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Your Business Shouldn’t Make You Miserable—How to Ensure It Doesn’t

The BiggerPockets Business Podcast
67 min read
Your Business Shouldn’t Make You Miserable—How to Ensure It Doesn’t

Think about your typical work day. Which activities drain you? Which energize you? And which do you wish you were doing more of?

Asking these questions changed Trevor Mauch’s life for the better. In this episode, he guides us through an exercise that can help you do the same!

For Trevor, it all began after a scary wake-up call. It wasn’t that his software company wasn’t doing well. In fact, Carrot—which builds high-converting websites for real estate investors and agents—recently landed on Inc.’s list of fastest-growing companies. Trevor even had enough cash to buy the domain name Carrot.com for a jaw-dropping sum (you’ll learn just how much).

Instead, the wake-up call was a near tragedy brought on by his hardcore “hustle and grind” mentality. At that moment, Trevor realized that working nights and weekends wasn’t sustainable. It also wasn’t helping the company, because that routine wasn’t allowing him to grow as a leader.

Today, Trevor reveals the system you can use to delegate tasks that drain your energy—even if you’re great at them! He also drops some great tips for how to rank higher in Google and how creating local “content with context” can help you beat out bigger, better-funded competitors. And he also reflects on how building a strong, clearly defined brand has helped attract some of his most valuable team members.

The result is an episode that’s part motivational speech, part marketing masterclass. So download, subscribe, and leave us a rating and review if you enjoy it!

Click here to listen on iTunes.

Listen to the Podcast Here

Read the Transcript Here

Welcome to the BiggerPockets Business Podcast.

Show number two.

Once I made that mindset shift that the business does not have to be your passion it should fuel your passion. I’m like oh okay that’s what this is about.

Welcome to a real-world MBA from the school of hard knocks where entrepreneurs reveal what it really takes to make it. Whether you’re already in business or you’re on your way there, this show is for you. This is BiggerPockets Business.

J: Welcome everybody to the BiggerPockets Business Podcast. I am your cohost Jay Scott here today with my lovely cohost and amazing negotiator Carol Scott. How are you doing today Carol Scott?

Carol: I am doing super great. Although I got to tell you this latest negotiation over the domain name is wearing me right out. You know I’m a good negotiator. Like I’m a really good negotiator, but this whole situation I don’t even know where to go with it.

J: Yes so I think what Carol is talking about here is that we have spent the last week negotiating, trying to purchase a domain name that would be valuable to our business, but we’re trying to decide if we want to spend the money or not. We’ve been negotiating with a seller of that domain name for about a week now and we’ve sort of come to an impasse and now we have to figure out what next steps are.

Carol: It’s killing me.

J: Which leads us into today’s show. We talked to a guy who spent an obscene amount of money recently to buy his domain name. We’re talking with Trevor Mauch, founder of Carrot.com, a software company that helps real estate investors and real estate agents stand out, convert more leads, and close more deals. So some awesome stuff in this episode.

Trevor is going to tell us why when he builds a company, he doesn’t necessarily build it around his passion. In fact, building a company around your passion can lead to potential failure. He tells us about how we can build a strong brand for our company, both a strong brand to our customers externally and also a strong branch internally with our employees. He gives us a few great tips for how we can better utilize Google to improve our search ranking if we have an online business.

Carol: One of my very favorite parts, Trevor tells us about this awesome concept that he’s got. It’s called the energy audit and I’ll tell you what it will completely change the way you think about your daily routine.

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Without any further ado let’s jump right in. Let’s welcome Trevor Mauch to the podcast. How are you doing Trevor?

Trevor: I’m doing excellent. I’m crazy pumped about this new podcast you guys have and just honored to be a part of it. It’s going to be fun.

Carol: I’m excited to have you too, Trevor. I think it’s such good timing too with the launch and acquisition of carrot.com and it’s just perfect timing.

J: Hey, hey spoilers.

Carol: We’re so excited to talk to you.

J: Spoiler alert.

Carol: Spoiler alert. Dang. Guilty.

Trevor: That’s right.

J: Right off the bat.

Trevor: I’m wearing my carrot, national carrot day shirts if you’re watching the video. We printed these special shirts last week. It was International Carrot Day, two weeks ago.

J: April 4th.

Trevor: April 4th that’s right.

J: Everybody knows International Carrot Day.

Trevor: Everybody.

Carol: Totally.

Trevor: Everybody does now right.

Carol: Okay.

J: So Trevor, not funny story, but interesting story. I first heard of you about five years ago and I believe that’s around the time you launched Carrot. Carol and I moved from Atlanta to the DC area back in 2013 and then in early 2014 we bought our first property in Maryland and we bought it from a wholesaler.

Trevor: Okay.

J: I was doing some research on her at the time because we always like to research the people we’re buying properties from and the first thing it came up was a video that she did with you and it was your. It turns out it was your very first customer video review that you ever did with Carrot. Her name was Brittany Boling.

Trevor: Oh yes. Yes.

J: That was my first introduction to you. That was my first introduction to Carrot and so I’ve kind of been following you for the last five years and following Carrot for the last five years so just an interesting story there that I think I came across. You read about the beginning.

Trevor: Yes.

J: Anyway, we’re going to talk a lot about Carrot obviously, but I want to step back and can you tell us a little bit about your back story? Can you tell us a little bit about when you first got that entrepreneurial itch and how you got to where you are now?

Trevor: Dude, it’s such a good question because you hear all the time on entrepreneur podcast where almost every time it’s like man, I was I had the lemonade stand. You know I was going to school, selling candy bars the other. That wasn’t me dude. I didn’t want to do any of that stuff.

I wanted nothing to do with business growing up. My parents had both started small businesses when I was young and out of necessity it wasn’t because they were born entrepreneurs. Neither one of their parents were entrepreneurs. One was a farmer, which you could say that there’s entrepreneurial in there, but that was out of a need.

They were always broke and then my mom’s side of the family, my grandpa was a coach and a teacher so there was no entrepreneurship really in the family unless you go back a couple extra generations. I remember my dad he, I was probably between first and third grade. I can’t remember the exact timeframe, but he lost his job so he had became the general manager of this equipment rental store for farmers. Like renting combines and tractors and he would sell them and stuff.

The business was in terrible shape when my dad stepped in and so he basically kind of came in to help wind things down so he was without a job and that was the first experience I ever had was he goes I could either make another. I could either go get another job or he chose to create his own and he started a company and they’ve done very well for themselves. They still have those companies today. My mom started one in our basement so I remember people coming in that are having weddings and she was a wedding planner. They’d literally come in to our basement, sitting down and turned our basement she had shelves downstairs in our basement with napkins on them and cake tops and stuff like that. For me, I didn’t see it as entrepreneurship.

I saw it as my parents doing what they needed to do to put food in our tables. We were never rich. All throughout actually why I had never really wanted to do business is because my parents are amazing. My dad’s the most positive person that I know except when it comes around employees.

You know so what I had experienced was you could never find good employees, business is hard, all these things that kind of had some semi negative mindsets around starting a business. I remember we would be busting our butts as you know 10-11-12-13-year-olds in the summers packing chairs, setting up tents for weddings in the summers and that to me was like I don’t want to run a business if this is what it is.

J: Yes.

Trevor: If there’s no free time, if there is no flexibility, if you’re always bound to your business and can’t get away from it I don’t want that if that’s what business is. That was the start of where I found out about business. I didn’t become attracted to business until I was out of college.

J: That’s awesome and one thing that I’ve noticed over the years is that people that our entrepreneurs now that we’re exposed to entrepreneurship early on like their parents were entrepreneurs. They have a much different attitude towards starting a business. I know a lot of people that don’t really get into entrepreneurship or starting a business until later in life. They tend to think it’s glamorous. It’s something to be really excited about. Every day is going to be fun. Every task is going to be exciting, but those who have been exposed early on and I was not exposed early on so I fall into the second crowd, but those that were exposed early on realized that it’s a lot of hard work in most of the task you’re doing they’re not going to excite you. It’s not stuff you get up every morning and say I can’t wait to do the books or to write out paychecks so that’s definitely something I’ve learned that if you’re starting out early, you have a different attitude that if you’re just jumping in when you’re 25 years old.

Trevor: You do for sure because for me when I was a young kid once I wasn’t able to do any of the fun stuff. I wasn’t doing the marketing thing. I was doing the grunt work. You know I was packing stuff around and, but the cool thing about that you know is if I look back on why is carrot the way that it is today. Why are we you know seen as one of the best customer experiences, not just in this industry, but any company that our customers work with. You know why is it that we have an amazing culture.

