Paul Abelowitz – How to Be A Happy Entrepreneur

 

About PAUL ABELOWITZ

Paul Abelowitz is the Founder and CEO of Elite Business Ventures, a company that assists employers in avoiding fines and lawsuits by assisting them with solutions that provide employees a safe and fair workplace. Prior to starting Elite Business Solutions Paul more than 1000 employees as he ran multiple franchises with Bruegger’s Bagels.

A Serial Entrepreneur at heart Paul attributes much of his success to his experience working in his family’s Burger King franchise as well as serving in the Israeli defense course. He is a big advocate of the importance for entrepreneurs to invest in themselves as well as figuring out how to convert their companies to a reoccurring revenue model.

 

Transcript:

Alan

This is American Dreams program where we interview thought leaders and entrepreneurs and bring their ideas to you in real world context. Welcome to the show I visited here today with Paul Abel. Paul is the president of Elite Business Ventures. So Paul has a very unique background, I’ll call him he’s a process person, a critical thinker, and has really helped a tremendous group of people, in particular, the entrepreneurs as they, they are practicing and building businesses. So Paul, before we get into what you currently do, can you give the background and what brought you up today?

 

Paul

Sure, thank you. Well, first of all, it’s an honor to be here and, you know, my goal today is to inspire and to be able to share different tricks and tools that I’ve used. And unfortunately, I’ve really only gained these skills in the last five years. But had I known about these tricks and tools, I may have still had my hair by now Alan, so I’m hoping that this is going to be valuable. And I can share successes and failures. You know, Alan I was born in South Africa, at the age of 12, I immigrated to Israel, I did my high school and my military service in Israel, served in the Israeli Defense Force. I was a combat medic in the Israeli Defense Force. And then I came to America, which is the best place in the world. There is nowhere better than the United States Don’t let anybody tell you, because I’ve lived in all these different countries. I can tell you, it’s the best country in the world with the most opportunity. And Alan I came here because my family when we left South Africa, I was with a brother of mine who is a doctor today. We grew up in Israel and have an older brother and sister that came to the states and got into the Burger King business. So when I got out of the Israeli Defense Force, I came to work in the family business in the Burger King business.

 

Alan

As you’ve acquired the experience in in built out Elite Business Ventures. Walk us through what you do in building out the business.

 

