DGS 153: My Multi-Million Dollar Mistake & What I Learned

Business owners and entrepreneurs make mistakes and take risks that other people are unwilling to do. However, they learn from them because nobody’s perfect!

Property management growth expert and founder/CEO of DoorGrow, Jason Hull talks about one of the biggest mistakes he made in his business. He calls it his $2 million mistake, although it was probably even bigger.

You’ll Learn…

[01:37] Validation: Everyone makes mistakes, even entrepreneurs are human.

[02:20] Growing Company: Be super cautious and picky when selecting clients.

[03:23] Start Small, Not Big: Conference idea requires everything a business requires.

[06:54] Lesson Learned: Big deal turned out to be a $2-million or more mistake.

[08:27] Results: Clients got the best results, but a lot of team members left business.

[09:08] Change to Grow: Focus on clients, not sales, marketing, website, or branding.

[11:00] Dilemma: What should I do? Something new? Expand? Go after shiny objects?

[11:30] Premature Problems: Why expand business into new niches, markets, or areas?

[12:29] Hand Holding: Some people are not willing to put in the effort or do the work.

[15:16] 3 Commitments: 1 hour for strategy, 2 hours to implement tactics, and show up.

[17:45] Coaching Calls: Clients access calendar to work through problems, challenges.

Tweetables

“I recommend you to be very picky about the clients that you take on.”

“We weren’t able to focus on the main thing, which is our customer and which is our product.”

“I have fired clients. I have just refunded clients. We’ve let clients go. Some just quit.”

“The lessons end up always being worth the risk. So, take a risk, invest in yourself, invest in your business.”

Resources

DoorGrow and Scale Mastermind

DoorGrow Academy

DoorGrow on YouTube

DoorGrowClub

DoorGrowLive

Transcript

Welcome, DoorGrow Hackers, to the DoorGrowShow. If you are a property management entrepreneur that wants to add doors, make a difference, increase revenue, help others impact lives, you are interested in growing your business and life, and you are open to doing things a bit differently, then you are a DoorGrow Hacker. DoorGrow Hackers love the opportunities, daily variety, unique challenges, and freedom that property management brings.

Many in real estate think you’re crazy for doing it, you think they’re crazy for not because you realize that property management is the ultimate high trust gateway to real estate deals, relationships, and residual income. At DoorGrow, we are on a mission to transform property management businesses and business owners. I’m your host, property management growth expert, Jason Hull, the founder and CEO of DoorGrow. Now, let’s get into the show.

For today’s show, I wanted to talk with all of you about what’s been going on at DoorGrow. Over the years, I’ve made some big mistakes in business like most business owners, this is part of how we learn. We take risks that other people are unwilling to take. One of the biggest mistakes that I made in my business was, I sometimes call my $2 million mistake, but it was probably even bigger of a mistake.

A lot of people probably would not tell you their mistakes in business. But one thing that I think is super validating as an entrepreneur is to hear about some of my mentors’ challenges and some of the mistakes that others that I have worked with that they have made, it makes me feel safe. It makes me feel like they’re human, I’m human. It helps entrepreneurs also to see that you’re not supposed to be perfect all the time. It’s not always going to be great or perfect in business.

One of the big mistakes that I made is I had really great growth in my business. Things were going really well. We were bringing out a lot of clients. We had some clients getting great results. We had some clients not getting great results.

Usually, in most coaching programs, what I’ve learned is that about 20% will be bad clients. They’re not going to do it, they’re not going to take action, they’re not going to get results. No matter how hard you try or how good you do, that’s generally going to be the case if you’re a growing company. If you’re not a growing company, then you can be super cautious, super picky, and that sort of thing. But we are in high paced growth.

One challenging factor is we had some clients that were a bad fit, and over time, we were always trying to filter, be more careful, raise our pricing, and be pickier about the clients that we take on, which is what I recommend to all of you. I recommend you to be very picky about the clients that you take on. But we had great growth. I started working with the coach. We had 300% growth in a year.

We were really moving. Things were going really fast. Things were really good. There was a lot of momentum. I built out a really awesome team, it felt really exciting, and then I had this great idea that I thought would be a great idea. I had always had this dream of doing a conference.

