15. Matt Remuzzi
CEO & Founder of CapForge Inc.
Eric: Hey everybody, I am your host, Eric Mueller, and welcome back to The Eric Mueller Show. This is the podcast where we explore what makes any successful person's inner clock tick.
Welcome to Episode 15. Another milestone for The Eric Mueller Show. I really appreciate you listening and following along with me. If this is your first time here, a warm welcome to you. If it's your 15th time here, thank you so much for the support.
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In this episode of the show, you'll be hearing from an entrepreneur and chief executive officer. Matt Remuzzi has started multiple businesses, acquired one, sold over 20 as a broker, and he's even seen a few go down the tubes! He is currently working hard as the CEO of CapForge Incorporated; a company he has started, and he has aspirations to grow it into a nationally, recognized brand for small business bookkeeping.
Matt [00:01:01] has an MBA with an emphasis in entrepreneurship from San Diego State University, multiple bookkeeping certifications, and he was formerly a licensed business broker in California for a number of years. He has two best-selling accounting books on Amazon, and he's even got more in the works.
As a featured guest on numerous podcast and webinars, and as an invited speaker at industry events, Matt has influenced numerous individuals striving to advance their entrepreneurial spirits and become more successful.
Let's head on over to the interview and hear what Matt has to say.
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All right, ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to The Eric Mueller Show, a podcast where we dive into what makes any successful person's inner clock tick towards that success. Today we have a CEO and founder on the podcast, Matt Remuzzi. He is the CEO and founder of CapForge. Matt, welcome to the show, sir.
Matt: Thank [00:02:01] you for having me. I appreciate this.
Eric: It's great. Appreciate you being on, appreciate you making the time. So I want to jump right in here Matt and start with where I'm at in the entrepreneurial journey myself and that is the idea generation stage. The ideation stage. So I want to ask you, how do you generate new ideas?
Matt: You know, I think it's something that once you kind of get your brain tuned to the idea of generating ideas, it almost goes from it's hard to come up with an idea to I have more ideas than I could possibly ever tackle, and it really is just around the idea of, you know, what are the problems, the sticking points, the hurdles that I'm seeing in whatever I'm trying to do? And is this something that is not just happening to me, but is it happening to other people.
And usually the answer to that is yes. And then the second follow-up question is, you know, is there something I can [00:03:01] do to help solve this problem? Or at least mitigate this problem in a way that would create an opportunity and sometimes, you know, the answer is well, I can think of some ways but there's no practical way to get from here to there, you know?
Or it would take, I'd have to raise a hundred million dollars or, you know, I'd have to invent something that I just don't think we have the technology yet to invent, but a lot of times it's something that is, you know, fairly practical and over and over again. I think you see businesses that get created over a fairly mundane issue that people are having, you know, and they realize, hey, you know, this, this is a headache for me, it's taking more time or more energy than it should, and I bet other people are probably having the same frustration, you know.
For me in setting up the current iteration of CapForge it was seeing over [00:04:01] and over again that small business owners their bookkeeping was just a mess and, you know there's plenty of bookkeepers out there but not very many that need that were kind of good at delivering, what business owners wanted. They were sort of more in the accounting mindset rather than solving the business owners’ problems so while hey could do accounting and bookkeeping, they weren't really addressing what the business owners were frustrated about.
And so that was a, you know, a mindset shift in delivering, something that business owners could be a lot more happy with, and in a way that business owners were much more willing to interact with so that was just a problem. I kept seeing over and over in other stuff I was doing, and I thought there's an opportunity here to provide a better service. That's a better fit for what these small business owners, what they really want, they're not getting what they want. They're frustrated with the options available, and I think I can design a better option for them.
So it's just kind of the mindset of looking at problems [00:05:01] that you encounter throughout your day and deciding if any of those problems that you see warrant a solution that you can deliver with whatever resources or knowledge you have or could bring to bear and deciding if any of those opportunities are ones you want to pursue further. And when you start thinking about the world and your day-to-day stuff like that, you start to see opportunities pop up all over the place.
Eric: Great answer. I think that helps just kind of prime the, the, you know, the thought process in my mind right now thinking of, where are those problems that I know that exist. I'm in healthcare. So where those problems that exist within that field and try to think, how can I become a solution to one of those problems, and when I start thinking about that, I can see the gears turning in my mind and can see myself getting to that.
But let's say I have an idea for a problem. I have a solution to that problem. How do I take that idea and then create a company out of that? You know what I mean? Obviously there's probably a lot of steps involved [00:06:01] at that but just walk us through how one might do that.