Why is it we focus so much on customer experience it’s because what I learned at my parents company. You know it wasn’t acceptable to go up and help set up a wedding and not leave with that person raving about the experience. It wasn’t acceptable for us to be late to set up a wedding. It wasn’t acceptable for us to not have an exceptional experience you know for those clients and so I had that really ingrained into me early on. It’s like you might as well be great at whatever you’re doing. That’s when we started to with Carrot I’m like let’s not just do it good. Let’s, can we be the best in the world at it.

Carol: Nice to be the best.

Trevor: That’s what we really set out to do. Yes.

Carol: I find it so interesting that you not only had really never considered entrepreneurialism. You are it sounds like you are full on against it. Because like you said there you are, the middle of the summer you’re supposed to be at the pool, eating popsicles, playing with your buddies, terrorizing the neighborhood with Nerf Blasters.

Trevor: Yes.

Carol: You’re setting up weddings right? You’re like no thank you. Yet you still went on to do what you’re doing now so what was that turning point? What was that defining moment where you said, “Ha, I do want to be an entrepreneur.”

Trevor: A couple different things actually so I get into high school and I thought I wanted to be a doctor. Okay because I’m like I’m going to go the opposite direction in this business thing. I think being a doctor sounds cool. It’s kind of like you have these traditional money mindsets that people tell you. That doctor equals successful, lawyer equals successful.

Some sort of profession equals success right and stable. In high school, I took a class called health occupations class and this is the first lesson is I think people need to dabble. People need to explore and dabble a lot. In health occupations class I learned pretty darn quick I wasn’t going to be an orthopedic surgeon when I almost fainted in the emergency room watching a basic procedure in health occupations class. All right let’s check that one off.

I dabbled, experimented, don’t want to be in the health field and then I get into college and just like a lot of young people do is college is kind of that next evolution. You go to high school, if you’re parents or society tells you to go to college then you go to college to figure it out. I went to a very technical school called Oregon Institute of Technology. It’s an amazing amazing technical school. If you’re wanting to be an engineer or anything like that, computer scientists.

It’s not an amazing school if you want to do business and that’s what I did. I went there, played baseball, and got a degree in small business management with a marketing and entrepreneurship option. We didn’t get to visit one entrepreneur in four years, not one entrepreneur came in to speak. We didn’t like actually go see real business and so the only entrepreneurial education I had was the stuff from my parents and then in books.

Here’s where the switch happened right here, Carol is this. Is I had a professor, name is Arie DeGroot and he was just a—he was a really charismatic guy first of all, good speaker, but he was an attorney and a real estate investor. I’m like this guy his energy is amazing. Whatever he’s doing, I just want that.

Like it just seems like he took some sort of path that must have worked for him. I started studying, getting the grades, I wanted to go to law school and I wanted to be a real estate investor and an attorney. I got the real estate investor part down, I bought my first property while I was a junior in college, when I was it was 2004. The four unit property there in Klamath Falls, Oregon.

I still own that one today. That got me kind of where I go. Okay cool. Yes I’m young, but that’s not an excuse for not going out there and doing something on my own.

If I can buy a property with literally like the infomercial is saying, no money down and it’s a fourplex and I’m 21 years old and I don’t have bad credit. I have no credit. If I can do this, what else can I go out there and do? I ended up failing, they all sat to get into law school two times so that kind of made my decision for me for law.

Carol: A lot easier.

Trevor: Yes, and during that college journey, same thing I needed money and I didn’t have enough time to to work a real job because I was playing baseball. I’m going to school full-time and so I said well I really like creating things. I love the act of landscaping, like the creation of landscaping. I landscape my parents new house and you know there’s waterfalls and all kinds of stuff and I thought it was a lot of fun so I actually started being a landscaper in college.

Carol: No kidding.

J: Interesting.

Trevor: Yes.

J: Let’s step back here real quick. You mentioned you bought a four unit property. What was the goal for that property? Did you want to be a real estate investor? Did you want to start a real estate empire or were you just forward thinking enough to think oh I need to start building up an investment and I need to start applying for retirement. Which was, what was your thought process there?

Trevor: Yes, at the start I honestly wanted to be a house flipper and wholesaler because that was at the time of you know 2003-’04-’05 when everything was just blowing up and everybody and their dog wanted to do real estate. Kind of like it has been the last three years except even hyper crazy and so I was on all the forums. I was on everything. You know learning everything about flipping and wholesaling and when it got down to it for me anyway I went man I really like marketing and I really like this stuff, but it just doesn’t seem attractive to me personally that to make my everyday business real estate. I want to figure out something else, but I want real estate to be my wealth building tool.

J: Got it.

Trevor: After a year of researching everything in wholesaling and flipping, and I was one of those guys who could probably answer the forum questions well, but I had never done it before. I’m like you know what let me just shift. What if I just try to find a rental property and maybe that’s more of what I want to do. I want to make money doing things that interest me a lot on the daily basis then take that money and put it into real estate for wealth.

J: Got it. Awesome. You bought the fourplex. You decided you wanted to start a landscaping business. What was the, what’s the next step in that journey?

Trevor: Yes, so I probably got four or five clients you know during that time. I didn’t do the maintenance. I love the build out of it and that’s one thing I discovered about myself is there’s a phrase now that I know of called unique ability. You know what do you love?

What things give you more energy when you’re done doing the things than when you started. I didn’t know that there was a concept called that at that time. I just knew that I didn’t like doing maintenance, but I love the creation of the thing. I can draw it out.

I could design it and now to get my buddies in the baseball team, pay them really well. We would jam it all out in two days and then we would come out the other end with some really good money and a creation. Something was made. Then hand it off to someone else to maintain. That was kind of what I did there and I realized well either I’m going to have to build a team and do this or I’m going to just do something else.

Because I don’t want to be out there breaking my back every single day. You know, building this stuff, I just want to design it, which means other people are going to have to build it. From that programming that I had got inadvertently from my parents. I’m like I don’t want to build a team because employees equal pain in the butt. Okay so at that decision, I said okay landscaping, I’m done.

I want to chase this real estate thing. After I graduated from college, my wife, we got married right after college. We moved up to Portland, Oregon and I said I’m going to give myself a year. I’m going to give myself 12 months and this is a huge lesson, love young people to latch on to this is give yourself a time to figure it out especially while you’re young and you don’t have maybe a lot of those those things, the commitments right. I gave myself a year when my wife was getting her masters degree.

I said, “I’m going to try to figure out this entrepreneur thing. If I don’t figure it out this year I’ll go and get a job.” That year was me really trials, tribulations, actually learning what real marketing is and then I found the Internet as far as business goes and that’s when things took off.

J: That’s awesome.

Carol: I want to hear one or more though in that year and I love that tip that you just gave to listeners about giving yourself, allotting yourself that period of time where you can experiment, where you can find like you said what your passion is and how you can implement it. Try different things and learn what really matters and see what works, what doesn’t and so on so what were some of those during that year period. What were some of those trials and tribulations that enabled you to rule some things out?

J: Yes, so the first thing for me Carol is number one and be open to new ideas. I came in, had no clue what I was going to do. I knew I wanted to learn about marketing so my uncle, who was one of my clients, paying me almost nothing, but I so appreciate the opportunity that he paid me something so I can pay my bills and learn marketing. He had a mortgage brokerage company that he worked for. He didn’t own it and he walked in one day and pointed at the computer screen.

He’s like Google us. Google like Portland Mortgage Brokers. I did it and he goes how do I get there? Do you know how to do that? I’m like no clue, but I’ll figure it out.

Carol: Okay.

Trevor: Be open to new things and number two just try to figure things out. Like learn and dive in and experiment with things. The next thing Carol, was this is after I started to learn some things I said okay I’m going to dabble on my side over here and start to test these. How do I get traffic? How do I write content?

How do I—how does this internet work related to business and I said okay I’m out there trying to sell consulting services for people, but no one is buying. Like no one is buying these services nor should they have. I had no track record. I had a terrible pitch. I didn’t know anything about anything.

The next thing I said you know what? If no one is buying my services right now why don’t I just go give them away? Why don’t I just like find people, add so much value to them asking nothing in return and I’d find people that I knew that I could add a result to and I’d reached out to them and say, “Hey I noticed this on your website. Why don’t you tweet these two or three things and I think could have given you a better result da da da.”

They’d hit me back saying, “Hey can you do it?” “I’m like yes, totally. Just you know let me know, let me do it.” I would do it for them.

What can I pay you? Nothing. Just go get a good result enjoy it, let me know if there’s anything I can help with. That mindset right there, the whole go giver mindset was huge.

Not going out there, trying to get mine. How do I help other people get theirs in turn? I think it will come back. That mindset really fueled me over the next couple years.

J: That’s great. You said something a few minutes ago that I think is really important and you mentioned unique ability. What are you good at? I have a friend named Matt Faircloth, a lot of BiggerPockets listeners know Matt and he struck me.

