The cavnessHR podcast – A talk with Paul Maskill
The PDF version with links to the YouTube video is below.
Paul started his first service-based business in 2011. Before he knew it, he was working 60-80 hours a week. Until he realized that he had no freedom and the business needed him to survive. So Paul started to systematize everything. By putting systems, processes and people in place, his revenue doubled to almost $500k while the number of hours he worked dropped below 40. Paul then sold his business for 3x net profit. He’s now a coach, consultant and investor for small businesses ready to break free and achieve the income & freedom they sought when they started their business.
The cavnessHR Podcast can be found at the following places or you can just type in cavnessHR on the respective app.
Google Play: https://cavnesshr.co/861c
Pocket Casts: https://cavnesshr.co/theca4787
Social Media links for Paul below!!
Below are Paul’s book recommendation:
“The Go-Giver” by Bob Burg
Click on the links below to purchase the books from Amazon
Free Resources Below!!!!
Anybody out there that owns a service-based small business that's looking to start putting systems and processes and people in place. I have a simple one-page cheat-sheet – The Six Mistakes to Avoid Before Systematizing. Just go to the URL bizfreedomformula.com. Type that in and that will go where you can download that free cheat-sheet, no cost, no nothing.
Jason: 0:01 Hello, and welcome to the cavnessHR Podcast. Our guest today is Paul Maskill. Paul, are you ready to be great today?
Paul: 0:07 I am ready, Jason.
Jason: 0:10 Paul started his first service-based business in 2011. Before he knew it, he was working 60-80 hours a week. Until he realized that he had no freedom and the business needed him to survive. So Paul started to systematize everything. By putting systems, processes and people in place, his revenue doubled to almost $500k while the number of hours he worked dropped below 40. Paul then sold his business for 3x net profit. He’s now a coach, consultant and investor for small businesses ready to break free and achieve the income & freedom they sought when they started their business. Paul, that’s a lot. Why is it that a lot of people don't know how to delegate or are not willing to delegate?
Paul: 0:53 That's a good question. I think it comes probably from fear, originally; they think that nobody will do it as well as they can. They don't trust people and they have an ego that it's their baby and they have to do it because nobody can do it as well as they can. Which might be true but it really comes down to kind of what you mentioned in the intro – is the systems and processes. If you look at the most successful businesses. They're successful because they have systems and processes in place which allows them to really hire for personality and then train for the job because they have all the training materials there. If you look at kind of a franchise model, they can really plug anybody into that model because they know they have all the tools they need to succeed. Most small business owners just don't; they're too busy, they're working too much. They're on the verge of burnout, and whenever they do delegate something. They don't do it properly, so when it gets done the wrong way, at least in their mind. Then they tell themselves they're just better off doing it themselves.
Jason: 1:50 That's always amazed me. People would say, “well, I could do it myself, they don't know how to do it as good as me.” Well, of course, they don’t, you haven’t given them a chance to do it as well. Of course they don't you haven't given them much chance. Of course, the first, second time they’re not going to do it right. But eventually they’ll do it as good as you and there’s just less you have to do. I just never understood that.
Paul: 2:06 Yeah. Nobody will do it as good as you will, but I tell anybody if they can do 80% as well as you can. That's probably still really good because you are the best at what you do. A lot of people probably discount that, they just want it done their way because they think it's the only way. But when they do delegate it, it doesn't get done that way because they don't have the proper training. The infrastructures, the support because they're too busy. If any of the listeners out there have read the emyth, they're busy working in their business all day and they don't have time to work on their business. So when those people fail that they delegate to, that's really a bigger issue with who is running the show and who's leading it. If you’re an employer, your team member fails, it's not their fault. It's actually your fault because you didn't put them in the right position to succeed in the first place.
Jason: 2:50 That's a great point. People say, “well, he didn't do as good as I did.” Well, of course, he didn’t – you didn't train him, you didn’t show him anything, you just gave it to him to do it. What’d you expect?