Matt: Well, I think a critical piece that a lot of people miss and you know, in my early career I spent a lot of time working with potential startups and, you know, there was a lot of inventors and people of that mindset who wanted to, you know, I think I've got a great idea for a way to solve this problem. And now my next step, I think is I want to raise a bunch of money, and I want to start building this product and hiring engineers and figuring out manufacturing so we can bring 10,000 of these to market, but the step that often got overlooked because it's a little bit harder to do or because a lot of times there's fear around sharing the idea because people think, and I've done it myself in my earlier days before I kind of knew better, I’d wake up in the middle of the night and think man, I just had a billion-dollar idea but I can't tell anybody because they'll steal it.
Matt: So how do I launch this thing? But the reality is, [00:07:01] you know, billion dollar ideas are a dime, a dozen, right? Here's a billion dollar idea. Let's come up with a cure for various kinds of cancer, right? Well, if I can come up with a various you know cure for any you pick a kind of cancer come up with a cure for it, it's easily worth billions of dollars, right? That's not a secret.
It's the execution and it's the specifics, right? So if you came up with an idea, you know what, I'm you know, I've got a lot of knowledge around pharmacy, and I know that sometimes people in their older years, right, they forget to take their meds when they should, the doses they should, and I just came up with an idea for a fantastic way to mitigate that problem. It's all around an app on the phone.
Well, you might think that's a great idea, it might be a great idea but really the first thing you want to do is go talk to some people who would be your potential customers and make sure they think it's a great idea, and you might find that older people are not super excited about an app because they feel like man, [00:08:01] my phone's hard enough to use it as it is, and it's also hard to remember to take my pills, and now you want me to do two hard things together. Wait a minute.
So I think an important step between launching the company and having an idea is really doing that test to make sure that your idea is something that the customers who you are hoping will pay for your idea, exchange their hard-earned dollars for your solution and are on board with it. And a lot of times when you go and talk to them, they might like well that's sort of a good idea but if you changed it a little bit like this and you did a little bit more of that, and if it came in black instead of red I'd be much more excited to buy it, and that piece I think is super critical and that's where a lot of times you hear about company's pivoting.
It's because they got excited about an idea launched off into, you know, into space with it and then found out once they got pretty far down the road that wasn't quite [00:09:01] what they thought, and they need to change directions and deliver it in a different way. So I think, you know, launching a company building a company is not necessarily the hardest part. The hard part is really making sure that what you're building is the solution that people are going to snap up. So I think if I kind of didn't answer your question, I took it in my own direction, but I think that's a super important piece because to find that out doesn't cost that much time and money, but not finding that out until later then can cost a fortune.
Eric: Most definitely. You wouldn't want to pump all that money into creating 10,000 things that are not going to sell. That would be one of the worst things you could do, probably.
Matt: Yes, and you would not more, maybe you would be shocked at how many inventors are around the country with a thousand widgets stocked up in their garage that they can't sell because they thought it was a great idea, but for various reasons the people they were hoping to sell it weren't nearly as excited as they were, but [00:10:01] they didn't want to tell anybody, they didn't want to give away the secret.
So they spend all their time and money and effort building the product they thought they could sell, and then it didn't actually pan out. That's when you hear people talk about product-market fit, that's what they're talking about. You want to make sure that the product that you think is amazing, actually there's a wider audience that agrees with you before you launch it out there.
Eric: And you need a proof of concept in a pilot of that product or service I'm sure to figure out if that's going to take hold, if that market is going to going to be willing to pay for that, and I know I've read a few things, you know, interviews you've been on in the past or, you know, you've actually been written about in Forbes. I commend you for that, that was a fantastic article. For those of you listening that want to check it out, it's A Serial Success: How Matt Remuzzi Built his Wealth by Mastering Market Demands.
So you've been written about in several, you know, really cool areas. And one thing that stuck out to me was one of the one of the principles you hammered home was you want to make sure you have at least one or two paying customers of your product before you really get too excited about [00:11:01] you know, scaling it.
Matt: Absolutely. I mean, and there's two ways to handle that one is, you know, kind of like we just talked about you come up with sort of a unique to the market idea and then you want to go and, you know, maybe not so formally as have a focus group, but you want to make sure that the way you're thinking about it is going to drive with people who are going to pay you for it. The alternative, and this is a much simpler way to get into business. If you're thinking about starting a business, it doesn't have to be through a brand new to the world, invention. Most of the businesses that get started out there are either, you know, a copy of an existing business or just a very minor iteration. Right. There's all kinds of people who start businesses as, you know, home inspectors or an HVAC company or plumbing company or, you know, like us right with accounting. I didn't invent accounting or how accounting works. I just took what I saw as struggling, not super successful [00:12:01] accounting business model and said, what are the missing pieces here?