Paul

I think it comes back to, you know, the journey. And you know, I have a 25 year old son and a 21 year old daughter that, you know, graduated from college and are starting their journey. And they have a mindset of I really want to only work in doing things that I love. And when I look at the success that I have today, it’s because of the journey of maybe working and serving in a in a military that I didn’t love doing that work. But my God, what a foundation it gave me to do what I’m doing today, had I not worked in Burger King, and understood what this concept is that you can have a Whopper in San Diego. And you can travel all the way across the country and order a whopper and it tastes exactly the same Alan- exactly the same. How’s that possible? Well, that’s what that taught even though I hated working in the family business, it taught me to really respect systems and process, and that’s from somebody who’s dyslexic, ADD and ADHD. That got me to where I am today. So Alan after working in the family business, I owned a bunch of Bruegger’s Bagel franchises. I’d been sued or being fined we had over 1000 employees. And you know what my goal was after an employee injury in the bagel business. I had an inspection. What happened Alan is I had an employee that was cleaning a bagel machine while another employee was mopping the floors and the person mopping the floors plugged in the bagel machine not knowing that other workers finger was in the hopper and chop the finger off and good thing as a combat medic right Alan so I knew what to do there. But what I didn’t know you know we did everything right. You know, we called the workers comp we took care the first aid you know, went to the hospital. But what I didn’t do is I didn’t call OSHA. And by the way, at that time, you know, there was about 80 restaurants in the family business about an $80 million company. And again, franchise, right. So this is a mom and pop entrepreneurs, this is a franchise deal, still entrepreneurs. But you would think that I would know exactly what to do with all this background. And the day after the incident, I get a call from OSHA, which is the government entity and Cal OSHA is the California branch, that basically their one job is to ensure safety in the workplace. And the inspector said, Hey, I just want to let you know that we need to come and visit your facility, because you had a serious injury. And we need to ensure that your workers, your current workers, you know, work in a safe environment. So I said, come on in, no problem, you know, and a guy shows up the next day and the badge and all that introduces himself. And he says to me, did you know that you needed to notify OSHA within eight hours or Cal OSHA of injury? I am sorry, I didn’t know that. I needed to notify within eight hours and he takes out his ticket book, and he starts writing me up. And he says to me, where are your posters that, you know, you’re supposed to utilize in this event. And I go to the break room, we don’t have the right posters up. And then he says to me, where’s your written safety plan your injury illness prevention program, I didn’t have one, I had an employee policy manual. And then he goes into my first aid kit. And he opens it up, and it’s totally empty. So basically, he gave me a, you know, $40,000 fine plus, and I had 30 days, he said, I’m coming back. And we need to ensure that you are compliant. So I obviously call my lawyer and this was in  1999. And I’d go, where’s the OSHA store? Where can I go and buy my posters, my first aid kits, my written safety plans can have somebody do it for me. And there was no such thing at the time. So I said, if I ever start another business, I’m going to make it really easy for employers, to comply not only with the law, but to provide a safe environment for their workers. And that’s where the idea came about, of this new business, which is elite business ventures is the holding company. And I have five brands under it. So that’s kind of the concept. That’s where the idea came from the pain of as an employer, nobody told me what I needed. And every single day, we still live on the belief system that we exist. And I’ll show you a habit on the next slide. This is what we do. And we’ve haven’t deviated in 15 years. It’s exactly the same. We assist employers in avoiding fines and lawsuits by assisting with these solutions that provide a safe and fair work environment. So we absolutely haven’t deviated from that we’ve kept 100% in line with that mission. However, the products have changed, the customers have changed. But basically, we have simplified our message. We take very complicated compliance regulation. And obviously, we hire attorneys and other professionals, and we simplify it with the purpose of a safe environment employees. So that’s our business model that we have.

 

Alan

So just curious, so today, five years ago, you started but today, how many subscribers have you gained into your model?

 

Unknown Speaker

That’s a great question. We actually met each other. And we had a conversation, I’ll call it version 1.0 of my business, or the first phase of my business was really selling a product. So take for an example COVID. And you have the world pre COVID and you have the world after COVID. I have a world pre-reoccurring revenue, and I have a world post-reoccurring revenue. So I’m 100% committed every single morning I would wake up and I had a sticky on my computer screen that said figure out how to make the business into a reoccurring revenue model. And when I go to bed at night on my alarm clock, a twit say figure out how to make your business a reoccurring revenue model. And so I went about and read all these book and joined all these organizations, which we’ll talk about. And six years ago, we re engineered the business. And it’s 100%, a reoccurring revenue model that we use, which we invented, we 100% invented it. And we have 250,000 subscribers, our goal is to have a million subscribers in the next 36 months, and we were way on track. And we figured out a way how to do it in a very efficient manner, that we grow our business without having to hire a lot of people. And it’s just a blessing. But what I’d like to share is how I did it afterwards, which is really stupid, simple that anybody can take the existing business, that is may not be where it is. And by doing just a few things, you can transform your whole business in a very short amount of time. So

 

Alan

I love it, you got my attention here, Paul. So let’s move forward to the steps that need to be evaluated in a business.

 