Paul: 3:00 Yeah. And that's totally true. They assume a few too many things. You’ve really got to get really, really down into the details and assume nothing. Assume whoever you're delegating it to knows nothing about the process, nothing about the industry, nothing about the niche. One of the stories, I think, even on my Podcast, somebody I was talking about is if you tell somebody put stripes on a shirt. Well, if you just tell them to put stripes on a shirt, they can put it a thousand different ways. They're probably going to do it differently than you did – you might have meant pinstripes and they put on prison stripes. Or something like that because you didn't give them enough and you just assumed, “well, we’re in the business industry, why would you even put prison stripes on in the first place.” But you can't assume anything because that leaves a little bit of room for error out there and most people aren't comfortable enough because you haven't created the culture. They're not comfortable enough to go back to you and say, “hey, is this what you meant, can you give a little bit more detail.” They’re thinking, “oh, man, my boss is going to think I'm stupid, that I don't know what he means and I'm just going to wing it and show him how good and creative I can be and try and figure this out on my own.”
Jason: 4:02 Exactly. So, Paul, what’s keeping you busy right now? What are you working on right now?
Paul: 4:07 So, I'm really busy kind of doing a couple of things. So, as you mentioned in the intro, my previous business was a service-based business. I grew it, scaled it, sold it – and I really love focusing on the service-based world. Mainly, because it's very people-intensive, you've got to build the right teams, and it really puts a focus on customer experience. So, I'm kind of doing, like you said, coaching, consulting and investing. I help small business owners put systems, processes and people in place so they can go from working in their business to working on their business. So they can go from business operator to business owner and CEO and really achieve the goals that they set out when they started their business. So, that's one of my focuses – working with those small service-based business owners who, normally, they start their business because they're really good at it or they have a passion for it.
Paul: Unfortunately, the business starts to consume them and that passion goes away and it really just becomes a very stressful job. Because they're stuck providing that service 24/7 and if they stop, the money stops as well. Because they're way too dependent on themselves to produce that income. So, that's one of the things. Then, also, investing in small businesses, as well. So, finding a business that provides a great service and they need more than a coach. They need more than consultants, and they need me to come in and kind of help them wright the ship and get it going in the right direction. Kind of be that leader from an operation/CEO/COO type role so they can really start to focus on what they do and what they love because there are so many moving parts to running a business. A lot of people started not really realizing that. Just a quick example of that: if someone says, “I'm going to start a landscaping business; well, I need a lawn mower, I need a weed whacker, I need a blower and I'm in business.” Well, yeah, that's great to go deliver that service. But there are so many other things in the back end that you have to know how to do well to really start to scale that business. What happens when you run out of time in the day, how do you start hiring people, how do you hire them and make sure that they do the job just as well as you can? So, that's really what's keeping me busy today.
Jason: 6:07 Paul, so when someone comes to you and they want you to coach them, how do you determine that you'll be a good fit for this person?
Paul: 6:13 That's a great question, Jason. So, really, one: they have to be really good at the service they provide. So, the service-based industry is pretty much commoditized at this point. No matter what industry you're in – no matter if you're a landscaper, you're an auto mechanic – whatever service your business provides. There's thousands of other people doing that as well. So, one: you have to be really good at what you do, and two: you have to be coachable. Not everybody's coachable; being coachable means doing things differently than you've done in the past. A lot of people aren't comfortable with change and you've got to be willing to kind of put in that work. I kind of liken it to building a house. It takes a really long time to build the foundation of a house. It's not fun, it's not sexy, it's not glamorous. But it has to be done and someone has to do that dirty work and then you can start scaling that house as big as you want.
Paul: Unfortunately, lot of people start scaling that house as big as they want before the foundation’s there – basically, building a house of cards – and then they never get to enjoy that house. They never get to decorate it the way they want, they never get to put in the nice landscaping. Because they're really stuck just trying to keep that house of cards still standing and not blowing over. So, those are really some of the things I look at; they’ve got to be really good at what they do. They’ve got to have a passion for it. They've got to be willing to be coached. They've got to be willing to make changes, and willing to kind of get outside the box and get outside their comfort zone to get to where they want to go.
Jason: 7:32 Paul, so how does it work? Is it small business owners come to you on their own, or are they influenced by other people like investors or business people to come to you?