Well, customer service is a big missing piece in most accounting businesses. A lot of them charge hourly rates where clients really prefer fixed flat rate pricing. So that was an easy fix and then three, making sure that our accounting was up to par and meeting standards even though, you know, a lot of our work is bookkeeping and bookkeeping tends to be regarded as sort of the lowest level of accounting.
There's no reason it shouldn't be done right into the same high professional Standards that you expect from the CPA or a large accounting firm even though we're talking about small businesses. So I didn't invent anything knew, and I knew there was a demand out there. People were already paying for the services I was going to sell. I was just offering them a better, more optimized offering than what they could go out there and get. So you know, like Papa John's Pizza right. There stick is, you know, better ingredients, better pizza. That was [00:13:01] what they were offering or Dominos was came out with, you know, 30 minute or less delivery back in the, their early days. So they didn't invent pizza either of them. They just said, let's take a different approach, stand out in the market from all the other places that offer something very similar to us and say, how can we be different, and they grew billion dollar businesses out of those very slight tweaks.
So you don't have to think about launching into your own business as I need to invent some brand new to the world idea. Most businesses can be very successful and grow very large by taking something that already exists and just putting a little bit of a spin on it, to make it that much more appealing to people who are already, you know, they've already demonstrated they're willing to buy from you, you're just giving them a better option to buy.
Eric: Yeah, and one example that comes to my mind, when thinking about, you know, tweaking already, you know, problem that already exists that's already even being solved is the Lyft and Uber. So a lot of you, maybe some of you [00:14:01] listening aren't aware that Lyft actually was created first. Uber was the second company created for ride sharing and in that way, and obviously, I mean, their market share that they were able to garner is much greater than Lyft now. So I think that's, it's kind of crazy how things like that can happen.
Matt: Definitely. I mean, you think of, you know, Facebook and how big that is. A lot of people forgot about MySpace right? They're attempting to do the same thing, and they just got steamrolled by Facebook, so it's not that you have to invent the concept really most of what it comes down to like we said earlier is execution. If you can come up with a better way to execute on what people have already said they want to buy and are interested in, you know, exchanging their hard-earned money for then you can win the competition even if you weren't first out of the gate or if 95% of what you're offering is the same as 15 other people, that last 5% can be the key differentiation.
Eric: Yeah, and so let's take this [00:15:01] little bit further now, Matt. So let's say we've got our idea. We know, you know, we're maybe niche down at least a little bit where we know the market. We've tested it out, it works.
Let's dive into a little bit more of, how can we avoid failing like 90% of e-commerce startups fail, and then from what I've read on your blog on CapForge.com, it's poor marketing. How can we market that idea to avoid that type of failure?
Matt: Well yeah, I mean it's sort of the same concept. It's, you know, a lot of e-commerce businesses failed because the product that they're trying to compete with has no real competitive differentiation, right? If you're today oh you know, I heard you can sell products on Amazon, you can buy them from China and sell them on Amazon and you can buy them for two bucks, you sell them for 20 bucks. You’ll make a killing, right?
But go to Amazon and type in any keyword, right? What are you going to get? You're going to get literally thousands of listings of products that match that keyword. So again it kind of comes back [00:16:01] to why am I going to pick your widget over all the other widgets, and if the answer is gosh, I'm not sure really there's nothing better about mine. Well, it's not gonna work that see where that's gonna go.
So you've got to look at what the product is, products are that are out there that you're competing with and figure out what vector you're going to stand out. Is it going to be price? Is it going to be quality? Is it going to be speed? Is it going to be ease of use? Is it going to be design? Are you going to be on the premium end?
Figure out, where within that space you're going to compete whether it's a product or a service, or a new invention, whatever it is. It's got to have a unique selling proposition that you can say here's why in a crowded field, you should pick me, and not necessarily everybody should pick me, but if you're the premium brand, then you say look, not everybody [00:17:01] should pick me, but the people who want to show off to their friends or you know have though the luxury experience pick this one, or if you're you know the discount option, well, not everyone's going to pick me but of people who are really watching their budget, I'm the best choice or you know, whatever it is.
And when people don't stop to think through that whether it's an e-commerce launch or a brick-and-mortar business, main street business, whatever it is, if they haven't stopped to think, why would somebody walk in my door, order from my website or, you know, hire my service versus all the other choices out there. If they haven't stopped to think about that, then they don't have an answer that comes readily to mind that they've built into, baked into their identity, then they've already sort of lost half the battle.