So I came up with this idea to do this big conference. I didn’t want it to be small. I was looking at all the other conferences that were going on. I saw what they did and this has to be next level. It’s got to be as good as this.

Even my coach at the time was like, hey, do something small, just start small. I’m like, no way, I’m going big, I’m going to make this awesome. We’re going to have the best food, Paleo food, and gluten-free options. Even the food was going to be really nice. We’re going to do this really ritzy venue. We did it at this really nice hotel.

This conference cost us well over six figures. It was, I think, $150,000 or something like that all in we spent on this conference. That’s not that bad if you’re a business that’s doing about a million in revenue, I guess that’s okay as long as you make revenue from it, if you’re just doing simple math. Anybody that’s done a significant event knows how challenging these are to put together.

But here’s the caveat to this or the challenge is we had 300% growth in the year. Then the year we decided to do a conference, we then had to shift all of our attention towards this conference. The thing that you don’t realize when you launch a conference or you get on the hook for a conference is you have to get this venue and you’re on the hook with the venue, which means you owe them money. You have a contract with them.

If you don’t sell enough tickets and you don’t sell enough people getting there, you’re not going to get enough people into rooms, you’re responsible for a certain group rate and amount of people, and there’s this big expense. The other thing is they usually want that money upfront, a lot of it or in big chunks, and then there’s this whole racket hotel. They are a monopoly on food.

They don’t allow outside food vendors or outside food to be brought in. You have to pay thousands. I think we spent like $8000 or $9000 just for coffee—it’s crazy—for two days, I think it was, three days. It just gets really crazy, and then they do things like some of these venues will charge by the plate.

Say it’s like $50, $60, $80 a plate, but what they do is they go around. They pick up the plates, and then people go and get another plate to get another item or another food and they’re charging you per plate. There are just little things that are a little bit shady in how that industry can work sometimes. I was completely blind to a lot of this stuff.

I was really nervous about putting it together, but here’s the real problem. Launching a conference like this required sales. It required marketing, it required organization. It requires everything that a business requires. It’s like starting a business.

We have this business that’s doing really well. We’re moving really fast. It’s going really rapid, 300% growth in the year, hitting about a million in revenue. We hit a million in revenue and things were moving really fast. We probably could have continued that trajectory.

Things were really good. We had a really good team in place and everything and then decided to do this conference. That year, we had no growth. We stayed flat at about a million in revenue because we did the conference. So that’s why I call it my $2 million mistake because we easily could generate probably $2 million more in revenue just that year. But we also stayed flat the year after and the year after as a result.

As a result, things got really crazy because we did this crazy conference, it took a massive amount of work. All of our time and attention had to shift towards that as a team, sales, marketing, everything because we were on the hook to make this work.

The conference went well and we had some great speakers. I got great feedback, but to me, it was massively stressful. I wasn’t really able to enjoy it. I have kind of an introverted side to me. It wasn’t quite the dream that I thought it would be, but I’m glad that I did it as a learning experience. It was $2 million tuition for this learning opportunity.

Maybe, if I really did some math, maybe it was a $10 million mistake, hindsight being 2020. Not only that, but by shifting our focus towards this conference and so much attention having to be placed on it, we weren’t able to focus on the main thing, which is our customer and which is our product. So I had to shift out of some of the coaching stuff that I was doing. We tried to go more towards just getting people to move through the program and follow the material. We had people that weren’t getting as good of results.

Really, that’s the piece that I enjoy the most, the one-on-one personal depth and interactions and coaching clients. Those are always the clients that get the best results. We realized that. Now, we lost a lot of team members as a result. It took a while for us to get back in momentum.

I was working with a coach at the time. I got a lot of personal growth through that time period, so it was a good time period. It caused me to wake up to a lot of things in my life that were really challenging or frustrating. I ended up ending my marriage of 13 years also. This is in the last several years and becoming single again after like two decades.

There was just a lot, a lot of change, a lot of growth. Now we’re getting back into a nice growth mode in the business and I’ve got some really good team members building up our team back up. My focus is really just on clients. I’m not even doing sales anymore. I’m not having to do the marketing stuff. I’m not doing any of the website stuff, branding stuff.