Paul: 7:40 So, it's a variety of ways. Obviously, referrals are huge when you provide a good service. Any good service-based business is going to have a big referral base. Because, even though it might not be word-of-mouth like it used to be back in the day. Where you're just telling your friends, word-of-mouth still works, just the same on social media. So, getting the word out that way. I do also have a podcast out there that I put out on a regular basis to help small business owners achieve that freedom. I get some inquiries from there. Then using online marketing tactics, local marketing tactics – I work with people here, locally, in Raleigh, North Carolina. As well as people all over North America. Really with the power of even the tools we’re using today – the power of Zoom – it's really easy to coach anybody and work with anybody. No matter where they're at or what time zone they're in, as long as they're committed.
Jason: 8:30 So, Paul, for the companies you invest in, how does a small business owner convince you to invest in their company? What do they have to bring to you, what do they have to show you?
Paul: 8:37 One: they have to show potential and, like we said before, even when we’re on the coaching standpoint. They have to be willing to make those changes, they have to be willing to give up power. It's really tough for a lot of small business owners to give up power and then go through change at the same time. I have a business background, I have a finance degree, and I really like looking at it from a pure business standpoint. Because I’m going to rely on them to provide a great service that they provide. Because, like I said, most service-based businesses were started by somebody that's really good at providing that service. So, I kind of want them to be the expert in the service that they provide and I’ll work with them to build a team.
Paul: So that way, they don't have to provide that service anymore and they can build a team. They can kind of be that leader that they really want to be. It's just really getting them out of their comfort zone to do that. There's just so much opportunity in the service-based world because of that. So many businesses out there were started by these people with a passion in providing that service. But they just don't have that business background because they've never done it before. They've always just been that one “I'm going to work 60-80 hours a week, I'm going to cut 100 lawns this week, and I’m going to make $100,000.” Which is all true but you don't have a business at the end of the day. All you have is a really stressful job. So, when you can combine that passion and that expertise with somebody like myself that has a really strong business background. There's just so much opportunity because there's not a lot of businesses taking advantage of what's out there today.
Jason: 10:05 For small businesses that you consult with, what have you seen that makes them successful and is there any differentiating factor that separates the ones that haven’t been successful from the ones that made it?
Paul: 10:15 There's a lot of differentiating factors. One is they have to have self-awareness. So, they have to know what they're good at and what they're not good at. Unfortunately, a lot of business owners think and will do everything. They think they can do everything. They will do everything and they're not focusing on their strengths. They might be focusing on their weaknesses, “I’ve got to get better at this, I’ve got to get better at this.” Well, why try and keep getting better at something when you can hire somebody that's really good at that and you can delegate it and not have to worry about it? So, they have to be self-aware of what they're good at, what they're not and how can I fill that role supporting their weaknesses. So they can really focus on their strengths and get that passion back of why they started their business in the first place. So, that's really one thing and then, obviously, it's got to be work ethic. At the end of the day, you either have it or you don't; are you willing to put in the work now, so you don't have to put in the work later. Just like back to building that house, you’ve got to be willing to do that dirty work, build that foundation.
Paul: Before you delegate anything, before you automate everything, you really want to get it perfected in your way. You really need to take the time to document it and get those state and operating procedures in place. So then you can delegate, you can then automate and then you have a systematized business. So, you've got to be willing to do things for a long-term gain. If I put a bunch of systems in place today, I'm not going to see all the benefits tomorrow. So, they've got to be seeing the bigger picture of, “we're not going to make a million dollars overnight. But we're going to build a business that's worth a lot more.” That's going to make you a lot more and allow you to really maximize your worth, your income and gets you that return on your investment that you should as a business owner. You took the risk to be a business owner. You took the risk to go out there on your own. You took the risk to invest money and time and sweat equity into this. You really should be able to reap the rewards which is a business that can survive without you on a day-to-day basis. Which allows you to focus on the bigger picture of things and be that leader and CEO that you need to be.
Jason: 12:10 I know a lot of people tell you, “well, I’ve got to work harder.” Well, that's true, you do have to work harder. But you need to work harder and smarter to go do what you’ve got to do. Working hard doesn’t mean anything if you’re not doing what you need to do.