Eric: Sure. Yeah. So you got to find the differentiation piece and how are you going to improve over your competition? And looking back earlier in your career, I see that you've created some software to help people develop business plans, [00:18:01] and I know that you could have taken one route where you said okay I'm going to consult then I'm going to be paid for my time, and I'm going to book hourly, and I could do it that way.
You chose to go the route that I actually hope to go someday with my life, and that is you are creating something that you could sell you know, in a more passive way. You still got to do the upfront work to create that, but it can work for you when you're not actually doing that, you know, you're not sitting in the chair consulting with that person.
Matt: Right. I mean, I had two goals in creating that. One was that, you know, the consulting was obviously limited in scale, right? I can only have only got so many hours I can do personally consulting, so I did that certainly for a while. Long enough to kind of learn what are the recurring questions that, keep coming up? What are the recurring challenges people have? And that informed my ability to create the product so I wanted to do that.
But second I really wanted to have something that wasn't so tied to me personally, [00:19:01] right? I wanted to have a business that was sort of independent of me as a personal brand because I think you can go a lot further with that, and you can then build out a team and you can have other people that can run the business for you, and they're not saying you know, well Matt's name is on the door so I want to talk to Matt, or Matt’s, you know, fingerprints are all over this so I'm going to expect that Matt is going to be the one that personally answers the phone or that, you know, sends me my, whatever my review.
And you know, I wanted to take myself out of it which was effectively happened with the software product. I, you know, people could order those online and make full use of them without having to communicate with me, which was great. Because, during that time in my life, I did a ton of traveling, I've been to 51 different countries. I've had some amazing experiences and none of that would have been possible if I had to stay home and meet with clients one-on-one individually spending time doing that consulting on an hourly basis and that was, you know, And that was a driver, you know [00:20:01] I wanted to be able to scale, and I wanted to take myself and my personal time and effort out of the equation.
Eric: And Matt would you say that was the time in your life where you started to know you wanted to be an entrepreneur? I mean you're already doing entrepreneurial things. I mean, it's what point you're like, did you know that that's what you wanted to do?
Matt: I kind of always knew that I wanted to be, you know, I want to do my own thing. The problem I had was I never knew what I wanted to do. So, you know, I went to college and I studied psychology not because I wanted to be a psychologist or get into the psychology field. I just didn't really know what I wanted to do. Also, I figured no matter what I did, there'd be plenty of crazy people in life, so a good way to handle that, and also I noticed psychology classes tended to have a great male to female ratio in my favor. So, all those, you know, helped me decide on psycology, but it had nothing to do with wanting to be in psychology.
[00:21:01] I didn't really know what I wanted to do, and after I got out of that, you know, I worked in restaurant management for a while. Working in various chain restaurants, helping them turn around underperforming units, which was great business experience, but I didn't like doing it. Again, I didn't love having a boss and having to abide by decisions that I didn't necessarily agree with, you know, stupid stuff there. At one point, I worked at a chain that required, that we always have soup on hand and I thought, you know, it's San Diego, it's August, you know there's nobody's going to buy soup, but we had to have soup on hand and having it there counted against my food cost, which impacted my bonus, and I thought this is just ludicrous.
If I ran this company. I was always catching myself saying stuff like if I ran this company, and I thought gosh, darn it I think I just need to start my own company so I can stop having to say that, and then if I make boneheaded decisions, at least they're mine, and I'm not having to live with someone else's boneheaded decisions.
So it finally took, you know, I went back to school. I got my MBA at San Diego State University, [00:22:01] where they had an entrepreneurship program. I emphasized in entrepreneurship and that was sort of the final point, the launching pad for me to finally get out on my own. I only had one short-lived consulting job post-MBA program before I got laid off as part of sort of the.com bust that happened at that point and that was it. I said, okay, now I'm going to, I learned how to do consulting. I'm gonna do consulting on my own, and if it doesn't work out, I guess I'll go get another real job. But, you know, here we are 21 years later. I've never had a real job since, and I haven't been happier than you know, it's been the best thing ever.
Eric: That's awesome. Yeah, currently CapForge. So you know I go on the website CapForge.com and immediately see the logo CapForge Bookkeeping and Tax. It doesn't say Matt's Bookkeeping and Tax. So I'm curious. How did you come up with that name? CapForge. Does that stand for anything or what's the history behind that?