The first time I heard him, somebody walked up to him like an aspiring real estate investor and started talking to him, looking for advice and Matt cut off the conversation. The first thing he asked the guy was what’s your superpower? I love that question. It’s basically asking what are you really good at?

What’s your, in your terms, or in your words, what’s your unique ability? Then focus your aspirations, your business, whatever you’re going to do in life around that unique ability, around that superpower. So many of us are, it’s ingrained in our head when we grow up. Our parents tells you you can be anything you want to be. Figure out something you love and do what you love. I mean if it were that simple, I’d be a professional baseball player.

Trevor: Me too man. Yes.

J: I’m never going to be as professional baseball player. As much as I love it.

Trevor: Yes.

J: There’s more than just doing what you love. There’s figuring out what your unique ability is and what you’re good at so what’s your advice to people when they’re trying to find this intersection of what they love and what they’re good at to forge a path forward.

Trevor: Man, I could literally talk about this topic for three hours. I was meeting with one of my employees at the coffee shop right before this morning and that was a lot of what our talk about you know was about. It all comes down to this one word. The advice, and I’ll tell you what the word is here in the second.

The advice that you had mentioned there a second ago Jay with your friend who talked about your superpower. Dude, I had heard the same feedback. I had heard the same advice. People told me the same thing and over those next few years as I started my own online publishing company.

I was doing what most would have considered at that time my superpower. I was pretty good at marketing. Okay I was people would pay me a lot of money to execute marketing stuff for them. I would do it for my own company as well.

That’s what people would say hey, his superpower is online marketing stuff. Okay, the problem is when I was going down that route and just chasing what I’m really really good at it actually wasn’t the things that I should have been chasing. It made me miserable. This is I think is some of the most well intentioned, but for me personally worst advice that I have ever received is really dive in on you know all in on your super and what you’re good at and here’s why.

Here’s why, and then I’ll give people a different twist to it. Is during the years from 2007 – let’s say 2008 through 2010. I had started an online company. We did pretty darn good revenue or being an early 20 something-year-old guy.

You know mid six figures and made some good money, but I remember in 2010, very vividly waking up. You know we had our first daughter in 2010, McKinley. We have three kids now, four, six, and eight. That year was kind of a turning point for me because I’m going oh my gosh so I figured out how to make money.

Check. You know check that part. Took two or three years to get there, but figure out how to make some money, but why isn’t this entrepreneurial dream there like I thought that this entrepreneurial, like the clouds were going to part as soon as I made this six-figure income. The clouds are going to part. I figured this thing out. Right and I was sitting there in bed at 10:30-11 o’clock in the morning feeling sorry for myself that I was miserable.

I did not want to wake up and do the work that I had created for my job because I was doing what people consider my superpower things that I was good at and paid me very well to do it. It was because I wasn’t chasing energy. That’s the word I want to toss at people. Energy is the key. In 2012, I joined a coaching program and I was trying to find this unique ability thing right because I had it ingrained in me that it’s the things you’re great at that you get paid really well for. Once again, I was great at from creating marketing campaigns.

I was great at creating products. I was great at doing these things I got paid very well to do them, but they sucked the energy out of me. They sucked the energy out of me. I was there in Chicago and the gal.

I had read Dan Sullivan’s Unique Ability book. I bought the thing for $20 bucks thinking I could shortcut the process rather than paying the $6,000 bucks to go through their coaching program and there’s this one thing that she said and it finally clicked it for me. I had probably heard it before. I just didn’t, it wasn’t the right timing and she said, “Your unique ability isn’t necessarily what you’re great at.”

She said, “That’s a misnomer.” She said well let me reverse. Your unique ability is something that you’re insanely great at, but the thing is most people don’t give themselves a chance to realize what their true unique ability is because they’re doing things that they’re just really really good at over here. I was doing things that I was really really good at, which is marketing, execution things like that.

What really gives me energy is this stuff. Is talking about entrepreneurship. What really gives me energy is strategy, but I hate execution. Execution drags my the energy out of me. What really gives me energy is coaching high level entrepreneurs or my team.

What drags the energy out of me is creating a system around it. You know what really gives me energy is creating things like the landscaping. Right, I love creating it. What really just like oh sucks, the energy out of me is to actually to build the thing.

Carol: To build it out.

Trevor: Right and so that’s when she said it. She’s like, “Oh my gosh write down the things that give you more energy when you’re done doing them than when you started.” If you’re insanely great at those things, certain things of those then you can be a world-class. That’s all you should be doing. I’m like, “Okay, I’m just going to chase energy.”

The stuff that I’m getting paid really well for that a lot of people would say is my superpower. It was only my superpower because I didn’t give myself a chance to really do the things that are my unique ability. How do I make it to where I switch it to our things that are making a lot of money I’m really really good at. I don’t want to do those anymore even though that’s 90% of my income. How do I switch to where I’m mainly doing things that give me high energy and then have someone else do this other stuff that makes money.

J: Okay so you have these things that you’re really good at and you know you’re good at them, but aren’t necessarily the things that give you your energy. Clearly, it’s not always obvious what you should be focused on. Again.

Trevor: Yes.

J: You were focused on the stuff that you were good at so a lot.

Trevor: Especially if they make you money. Right.

J: Exactly.

Trevor: That’s where people get stressed out.

Carol: Harder stuff away.

J: Okay so we have a lot of listeners out there who are okay well I hear the words that you’re saying. I should be focused on the stuff that gives me energy, not necessarily or the stuff that gives me energy plus I’m really good at. What are some actionable tips that they can take to really figure out what those things are that give them energy and I assume you’re talking about not just physical energy, but mental energy.

Trevor: The whole thing so I’ll give you a real example and people can actually like, people take out a piece of paper and it is cool. I’ll walk you five minutes through the energy at it.

Carol: That’s awesome.

Trevor: Is the exact thing.

J: Absolutely.

Trevor: People do.

J: Keep in mind that a lot of people aren’t watching this. They’re listening, but.

Trevor: Cool and I can give you guys. I have a PDF template that I use internally. There is no opt in for it. I can give you guys the link to it. Like I just want people to use it. To have my team use it.

Carol: That’s awesome. That will be so helpful.

J: Everybody check the show notes for that template.

Trevor: Yes, sweet. If you’re listening to this or watching it, you don’t have to be watching it. Take out a piece of paper and it’s really amazing when you draw a line down the middle of the piece of paper. Right like cause it separates things. It gives you black and white, no longer are things grey and so I don’t really have like a blank piece of paper, but I’ll play with it here. I’m going to draw a line down the middle of the paper right here. Of course, I’ve got my orange in there so.

Carol: Guys, you should.

Trevor: That’s right. Branding right. I got my line down the middle of the paper. On the left side of that piece of paper right at the top, energy you know gives energy at the right side of the paper, but drains energy. This is what the first part of the energy out of it is.

J: Left side of the paper gives energy. Right side of the paper drains energy.

Trevor: Yes, exactly. Really pull back and go on an average week, on an average week what things give me more energy when I’m done doing them than when I started. That’s the key. What things give me more energy when I’m done doing them than when I started. That’s business. That’s life.

For me, working out. For me, doing things like this podcast interviews. Strategy, I’m going to blow in to the boardroom. The whiteboards is going to be full then I want to leave. You know like that gives me energy. The second that we have to think about how to do it I’m like ugh.

Carol: Out of here. I’m done.

Trevor: Give me another whiteboard. Yes, give me another whiteboard. You know it’s spending time with your kids. What types of things with your kids?

With your spouse? Like one of those things that gives you energy right? On the right side of things then the same thing. You do the energy drains.

I would look at your average week. I would go okay what do I do on an average week? This sucks my energy. Even if it makes you a bunch of money, even if you have even if it has to get done in your business. Write that down.

This is where the magic was. Like that right there had been done a million times. Like cool I’ve got I know what my problems are, but how do I move it now?

J: Yes.

Trevor: How do I move it to where I flip flop my ratio and said okay. The only way you can move something is if you measure it. Right so at the bottom of that piece of paper and this template actually gives all the spots and gives instructions. At the bottom right down percentages.

Go okay cool. What percentage of my week is spent doing these energy gives things. What percentage of my week is spent doing these energy drain things? For me at that time in 2010, it was 20% of the giving energy, 80% draining. No wonder I wasn’t able to really light my business up and scale it. No wonder I wasn’t really happy doing what I was doing. No wonder I didn’t feel purpose and passion in my work.

Carol: Yes, your energy was sopped every single day if 80% of your time was not stuff that was giving you energy. It was draining you over and over.

Trevor: Yes, but I got paid well for it so society was saying keep doing that.

Carol: Do it more.

Trevor: Because you’re getting paid well for it. Right, you’re getting paid well for it. You’re really good at it. Do that stuff right and so you have your percentages and you go okay.