I really just get to focus on coaching clients, which is really what I enjoy. It’s the fun part for me. So I built this awesome team. What’s interesting is due to these painful situations, the COVID, and all these things which were causing cash crunches or constraints, it forced us to tighten the business up.

My team is smaller than it’s ever been. We’re more effective than we’ve ever been, and our product offering is better than it’s ever been. We’re able to deliver more value than we’ve ever been able to deliver at a much lower price point. Overall, these things made us, these difficult situations, these problems, and these challenges like a conference and team members quitting and leaving as a result of, then financial challenges in the business, and divorce.

These kinds of things are the refiner’s fire that improves us as human beings if we allow it, and improves our businesses if we allow it. Now, I’m not saying you’re going to go jump into problems. I’m not saying that that’s a good idea either. But I am grateful for the lessons and I’m grateful to have learned those things that I’ve learned. I wouldn’t give up those lessons in hindsight. It enables me to have conversations with clients.

This is a common entrepreneurial dilemma. Should I do this new thing? Should I expand into this thing? Should I do this cool, new idea? Should I go after the shiny object? I have this really powerful story that I get to share with clients and say, look, let me tell you about my $2 million mistake, why the main thing always needs to stay being the main thing, why focus equals power in your business, and why your attention shouldn’t be diluted.

Some of the concepts that I teach and some of the ideas like premature expansion, a lot of property managers prematurely want to expand their business into new niches, new markets, or new areas. They do that prematurely, they’re not really ready to do that, and they just dilute their focus, which dilutes their potency and their ability to grow and scale, for example.

There’s a lot of lessons that came out of this. Personally, business-wise, that came as a result of that. There were clients that went through our processes and came on board as clients during some of these challenging time periods. We had some that got phenomenal results.

We had some great success stories, clients that just did what we told them to do, but not every client is like that. Not every client will just watch all your videos, show up to every call, invest all the time that you tell them to do, and do the work. Most need a lot more hand-holding, I’ve realized.

We weren’t able to really hold people’s hands very effectively during that. So there were people that sort of fell through the cracks, and I felt bad about that. Some became very vocal about me and my business online. But the most vocal people, ironically, that are negative about DoorGrow and about me are people that have never worked with me in a lot of instances.

They love hearing that the decision they made to never work with me is so validated by the few […] clients that really don’t like us, that didn’t get a good result, or didn’t put in the effort and didn’t do the work. As a property manager, you’re going to have these situations too. You’re going to have an owner that you shouldn’t have taken on. You didn’t realize it.

Maybe you had pretty good qualifications and you qualified them during the sales process, but they still made their way into your business. Unbeknownst to you, maybe they’re wolves in sheep’s clothing or whatever, but you realized it and you fired them. I have fired clients. I have just refunded clients. We’ve let clients go. Some just quit.

That is a situation that comes up, and so we’ve gotten much better over the years at qualifying clients. We have an application people fill out just to work with us to make sure that we can help them. We’re looking for certain qualities and we make them jump through some serious hoops. We give out.

We give away a two-hour training currently called The Seven Frameworks for Growth or DoorGrow Secrets that we give out of free material teaching a lot of my frameworks and the secrets that I love to share with clients. I just give that away because I know if the right people will go through this and they’ll see value in it, and the wrong people will go through this and they won’t find it valuable. So they sell filters, or they just won’t even invest the time to do that because it’s kind of a prerequisite.

If they’re not willing to watch all that and do that, they’re not going to really watch all the material, take action, and do the things that we tell them to do in the program either because they’re lazy, so they’re not going to get the result. There have been zero clients that I’ve had that have actually done what I’ve told them to do that have not won and gotten results and benefited from the program.

The one quality or one characteristic that I have to have in a client if they’re going to get a result is that they’re willing to do the work and take action. So now, in our program, just to become a client, not only do they have to watch a two-hour training, they have to fill out an application. We also have a requirement I call the three commitments.

This is something that I would recommend that you implement in your own business. But we have this framework we call the three commitments. The three things they have to commit to in order for us to guarantee that they’re going to get results, and we offer a guarantee. If you are willing to spend one hour being a business owner of your business, this is the first commitment.