Matt: Yeah, that was back [00:23:01] right after I'd gotten out of the MBA program, but I still had a lot of friends in the MBA program, and I knew I was going to do consulting for startups. And so I came up with this name EntryPointVentures.com. The .com was available, and I thought Entry Point Ventures that, you know, works great with startups, makes a lot of sense and I ran it by a friend of mine, who was still in the MBA program, happened to be in a marketing class where they had just been talking about names and names for companies and stuff like that.
And he said, man, that Matt, that is a terrible, terrible name. It totally locks you in, it has a specific meaning if you ever want to do anything besides that, you're kind of stuck. So he said, forget that name come up with something that doesn't mean anything like Google or Xerox, or, you know, whatever Nike. And so, I went okay, fine, I'll try again. So I just started kind of playing with parts of words and CapForge kind of had a strong sound to me. It kind of didn't mean anything, but it sounded like you know it had a little force behind it. [00:24:01] It made sense. It's sounded professional to me anyway and CapForge.com wasn't taken because obviously it didn't mean anything so that was it. It was originally going to be Entry Point Ventures, my friend shot it down, immediately told me that was a terrible decision, so I went back to the drawing boards and made up a nonsense word, and I've been CapForge ever since.
Eric: That's crazy. That's an awesome story.
Matt: Yeah, it was funny, but I'm glad because, you know, along the years and in 21 years, CapForge has done a lot of different things. I've owned different businesses under the CapForge umbrella, and I always said, you know, it's great because I could do refrigerator repair, right? I could have an auto shop, I could do consulting, I could do accounting, doesn't matter. CapForge could be literally anything. So, that's the beauty of a name like that. It doesn't tie you to anything.
Eric: I commend you for that, and that's honestly, that's kind of the approach I took with this podcast naming it the The Eric Mueller Show. I initially was thinking about something along the entrepreneurial line and maybe an Aspiring [00:25:01] Entrepreneur Podcast and the main drawback with that is I thought, well at some point hopefully I'm just an entrepreneur, and I'm not aspiring anymore, but yeah landed on The Eric Mueller Show as kind of a, you know, broad title that I could take really any direction I wanted to.
Matt: Yeah, it's perfect. I mean you don't know like we were saying earlier you know a lot of times you pivot and things change, right? So you don't want to lock yourself into a legacy name that isn't going to work in the future. So yeah, I mean just using your name gives you all the flexibility in the world. You can talk about whatever strikes your fancy, and if it's different a year from now than it is today, you know that isn't going to hurt your brand at all, it's not going to change anything.
Eric: Appreciate you saying that Matt. Let's hope that it, you know, continues to grow and continues to provide value to the audience and really, to give you some background here, Matt. So the real reason I started this show was to explore what makes any successful person's inner clock tick so I want to ask you. Can you narrow it down? What [00:26:01] is one single driving force that keeps your inner clock ticking toward success?
Matt: Yeah, I mean to me it's I like to challenge myself, right? I like to make sure that I like, I'm doing as much as I can to live up to my potential. So one of your other questions that you had in your, you know, sort of pre-show interview was, what's your definition of success? So for me, my definition of success is achieving my potential, and obviously that's, you know, sort of a moving target, and it's not a super clear thing, but I sort of have this inner idea of what I can do, what I should be able to do, and I would be super disappointed with myself if I always felt like I wanted to be an entrepreneur, but I never you know, got out of sort of being a 9-5 employee. I would feel like man I just never did what I feel like I could have done, and so I always want to feel like I'm challenging myself to achieve my potential. [00:27:01]
I feel like you know I could start a business, I felt like I had entrepreneurship in me and now you know, here I am running a business, you know, 45 employees, millions of dollars in sales, you know, great growth. I feel like I'm achieving that potential, but I feel like there's even more room to run.
So what gets me up in the morning, what keeps my, you know, my drive ticking I guess is that constant need to challenge myself to see if I can do more, do better. And I don't mean, can I work 14-hour days and never see my family and never take a day off that to me isn't success to either, right? Because part of achieving your potential is having work-life balance and being able to take time off and spend time with your family and your loved ones.
So it's not about how many hours can I put in, but is it it's, you know, can I grow this business bigger? Can I launch a second business? Can I write a book and I you know, get published in you know be featured in a Forbes article, you know, I'm always kind of looking, [00:28:01] what else can I do to? Kind of make sure that I'm living up to what I think I can do and not falling short, and sort of resting on my laurels or, you know, underachieving, I guess I don't want to be an underachiever to what I think I can do.
