Introduction and Interview by David Wagstaff
This interview with Max is part of a series of articles from entrepreneurs, compiled with the goal of providing other business owners and soon-to-be business owners with a realistic view of what it takes to run a business and some of the challenges commonly faced.
One of the first things that caught my attention in Max’s LinkedIn profile was the contrast of mind-based titles, such as business strategist, public speaker and consultant, juxtaposed to businesses he is running that we often think of as requiring physical activity, such as building construction, transportation and construction materials.
The second thing that caught my attention is the fact that he is running four businesses. I spoke about this in a previous article. One of the common pieces of advice from investors is to focus your business if you wish to grow fast. As I review applications, I’m surprised how many of us run multiple businesses. I am one of those “multipreneurs,” as I am currently running three businesses and this LinkedIn Group. As I build the content and value for the group members, it feels more like a fourth business.
Related to this from an academic perspective, studies show the people with ADHD are 300% more likely to start their own business than the general population. See the related article from Psychology Today, Seven Habits of Highly Successful Entrepreneurs with ADHD. That doesn’t imply that everyone who runs multiple businesses has ADHD, but there is a certain amount of constant stimulation in running a business that is naturally part of the process. Starting a business requires selling, delivering, managing finances, marketing and if it is large enough, managing employees.
In the interview with Max, we learn that he was always drawn to entrepreneurship from an early age. For those who have been following this series, we see that there seem to be two primary camps – those entrepreneurs who always knew starting and running their own business was a goal and those that did not plan to run their own business, but perhaps because of circumstances like family responsibility, entered entrepreneurship for the flexibility it provides.
Another important aspect we learn about Max and his businesses is that his businesses have a lot of interrelatedness. He runs a construction company, an investment fund which allows for investments in properties, a real estate company and a lumber and materials business. This is called vertical integrations. It’s also a common reason for entrepreneurs starting and running multiple businesses. For example, I’m currently working with a pool services company that was dissatisfied with the lifeguard certification businesses, so they started their own. When they found that leak detection companies were not up to their standard, they decided they could do that better as well.
Max discusses the value of relationships. There is a saying that “no one builds a business on their own.” Even for “solopreneurs” that’s true. We all need a community to support our efforts, whether it’s someone to be a mentor or if it’s families that are supportive or if it’s customers who give us a chance to prove our value. We all need community and relationships.
Max talks about the challenge of learning and organizing, which is a theme we have heard from other entrepreneurs as well. My experience is that the corporate world tests specific sets of skills. Someone else may have complementary skills, but as an entrepreneur, you’re constantly testing a wide range of skills and quickly find out where your opportunities lie. I regularly listen to audio books as I drive to meet clients, prospects or attend meetings with business partners. Learning is an essential part of succeeding in business.
1) What led you to become an entrepreneur?
I always had the drive to be a business owner and lead a company. As a kid, my friends and I frequently had pretend board meetings and had a VHS recorded talk show that was what I’d consider a bad attempt at a podcast – in my teen years, I got more interested in computer work and started providing graphic design services to a few companies while attending high school. I did basic pixel and vector graphics for everything from t-shirts, business logos, and even did designs for a snowboard company to use on their boards.
2) A brief description of your business and what are your aspirations for it?
I’m involved in a few different businesses, but most notably, and the main focus of my attention currently, is Bolding Construction. We are a commercial contractor with our primary focus being on property rehab and tenant improvement. In addition to this, I currently am a member of the leadership team for a multifamily investment fund known as Crusade Equity. We intend to develop crusade equity to continue acquisition of apartment complexes with room for value add.
3) What have you done with your business that you are proud of or that has worked really well?
I’d say what makes me the proudest is that I’ve been able to maintain so many mutually beneficial relationships across the multiple industries that I work in. I’ve been successful in building lasting relationships by providing value to my friends and colleagues and continue to look for creative ways to integrate them into other aspects of my businesses.
4) What were some of your biggest challenges along the way?
Since I have such diverse interests and have taken so many paths, it’s been a constant learning process in many directions. I’d say the biggest challenge is keeping everything organized and compartmentalized, but I’ve learned to cope with that pretty well over time.
5) Have you overcome the challenges? If so how?
Taking notes and building systems to keep me on track. I found ways that worked for me to keep tasks in order and prioritize them.
6) What have you learned and what would you like to share with other entrepreneurs?
Make use of free software that’s available to you that can help with your day-to-day. Things such as Hubspot CRM, Google Calendar, Wunderlist and Evernote save me tons of time and keep me focused.
7) Is there someone or group of people you would like to meet? For example, investors in the electrical industry, Mentors in the publishing industry.
A knowledgeable SEO person. Specific is helpful. I am always looking to network with other business owners and also those that are interested in real estate investments.