One hour of strategic time means you actually operate like a business owner. Not doing all the tactical stuff, which a team member or an employee could do—emailing, calling, or whatever. Strategic stuff: planning, scheming, watching the material that we have in DoorGrow Academy. This needs to be done early in the morning before work, before you start your day, before kids, before pets, and before your day runs away from you.

You need some quiet time for strategic time, the best time, after you’ve had a good night’s rest and your brain is full of all the brain decision-making chemicals that it needs to think strategic time. Give you the best time. The king or queen needs it first. Otherwise, you’ll always have a starving kingdom, I like to say.

The second commitment that’s required is to be willing to dedicate at least two hours each workday, five days a week towards implementing tactically the strategies and tactics that I give you. Doing the work, making the calls, outreach, dialing in operations, or whatever is the big challenge that we’re solving or working on.

Really, that just means, for people that want to grow that are on the growth path, because we have three different paths in our program, that means that just being a part-time salesperson for 10 hours a week. I mean, that’s really a […] salesperson. That’s it. Just at least do that. Ten hours minimum a week. Track your time, be accountable, check in on our weekly check-in, and let us know how many hours you’ve done and at least do 10. That’s it.

Third commitment is to show up to the weekly coaching call. I find that clients that don’t show up to the call don’t have any pressure, they’re not accountable. I can’t coach them. I can’t check in with them on how they’re doing. I can’t redirect them away from some of the things they might be thinking, doing, or that are holding them back. I can’t really coach them if they’re not reachable by me.

Those are the three commitments. Now we give them even more support than that. We have a Telegram group. I give all my clients access to my calendar to schedule one-on-one calls. This is all I do now is coach. They can schedule one-on-one calls with me.

We work through problems, challenges, objections, things they’re dealing with, or whatever, to make sure that they’re in momentum and moving forward. How does that apply to your business? Could you have maybe three commitments and could you also keep your focus as I talked about on your main thing a little bit more? These are just some things that I wanted to share just in my struggles as a business owner and in my journey in developing my business.

If you are one of those clients that struggled in the past, you worked with us, you didn’t get a great result, I’m perfectly willing to coach you for free. We’ll do a 30-day trial between the two of us. If you’re willing to commit to taking action, I’ll coach you for free. We’ll get you a result, and then at the end of that 30 days, we’ll both have a conversation and it will be, yes, I want to do your program and I’ll pay for your mastermind. I’ve been getting great results and I’ve been keeping the three commitments.

Or if you’re not keeping those three commitments, then we’ll part ways and I’ll kick you out, but you’ll probably choose that. You’ll realize, hey, this isn’t for me, I’m not really going to do this stuff.

We’ve got clients that are adding hundreds of doors to this program, and they’re not spending any money on advertising. They’re not having to deal with cold […] leads, they’re able to charge more money, the potential clients are less price-sensitive because we’re capturing them earlier in the sales cycle. So I’m going to teach you how to do the unscalable things that actually scale your business. It’s all about more depth, more personal connection, and creating more relationships, and we’ll scale your business.

Most property management companies are losing doors right now. They’re down. Mostly, the larger ones are down about 200 doors. A significant chunk of their portfolio is selling because the markets are high, investors are getting the itch, and they want to get out, sell, and make some money. They’re cashing out.

Our clients are growing and they’re adding doors. They’re net positive. They’re making money and building up residual income. They’re not even spending money on advertising. That’s my client. That’s pretty powerful and it’s true. It’s working really well.

I’m going to teach you how to do unscalable things. SEO, Google ads, all that kind of stuff, that’s scalable. It’s something you can hand money and whatever. I’m going to teach you how to do the unscalable things that actually are really working in the marketplace right now to help you grow your business, so you can capture more businesses that are less price-sensitive, that are captured earlier in the sales cycle, and your close rate is infinitely higher with those warmer leads, and it is with cold leads through those other strategies.

We’ll give you that free training that you can watch—our Seven Frameworks training. Just reach out, we’re happy to give that to you and get you hopefully on as a client in our process. I don’t know if there’s anything else I should say about my $2 million mistake.