Paul: 12:20 Yeah. So, obviously, even that – working hard – there's a lot of people working hard. I kind of equate it to the difference between being busy and being productive. Everybody's busy. If you go walk on the street today, talk to ten people nine or ten of them are going to tell you how busy they are. But are they actually productive? Are you spending your time on things that are moving the needle? We can all work hard, but is it the best use of your time? When you say “yes” to something, you're saying “no” to everything else in the world, at that point. So, if you're spending your time doing something that you could pay somebody $15 an hour to do. That's really not that exciting and that's not going to last very long. You're better off just going to a job at that point, making more and having benefits along the way. So, really combining that working hard with working smart to get the best return on your time. Because, at the end of day, time is your most valuable asset and how you spend it is going to differentiate you from anybody else out there.
Jason: 13:19 For example, me, for my first 2 or 3 podcasts, I was trying to do everything myself. I was like, there has to be a better way than this. So, I’m going to try and find someone on Fiverr for a decent price.
Paul: 13:29 Yeah. And stuff like that is, even at the small business level. They just don't know those things are out there. They think if I need help, I’ve got to find somebody and bring them into an office and get them all set up and get them at least twenty hours a week. With something like Fiverr or a finding a virtual assistant, Fiverr, you can just say, “hey, I need this transcribed. I'll pay you five bucks,” and they'll do it, or whatever it is. I've used Fiverr a ton of times for different things that need to be done. But they don't need to be done by me, because it's not the best use of my time. Whether it's a virtual assistant, really ask yourself before everything that you do. Is this the best use of my time? Or could I be spending time on something that's actually going to move the needle and get my business to where I want to go.
Jason: 14:11 Paul, can you talk about a time you were successful in the past. What you learned from this success and what our listeners can learn from this success you had in the past?
Paul: 14:19 Yes. One of the bigger ones was when I did sell my business. So, with a service-based business, it's really built on people. You’re not just selling a widget, you're not just selling an app that can scale to the moon. It's a local, service-based business. So, that was probably one of the bigger successes. What I tell everybody, if I can do it, so can you. The key is to start with the end in mind. Too many business owners their goal is just to survive this day. Keep the ship afloat and not have too many fires to put out. When, really, you need to figure out what is the end game with your business. Do you want to sell it, do you want to hire someone to run it and you go off and start another venture?
Paul: Do you want to be the CEO working 40-50 hours a week? But having a team in place? Whatever it is, once you get there, it's a lot easier to then work backwards and start putting those systems and processes and people in place. So, what I really learned in scaling things anywhere is you need to do the little things and then big things will happen. So, attention to detail, taking care of your customers Because, at the end of the day, the customer experience is what's going to win out. Because they can get your service, they can get your product from anywhere. So, what my listeners can learn is be patient; it's not going to happen overnight. Focus on the customer experience – that is where you want to go.
Paul: Really put yourself in the customers’ shoes. How do you feel when you get the best customer experience, the best customer service possible? Feels great, you want to go spend more money with them. You've really taken the service out of the equation. Because, like I said, you can get that service from anywhere. But how you provide that service is not a commodity. How you do that, I always equate it to Chick fil A – anybody that has Chick fil A in their area, they sell one thing. They sell chicken sandwiches; you can get those from a million different places. But they focus on the customer experiences because they have the systems and processes in place. So, once you start looking at it that way, it's going to make it a lot easier. Have that big picture: “hey, in two years, I want to be here. Well, in order to get there, I need to be here after one year, and in order to get there at the end of this year. I need to be here in six months and to get there in six months. I need to be here at the end of the quarter.”
Paul: Then, once you get to that quarter perspective, then you can really dig into what do you need to do today to get you one step closer to where you want to be at the end of the quarter. Then the last thing to the listeners is value your time. Time is your most valuable asset; you can never get more time. You can always get more money, but you can't get more time. So, start valuing your time. If you're doing things in your business all day that somebody else could do with the proper training, start putting those systems in place – and by “systems” I simply mean a step-by-step process to get things done in a systematic way. Which means they happen the same way every time. So, that way, you can find people on your team that fit your team atmosphere, fit your culture so you can build a rock star team to grow your business with you.
Jason: 17:06 Yes. Talking about Chick fil A, Chick fil A just opened in this area, the lines for the drive thru were for miles and miles. It was crazy.