My aim over the next two-three years each quarter is to do this 15 minute energy audit and I’m going to move things one by one over and over time I’m going to move it from 20% energy drain energy given to 80% energy given. Today I’m about 80% to 85% of my life today working life is energy giving now. What you do then on the right side is you take your energy draining stuff and you go okay. What are the one-two-or three things that are just killing me the most right now?

Even if they make you a bunch of money and circle those and write how many hours per week are you spending on each one of those activities. Here’s an example. A real world example. One of the things that built Carrot to one of the fast growing companies in America is our content.

We write a long, a lot of long format content. Ranks really well on Google. Gets people in there. Builds expertise and trust, converts them into our customer merge right. I’m looking at it going oh my gosh, I’m really good at this. Like one of the best people out there at writing long format content, but hate it. Like I hate it.

Carol: Yes and you’re over.

Trevor: Even though it’s just a lot of money. Yes right and it makes us a lot of money so how do I stop doing that? And I’m the only one in our company that can do that right now at this level. I’m writing out in like eight hours okay then there was probably something else on there too.

Then I go okay eight hours I’m going to gain back if I can get rid of that. How do I get rid of that? That was hard because we place these mental limiting beliefs in our minds going well I’ve got to do that. No one else in my company can do it or I can’t stop doing that because it makes us money. Therefore I’ve got to do it.

I’m like you know what if I can get rid of that and add something that gives me energy I think I’m going to actually be way more productive in my business and happier. If I’m more productive and happier therefore everything is going to be better. I took that and I said I’m going to take that same eight hours and put it over here to these two things that give me energy. One of them is doing interviews, doing talks on entrepreneurship and stuff, but I didn’t know how to make money doing that. I didn’t have a podcast at that time.

J: Wait a second and so you now have this long form content writing that you’re really good at, but sucks energy from you. You’re going to take that off your plate, but you’re the only one in your company that can do that. How exactly did you get that off your plate?

Trevor: Yes, the first thing is I had to give myself permission that I wasn’t the only one that had to do that. Someone else could do it if I created process. Right so I pulled back.

J: That’s huge.

Trevor: And I said cool so. I circled those one or two things I wanted to get off my plate. I circled the one thing that I wanted to add that gave me energy even though I had no clue how I was going to make money with it, which was doing a podcast. I said, “Okay cool.”

That’s my first thing I needed to do this quarter is how do I get that article writing thing off my lap. What I did is I pulled back and I documented for about a day. I documented my process on how to write great content. Then I went out there and found the best possible writer that I could find and pay him a crazy amount of money.

I paid him a thousand dollars an article. Some of them were up to $2,000 to write one article, which people would look at that and go that’s insane. Well maybe it was, but this guy ended up becoming the editor-in-chief of Shopify Plus. The guy who ran Shopify Plus’s entire content team was my writer for two years.

Carol: That’s invaluable.

Trevor: Really valuable. Right so he came in and just started writing it. I didn’t have to train him because he was already amazing. I documented how I do some stuff, but he made it way better. I’m like cool. That’s done now. It takes some money out of budget, but that’s okay. I’m going to go over here and just do podcasts now. That lit things ups and now we make a lot of money through podcasts because the culture and the energy that we built with it.

J: That’s awesome and it reinforces an idea that I like to throw out to people who come to me and ask how can I scale my business. How can I make my business more efficient? How can I grow my business? The first thing I remind them of, everything in your business requires one of two things.

It either requires time or it requires money. If you have an inefficient business it’s going to require both. If you’re running an efficient business everything you do is going to take either time or money. As a business owner, you need to decide which of those is more valuable to you. You did a great job of explaining it.

For you, what’s more valuable is is your time. You need your time to spend on the things that don’t drain your energy, they give you energy. As a business owner, you need to be willing to spend the money to get that other stuff off your plate. There’s no middle ground. There’s no way you can do it without spending time or money, but you need to be able to make that decision and there’s no shame in saying I’m going to spend money to get this off my plate.

Trevor: Yes.

J: Because what you’re doing is you’re saying I’m investing in my business. I’m investing in myself. I may not be making the best financial decision today, but this is what’s going to allow me to get my business to where I want it to be a year from now or five years or five-ten or ten years from now. You need to do that for every aspect of your business because ultimately you want your business to be able to operate without you.

Trevor: Yes.

J: The only way to do that is to document, to create systems and processes and start getting things off your plate.

Trevor: You said something really important. I want people to go back and let this sink into their mind for second is you mentioned maybe it’s not the best financial decision for me personally today to spend this money to have someone do it. I hundred percent agree with you because what happened with that guys is J said it’s either going to be time or money. Okay for me, I had more money than time at the start of the company so I had to dig in and do things I was good at, but I didn’t like to get momentum going.

That’s part of what we have to do. Like you got to go okay what are the things, what’s that income level that I got to get to so I can start to bring in people. Right, to help with this thing. That’s where I started to make that mindset shift and start to get rid of some of those mindsets that I had ingrained into me for my upbringing about employees are a pain in the butt. You can’t find good people.

They steal from you because they did steal from my parents. Like multiple six figures, some of the most trusted people in the company and so at that time I’m going okay and this is really what hit it for me J and Carol is this is. Is right around 2000, it’s probably end of 2014, maybe 2015, after just hustling my butt off for that first year, a year and a half starting Carrot. I didn’t pay myself a dime from the company for 18 months. I had some money coming from consulting and some rental property stuff, but I didn’t pay myself a dime because I said, “Okay can we get some traction with this number one.”

Then I’m going to take all of my profits and put it back into people. I still had this limiting belief that people equaled pain in the butt. I’m like I’m going to keep my team small and we’re not going to get any more than five or six or seven people because that equals you know pain in the butt. That’s what I had learned and after putting in so many late nights writing these articles and just hustling my butt off trying to create the business I don’t even know how many hours I worked.

Like I can’t tell you. Was it a hundred hours a week? I don’t know. I was having fun doing it, but it was a lot of hours and I remember a family trip. We were driving over the mountain.

It’s about a three hour trip to my parent’s house. Middle of the day, after I had pulled a bender. You know during that week writing content. I was thinking well shoot I’m going to stay up you know going to get home from work. Going to have family time, dinner, put the kids to bed. A little bit of time with my wife and then 11 o’clock I’ll open up my computer and I’ll work two-three-four hours writing content, catch up on stuff.

I thought well it’s not impacting the family. Right because they still get the time and I will just work on less sleep. It’s not impacting the family. It’s the hustle and grind modes mindset. We were driving down to Klamath Falls and it was after I did a three in the morning bedtime, which was normal for me at that time. One second I was awake and the next second I wasn’t.

Carol: Whoah.

Trevor: We were up in the mountains, guardrail and I just remember literally being awake one second and not even feeling like I was getting ready to fall asleep and then the next second just like in the movies you go there is no way it would have actually been this close right? The movies are like oh the bumper scrapes the guardrail and like no way. It would have been that close. It would have, just that’s movie stuff.

It’s exactly what happened. I woke up. There is a ravine. I see us going towards the guardrail and just in enough time I don’t know if it’s a God thing. I don’t know whatever it is, but I woke up just enough time where I swerved, bumper hits guardrail and I just stopped dead in the middle of the highway and without saying a word get out and you know I’m like almost like tearing up here talking about it because my three kids were in the back seat, but or two of them were in the backseat. I don’t member the year.

Carol: Oh my gosh.

Trevor: Specifically that anyway and so I get out. My wife was looking at me because she was reading. She didn’t even see what happened and we just switch spots. I didn’t say a word for probably 30 minutes and I was just thinking about it going man I almost killed my family because of the hustle and grind.

Carol: Like you literally have me. I’m choking back the tears here, Trevor.

Trevor: Yes.

Carol: I cannot even imagine there’s so many thought processes going through my head right now and how terrifying that must’ve been and was that almost I hate to be a cliché.

Trevor: Yes.

Carol: But was that like the most horribly effective wake-up call you oh my God no pun intended.

Trevor: Yes.

Carol: Horribly effective wake-up call you ever could have received unintentionally?

Trevor: It was a big one Carol because like I said we have all these things ingrained into us. We have the hustle. We have the grind. We have glorifying the hustle and grind in there. I think hustle and grind is good for a period of time.

If you look at gears. Like you think of what a grind is, grinding gears can only grind for so long before the whole machine breaks. I think people glorify the grind so much thinking it can be a perpetual lifestyle and it can’t be. For me, I had been grinding for two years thinking I’m just going to keep doing it. I don’t need to build a big team because big team equals pain in the butt and, but I still want this entrepreneurial dream. I want freedom.

I want flexibility. I want to grow those finances. I want to make an impact and at that moment, that was a life changer for me. Because then I’m going okay I need to really go all in on this unique ability thing. I need to really go all in on what the process that I had started creating, which was the energy audit and I need to regain my time back.

