Feb 8, 2023
Title: How to start, scale and sell an 8 figure business with Solomon Airhart
Solomon Airhart is a leader, serial entrepreneur, investor, and former CEO of Aruza Marketing, an 8-figure Pest Control company built from nothing by Solomon and his team. Currently, Solomon is CEO of Growable Ventures where he helps home service entrepreneurs grow and scale their businesses and become financially free.
In this episode, Solomon shares his philosophies on creating value and maintaining a good business growth mindset. He also talks about how he exited a company he birthed, and did it gracefully. You’ll learn a lot about creating value from scratch, and how to turn your purpose into a business.
Connect with Solomon
Aruza Marketing: https://www.aruzamarketing.com/
Connect with James:
7:10 The foundation of Solomon's entrepreneurial spirit
Strong foundations are instrumental to building a successful business. Solomon shares his earliest business role models with us.
Solomon: "My grandparents and my mom were both entrepreneurs. And so there's a story from my grandma and my grandpa that always stuck with me and resonated with me, and it's still what leads and guides me a lot today.
And my mom started her own business, raised my sister and me simultaneously, and provided us with everything we needed, and I'd watch her work 24 hours straight.
Sometimes I'd go to bed at night. She'd be working. I'd wake up, and she'd still be working. So I just always was around that hard work ethic and entrepreneurial mind.
And so I always knew that's what I wanted to do. As I became an adult, I got into sales, I think sales was the best thing I could have ever done, and I think everybody should at some point in their life do a sales job because it flows into so much of life".
13:42 The journey to becoming a successful serial entrepreneur.
Startup journeys are always inspiring, with a lot to learn. We get to hear how Solomon built something from nothing and made a graceful exit with his partner.
Solomon: "I had confidence in ourselves because I knew that worst case scenario, me and Jordan can sell, right? So the hard part is over regarding getting the customers.
The most important aspect of any business is to get revenue into the door, and I knew that we could do that, and then I figured, hey, look, we're smart enough to figure the rest of this stuff out.
I knew a decent amount about it. I have been in the industry selling it but needed to learn more about running the business or operations. And so obviously, persistence is great there because we came into so many roadblocks and did so many things wrong.
So at that time, in the beginning stages of Aruza, the whole philosophy of failing fast was what I lived by. I'm going to make a lot of mistakes, but let's just get through them quickly and figure out how to keep pushing forward.
And then it comes down to learning a lot and trying to pick people's brains as much as possible. You open yourself up and drop your ego to where you can say, hey, look, I don't know anything about this. Could you help me or teach me?
And so I learned a lot that way, but as we kept building Aruza, we had this one thought where it's like every time we came into a road bump, it was like, oh, we got to work harder.
So that was really how Aruza started. When things get tough, we'll outwork everyone around us, and that's what we did. But we always had the idea of what it could be.
But it became way more than what I had even imagined. But it started by slowly bringing the right people around.”
15:50 On recruiting team members
Getting people to leave previous engagements to come work for you and believing in your ideas and dreams requires a special skill. Solomon takes us through what that process is for him.
Solomon: "I've always been a big dreamer, and I think anybody who's known me for a long time knows that I've been that way, and I talk about it all the time, the dreams or my vision or what I want to do is always pouring out of my mouth, and I think sometimes maybe people even get sick of it a little bit.
As we look back now, we made many friends in Charlotte that first met Jordan and me when we were starting this business and were like, oh, man, you would come around all the time. I am like, we're going to build this pest control thing. It's going to be huge. And they would kind of chuckle to themselves, these guys are crazy, and now they look back, and they're like, oh, well, you did everything you said you were going to do.
And it's like talking about that vision a lot. And then when you talk about things, you create this picture, interested people that want to be a part of that are going to rise to the surface, I would capture them.
The biggest thing is figuring out, okay, what is their motivating factor, and how can I solve their problem with what I have, the vehicle I have to offer them?
And that was the big thing, like identifying the right type of people and then figuring out what they want and then how Aruza or what I have to offer here sort of solve that and then make that connection to them".
24:29 The exit process
We talk about startups all the time but rarely exiting. There are some important things to consider when planning to sell or expand your business with investors.
Solomon: "When we wanted to sell the business, we always wanted to sell it as a platform. A platform would be a company that someone's buying that they're going to go buy smaller companies and roll them up into this platform, and your company will then be the brand that all these other companies roll up into and become.
And so you want to sell as something other than a company that's just going to get rolled up and changed into a name and is somebody else. You want to be that one name that stands through the test of time.
So if you can find a specialized industry business broker. Ideally, a good business broker is someone specialized within your area or your industry".
31:00 Healthy business practices.
If you want to start a new business, here are things you need to consider.
Solomon: "Maybe we'll start with the bad because I think some of the bad equates to the good, and I'm not saying that this is a wrong way to do it, but it's a way that we did it where I just don't know if me personally, in the place I'm at in my life now would want to do it like this again.
When you're starting the business, you have these ambitions of growing super fast, right and blowing up because those are the types of things that people's eyes will go towards. They're the things that people are going to talk about. But growing at such a fast rate has drawbacks.
The biggest one has to take on debt and capital to grow. If you're growing 100% to 300% plus a year, you're not going to be able to do that from cash flow, and having that debt can wear on you and be stressful.
Budgeting is another big thing. Like most people, when you're starting a business, you don't know about budgeting and forecasting and things like that, but that's the thing that I will always remember moving forward.
It's like, okay, look, we're gonna look at the next year, and we're going to forecast what growth we would want, and we're gonna run all those numbers on a monthly analysis and figure out what it is going to cost us? Can we afford that? And if we have to take on debt, are we comfortable taking on that level of debt to get this? Or if not, would we be fine taking a smaller growth and not having to take on that debt?"
36:26: Strategies for making effective business decisions
Solomon shares some of his best decision-making strategies in business.
Solomon: "One of the decisions is you have to take care of the fuel. What I mean by that is when you're running a business, there's a certain thing going to fuel that business and grow that business. You have to make sure you take care of that.
If you got the gas line going into your house, you don't turn the gas line off. It's not going to stay heated. And so you have to take care of your sales team, the people who are selling or your marketing team, whatever, is driving the money into the business. We always had to make sure that we were nurturing the sales".
48:40 Solomon's last words
The landscape is changing. Solomon predicts employees may not be around forever with advancements in technology and AI. His advice is to find your purpose, niche, and unique values you can provide the world.
Solomon: “Figure out how to turn that into a business and then deliver it to the world. And don't be afraid of failing, and know that you are going to fail and fail fast, but you are capable of this growth, and you are capable of this success.
So be willing to take the chance on yourself. If there's any chance you're willing to take, you have to take the chance on yourself. And so go out there and just do it."