By Matt Shoup, an EO Colorado member and Owner of M & E Painting, LLC
I recently closed another year of business for M & E Painting, and it was a special time for me for two reasons: We celebrated our 10th year in business, and I had made the decision to step out of the day-to-day operations and focus on speaking, coaching and writing a book through MattShoup.com, my new venture. As I moved forward, I found myself having to explain to peers why I was no longer involved in my first company. Along the way, I uncovered experiences and important lessons learned that proved invaluable in the past decade.
- Let Leaders Lead – The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that I did a poor job letting my leaders lead. I gave them a job to do, and then didn’t fully let them do it. I remember one of my sales reps telling me to let him close a sale or he will never get better than I was. I realized in that moment that I let my fear and insecurities kick in, which led me to do people’s jobs for them. I was afraid to let them fail and then teach them, so I never let them learn. Once I let go, I was free to let them lead.
- Stop Talking So Much – Marketing and PR have always been my natural strong suits. For years, I spent a ton of money marketing my company. I tracked the ROI on everything I did. We turned up what worked and turned down what didn’t. After about a million dollars of traditional advertising, I found that I should have stopped talking about myself. One piece of well-landed PR, along with a business award, afforded me much more credibility, exposure and connections than any paid marketing. Plus, it got others talking about my company, which was much more reliable than me talking about myself.
- Take Massive Action – When I founded my business, I knew that everything was going to be dependent on me. I took massive action, working countless hours pushing a huge boulder up a considerable mountain. I found that as hard as it was, I kept on keeping on. When that boulder crested the top of the mountain, an unstoppable momentum ensued. There were times I wanted to quit and the boulder pushed back, but I kept pushing forward.
- Share Your “Painted Baby” Story – One of my favorite stories to share with potential customers and team members was when our company massively screwed up. I have found that the A+ and 5-star reviews, while nice, will only get you so far. Humans respond to train-wreck stories. These are the times in my business where I was able to show what I was truly made of. It pulls people in and shows them your authenticity.
- Plant Your Flag – My business became successful rather quickly, but it took much longer for it to be impactful. When I was growing M & E Painting in my early 20’s, I didn’t have a clear understanding of what I stood for. I call this your “flag.” Everybody has a flag, and many have no idea what it is. When I became clear on who I am, it made sense that my business would be a natural extension of those values. When I planted my flag, people saw what they were fighting for every day. What’s more, my flag attracted those with similar flags (team members, vendors and customers), and repelled those who were not on the same page.
- Take Frequent Mini-Vacations – Vacations have been a great way for me to unwind, relax and recharge. Upon returning from vacations, I realized what kind of bottlenecks and holes I had in my business. Being away for weeks at a time tested the company’s ability to run without me. When I returned, I knew what I needed to teach in order to take a longer—or maybe a permanent—vacation down the road. This was a crucial step in my exiting the daily operations of the business.
Matt Shoup (pictured) is an EO Colorado member and owner of M & E Painting, LLC, a painting business he created with only US$100 to his name, a passion for entrepreneurship and a desire to support his family. Contact Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org.