J: Yes.

Trevor: I need to make this business so it fuels my passion so it truly is something that can run without me and grow without me if I wanted to. Not to where I’m supporting it and where it can support me and from that second I literally went cold turkey. I almost overcorrected the wrong overcorrected so far the other way. I didn’t work one night or one weekend for two years after that.

Carol: Wow.

Trevor: Two years, the computer would say in the truck.

J: That’s great. That’s I mean I know a lot of people especially these days anybody that’s on Facebook and has seen the Facebook post about hey are you sleeping past 3:30 AM because you’re wasting your day and.

Trevor: Yes.

J: If you’re not working 18 hours a day you’re not hustling. You’re not doing what you need to do, but business is it’s a marathon. It’s not a sprint.

Carol: Right.

J: You can’t, that’s not sustainable. Yes, some of us have to work 18 hours a day for a couple of weeks at a time, but you have to think of it from the long play.

Carol: Long-term health implications perspective too not just.

J: Yes.

Carol: Not just, not just what it’s doing in the short term.

J: Good for you and good for your business. Yes,

Carol: Absolutely yes.

Trevor: All of that stuff and that was the big changing thing for me and I want people to really take this to heart is really think about why are we starting these businesses? You know why are we doing this? Is it just to make money? If that’s the case, you know I make more money today than I ever thought I could ever make in a year. It doesn’t make me any happier. You know what makes me happy.

Carol: Sure.

Trevor: What makes me happy is is really creating a business with real people, with real impact. What makes me happy is that. Is impact and so for me, at that point I go what mental programming do I have to get out of my brain to do this because obviously it wasn’t really working. The money side we were getting traction, but the whole entrepreneurial dream thing, freedom, flexibility, finances, and impact wasn’t happening.

Carol: None of the above.

Trevor: Yes and so I said well maybe that mental programming that I had adopted growing up isn’t correct

Carol: Sure.

Trevor: Maybe you can build a great team, with great people and actually make your life easier than it being harder. I made that decision right there. I’m like because I can no longer work nights or weekends I’m not doing it anymore; therefore, I have to build a team to make up for me cutting my hours way back. That’s what I did.

I would never ever ever do it differently other than doing it earlier and I’m just so grateful now that when you look at at really creating a company with a team. Whether it’s two people or 25 like we have now will be over probably 35 by the end of the year. To me it’s like one of the most amazing things when you get it right. Because now I can truly step away for I could separate for six months and this business will be bigger when I came back if I wanted to.

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You are hustling and grinding and hustling and grinding for two years and you were not sleeping and just avoided potential horrible tragedies so you had that mindset shift where you realized you needed to hire people that wouldn’t be necessarily a bad thing, which was previously ingrained in you. You wanted to build this company with a team so how does that play into how you started Carrot? There’s a transition there. Let’s start building this thing out with the help of other people and grow so what was that that first little nugget that was like there is, there is some potential here.

Trevor: Yes.

Carol: For something different with the help of other people and let’s grow this.

Trevor: This is where it gets fun. Like this is where my business journey is. It gets fun. All the other years I learned so much and that all built up to what we were able to do today, which is cool. Right around that moment too. Right at the time we were starting Carrot after my previous company and I was doing things that paid me well, but didn’t give me energy.

You know then I shifted over to how do I build something and get more focus and focus on fewer things is I wrote these things I call non-negotiables down. Between those companies that publishing company I sold my 50% share in that just to get out of it. Love my business partner. We still do business today.

We have a mastermind we’ve been doing for 10 years so were great friends, but that was the first thing that I had to do Carrot was okay. Let me relate focus on fewer, but better things first of all. I think in general entrepreneurs have this mindset that being a serial entrepreneur in five- six- seven business is a cool thing. They look at guys like Richard Branson, but he’s got a 180 companies. Like he can do it. He doesn’t run any of them.

J: Yes.

Carol: That’s right.

Trevor: Like that’s the thing.

Carol: That’s right not even a little bit.

Trevor: Yes, he doesn’t run any of them so he’s figured out his unique ability, what gives him energy, what he’s insanely great at, potential world class at and then he finds people to run the companies. Where we fall in the traps is we’re running five different companies and we think that’s cool.

Carol: Yes.

Trevor: At that time, I cut ties from all companies except for one software company I had invested in, which is blowing up now and I said what’s my next thing? What do I want to make sure that this next thing really always does or follows. What are those guiding principles? I wrote nonnegotiables down there, these five nonnegotiables and I said cool. Any business I ever start from here on out has to match these five nonnegotiables otherwise I’m going to shift the business or stop it. Number two.

J: What were those five nonnegotiables for you?

Trevor: Yes, well one of them was I wasn’t having a lot of fun in general my previous company because I wasn’t doing unique ability stuff so one of them was have fun. Next thing was build something, build an asset, a valuable asset that matters. Before I was doing kind of transactional stuff right and when you start to look at legacy you go well if I have a business that’s a transaction am I really building something that could be an asset for my family? Am I really building a long-term deal?

My previous company wasn’t so I’m like okay I need to pick a business model that actually builds an asset. That’s where the software thing came in. I invested in a software company. I saw recurring revenue and the predictability of that. I’m like that’s amazing. I want predictability. That was nonnegotiable number three is predictable.

J: Really.

Trevor: Consistent finances. Because when you have predictable consistent finances what happens is you actually get freedom and flexibility. Like you can’t have freedom and flexibility without predictability and consistency on the financial side of things. You see a lot of people that they might be a rich, they might have millions in the bank, but they are boom and bust.

They make $200 grand one month and the next month they make $35,000. They are stressed every month and they do not have freedom and flexibility. Even though they’ve got the money. I’m like cool we’ve got to have the predictability and consistency. One of them was focus on my unique abilities. That’s number four. Go all in on my unique abilities. The fifth one, I’m trying to pull it up here. I honestly can’t remember what the fit one is right now.

J: That’s okay. The reason I didn’t ask you that question as a got you a type question.

Trevor: No, totally.

J: I think it’s so important, I hear people all the time saying, yes we wrote out our mission statement for our company. Here are our company values. Here are my nonnegotiables to use your term, but then as soon as it’s written or as soon as it’s like in a Word doc somewhere it’s forgotten about.

Trevor: Yes.

Carol: It’s not lived and implemented on a daily basis.

J: Right, right and the fact that you wrote this five- six- seven years ago and you can still rattle off with these five things are. That’s so important and it’s just a good lesson for our listeners that if you’re going to take the time, these things are important enough to think about and write down. Don’t just write them down and forget about them. Write them down and live them. Keep them. Read it every day.

Trevor: Exactly and the important thing here is I pulled up the document. I got them all, but the one the singular focus on the big thing what’s the fifth one. Because I had some things where I was doing a lot of activities before. I’m like I just want to focus on one thing and be really good at it.

Let’s see what can happen if I just do one thing and be really good at it. That was the fifth one. The funny thing is here guys is the non-negotiables. The reason I couldn’t rattle all five of them all is because that is what got me started to start Carrot was like what are my guidelines? Once we got into year two or year three like the first year Carrot I’m going okay I just want to see if I can focus on one darn thing and if this idea that I’ve got actually has any legs. That’s only mission’s going to be this year.

J: Yes.

Trevor: There’s not, I don’t have a life purpose right now. Other than to be an amazing father, amazing husband, and to try to be the best entrepreneur I can be, which I can only do that if I focus on one thing. We get to the year of, end of year one. I’m like cool. It looks like there is little traction here.

Let me make a contract with myself for one more year. This goes all the way back to my contract with myself out of college. Let me give myself one full year-12 months, not 10 months, not if I can’t figure it out in six months I’ll go get a job at. I’m going to give myself 12 months of contract for the year with myself.

I did that with Carrot the first year. Contract for myself for the year. Let me put 12 full months into this and see if the idea will work. Then the next year, I’ll look at it again and make a full another contract with myself. Do I want to do this for 12 more months? I did that year two. We’re going okay this works.

Year two it was cool my contract with myself is I want to be see if we can be the best in the world at this. Okay so by the end of year two we’re like alright I think we’re getting there. We’re not there yet, but I think we’re getting there. Year three, the new contract with myself for those next 12 months was like okay I really believe that we either are or are very close to being the best in the world at what we do in our niche, but what happens when we get there?

Like what’s next? Then I’m like I want to build something that has purpose and matters. Right around there is when I started to really dive in and adopt unique ability in a big way and really made that my mental mindset shift to go you know what? If we’re really going to make a go of this, I’ve got to build a team.

How do I build an amazing team? I’m going to model companies and people that built great cultures. I’m going to model companies and people that built great brands that attract the right people. How do I become a better leader so people actually want to work here and work for us because I know that if we’re going to build this thing and be the best in the world at we do and also have a bigger impact there’s got to be a team of people right here alongside with me. That third year is when things really shifted for Carrot and grew really really fast.