Eric: Yeah, most definitely, and on that topic of challenging yourself, so I'm sure people listening share those same feelings that you had early on, feelings that I have right now. You want to be an entrepreneur, you want to do something other than a 9-5 at some point in your life? Do you think there's some sort of pattern or formula to becoming successful in that way? Are there certain habits or traits that people can practice to develop that way?
Matt: I, you know, I don't think entrepreneurs have to be born or that you have to have a certain, you know, makeup of your DNA to be an entrepreneur. I really think anyone can do it. I think the biggest thing holding most people back and certainly, what was holding me back is just that fear of going out there and trying it [00:29:01] and not being successful and having to live with, you know, feeling like man, maybe I'm really not an entrepreneur. Maybe I'm not really cut out for this and not only, you know, the self-doubt and the self sort of deprecation that you'd feel from that. But also you know, it's hard not to have even if you don't make a big announcement about it right. Your friends, your roommates, your family, whatever are going to know oh you're starting that business, oh how’d that work out? Oh it didn’t really work out. You're so kind of afraid or at least I was I think a lot of people are afraid of having to have that conversation that you never even get sort of off the ground.
So I think you know the way to overcome that is one you know, understand that most businesses go through a few iterations, most times, you know, your first attempt isn't the successful one, and that's okay. Don't beat yourself up about it. And don't feel like that one thing that didn't work now forms the basis of your identity and you can't ever be successful. [00:30:03] I think it, you have to give yourself permission to take a chance, know that if it works, great! It wasn't because you're just an awesome entrepreneur, and if it doesn't work, that's okay! It's not because you're a failure as an entrepreneur. It's just that idea, that version of that idea, that attempt didn't work out. But it doesn't, it's not a predictor of your future success likelihood or failure likelihood. It's just that thing, and hopefully, if you take lessons from it, if it didn't work, and apply it to the next one or stay humble about it if it did work and you know, continue to appreciate the fact that you were successful on your first time out and not read too much into that and think you know, you can't make mistakes in the future because you certainly can.
I think that's the way to move forward. Is moderate your expectations. Don't expect great success. Don't beat yourself up if it's not a great success and just take kind of baby steps towards [00:31:03] the vision or goal that you have to get to where you want to be. And if you're persistent, you will get there. I think the number one attribute of any successful entrepreneur is just persistence. Very few of them are successful on their first try, but the ones that keep trying, keep pushing forward, keep figuring out where they screwed up, fixing that and moving on to the next one, those are the people who are successful.
I've made countless mistakes in the 21 years I've been an entrepreneur, but I don't let any one of them stop me from continuing the journey or saying well that's it. You know this mistake is the end, I'm done, I must be an idiot. I can't pull this off, I'm just going to have to go get a job.
Push through those, learn from your mistakes, keep going. That's ultimately what drives I would say 99% of success. You don't have to be the smartest person. You don't have to do any particular education or come from a you know wealthy background or anything like that. It's really just [00:32:03] persistence that drives the majority of what I would say, you know, makes people successful.
Eric: Yeah, I think that perfectly ties in line with what I've read about other entrepreneurs that have failed maybe 10 times before they found out what they wanted to do. I mean not that anything you've done up to, CapForge has been a failure. I mean, maybe you tell me differently, but CapForge wasn't your first company. You're a serial entrepreneur, and you've had many companies before this.
So as far as like that fear, what piece of advice do you have to mitigate that fear if you're just starting off? Yes, you can tell them to remain persistent. But is there some type of like habit they could practice daily to become less fearful over time?
Matt: Yeah, you know, I don't know. That's a good question. I mean, all I can tell you that worked for me is I basically gave myself an out. The very first time that I, you know, decided, okay, I'm going to try doing consulting on my own and see, you know, if [00:33:03] I can make a go of it that way, and I'll try it for a couple months, and if it doesn't work out, if I can't get anything going after a couple of months, then I I'll decide, you know, if I want to keep trying and if I don't, that's okay, you know, I'll start looking for some job options.
So, I gave myself a window of time where I said, it's okay to try it. And, you know, if it doesn't work out, then that's fine too. So, rather than kind of staking all or nothing on it, right? In saying, well, this is my only shot or, you know, I have to make this work or something. I gave myself the permission essentially, to just give it a try. But I really wanted it to work, so I gave it, you know, all my effort and I was able to secure some consulting clients and bring some revenue in, and pretty quickly it turned out to be, you know, more money than I'd made at any job I had had. And so even after that, after a couple of dry spells from there and some pivots and changes [00:34:03] in what I was doing, I tasted success, and I knew I could do it and that gave me all the confidence to continue, but I think you know for people who are kind of still haven't taken that first step, and they're still sort of fearful.