Paul

So basically Alan, I  think mentioned to you is that, you know, getting ready for today, I did a lot of thinking, and that’s the one of my, this is really rough. This is a rough draft, it may even have typos on it. But I looked at Okay, how Why am I so happy? Why don’t what did I do to make my life so much better. And five years ago, I was working 100 hours a week, I was miserable. And so I put together what I call my 10 steps of being a happy entrepreneur. Now you see, I didn’t put rich, right? I don’t use the word rich, Alan, happy is the key. So number one is I worked in a family business I had my wife helped me in the business, and work together with her. And I will say if you want to be happy, don’t do it unless you have to. And when we started out, we had to unite Alan, on step number two is, go all in. I have a lot of acquaintances and people I know that have a day job, and they have a great idea. And, you know, they just don’t go all in. And that’s the number one result, the number one action, that changed everything was go all in to the extent I convinced my wife 15 years ago to sell our house with a three year old and a six year old. And I had 12 months runway to make this idea happen. Now I had motivation, because she would have killed me if I failed. So she got to have the motivation. So you got to go all in, you got to have the motivation. And then if you have, if you’re lucky enough to have a supportive spouse, a partner, it is so critical to make it happen. Number three, don’t sell a product solve a problem I sold, I sold the product for the first eight years of the business. And I did well I paid the bills. I was the best sales guy out there, right in my business. I was the business and I had a support team. And once I went through the training and the learning, which I’m going to share what that is, I was trained, don’t sell a product solve a problem. And when you solve the problem or you identify the problem, then absolutely commit to use thinking tools. And there are unbelievable thinking tools out there. I use pitch planners strategize a Strategic Coach, oh my God changed my life. But I used to shoot from the hip and wouldn’t sit down and think about what’s the best case. If I do this. What’s the worst case if I don’t do this, and it’s just pausing to take the time to think and use tools number Five, master your niches, you know, we used to sell our product to everybody because we resolving a issue for all types of businesses. And what we started mastering was b2b services. And what we do is we bolt on to benefit brokers and CPAs and payroll companies. And we 100 plus percent understand what they do. And we white label our solutions for them, that they included in their base fees. But the reason that I can do it is I go to every single conference, and I sit in the technical seminars. So we’re all the other vendors are standing in an exhibit booth. And if you’re listening to this, you got to trade shows, and you’re in the exhibit booth during the time where all the clients are in the, in the actual sessions, you making a mistake, setting the session, learn the language, learn what your niche does, learn what your customer does, master the niches and you’ll have riches. Number six, I have this

 

I have this epiphany of three levels of client relationships. So that’s my take on it. Level one year, a vendor and you sell a product, they give you a purchase order, you ship your product, or your maybe in the service industry, you basically are providing some sort of a return on investment for somebody giving you some cash, lowest level of relationship. The next level of relationship is where you can actually build a relationship with that client and understand more, what are the goals? What are they going to be doing? And how can you actually integrate your product to fit better into their business model. And many entrepreneurs don’t do that they just want to sell a product, but don’t understand the client and where the clients going to, and how they can reengineer this illusion to fit in the clients growth. I call that level two. Level Three is once you have established yourself as a thought leader in the niche, well, then you can become a coach to clients. So Alan, I am in one of the niches that we are very involved in, I have 25 of my clients that pay us for our services that they basically join this mastermind group, we call it a peer group, where we put groups of eight to 10 of our clients together are hired a facilitator, to basically facilitate it’s a quarterly meeting, we meet somewhere in the country. And we actually do a pretty cool now we rent out these big BMB Airbnb’s and actually hang out either with the clients, but outsourced to facilitator, but we coaching our clients, how to run their businesses, how to work together as a community. And if you have that third level of relationship, then you never have to spend a penny in marketing. Alan, you know, we grow a minimum of 20% a year, I don’t spend $1, on marketing. All our business is referrals, because of this mindset of the three levels of client relationships, and the investment. Number seven, don’t blow your money on hiring a salesperson, thinking that you’re going to grow your business without you doing the work. First, you have to know what your value proposition is. You have to know what your target market is. You then have to create unbelievable collateral material for your salesperson. I have a military background, your sales guy, your sales gal or your soldiers know great military will ever send a soldier to battle without telling them exactly where the enemy is and how they need to get there. And then arming them with the right weapons and support to conquer the hill. You have the same obligation to your soldiers. And many I did not do that I spent I calculated millions of dollars of wasted money thinking that I had crappy salespeople. I think I had some amazing salespeople I was crappy. Because I didn’t set them up for success. It’s your obligation to do that for yourself. First. And that’s the number one thing that and I have this concept called the growth stack that I’m working on that I use tools. So for example, if you’re looking for your target market, it needs to be