J: That’s great and I hate to step back here, but I don’t think we ever told our listeners and I’m sure a lot of them are familiar with Carrot. A lot of them probably use Carrot, but for those who aren’t familiar can you talk a little bit about the mission of Carrot and what your business does, what problem it’s trying to solve.

Trevor: For sure so the problem we’re trying to solve is my background is online lead generation content marketing and conversion rate optimization. How do you make your websites and online marketing actually work better? Have a higher ROI? That’s what I did for years before Carrot and so people were coming to me. Investors were coming to me saying, “Hey I see that you’re getting stuff ranked really well on Google. How do I do that?”

After so many people ask me, we ended up test beta, you know beta testing a service on it. If you’re in a Google sell my house fast or you know we buy houses or any phrase like that. Insert any city in the country. You’re going to find several Carrot customers probably controlling the top of page one in Google for almost every motivated house seller phrase in America.

You can go into cash buyers and all those kinds of things too. We help you get in front of your highest quality and best prospects online as a real estate investor now an agent and then we help you convert them into a lead at a much higher rate once they get to your website. That’s what we do. We work with a lot of the biggest home buyers and house flippers, wholesalers in the country, now agents, but the mission, the mission. This came in year three, year one the mission was will this work?

Year two, the mission was can we be the best at the lead generation part of it? Year three was like let’s have a bigger purpose with this thing? I don’t want to do this if it’s all about leads that bores the crap out of me. I’m not passionate about leads.

I’m not passionate about real estate. I’m not passionate about software. What I am passionate about is this is a vehicle to make change and impact. For us, what we love the most was the interactions we were having with our customers.

It was how do we change our customers’ and our market’s mind and elevate the experience that people expect to have with companies. Not just in the real estate market, I want to change the perception. Every single person that ever interacts with Carrot, I want them to compare that experience with any company they ever work with and elevate what they expect business to do. We said, what is that about? This is all about we want to have business add humanity back to the world.

Business so much, you go two Masterminds, people talk about automation, automation, automation. Automation is good, but automation should only happen if you’re automating out low touch, low value things and putting the human and amplifying human touch somewhere else. So many businesses automate out the human touch to make me ROI bigger. We’re like.

Carol: No.

Trevor: If everyone’s packing meat like like you look at kids these days or even a lot of adults no one talk—like you’re in an elevator, everyone’s looks down at this thing. Like humanity is slowly slipping away and can we use business to add humanity back into the equation?

J: That’s awesome. I know we have a bunch of listeners who are actually trying to start businesses like Carrot. Not necessarily in the real estate space, but they’re trying to break in to content marketing and building online businesses, services, that can get the attention of customers and that’s something that Carrot obviously has been amazing at. That you’ve been amazing at doing.

Can you give us some tips so for those people who can’t just get a Carrot website because they’re not necessarily in the real estate space. Can you give us some tips for how those people who are in the online space that want to do a better job of acquiring customers, of getting to the top of Google, of gaining attention for themselves in their businesses. What are some tips that they can do to do that?

Trevor: Yes, there is a couple right here and it’s funny. I was thinking about this the other day and I recorded a podcast on it that will be published here in a couple of weeks on our podcast.

J: Just for people that might be interested, you run a podcast called Carrot Cast and we’ll have a link to that in the show notes.

Trevor: That’s right, the Carrot Cast man and so when I really boiled down what was it the main, that helped Carrot get to where we are. It was a lot of things, but two things in this respect. Content and context. Right because like there’s a lot of people who put out a lot of content and you can gain attention putting out a lot of content, but if you don’t then, if you’re not the best possible solution for them you’re not going to get their loyalty. That’s where the context part comes in, right.

With Carrot, we have amazing content, but then the context comes in the fact that we can prove that our tool is the best. We can prove that our tool will actually solved their problem better than anything else out there. That’s the first thing I would really challenge people to do is number one, you’ve got to really pull back and look at your product. You’ve got to really pull back and look at your service and go is it fundamentally better than the other options out there? Because you can put out as much content as you want, but once again, your loyalty, you’re not going to have loyalty if you aren’t truly the better option.

Okay so focus on your product. Focus on the actually delivering a better result, a better solution to their problem, number one. Number two, now go out there and go what are the questions that people are asking around this? What are the main problems they are having? What are the main objections they are having? Write those down on a piece of paper and then start every single week, just doing videos on those things. You can do writing, but video just really cracks through the clutter these days in a big way.

I’ve got a framework and this is exactly what I would have people do first. Because it’s almost like a bull’s-eye. If you picture a bull’s-eye with three rungs to it. The center of the bull’s-eye is what I call brand. Right brand is the center of the bull’s-eye.

The next rung outside of that is what I call discovery. The next rung outside of that is evangelism. Okay, brand, discovery, evangelism. Once you’ve nailed your product and you have the context for the story. You have the context that you truly solve people’s problem better than anything else, you go okay I’m going to go all in on my content at the start just on my brand.

On brand search is what are your product names? Your product name plus the word reviews, if you’re in a lot of your marketing Google your name. Google your product, Google your product plus the word review. See what pops up in Google. Because that’s the conversation that your market is seeing when they are researching for you.

That’s the part that so many people miss is they’re putting out all this content, which is discovery content ie, how do I generate leads online. How do I do Facebook marketing for real estate investors? That’s discovery content. Then if they land on my blog post and then they’re like this Carrot thing looks interesting.

Now they go to, they go to Google and write Carrot reviews. Carrot software reviews. Carrot versus insert you know competitor. If we haven’t owned that conversation, we’re going to be missing out on that on those sales towards the end of the buy cycle. Start with brand content. Okay, put a video up on your website about who you are, why you do what you do, what you believe in because when people do research on your company, when they’re close to the end of the buy cycle they’re going to go your about page.

They want to see who the heck you are. Close that sale on your about page and then completely control the conversation around your brand. One thing that we’ve done to illustrate this, if you Google Carrot or investor carrot reviews, you’re going to see pretty much all of page one we curate it. It’s either some of our affiliates who are like, “Hey, what if we collaborated with you to do a video review on Carrot.” Well that would be pretty cool.

It’s like we actually drove those or you’ll see BiggerPockets forums pop up right. We go well we don’t own BiggerPockets, but it is the most amazing forum out there. How do we go out there and just add so much value to these forums that when people land on these, when they’re researching us and our competitors. It’s clear that we’re the best.

Carol: Sure.

Trevor: We joined all of those forum conversations that were popping up when you research our brand and we essentially own them. We own them. That’s where I’d focused on guys is make sure your product is amazing it truly is the best. It has a clear unique selling proposition and then start to Google search all of your brand phrases, see where you need to control the conversation. Start to create content on those brand searches and then you start to create content on discovery phrases on the main questions, the main objections, the you know Facebook marketing for real estate investors types of phrases.

Carol: Great so it’s I find it so interesting that this tip is really just focus on all these different parts of your brand. That it’s all about the branding, branding, branding and looking at it at the bull’s-eye where you’ve got branding and then branch that out into discovery. Branch that out into evangelism. I’m curious and looking at your website and I’m looking at the different kinds of the different kind of employees you have and the way you build out your culture, would you almost say that you’ve got the branding, discovery, and evangelism to externally grow your company.

Do you think, Trevor that you almost take that whole concept of brand discovery and evangelism, bring it in-house, bring it internally and feed that into the culture of how you run your business so that all of your people who are working for you are working with all of those same type of concepts to make your business flourish.

Trevor: I love it. That’s such a good question. Yes, if you’re going to walk around the offices or half of our team or more half of our team is remote so like how do you bake that into the culture with remote team right? Even people in Baltimore on our team or California, they’re decked out in Carrot stuff all day. Like we don’t ask them to, but when they join the company they get a big old box mailed to them that lands on their first day of work.

It gets them all swagged out. It gets their core values like we send them a core values poster. I’ve got mine right there. Everybody gets a core values poster. This big old huge colorful thing.

It’s on their walls no matter where they are that they work with us. We have a channel on our slack channel called the thread of awesomeness. This is the awesomeness channel. We put that in place in 2015 because we’re going man there’s so many people on our team that are doing amazing things, but they don’t know the impact that they’re actually having on our customers.

Imagine if they knew in every single day saw the impact they’re having on people how much more connected they would be with our mission. How much more connected they would be with helping our clients. We incentivize our team members and we created process around how do you create amazing stories with customers. What questions do you ask people in live chat rather than just helping them upload their logo and then you finish it, you ask them a question like how are you loving Carrot so far?

