing him get so excited. And send me text messages that are just, you know, it’s amazing. He said, he sent me a text last night that actually did tear up when he said it to me, he said, he said, I don’t think you will ever have a better year in your career than this year. This is your miracle year. This is what he sent me a text on him that he’s seeing the power of what we’re doing. And he’s starting to think bigger. He’s starting to have a ton of fun. And yeah, it’s emotional. And it’s, it’s freaking awesome.
Clint Murphy 1:06:24
So in your family, you mentioned earlier, younger brother, and he was doing lawns while at college and you were working with him. Any other siblings? Or is it just your sister,
Nick Huber 1:06:35
My sister is a nurse. She’s two years younger than me. I’m a brother that’s six years younger, and he still runs that lawn care company out of college. He’s an entrepreneur as well. He’s doing great. So that’s the family makeup.
Clint Murphy 1:06:47
And does he has a Twitter account and Henry again him on the campaign or is he still not seeing the magic of what you’re building? And now when you’re at Thanksgiving? Is your dad like hey son, like your brothers, right? Like you got to start your Twitter account, like get going here.
Nick Huber 1:07:02
It’s it’s a work in progress. Yeah, we’re trying to, he’s doing really well. And he has too many customers to deal with as he as it is. And he’s, and he makes, he makes really good money. And he spends three months in the winter fishing in the keys. So maybe he’s the one that’s doing it, right. But he doesn’t, he definitely doesn’t have the high charging, high powered risk taking personality that I have. So I think he’ll build a really great business just a little bit more traditional and a little slower, but I think he’s gonna do phenomenally.
Clint Murphy 1:07:28
Okay, so let’s jump into the, for the listeners, because you’ve done a lot of businesses here. And we can start to round out the convo by saying, Hey, what are some of the things that we need to know, to be successful in business. So for example, you have certain businesses that you love, and other businesses that you hate, what type of businesses make the love list, and what type of businesses for you make the hate list.
Nick Huber 1:07:57
I think that the worst advice that you can get as a business owner is to do what you’re passionate, to chase your passion, and to try to, and I hate it when people say if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. It leads folks to make pretty poor decisions about entrepreneurship. And I’ll put it frankly, and people are not gonna want to hear this. But it makes it leads people to make selfish decisions about entrepreneurship, if you’re doing what you want to do, if you’re chasing your passion. And if you are wanting to find something that you love, so that you never have to work a day in your life. The common theme there is you, this business is not about what other people need. It’s about what you want and what you need. And that’s a very selfish take. Like that sounds bad. But if somebody is chasing something they’re passionate about doing what they love. The ultimate example is somebody trying to make it on the pro golf circuit. They’re sitting around 28 years old playing a game, there’s 28 years old playing a game and they think that they’re entitled to a paycheck to play this game. And the odds are stacked against them. They’re they’re stacked against them, the odds are stacked against them. People can play golf at a high level. Stuart sync is second place right now in the British Open. He’s 50 years old. He’s been on tour for almost 30 years. There are 80 guys who get to travel to these events, how are you going to make it on that? And what in what would lead somebody to take those odds into their late 20s? It’s passion. It’s these Cinderella stories. It’s the gladiator stories that they build around sports and entrepreneurship of the people who build these world changing companies and make massive amounts of money in their dorm rooms with no capital, no network and no experience. And they make it happen. But they are the Cinderella stories. They are a massive case of confirmation bias and 999 times out of 1000, you’re gonna fail. And who wants to take those odds? I think more people should do business like they’re a gambler. Like they’re a poker player. Hey, these chips in front of you. This is my time. I got time I got little stacks of chips that are time In front of me, if I’m putting time into a pot, are you going to put time on a two seven are going to put a time on the hammer in a Texas Hold’em poker game, or are you going to put time on a pair of jacks or pair tens that the odds are in your favor. It’s not pocket aces, it’s not a sure thing. Not an easy win. But you have the odds in your favor. If you’re willing to put enough chips on the table and play the long game. People want to invest a year into entrepreneurship and get rich. I’ve been at this almost 15 years now. And I’m just now finally starting to have some serious fun and make some serious money. It is a long, long game. And if you’re after the ego, the status, the you know, you want to run around Silicon Valley in a pair of sweatpants because you think that that’s a status symbol. And it’s all about you and it’s your dream. I got news for the world, the economy, capitalism, they don’t give a shit about you, they don’t give a shit about me, they want what’s best for them, everybody’s selfish. And if you as an entrepreneur is selfish, you’re not going to make it because your job as an entrepreneur is to serve other people. Your job as an entrepreneur, is to give other people what they need in exchange for money. Not figure out what you can be doing what you want to be doing to make that money. So all the businesses that I love are low risk, they’re not sexy, they are sweaty, they already exist. The companies right here in my town, making money doing them right now. Now, the companies that I that I hate are the passion projects, I’m gonna open up a restaurant, I’m gonna be a, you know, I’m gonna launch the next Tech app, I’m gonna, you know, I’m gonna change the world. Those are the things that I don’t like.