I think the best thing you can do is just give yourself permission to you know, set aside the fear and don't put so much weight and so much you know all or nothing into it. Give yourself the opportunity to experiment a little bit and try it out and see if you can make it work, and then if the first thing doesn't work but you kind of like the way it was going then try the next thing and don't feel like, you know, man that first thing didn't work. That's it. This will never happen. I'm just going to go back to not ever trying this.
Eric: Sure. Yep. Taking it easy on yourself and not, you know, the sun is still going to rise tomorrow morning if you start some today and it doesn't pan out. So I appreciate that insight there. That really is inspiring [00:35:03] for myself to gear, and I know other people listening, you know, if you're feeling fearful definitely follow Matt’s advice there, and just give yourself permission to try it.
Matt: Yeah, I think that's, you know, do all you can do. I don't think you can ever fully eliminate the fear, but I think, you know, there's other things you can do to write. If you're thinking about starting a business and you've got two options, you know, one you can start. You know, let's say you're sort of a food entrepreneur, right? And you're thinking about, you know, you'd love to start a restaurant and you have, you know, Grandma's secret recipe or something.
You could go and try and find a restaurant space to lease and try and you know, come up with a get $100,000 to be able to put a deposit down and lease a space and refit the area and hire staff to get a sign. And then hope to God it works because if it doesn't you're out of a hundred grand. Or you could say well how else could I start this? Well, maybe there's a local farmers market like where I live. There's a lot of [00:36:03] farmers markets and you can get a food stall there for 50 bucks and you don't have to have a full recipe and you don't have to be open seven days a week. You could go to the farmers market and for 50 bucks bring your barbecue grill and your Grandma's secret recipe for barbecue sauce and you know see if you can sell a few racks of ribs or a couple of hamburgers. And if you get a great reception and people say, man, this is fantastic, I'm going to be back next Sunday, I'd love to get this again or, you know, you thinking about opening a location?
Great, you can slowly work your way up to, you know, the point where you maybe do eventually get a restaurant. But if you go to that farmers market and people say, yeah, that's good barbecue, I've had better. Maybe that's the indication that it was a good thing you didn't blow a hundred grand trying to open a location.
Matt: You know. So you don't have to go all in on whatever you think your end goal is to try it out at the beginning. Kind of like we'd said it you know, the beginning this podcast [00:37:03] we were talking about, you know, field testing stuff and making sure that your idea is really all that that you think it is before you, you know, go to the whole nine yards and launching a whole big business and putting all your chips in that basket, you know try and figure out if there's a way you can start a baby step it and build your way up to what you eventually see is your, you know your final final goal, right?
Chipotle didn't start with a thousand locations. They started with one location and people loved it and then they grew to two and three and four, you know, and so on. But if your goal is to have a thousand restaurant locations, it's still okay to start with a farmers market booth for 50 bucks.
Eric: Yeah. It’s probably the smart choice. You want to make sure it works. You want to make sure A, that it's something that works and B, it’s something that you enjoy doing.
Matt: Right. I mean that's another that's another piece of it, for sure. I talk to people all the time back. You know when I have the restaurant software and you know, people say I love cooking. So I'd [00:38:03] like to open a restaurant. I say, okay, just so you're clear. Those are two entirely different things, right? If you just enjoy cooking, then throw a dinner party at your house every weekend, right? That's there you go. Now you enjoy cooking, and you're not you know but owning a restaurant is much more akin to running a manufacturing operation than it is akin to, I love cooking.
Matt: It's two really different things. You're managing staff, you're managing production, you're managing purchasing inventory, and, you know, and design and all kinds of. You're running a sophisticated operation. Even a basic restaurant is a fairly sophisticated business to run versus if you just love cooking then you know have some friends over on Friday night open a bottle of wine and make whatever you like to make and you know at the end of it everyone goes home and you don't have to get up the next morning and do it all over again.
Eric: Yeah, absolutely. And man Matt, you are dropping value bombs all over this podcast. I appreciate that. It's making me feel inspired to pursue [00:39:03] my next endeavor. You know really getting the gears turning as far as how I can generate ideas in terms of business ideas, and how to become a better entrepreneur, and just a more successful individual. So, I really appreciate your time here, really appreciate you being on the podcast. I do have one last question for you, though.
Matt: I'm ready.
Eric: What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur, CEO, owner, founder? You can group all those together. But what is the absolute favorite thing about those?