Not how are you liking Carrot so far? How are you loving Carrot so far? Or if you see that they’re getting a bunch of leads, you proactively reach out to them and say hey I see you’re getting a bunch of leads. Are these turning into deals? You start the conversation and so they end up every single day there’s amazing amazing success stories that are getting put in the awesomeness channel and after about two years of incentivizing people to do that we remove the incentives. It has just has stuck in their culture.

Carol: That’s beautiful.

Trevor: Where people are just pumped to go I want to celebrate our customer. I want to celebrate the success of our customer. I want to celebrate the stories of those customers and get them out there and really wrap like you said around the brand.

J: Along with brand I know there’s an interesting story that I’d love to share with our listeners now and I’m sure you’re probably excited to share it with our listeners now as well. A couple weeks ago on Carrot Day, April 4th 2019, you launched a new domain name for Carrot. Can you tell us a little bit, can you go into the story behind the new domain name and what brought that about and just some of the interesting details that I think they’ll come out quickly.

Trevor: Yes so about a year well four years ago we’re like if we’re going to do this Carrot thing it would be kind of cool to own carrot.com and so we look it up and there’s an artist who owned carrot.com from like the beginning of the Internet. His name is Michael. He was amazing artist and he would never answer emails from me. I’d make offers that I thought were crazy like crazy prices and he never answered my emails. Probably two years ago my CTO hits me up and he’s like dude pull up carrot.com and I did and it was a coming soon page for another tech company.

I go man we lost that. It’s like ah. We’ll stick oncarrot I guess, but over the last two years it’s really amplified as we’ve grown even more. We’re almost 6,000 active members right now. It’s like the last two years we’ve really realized how confused a lot of people are on what our brand actually is. Probably half of the market calls us oncarrot as a company name.

Like they’d say I love oncarrot. The only thing about oncarrot was our domain name. That’s a really really good lesson for people. A lot of people think about domain names as it relates to SEO, the search engine optimization, but they forget that often times your domain name almost replaces your company name and people’s in some people’s minds.

Carol: That’s your brand.

J: Let me ask you a question. If you had it to do over again, if you knew that you couldn’t get carrot.com it just wasn’t going to be affordable and it wasn’t for many years, would you have chosen a different business name if you had to start over again?

Trevor: I don’t know man because that’s a really good question. I don’t know. I just really like the name Carrot man. Like I think it works and I can’t think of another better name and you know for us right now so I don’t know, but it’s kind of one of those things that I think things happen for a reason. If we never would have been able to acquire carrot.com I think we’d be just fine, but where it really completely shifted in our minds was same thing every level in business, every year in business I make a new contract with myself. I go okay, what is my contract this year? About a year and a half ago because we were leading into 2018, we were looking at things going okay, we’re making more money than we ever thought we would at this company.

Like we never aspire to build this company and scale it to where it is. Never did. Every year we’d set a new contract. Year one is can we make something that works and people want. Year two was can we be the best in the world with this niche? Year three was how do we make more purpose with this business? Year four became what does that next level look like and is it always just in the real estate market? At that point, we go okay. If we’re going to go big with this thing, if we’re going to go all in on our brand, let’s go all in on the brand. We’ve got to own carrot.com.

J: Okay.

Trevor: We got to do it. That led into a series of different things. We lost it. We got it. We lost it. We got it.

Then it ends up landing up on, we never got it, but it ends up landing on a GoDaddy.com auction. It is about eight-ten-12 months ago. “My CTO is like dude this on GoDaddy.com auctions. What’s going on?”

We hopped over there and we were going to bid it up or you know towards that last day, it was like a week left and it was almost at $100 grand with a week left. We were going to geez this going to be expensive. Like how bad do we really want this thing? How all and are we really on? Not just the brand Carrot.

We were all in on brand Carrot. The question was and this is a big lesson how all in are we on our mission? How all in are we on our mission because this isn’t about making this, we never would have invested what we invested in this domain guys. If we were just going to stay in the real estate market we never would have.

We could completely continue doing what were doing with OnCarrot.com. We would have been just fine, but when we looked at it and went okay. What was our original intent with this company? It was help high-margin small businesses across America finally get results online. They’re all online.

They all got simple, free, cheap easy websites set up or they had a mom, pop web developer set up. They look pretty, but they’re not performing. We think we can solve it better than anyone else. Let’s start in the real estate industry. That’s where the calculations became a lot more stronger as we were going okay when I used to think $20 grand for this domain name was a lot. We were going okay. This is probably going to be our last chance to ever buy it. Let’s see how real we are with this business and we did.

J: Before we get into I don’t think you’ve mentioned a number yet, but.

Trevor: Oh my god.

J: I want to get to, but before you mentioned a number, I want to ask did you do any type of financial cost benefit analysis? Did you look at how long if we own this brand or if we own this domain name, how long it would take to basically generate enough revenue to pay us back the extra, the benefit from the domain name or was it never a financial discussion. It was purely this is what we need to do for the company and there’s no reason to do a financial analysis.

Trevor: Yes, there was definitely some emotional in there and there was some logical. Right so.

J: Right.

Trevor: There was definitely a little bit of both in there. We ended up investing in $600 grand in a domain name.

J: Wow.

Trevor: We could either, we could have either had an amazing vacation house to live in or something or a domain name. You know we can’t even live in the domain name. We ended up working the numbers all different angles because yes I wanted it. I wanted to quit telling people my email address was [email protected] It just bugged the crap because you’d have to like explain it three times.

Carol: Explain over and over.

Trevor: Yes, it was hard so there was those little things there, but yes there’s a lot of benefit, but we wouldn’t have gotten a lot of the benefit if we weren’t planning on going bigger. Okay so one of the benefits of is a general domain can open a lot of doors with introductions. An introduction or an email from [email protected] packs a lot more weight than an email from [email protected] number one.

Carol: That’s right.

Trevor: You can’t quantify that.

J: Yes.

Trevor: There’s likely going to be something that might pop up in the future. Number two, if there is an acquisition, which we don’t have any plans on selling the company any time soon.

J: Yes.

Trevor: If there is an acquisition that domain name just elevates the brand that much more. You’re going to get far more than what we paid in there out of that that OnValue on an acquisition.

J: Absolutely. Intellectual property.

Trevor: Yes, IP in a big way. Number three like I said is if we were going to go more broad into other types of businesses, which we will as we go. We’re not doing it at any time in the next year, year and a half. There’s brand confusion since we started Carrot. There’s been you know in 2013-2014 there’s been a bunch of companies pop up that have also been called Carrot.

There’s Carrot weather app that started in 2015. There’s the Carrot fertility company that’s like $80 million and funded that started a couple of years ago. There’s a Carrot habit tracking app. All those popped up within a year or two of us starting and we’re going okay. If were really going to go big with this thing and I’m just making this up. Let’s say someday we do TV commercials. Right I want to be the Carrot company.

Carol: Do it, yes.

Trevor: I want to be one of the Carrot companies, the one with a terrible domain name, I want to be like the Carrot company.

Carol: You are Carrot.

Trevor: I’ll give you one last little final, final thing is I was thinking worst-case scenarios when I’m making big decisions. I go what? Like worst-case scenario, I’ll go—going back to that first year out of college, same thing. Worst case scenario, if I can’t figure this entrepreneurship thing out this year, what happens?

J: Yes.

Trevor: I go get a job I guess and maybe move in with my parents? I don’t know. It’s not that bad then I’ll go get a job or something. Worst case scenario with this was okay let’s think this Carrot thing doesn’t work. That would be a bummer.

That would suck, but we’ve got cash. We’re fine. Worst case scenario there’s these other carrot companies that would probably love this domain name and maybe we’ll be able to sell it for exactly what we got out of it and maybe more. Let’s say it worst case, $300 grand.

Let’s say we sell it for $300 grand. Okay, we got to use it for a few years. We took a hit. It was kind of a cool experience, but if a couple hundred grand actually kills me over several decade period I think I did something wrong. That was kind of my analysis there.

Carol: That’s great and that’s such, I think a great reminder to the listeners too something you touched on is this takes you back to way back when right out of college. Just remember what is the worst possible thing that could happen, right.

Trevor: Yes.

Carol: At the end of the day it’s not a matter of life and death.

Trevor: Yes.

Carol: Your kids didn’t go off the cliff into a ravine. Everyone’s happy and everyone’s alive and worst-case scenario we lose a little bit of cash and we move on. Do that worst-case scenario exercise and it’ll all work itself out.

Trevor: Yes.

Carol: Like I said like so many people forget to equate in there your like to me the worst case scenario of not taking a leap is usually way worse than the worst case scenario of taking it.

Trevor: You know so the worst case scenario of me not taking that year out of college is I end up getting a job. That I get locked into then we end up having a family and I feel like I can’t leave it because there’s less flexibility now because it’s a steady paycheck. I’m ten-15 years in. I hate my life and then I feel like it’s too late to make a switch and then blah. Then I lost decades of my life. That to me was way worse than like oh, well, I tried it and it didn’t work.