Clint Murphy 1:11:41
So generally, the ones that are mean you’re high risk of failure, often capital intensive, you’re saying let’s go low capital intensity, let’s go low risk of failure, let’s go with what’s already succeeding. And we can add value to or you can add value to, because you have a better network and you’re willing to put in the labor in the sweat to make sure it gets done. Absolutely, absolutely. In general, do you find the adage that generally, if someone’s telling you, hey, follow your passion, they’re probably already rich,
Nick Huber 1:12:16
I have a theory about getting a lot of advice from people who are already rich. Getting a lot of advice from people who are already rich, is is a very unique thing. And A, if they’re a venture capital, or an angel investor, their goal, their personal goal to fulfill themselves, their selfish goal is to deploy small amounts of capital with 100 people and one of those 100 people are going to 1,000x their money and get them rich. That’s how venture capital works. So the odds for me as a venture capitalist is to talk people into doing these moonshots, put a little bit of cash with them. But myself, I’m very well there’s diversified. As if somebody who’s building a company, why would you want to take those odds? So in other advice, we go back to advice, I’m gonna go get advice from a successful person, you gotta be really careful getting advice from a successful person, they feel totally, well, A, they probably operated in a totally different set of circumstances, business is incredibly nuanced. There’s 1000s of ways that you can make a single decision. And what worked for them probably maybe won’t work for you. And the big one, the main one is that they feel totally different about risk than you do. They underestimate the amount of risk they took with their capital and their time and what they actually did and how sweaty and boring it was, in the beginning, they underestimate how unglamorous their startup journey really was. I like to glamorize my startup story, but it was not glamorous. I was mowing lawns for seven years to build some capital. And then I went to college and messed around for three, and then I moved to boxes for four years like that. That is not a glamorous startup story. So I’m not going to tell that very often, we’re going to hear the stories of Steve Jobs and Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates, we’re going to hear those stories. So you’ve gotta be really careful when you’re getting advice from people who are like you said, already rich, they’ve already got there, you’re not there yet.
Clint Murphy 1:14:04
And something he talked about it. And I mentioned earlier that we’d want to get to it is this idea of you talked about delegation being one of the most important skills in you wrote that if you, if your business can’t run without you, you don’t have a business, you’ve got a job. And for most of us, we are our own worst enemy in our business, because we become the bottleneck, and therefore the business can’t grow, can’t scale and we can’t step away and run another business, if you will. So what do you see happen with other people in their businesses that really makes that jump out for you? And when did you learn that lesson? And how did you say, Well, you were also learning how to delegate all the way from 13 onwards. So but what was the masterstroke that made you say, I have to get out of the business I have to be focused on the business and not in the business.