 

special specific to what motivates you to spend your time in every day. Now, I didn’t say it’s a target market that can make you the most money. The target market is a market that you can wake up every single day and be excited to work in that marketplace, then you have to have a value proposition that really makes sense to that target market. Then you have to design the collateral material, your website, your brochures, and your videos, specifically speaking and talking to that particular target market about your value proposition and how you’re going to help them then you need to engage them by doing whatever email marketing or whatever you may buy advertising, only then give it to the sales guy. And I did it totally wrong. I brought the sales guy in first. And then I wanted them to figure it all out. So don’t waste the money that how wasted and don’t spend the time that I spend learning this. It’s huge. And number two, hire a headhunter when you when you hiring a salesperson, a hiring a salesperson is an art and hire a either a, a headhunter or great interviewing team to help you select it. But that was the biggest jump for me was making sure that I get the right people with the right stack. Only reoccurring revenue I, I sold the same exact product for eight years. And every single month I opened up my doors, and I had to start selling again. So I created a model based upon the exact same product with a different target market with a different value proposition that are made it reoccurring. So look at your target market today. And if you don’t have a reoccurring revenue model, there may be another target market that you can package a solution together that you can charge. reoccurring revenue. Just mean COVID reoccurring revenue was an unbelievable gift. And unbelievable. Yeah. So if you can do that, and number nine is most probably the most important. So I have kids. And when you have kids, and if your kid needs braces, you’re going to do whatever it takes to spend the money on braces for that kid. If your kid has a little bit of a learning issue, you got to spend a lot of money to make sure they’re taken care of. But what are you doing and spending money for yourself? What are you doing to better yourself? Do you know you’re going to spend $50,000 a year to $100,000 a year depending on how old your kids are? To send them to a four year education? And by the way, if they’re not going to be professionals, not sure if it’s going to be worth the money or not? What are you spending on yourself. And that was another mistake I made is I didn’t spend money on learning how to be a better manager, a better boss, a better owner. And it took me a while but I found a system and that’s what I want to share. For you personally Strategic Coach has been an unbelievable gift. And it will teach you a way of thinking that nobody else has Dan Sullivan. He’s the founder and just as an amazing team, and has definitely changed my life. And join a community. If it’s not EO or sage, have a peer group around you a local peer group that you meet once a month with other entrepreneurs around you. Don’t do this on your own. Don’t do this on your own. So for you personally, those two

 

enterprises, those two organizations will change your life will change your life. Now for your team. Don’t try and run your business. I can guarantee you all of you guys sitting out have must probably work more hours there most of your employees working your business and spend more time in your business than on your business. You don’t have to do that go buy a book called traction. EOS, it’s available either by the name, traction, or get a grip. And it basically is a formula how to run your business based upon the Rockefeller habits, and it will change your team’s life, I hired a Silicon Valley CEO world class. The reason he came and work for me as a smaller company, is because we had such an amazing culture. And we ran our business so efficiently and effectively on this system called Eos. And the other thing is, send your team to strategic coaches well, to teach them how to think and how to use communication to us. And number 10. Only a player’s a you know, you’ve got to be player, I guarantee and you know, your CSR, always work to have a players I went from over 55 employees down to 18 and tripled my business. Yeah, 55 to 18. And tripled my business by having only eight players, and outsourcing most of the minutiae in my business, which maybe we’ll do in another podcast on how that works. But if you can do these 10 things, then I will guarantee you’ll be a happy entrepreneur, and the wealth will come with it. So that’s my 10 steps.

 

Alan

Paul, as well said and beautiful outline, I can see how many people have benefited from the processes, and not many people can say they’ve taken into 250,000 subscribers within a five year period, and then they continue to grow at 20% a year. But when right problems identified it, it takes care of itself in a viral way. Well said Well said. back I think we use some of your posts results. So

 

Paul

otherwise, posters, remember, you’re not getting the best solution, you should subscribe to the service that keeps you up.

 

Alan

Yeah, I said that the wrong way. I think we are windows. There you go. Once an entrepreneur, always an entrepreneur. Paul, it’s been a pleasure having you with us today. And I wouldn’t like to have you back to do a follow up podcast. The group will be thrilled to continue to hear some of your wisdom for as a they work to scale companies

 

Paul

would love to share and it’s my passion and it’s my it’s my cause is to help other entrepreneurs and it Nothing makes me happier to do that, Alan, so I’d be delighted.

 

 

 

 

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