Carol: That’s right.

Trevor: Same thing with the domain. I’m like worst case scenario if I didn’t do it is let’s say we grow this thing to big and then there’s this conflict with brand and I don’t know know and all these things. I’m like let’s just do it.

Carol: Yes, let’s just make it happen. Excellent.

J: It’s so cliché, but the saying you regret the things you didn’t do versus the things you did do.

Carol: Yes.

J: One more question, Trevor. What is your biggest challenge at your business these days?

Trevor: I mean the biggest challenge today its people. Right it’s not the quality of the people. It’s mainly how do I as a leader lead people at the next level? You know we’re at 25 people right now and once you crossover to 18 to 20 person mark you’ve got to have leaders.

Right and no longer can I be a lazy leader. Because now I am leading the leaders and then those leaders are going out there and leading their teams. I’m having to really nail my personal habits more than I’ve ever like all those little things that were okay for me to have bad habits, waking up late, not being disciplined with my schedule, not planning ahead and being clear on priorities. Those things can’t happen anymore. They just can’t so that’s where I’m the most pumped about, but it’s also hard because I’m having to work against the some bad habits I’ve created over the years.

J: That’s awesome and I love the fact that you don’t use the term manager. You don’t use the term boss. You don’t use the word team. You use the word leader and that’s echoes a lot to what kind of culture you’re trying to build there and I bet you your employees appreciate that.

Trevor: Thank you.

Carol: Awesome. Trevor, now we’re going to go to the part of the show that we call four more so we’re going to start with four questions that we ask all of our guests and then the more is going to be we’re going to have you tell us where we can find out more about you.

Trevor: Cool.

Carol: Okay so J take the first question.

J: Okay, so Trevor we know what your first job was. It told us that, but what was your worst job and what lessons came from that job?

Trevor: It’s so funny man. Like I’ve never had a real job other than you know doing that stuff with my parents because after college I just started taking on some things. I think the worst ones that’s such good question man. The very very first core value on the Carrot, core value that I love the most. It’s not at the top, but it’s the one I love the most is be a beacon of positivity and possibility. That question right there like I think I’m so clouded to negativity. I can’t even I literally can’t even think about what my worst was.

J: Okay.

Trevor: Which is weird. That’s a good question though.

J: Good enough so.

Carol: That’s fine. That’s fine. I’m going to ask you a different one.

Trevor: Okay.

Carol: What’s a big opportunity somewhere along the way that you said no to. Do you think it was the right decision to have said no?

Trevor: Yes, there was one really early on when I was. It was about a year and a half out of college and I was starting to learn some of this marketing stuff. There’s a company called Agora Publishing and Agora Publishing is a huge company right. They had a division and they still have a division called early to rise and it was kind of the healthy, wealthy, wise division of the company. I had worked my way into getting to know the people who lead that and I was one of the finalist to lead the company.

I was completely underqualified. I should not have done it. That’s the reason I didn’t get hired, but I actually, that was an amazing opportunity to get mentored by some of the smartest marketers in the world and I let my own insecurities get in the way from me actually stepping forward and showing my best self. That would have been an amazing opportunity, but at the same time things happen for a reason. That would have been cool. Working with my Mark Ford, Michael Masterson, all those guys would have been amazing.

Carol: Sure.

J: Great. Question number three. There’s a lot of bad advice out there both in your industry and in business in general. What’s the worst advice you’ve ever been given and how would you improve on that? How would you improve on that advice if you were to give it to somebody else?

Trevor: Yes the worst advice kind of goes back to what we had talked about a little bit sooner and the thing is it’s such well-intentioned advice and maybe it’s unique to different people too right. Where the advice I was just hammering, hammering, hammering people hammering into me were the two things. Follow your passion, ie build a business around your passion. I so wish like you said I’ve got the baseball clock back there. I grew up playing baseball.

J: Yes.

Trevor: My dad played professional baseball. I was not destined for that, but I was banging my head against the wall for years going man why there must be something wrong with me? Why can I not figure out how to create a business that’s my passion? Like why can I not figure that out. Once I made that mindset shift that the business does not have to be your passion.

It should fuel your passion. I’m like, “Oh okay, that’s what this is about.” Like I don’t have to build a business around mountain biking. I don’t have to build a business around these other things, golf, or whatever. I just need to build a business that lights me up. That does good and that fuels the passion, fuels the things that I’m good at. Then the last part of it is, the business has to be interesting. Right it’s got to be interesting to you. It doesn’t have to be your passion. It’s got to be interesting to you. The software world was crazy interesting to me.

Carol: Excellent. Okay so our fourth question is now we know that you splurged on carrot.com $600,000 and I think you’re agreeing that as of right now it’s absolutely totally worth it.

Trevor: Yes.

Carol: Other than that example right there. What’s something else that you’ve splurged on? Either in your at home life or your professional life or however, wherever, it fits into your life. A splurge that you’ve made that was totally worth it.

Trevor: Yes, two things really quick. One of them 2010, I wrote my very first ever life list. It’s still back there. I have to retrace it over with pen every couple of years and on there was I was visualizing where I wanted to live. I would visualize myself waking up in a house with a big window in our bedroom overlooking a body of water that inspired me and like a bunch of properties so we bought three acres on the north on Qua River here in Southern Oregon two and a half years ago and that was a splurge, but were going to be there for a long long long long time. That’s something.

Carol: Awesome.

Trevor: I’m proud of. You know same thing, the window like literally the window overlooks this amazing stretch of the river. That was a splurge. We’re renovating right now and it’s turning out to be more of a splurge than we expected as the renovations happen.

The second one is Masterminds. As I was needing to up level myself and my team this past two years I started joining the right Masterminds. I’m in Russell Branson’s mastermind I’ve have been a part of for a couple of years and I’m in another high-level Mastermind with my software coach. Those are not cheap between just the two of those were $80-$90,000 deep. Just in Masterminds for a year, but it’s some of the best investment you could possibly make.

Carol: Excellent.

J: Awesome. Okay so that was the four. Let’s jump into the more so for people that want to find out more about you, want to find out more about carrot.com. How they can get in touch with you potentially. Where can they do that?

Trevor: Yes, carrot.com is probably the first spot. I don’t really put much out on my own personal blog yet. I’m going to be kind of documenting our journey a lot more over there on TrevorMauch.com, M-A-U-C-H. Honestly, probably the best spot is the podcast. Is the Carrot Cast because that’s my outlet. I document behind the scenes of what I’m doing to grow this company. It’s probably 30% real estate lead generation related, 70% entrepreneur mindset stuff, 70% what am I going through as a business owner and how do you do the same thing? The Carrot Cast, CarrotCast.com.

Carol: Excellent, thank you Trevor. Thank you so much for being with us today. We learned so much. I can’t wait to do my own personal energy audit.

Trevor: Do it.

Carol: I think it’s going to reveal. I’m totally going to. I’m excited that we’re attaching it to the show and I think everyone’s going to find it really useful and I can’t wait to see where it takes me so thanks again for all the great information you shared. It was an awesome time talking with you.

Trevor: Thank you guys. I had a blast and if there’s anything at all that I can do for you guys or your listeners or promoting the heck out of this podcast. Let me know. Love what you guys are doing and would love to support it.

J: we appreciate that. Thanks so much Trevor.

Carol: Oh my goodness. I so love talking with him. I truly can’t wait to do the energy audit. I think that is such a valuable piece of information and I know I do stuff that I just gets sucked into every day that I don’t necessarily love and I really can’t wait to be able to find a concrete way to shift that to really do the stuff that truly fuels my energy.

J: Yes, I know. I’m always concerned that you don’t have enough energy and you’re not high energy and so yes maybe pick that energy up a little bit Carol Scott because.

Carol: I’m going to work on it. I promise. All right, take us out of here, honey.

J: Thank you everybody for listening to today’s episode of the BiggerPockets Business Podcast we’re Carol and J.

Carol: Now go do something that fuels your energy today. See you later.

J: Bye.

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In This Episode We Cover:

  • How Trevor started his journey to entrepreneurship
  • Building a valuable asset that matters
  • Predictable, consistent finances
  • Focus on unique abilities
  • Singular focus on the big thing
  • Why he thinks building a company around your passion is a path to potential failure
  • The Energy Audit
  • How to build a strong brand
  • Importance of having a great team
  • Practical tips for ranking on Google
  • The domain name story
  • And SO much more!

Links from the Show

Books Mentioned in this Show

Tweetable Topics:

  • “Energy is the key.” (Tweet This!)
  • “We have glorified the ‘hustle and grind’ thinking it’s a perpetual lifestyle when it can’t be.” (Tweet This!)
  • “The business doesn’t have to be your passion, it should fuel your passion.” (Tweet This!)

Connect with Trevor

Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.