Paul: 17:16 Yeah, Chick fil A, if anybody hasn't really followed them, just look into their business principles – it's fantastic. They've put every system in place so, that way, anybody they hire can just focus on the customer experience and anybody that they hire is a good fit for their team. They don't go hiring someone that's the best chicken frier or the best French fry frier. They hire someone that's the best teammate. Because then they can train them how to do any job in there. Which allows them to then focus on the customer experience which sets them apart from anybody else.
Jason: 17:46 Yes. And it’s like a lot of business owners they focus on building a product, and spend no time on the customer experience. Everybody can have a good product, but if your customers are not having a great user experience, then what good is it going to do you?
Paul: 17:57 Exactly. They don’t care about that at all.
Jason: 18:01 Next, Paul, talk about a time you failed in the past, what you learned from this and what our listeners can learn from this.
Paul: 18:06 Yeah. I would say when I was working 60-80 hours a week. I was probably actively failing; it's not like I failed and the business ended. But I was on a path of, basically, a non-sustainable business model. Because if I disappeared or if I got hit by a bus, my business would stop making money pretty quickly. Which would leave my family in disarray – they wouldn’t know what to do or how to do it, because everything was in my head. I would sit down every day, and I knew what I needed to do, but nothing was documented. So, if something, God forbid, happened to me, the business would be gone pretty quickly. I would be letting a lot of customers down. I'd be letting a lot of employees down and then my family down and somebody would have to be there to clean up the mess.
Paul: So, I was always really kind of thinking worst-case scenario. But I realized it wasn't sustainable, my business wouldn’t thrive without me. I love working. Working 60 hours a week isn't a lot when there's 168 hours in the week. So, 60 hours a week, that still leaves you 108 hours to do something else. You can sleep for 40 or 50 and that still leaves 50 or 60 to do whatever you want. But how you spend those 60 hours is the difference. I was spending 60 hours a week mainly doing things that I could pay somebody else to do that loved it. That was good at it, as long as they had the right support. Once they realized that, then I was able to spend my time on the business, growing the business, being a leader. Putting my people in the right places and collaborating with them to grow the business together. Which, in turn, gave my employees more opportunity as well.
Jason: 19:35 Paul, can you tell us about someone who's helped you in the past and how they helped you?
Paul: 19:39 It's an interesting question. I listen to podcasts, I read books all the time; people are always helping me. Even if I've never talked to them or met them. But kind of personally, on my podcast, I interviewed Tom Schwab https://www.linkedin.com/in/thomasmschwab/ – he is the person behind interview valet https://interviewvalet.com for anybody in the podcasting world. But he had a quote, super simple quote, but really has stuck with me since I interviewed him probably eight or nine months ago now. He basically said, “what's normal and simple to you, is amazing to others.” Once that started to sink in, it made total sense and you can take that with your business. No matter what you do, what you take for granted, what you can do in your sleep, is amazing to other people.
Paul: Once you start realizing that, you're really going to start to put a value on what you're doing versus how much time it takes. Just kind of a snippet of that, there's kind of a quick story of I think it was, say, Pablo Picasso. Somebody walks up to him on the street says, “hey, can you paint a portrait of me?” He paints a portrait of them and he says, “okay, how much do I owe you?” He goes, “well, that’s five million dollars.” He’s like, “five million dollars, it took you 30 minutes.” He says, “no, it actually took a lifetime of training and working on my craft.” So, don't discount what you know and don't discount how good you’re at it. Because what's normal and ordinary to you is amazing to others.
Jason: 20:55 That's a great quote. I love that quote; I’m going to start using that. So, Paul, tell us something about yourself that most people don't know. Your close friends, close family know this, but most people don't know this about yourself.
Paul: 21:07 So, I used to work in the finance world, I used to live in Chicago. I was doing the corporate grind, just plain and spreadsheets all day, and I got sick of it. So, I actually quit my job in Chicago and went off to South America for two months. Two months and backpacked around and just hung out before my next move which was eventually starting my next business. So, most people that I know on a day-to-day basis. They probably are wondering how could I do that for two months without being attached to anything and not working at all.
Jason: 21:37 I bet that was a great learning experience for you, though, over those few months.