Nick Huber 1:14:59
I think delegation is so hard because it’s just totally alien. For most people, most people do not get any practice telling other people what to do in life, like it’s just not encouraged. So as a business owner, when your job is then to tell everybody what to do, it gets very, very uncomfortable and your predisposition, your default is to tell them to get out of my way and I’ll do it. If there’s a problem, I’ll do it. And in my opinion, there’s, there’s kind of two levels of delegation, you can think on it on two levels. The first one is, I’m going to delegate tasks, I’m going to hire somebody in the Philippines, I’m gonna tell them exactly what to do. Or I’m gonna hire somebody to drive a lawnmower, I’m gonna tell him how to drive this lawnmower. And that first level can make people wealthy, you can run a company with 7, 8, 10 people where every decision flows to you, you’re telling all 10 people what to do. And every problem is coming to you, as a business owner, you can run a business that way, that’s how 95% of small businesses are ran. And you can actually generate pretty sizable wealth, if you’re in a good business, doing it that way. If you’re gonna take the lead, if you’re gonna take your time back and pull yourself out of your company, to where you can go on vacation for a week, and business happens in business and your business can actually thrive and grow without you. You gotta cross the chasm to the second level of delegation, which is decisions. What’s the difference? What’s there between a task and a decision? A task is when I tell somebody what to do, hey, you sit down and do XYZ, the problem comes up something unknown decision businesses, nuance, there’s always random things a problem comes up. What do I do? Oh, it’s time to make a decision. Most business owners never teach their employees how to make a decision. So employees come to them,walk in their office with a question. a decision to make. And that’s where I talk about the monkey on the back. There’s a monkey on your back. That is your problem. That’s your decision that you need to make. Most business owners sit in their office, and somebody comes in the door and says, Hey, I got a problem. They tell the business owner the problem, the monkey then jumps onto your desk as the business owner. If you say get out of my way, I’m going to solve this. The employee leaves and you’re left with your office and a problem, a monkey is in your office, the next employee comes, drops off another monkey, the next employee comes ,drops off another monkey, all of a sudden, the end of the day, you have all the problems on your desk, and you have a room full of monkeys and you cannot control anything in your business is, it’s craziness, you’re playing defense, you’re just putting out fires, you’re running around like crazy. That’s how 95% of small business owners with less than 10 employees run their companies. If you can get your employee when they walk in that door with that monkey, if you can get them to walk out with a monkey. That’s the goal. Walk out of this room and take your problem with you. So what I do is when an employee comes into my, into my office, metaphorically, sorry, we work remotely come into my office with a problem. I’m going to answer them with a with a question. Hey, Nick, I don’t know what to do when you know we have a unit that has a lock on it. But it’s not rented. I don’t know what to do. That’s the monkey just jumped on my desk. Hey, what would you do? If you were me? Boom, a monkey jumps right back on their desk. Now it’s on them, they got to answer they got to think for themselves, I start to see how that two things happen. Number one, they get practice, they practice solving these problems, they get practice thinking. Number two, you get to see how they think you as a business owner, get to then see how your your employee responds. And they get, you know, you get to see you to look into their mind and see how they make decisions. And are they capable of making future decisions. So if you keep sending the monkey back to them, how would you solve this problem? What would you do about it, I’m not going to help you, you go solve this problem. They’re not going to come in with that same monkey next time because they know how to solve it. And then when you do that long enough, when you enable your employees to then solve problems, solve problems, solve problems, solve problems, and you find out one employee ,Clints’ out there and he’s solving a lot of problems he’s doing really well. I’m going to put him in charge of a couple of people. Now instead of bringing their monkeys to me, they’re going to bring their monkeys to him. And then when I’m on vacation, my phone’s not ringing, Clint’s phone’s ringing, let’s handle a bit more money. He’s gonna start being a problem solver for me. So as a business owner, you put people who are competent and have been tested and have been trained in between you and your problems. It’s a monkey guard, you have a monkey Guardian that is keeping the monkeys away from Nick, there’s no monkeys coming in. If a monkey comes to Nick, the whole zoo is on fire and we have a huge, huge problem that I can’t even delegate. So that’s kind of the journey, you can delegate tasks, then you start to delegate decisions by enabling, you know, teaching letting people practice again, nobody has nobody has experience making on you know, nuanced decisions. Nobody has experienced doing that. You’re taught to turn the page back and look up the answer in the book. In business, there is no answer. You don’t have a framework, you got to know how to think and if you’re a business owner, you can send those monkeys back out with those employees, get them thinking for themselves. Amazing things start happening over time.