All of us as entrepreneurs are going to have experiences and challenges that we make a bad decision or business. Maybe you’ve never had one, but that probably means you’re playing a game that’s too small or you’re being too cautious. The lessons end up always being worth the risk.

So take a risk, invest in yourself, invest in your business, reach out if we can help you, and keep your business focused on your main thing, which is your property management business. Grow that thing and keep the focus tight. It’s so tempting as an entrepreneur to be distracted and to go towards other things.

Let’s start a roofing company. Let’s start a pool cleaning company. Let’s start a carpet cleaning company. Let’s start a maintenance company.

There may be a place for these and maybe it will help you add some revenue. But in a lot of instances, adding more to the business ends up actually taking away from the main thing. So you have to get to the place where you’ve got a solid team that you can trust to make sure everything’s running smoothly before you start to add additional pieces and start additional companies.

Anyway, that’s it. I’ve had this on my agenda for a while to share my $2 million mistake. I just had other topics that were a lot more exciting for me to share, but I wanted to share this. If you have any questions, if you are a client that went through some of that stuff with us and you felt like you didn’t get results, reach out to me. I want to make sure that we take care of you.

If you’re bitter and upset and you’re not open to that, then that’s cool. Don’t reach out. I know there’s always some of those out there. The more successful we are, the more we attract. We build up a little group of haters because we’ve worked with thousands of clients, and I’ve talked to thousands of property managers.

We’ve got hundreds of clients right now. We’ve got 80 businesses in our mastermind right now, which is just crazy to me. It’s really awesome. People are getting great results. Today’s call was a really good call since I’m just kind of riffing and chatting here. I love hearing our clients get results. Yeah, it was a good call today.

Anyway, each week we start by sharing wins on our Grow call. Anyway, that’s all I have today to share. Feel free to hit me up on social media if you want to check in with me. My username is @kingjasonhull. Happy to have a conversation because this is all I do.

I love coaching my clients. I really enjoy helping people grow and win in their businesses. If you want to know if I’m the real deal, set up a call with me. Let’s chat.

I will say I’ll point out that I’m in every property management group and every real estate group probably that exists on Facebook. There’s a property management group that has a kind of a culture of negativity towards me and they don’t like me, which is cool. It’s not my group.

I chime in every now and then to try and be helpful. I’ll admit, as a business owner, it hurts, just like it probably hurts you when you see an owner bad mouth your business or whatever. But when I see a past client maybe that really I didn’t even know or they didn’t really talk to me, they didn’t show up to the calls, they didn’t really work with me, they didn’t really take action, they just signed up with us and hope the website would magically do the work for them for some reason, something like that, yeah, it hurts.

It hurts to see people complain. Especially, it’s frustrating to see people that have never worked with me tell other people to work with businesses. I saw one guy mention like, somebody said, hey, should I work with DoorGrow? One of my past clients was like, yeah, we had a good experience, but he knows the culture there and was afraid of really saying too much like talking to them directly.

Then there were a bunch of people that were negative. One guy was like, hey, you, don’t use them, use this other company. So I reached out to this guy directly and I said, hey, what was your experience with that other company? I’m always looking for ways to benefit my clients and they’re like, oh, I’ve never worked with them, but the people seemed cool there.

I was like, okay, so you’ve never worked with me. You’ve never worked with this other company either, but you’re telling people not to work with me and to work with this other company. To me, that is a massive lack of integrity. I’m not going to recommend somebody go do something or work with something unless they’ve done that themselves or gotten a lot of feedback from other clients or people that have done this so that I can share that, but that’s just me.

Anyway, that made me sad. That’s part of the challenge we have to deal with as business owners. You’re going to have some haters and you just do what you can. That sort of inspired this episode. I hope this was helpful. I hope hearing my situation was helpful.

I hope you stay focused on the main thing and you win in business and life. If I can support you in any way, reach out. Anyway, until next time, to our mutual growth. Bye, everyone.

About Jason Hull

Jason's mission is "to inspire others to love true principles." This means he enjoys digging up gold nuggets of wisdom & sharing them with property managers to help them improve their business. He founded OpenPotion, DoorGrow, & GatherKudos.