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startup to sold


Startup to Sold is my personal journey of going from a broke college student to owner of one of the largest media transfer companies in the U.S.


This book is not only about navigating business decisions, but more importantly it is also about the personal growth that will either limit the company or allow it to continue growing.

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Sometimes I wonder what the secret sauce was that allowed for such great ideas to spring forth when working with Bryan during that time. Looking back, I think the most important factor was that although we had a lot of task conflict, we had very little interpersonal conflict.

Task conflict occurs when there is perceived disagreement about the best way to handle a task. In our case, the task was creating the systems that would make the company operate flawlessly, and hundreds of decisions had to be made. I would propose an idea, and Bryan might disagree by stating his concerns.  The key part, though, and something that Bryan has mentioned on several occasions was that I listened to his point of view. When I say “listen,” I don’t mean just hear his words, but that I would work hard to understand the reasons behind what he said. These underlying reasons were what needed to be satisfied.

We would go back and forth sometimes for hours fine-tuning each detail of a given system or policy. Eventually, we would have something that we were both happy with—we would have consensus. I needed consensus because Bryan was the representative for the “workers” at DVD Your Memories. If he didn’t like how the company was being set up to run, then his attitude, no matter how hard he might try to hide it, would be obvious to everyone below him. I wanted this company to operate in the best possible way—a way that made sense. If someone asked us a question about why something functioned in a certain way, I needed to be able to explain it so that it would make sense. The answer would never be “that’s just the way it is.”

excerpt from book

strategic growth planning excerpt

excerpt from book

When I returned, I called an all-managers meeting with Bryan, Richard, Brandi, and for the first time I made a meeting agenda. I wrote down how we were going to open four to five new stores in 2011 . . . not one, not two, not three but four or five new stores! The rest of the meeting outlined how that would happen. We knew the first store would probably be in Los Angeles, as it was the next market north of Orange County.

​First, we would create an analysis in Excel that would make sure we didn’t make the same mistake we had made in Costa Mesa. I didn’t know how we would do this, but I was sure there was a way. Second, we would create a plan for hiring and training entire store teams and have them ready by the time their store opened. Again, I didn’t know yet how this was going to be done. Third, we needed a purchasing and installation plan to ensure that all equipment was operational when the store opened. I could see this one in my head.

​If we were successful, we would be the largest personal media transfer company of our kind. No privately owned company in the personal media transfer space had more than two retail locations. We would be making history in 2011 . . . or we would crash and burn.


financial growth planning excerpt

excerpt from book

Let’s pause for a moment and talk a bit about money. Financially speaking, a company can be grown in many ways. At the time, I was scared to take on debt, so the only way I knew to grow was to use the profits from the previous year. In my case, I paid myself the minimum I could get away with ($30K/year) to save the maximum amount for growth.

​To be honest, that was also the company’s philosophy. We did not start out any employee at a high wage. Doing this allowed for two things: (1) we could give bigger raises each quarter (technicians) or yearly (managers), and (2) it allowed the company to grow, which benefited not only myself but also the employees. When a company grows, new positions open, e.g., managers move into executive roles, assistant managers move into manager roles, technicians move into assistant manager roles.

​Another decision to be made is how much to risk on that growth. It costs a lot of money to grow a business. Just like when you go to a casino, you should not bet more than you can afford to lose. The same applies for growing a company.


systems growth planning excerpt

excerpt from book

Bryan and I would sit wherever a room was available and discuss every aspect of the company. We would spend hours and hours each day and most nights as well. Sometimes we would get dinner and then stay until a time when we should have been going to sleep. I enjoyed this time. We got to be nerds, but instead of just computer nerds, we were business and computer nerds.

It is a common misconception to think that creativity only applies to art and not to business or entrepreneurship. Let it be known now and forever, though, that business is a creative process. We were creating the systems for a business model that had never existed before—at least not that we could find. No one could tell us how to do it—how to run this operation. We had to think outside the box because there was no box.

​Unlike art, however, which has colors, shapes, and textures, business has the infinite complexity of the human condition. We had to paint customers, employees, orders, machines, timelines, physical space, technology, and more into a canvas to create the perfect painting—one that would keep everyone happy and make money. It took all my brainpower and then some, but it was a thousand times easier than what I had already been through and therefore was a fun and inspiring process.

personal growth

personal growth excerpt

excerpt from book

Businesses are interesting in that they are a magnification of the personality of their owner(s). What is going well and what is going wrong can always be traced back to those at the top. Good things about an owner become the strengths of the business, and if an owner is weak in one area, that will become a weak area of the business.

​If an owner is paying attention and is willing to see the good and the bad about what they have created, they will have the opportunity to go through what I like to call smack-you-in-the-face therapy.

​Why does a business mimic the personality of the owner? This is an interesting question and one that I’ve thought about for years. I believe it comes down to the complexity of daily interactions an owner will have with each employee and customer. Each of these interactions creates a trickle-down effect that will infect every part of the organization to some extent. A “blind spot” in the development of someone at the top will create a “hole” or “missing piece” in their organization, but if there is something extra special about an owner, that will be seen as well.


personal productivity excerpt

excerpt from book

I was starting to feel as though I was always underwater with my duties. More and more emails came in, more personnel problems, equipment issues, lease issues, special projects, marketing opportunities. The list is endless. I quickly realized that I needed a way to handle all this new work.

​I focused my attention for the next two months on learning how to be more efficient with my time. I read books, blogs, followed websites, tried out software—anything I could get my hands on to find out how to handle running these two stores without getting stressed out. In the end, most of what I learned came from a book called Getting Things Done by David Allen and the website.

​The most important thing I learned was that the brain cannot stratify to-do items based on when they are due. Everything the brain remembers is of equal importance, and it will continually remind you of all those things. When you feel you have too many items in your brain, then you feel stressed and overwhelmed.

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