Clint Murphy 1:19:56
A masterclass, I love that approach. And the overtime you can even train them with the simple hey, when when you come into my office and you’ve got a challenge, it’d be great if you bring one or two solutions that we can talk through while you’re here. So they don’t if they come with it,
Nick Huber 1:20:11
It’s to the point now where employees will ask things of me, and I’ll just I’ll say, no, no, hey, I have an important investor meeting next week. And if you want to no, hey, have a Bank meeting, we’re talking with our bankers about our debt, do you want to be on this meeting? No, because if I’m on the meeting, I’m gonna dominate the meeting, I’m not gonna just sit there with my mouth shut, I want you to get out of your comfort zone, feel more comfortable, get better at this stuff. And you can’t do this with employees that aren’t cut out for it. Most of them aren’t, you got to have a good have a bullshit meter in your mind where you’re able to tell who’s capable of making these decisions and who is not. But once you get the people who are capable of making decisions, and you get in practice, and you give them more confidence, they start to really improve, and they start to really, really add value in an organization.
Clint Murphy 1:20:55
Love it, and blast to questions for your Nick. So you had a session with a financial advisor once and they spent 45 minutes just giving you pure value, getting on the whiteboard, drawing out your business, running through the numbers showing you where the leaks in the game were how you could improve things. And you finish that meeting and you’re like, holy shit, like you just gave away all that for free. And their feedback was I always give as much as I can in that first 45 minute session. Because if I can give you that, you’re going to know what you’ll get if I’m actually being paid by you. What lesson did you learn? And how has that informed how you’ve run your businesses in your life.
Nick Huber 1:21:36
The old fashion, classic way to sell is has been the paywall. And it’s not necessarily a paywall with, you know, I’m going I’m visiting WallStreetjournal.com. And I can’t read the article without paying first, it’s that principle with with advice or business or service, hey, I’m really good at what I do. But in order to, for me to tell you anything, you don’t have to pay me, you have to pay me. So if you want tax advice, get on my calendar, pay me, you want business planning advice, get on my calendar and pay me the true masters of sales. They flip that around, and they’re trying to get build trust by showing and going ahead and giving people as much value as they possibly can with that scenario, because they know that business is nuanced, life is nuanced. The advice needs keep coming. So I went into that room with that financial advisor, and great friend of mine mentor of mine, and he just laid rolled out the red carpet, put my whole business on a whiteboard, broke it down, took a picture of it at the end said, this is exactly what I would do. You don’t have to use me. This is exactly what I would do. And I was blown away. He took my phone and took a picture of the whiteboard and sent me on my way was ready to ready to let me walk out without paying anything. It’s like Jim, how do you make any money? How do you like if you’re just gonna bring people in and just show them all they need to do and then they’re just gonna leave? How do you make any money goes, Nick, something amazing happens when you do this. When you add value nonstops people’s lives, when you add so much value their mind blows. You kind of want to be around those people, you kind of want to have them on your team. Like it makes perfect sense. So Nick, what happens is 50% of people I do this for they sign up with me and they move funds on the spot. And all of a sudden they’re on Team Jim 30% of them, they leave they walk away, they’re done. Turns out they’re not really in the game. They needed advice on one specific thing. They’re not the ideal client anyway. The other 20% they walk away I think I might lose them a couple months later, something happens and they need some more advice and they got a unique scenario and they call me up and they pay and they become a client right then. So the best way is it’s the Gary Vee Jab, Jab, Jab, Jab, left hook. The jabs are the value and that’s what I’m doing on Twitter. That’s what we’re doing on this podcast. So value value value teach me something teach me something Help me Help me Help me. And then the left hook comes around, boom. Pay Nick $2,000 to find you a Filipino in the Philippines. Like okay, so, yes, I’m gonna I’m gonna give away almost everything that I have for free. And everybody should do it. Because it what it does is it gains a ton of trust. It’s a ton of trust. So that when it comes time, Nick has been adding value. We have business owners on Twitter that that know me, they know how I think they know how I operate, Nick has been adding value to them. I have been adding value to them for as long as I can. I’m giving them all the advice I can on hiring you know, delegating building real estate tax, whatever it might be. So when it comes to Nick having having an offering, a lot of folks are going to trust me enough to know that I’m going to deliver.