Paul: 21:40 It really was, and it was just good to get away and you really get a lot of gratitude. Because you realize most people in other countries are a lot happier than people here in America. They have, as far as tangible things, they have almost nothing compared to what all the tangible things we have here in the States. It really puts everything in perspective that most physical things that we own, they really don't add any value and it's really about the relationships. The people and the environment that you're putting yourself in. Because those people down there were happier, especially coming from Chicago – a big city where everyone's trudging through. Getting on the train, getting on the subway, getting on the bus, going to work, trudging back – there just wasn't a lot of happy people in Chicago. They weren't excited to go do their job for 60 hours a week. So, getting away really made me realize that there's more to this world and to not waste any more time doing something that I don't want to do for the rest of my life.
Jason: 22:37 Paul, I understand you have a book to recommend for our listeners?
Paul: 22:41 Yeah. So, this is probably the main reason I recommend it – it was really the first ever business book I read – and it's called The Go-Giver by Bob Burg. It's a great book. I still have kind of the values here posted on my board here and that was probably seven or eight years ago. Definitely recommend anybody to go check it out. The Go-Giver by Bob Berg, fantastic read, super quick, can probably read it in a couple of hours. But that would be my number one recommendation just based on what it's done for me.
Jason: 23:09 Paul, I understand you have something for our listeners today.
Paul: 23:12 Yeah. So, anybody out there that owns a service-based small business that's looking to start putting systems and processes and people in place. I just have a simple one-page cheat-sheet – The Six Mistakes to Avoid Before Systematizing Your Business. So, before you go out and start doing all these things, just some of the mistakes to avoid that I've made. If you just go to the URL bizfreedomformula.com. Type that in and that will go where you can download that free cheat-sheet, no cost, no nothing. Just to help any small business owner out there before, it’s really kind of getting that foundation set, before you start putting these systems in place.
Jason: 23:51 Paul, can you share your social media with us so people can reach out to you?
Paul: 23:55 Yeah. So, I think the easiest, if you just went to my website, paulmaskill.com, it has links to all my social media or if you just look for me on Facebook or Twitter (I think there's only three Paul Maskills in the world – me, my father and then some random guy over in England). I think not too hard to find either on Twitter, Facebook; you can always go to my website as well.
Jason: 24:15 Paul, what’s the name of in your podcast again?
Paul: 24:17 The podcast is also my website – it's called The Business Owners’ Freedom Formula Show. So, it's 3 days a week; on Tuesdays, we do an interview with business experts, authors, thought leaders, and entrepreneurs. Then on Wednesdays I share quick tips on what's working for small businesses owners. It’s called What's Working Wednesday – it’s either apps, tools, strategies. then on Friday, I answer a frequently asked question – it's called Freedom Fridays. Both the Wednesday and Friday episodes are less than ten minutes, so it's a good way to just get some actual tips to implement in your business today.
Jason: 24:49 Paul, we’ve come to the end of our talk. Can you provide any last-minute advice or wisdom for our listeners?
Paul: 24:54 Yes. Everybody always wants to make changes, they want to get to the Promised Land, but they're not really comfortable doing that. So, a couple of quotes that I'd like to live by is: “If you do what you’ve always done, you'll get what you've always gotten.” So, people want different results but they're not willing to do things differently to get those results. People just procrastinate too much. I only worked in the corporate world for three years but, like I said, I realized that why spend any more time doing something that I don't want to do for the rest of my life? So, if there is an idea, there's something that you want to go do, just go do it. The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago, the second best time is now. Go out there, make mistakes; the only way you're going to get better is by failing, making mistakes, learning from it and improving. If you're waiting until it's perfect, you'll be waiting forever and you’ll have a lot of regret when it's all said and done.
Jason: 25:45 It's like a lot of people flaunt it, “yeah, change is good, as long as it doesn’t involve me.”
Paul: 25:52 Exactly, that's probably a good way to put it.
Jason: 25:54 Paul, thank you for being on our podcast, we really appreciate it. Thanks for all the help you’re giving to small business owners.
Paul: 26:01 Yeah, thanks, Jason. Thank you so much for having me, really enjoyed our conversation and I look forward to following your podcast as well.
Jason: 26:08 Thank you. So, listeners, thank you for your time as well and remember to be great every day.