Matt: You know, I'm going to come back to what I mentioned earlier which is being sort of the, the master of my own ship. I don't in any way, shape, or form claim to be the smartest guy in the room, even if it's a small room and there's only a few people in it, I'm not gonna say I'm the smartest guy, I always make the right decisions, I always knew the right way forward. But for whatever reason, my personality, my makeup, I like to be able to, you [00:40:03] know, be the decider of what we're going to do and a hundred percent I take input from the people around me all the time whether it's other smart entrepreneurs I know, or the staff here at CapForge.
It's not that I'm, you know, my way or the highway or you know, the only good ideas are the ones I have, absolutely not. I, in fact, most of the good ideas and the good decisions come from collaboration and from input from other people. But at the end of the day, I really like being able to say, this is what I've decided to do, and this is what we're going to do. So often you hear stories in or read stories in the news or see you know, people were working in a place with a toxic workplace culture, or you know they felt like their workplace didn't make the right decision or they did things they didn't agree with or you know, they were sort of forced to obey rules they didn't [00:41:03] like or even, you know think about your customer service experience, right?
When you call the cable company with a problem, and they absolutely cannot help you, and then at the end of it, they say, is there anything else I can help you with? You’re like you didn't help me with what I actually needed help with. So you know, being forced to say that right? That's a scripted phrase they have to say. I just chafed at the idea that I have to do stuff that I don't, you know, agree with or don't think is the right way to proceed or don't want to do it.
So I never wanted to be in a position where I had to, you know, keep working with a client who I just didn't feel like was going the right direction or who for personal reasons or whatever just wasn't a fit with me or it was just I didn't want to have to I didn't want to have to live by decisions I didn't agree with or do things I didn't think were right for me from my you know whether moral compass or whatever it is. You know, I really the best thing for me about being an entrepreneur, being a CEO is that at the end of the day, I [00:42:03] can make sure that I'm heading an organization where I agree with a hundred percent of what we do, and I'm not having to live with decisions from other people that I don't agree with but hey, if I don't want to rock the boat, and I don't want to lose my job, you know, I can't open my mouth.
So to me being able to do that is the freedom that I couldn't find doing anything else, and it's super important to me. I want to always feel like when I go home at the end of the day, I'm going to be able to sleep well at night because of the decisions I made or didn't make or whatever that I don't have to live with someone else's decision that I really don't agree with or doesn't line up with my values or whatever it is. So, to me, that being able to do that is worth, you know, whatever other compensation I might get somewhere else, doesn't matter. That ability that being my own boss is, is worth everything to me.
Eric: I love that. That's inspiring and you're doing it the right [00:43:03] way, with the way you're leading CapForge. I can hear it in your voice and you know, hear the energy and the passion behind the culture that you have there. So real great job there.
Matt: Thank you, thank you. I feel like, you know, it really is important to me to have to be able to act with integrity and be true to kind of what I think the right thing to do is, and not be bound by someone else's rules where I have to either decide to break their rules or go home feeling lousy about myself because I did what they told me to do, but I didn't think it was the right thing to do.
And, you know, I think there's just a lot of people not that, you know, we're always living in these, you know, super challenging situations but from time-to-time things come up, where you might feel like what I want to do and what I have to do are two different things, and that lack of alignment that, falling back on my psychology, that cognitive dissonance situation [00:44:03] is really hard to live with, right? You don't feel good about yourself when you can't do what you think the right thing to do is, and so I never have to go home with that misalignment, you know, bothering me or kind of eating away at me and to me like I said that that is a priceless benefit of being where I'm at today.
Eric: Well that definitely inspires me to chase the entrepreneurial dream even more now, Matt, so thank you for that and thank you so much for being on the show. Really appreciate you making the time, you know, sharing all these valuable insights with the audience. I know everybody's going to leave feeling uplifted and inspired, and the next time I’m out in San Diego, California. Maybe I'll have to meet up with you and get a beer or something.
Matt: Oh, I would love that, and thank you so much for having me on. I love to talk about this. You know, if anything I've shared helps someone else, I mean, that makes me feel super grateful to have had the opportunity to be on and get to talk about it. So, thank you very much for having me on. I really appreciate it, and if you do come out to San Diego, the beers are on me.
Eric: [00:45:03] That's right, and if I need a bookkeeping and tax organization, I know where to go as well.
Matt: Awesome, we're here for you.
Eric: That's right, well Matt Remuzzi everybody. Thank you so much, Matt.
Matt: Thank you.
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Voice audio: Written, produced and edited by Eric R. Mueller
EDM music: Produced and edited by Eric R. Mueller