Clint Murphy 1:24:34
So that brings us to the final question. And I’m glad you’ve said advice a few times and we’ve talked about advice you’d give because there’s no one that’s going to be more important for you to give advice to than your two sons and your daughter. So let’s imagine they’re in their teens, and they’re starting to get ready to go off for college. And they say they want to be entrepreneurial. They want to start a business. What are what are the one or two things that you’re really going to reinforce for them, to set them up for success on their journeys,
Nick Huber 1:25:08
I’m going to try to keep them away from the entrepreneurial biographies. I’m gonna try to keep them away from the massive success stories about people changing the world, I’m gonna try to keep them away from the getting constant feed and information from people who are extremely wealthy and doing massive deals and very exciting things. Because I think one of the only ways that you can succeed as an entrepreneur, is if you start amazingly, humbly, small. And if you’re not willing to start really small, like going out and making a couple 100 bucks and getting excited about that, if that doesn’t make you excited, because you want to take over the world, or you wanna have the next big adventure, or you want to raise money from Mark Cuban on Shark Tank, you are not going to be able to stick it out, because it’s a five year journey to get some momentum, and it’s 10 year journey to get wealthy. So if you are wanting it all right now, you’re studying the big stories. If you’re inspired and constantly getting pulled and drawn by the next shiny thing, you’re never going to succeed. So I’m going to try to get my kids if they want to be entrepreneurs want to try to get them to think small and be excited about the small stuff, I want them to be excited by selling up a cup of lemonade on the corner for $1.50, I want that to be exciting to them. Because if it’s not, they don’t have a chance. If they have to have big money deals, and scalable, and world changing stuff to be excited about entrepreneurship, they’re never gonna make it period. If they get excited by the little things, going out and mowing lawns and getting paid $450 After two weeks of hard work, if that’s exciting to them, then they’ll make it. So I don’t know how I’m going to do it. But I’m going to try to keep them away, keep them shielded from all this shiny, sexy entrepreneurship media, I think is ruining it is ruining America and our next generation of entrepreneurs because it’s not realistic. It’s not approachable, the advice is not applicable. And it’s just not feasible for most people. Most people are not Elon Musk, most people are not Steve Jobs, most people are just trying to figure out what they’re going to do for the next four hours of their day. That’s That’s who we are like, we’re humans, we make mistakes, we’re flawed, we’re going to make a lot of mistakes in business, and you got to make mistakes when the stakes are low. Just start really small, get excited by the little stuff. And as it compounds as momentum builds, you do bigger stuff, bigger stuff, higher stakes, but you know, more critical decisions with more on the line, and you just get better and better and better.
Clint Murphy 1:27:41
Just keep telling them the line, once daddy starts making more money, you’ll be able to get on the plane with those other people. Until then, Nick, this has been a blast. How can people find you?
Nick Huber 1:27:53
The best way is to follow me on Twitter @sweatystartup. But I spend, if you if you know if you don’t want the fragmented, you know, playful Twitter feed. I think the best way is to get on my email newsletter at sweatystartup.com You can sign up for it. I send it out once or twice a week. It’s a couple 1000 words and it’s on pretty serious entrepreneurial topics like you know how real estate works, the tax advantages of real estate, how to hire people how to delegate how to manage people, how to interview people, how to sell how to build wealth over time, so my email newsletter is definitely the place I’d point most people.
Clint Murphy 1:28:28
Thanks for joining me really appreciate.
Nick Huber 1:28:30
Thanks for having me, Clint