Being a serial entrepreneur has more cache than it used to. Elon Musk and Steve Jobs are considered serial entrepreneurs because they have run multiple companies. From what I have seen, being a serial entrepreneur is mainly a way to express themselves. It is how these founders see the world. They can envision opportunities and add value to the companies they touch. Today’s guest is Aaron Muller, the co-founder at ChomChom Roller. Inc Magazine ranked his company #62 on the 2020 Inc 5000 list. Chom Roller creates an incredible tool for pet hair removal. Aaron runs several companies, and most are in different industries. He shares his journey of being a serial entrepreneur. We look at the ups and downs of his path. You will gain insight into how being a serial entrepreneur has shaped how he runs his businesses.
Don't miss an episode. Subscribe to Growth Think Tank.
Aaron Muller: The Transcript
About: Aaron Muller is the CEO at ChomChomRoller teaches people how to buy a small business, make 6-figures, and work as little as 5 hours a week by becoming a lifestyle business owner. He is the author of The Lifestyle Business Owner, founder of Lifestyle Business Owner Academy, and host of the popular podcast The Lifestyle Business Owner Show. He currently owns 8 multi-million dollar companies that run without him. Meet him at www.lboacademy.com.
Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.
You know, I think that people put a lot of emphasis on, let’s say, college and you know, and glamorous things in life, right, you know, like, they have this, you know, tech company, or, you know, they have a master’s degree, like, you know, things like that. And I think it’s always like a little chip on my shoulder as a blue collar type person who, you know, didn’t go to college, but just worked from out of the truck washer as a kid, you know. And I graduated from that and started buying, you know, building business and buying into companies and stuff like that. And so it’s kind of like this, like, I’m going to show people I’m going to show those those edges, because educated people out there that you know, you don’t have to be, like, having masters to be a good business person and be successful. And so I think it’s a little bit of that, you know, and then it’s just that, because I did play sports, and you always want to win, and I’m just wondering when when I do things, but I’m also willing to be like, okay with the failure to do it, and I don’t like beat myself up too much.
Welcome to Growth Think Tank. This is the only place where you will get insight from the founders and the CEOs, the fastest-growing privately held companies. I am the host, my name is Gene Hammett, I help leaders and their teams navigate the defining moments of their growth. Are you ready to grow?
Gene Hammett [1:15]
On the journey of a serial entrepreneur, you may not think of yourself as a serial entrepreneur. But I think you have a lot to learn from those people who create teams and create self-managing businesses. And that’s what we’re going to be talking about today. Learning from another serial entrepreneur. We have Aaron Mueller, who’s a co-founder of ChomChom Roller, they were number 62 on the Inc list. But the story goes much beyond just that level of growth. In fact, he has nine companies right now. I think he said he had 25 over his entire entrepreneurial lifespan, we look at that journey of being a serial entrepreneur, what that really means to create companies that are self-managing what that means to you as an entrepreneur, and how you have to focus your time and your energy. And some of the things you have to let go of. One of the things I like most about this conversation is it really will give you some insight into what gets in the way of you creating a company that manages itself. And in fact, here’s the newsflash, it’s you, you have to get out of your own way. And Erin talks about some specific steps he had to do to create all the companies that he has. What could you learn from a serial entrepreneur?
Gene Hammett [2:23]
Well, you’ll get your lesson today on today’s podcast on growth LinkedIn. My name is Gene Hammett. I work with fast growth leaders to help them go beyond where they are today. If you have a question about what’s next for you, how you’re showing up what’s really going on inside your business, I’d love to invite you to check out a group that we’ve been putting together, it’s a peer to peer group for Inc 5000 level leaders. If you want to learn from others, you want to really go beyond where you are today. Check out fast growth boardroom calm. Inside there, you’ll see that we gathered together we do fun stuff. If you think you can learn from the fastest growing companies and the founders and CEOs, we’d love to have you apply. You have to be on the Inc 5000 in the previous year. You have to want to grow beyond where you are today. And you have to want to be coached through this process and I will share with you everything I’ve got. Just go check out the website fastgrowthboardroom.com now here’s the interview with Aaron.
Gene Hammett [3:20]
Aaron, how are you?
Aaron Muller [3:21]
Good. How are you doing Gene?
Gene Hammett [3:23]
Fantastic. We’re gonna have a great conversation here on the growth think tank to talk about business in general. But you have made the inkless before number 62 with ChomChom Roller. Tell us about what ChomChom Roller is.
Aaron Muller [3:36]
Chom Roller is a reusable pet hair removal device. So basically you can use it on all your furniture, your bedspreads, things like that. And it captures the hair from your pets shedding all over the place and it puts it into a compartment and then you can clean out the compartment and then reuse it and it might last you know one to three years depending on how aggressive you are using it.
Gene Hammett [4:01]
And I saw some of the videos apparently people love this product. And it does a really great job of cleaning up couches and things like that. Did you invent this product? Or did you discover it in a way?
Aaron Muller [4:12]
I discovered the product and then we now own the patent rights to it and we trademarked our name and built a brand out of it about 10 years ago or so.
Gene Hammett [4:22]
love this story and 62 on the Inc list. You are actually what they call a serial entrepreneur. I was kind of joking with you. I don’t meet that many people who have nine businesses. But over the years, if you ever counted up all the business, you’ve had all the ones that maybe didn’t make it and whatnot. What’s that?
Aaron Muller [4:39]
Yeah, there’s a lot I mean, I’ve always said in the 20 I mean like a 25 I don’t know you know, like some, like I said some have made it you know, and I one of them I call my four-year college education because I never went to college. So that was where I learned how to really fail the first time and you know, every situation that you run into you learn something from it, right. So some were Good. And if you’re always successful in a business, you never learned anything. That’s what I learned.
Gene Hammett [5:05]
Let’s talk about that for a second. Because I have this really unique relationship with failure. A lot of people know my story. And if you don’t, here’s the short version, I ran a business from zero to 6 million. And then I put it on Easy Street, kind of a lifestyle business. And then after nine years of running that business, successfully building a team, I lost everything. And so the failure actually was a gift, and actually propelled me into what I do today. When you think about failure, how do you kind of approach that?
Aaron Muller [5:33]
Well, okay, as I’m getting older, I’m 47. Now I’m, I’m a little bit more fearful of failure. So the years prior, you know, I just was like, you know, what, if we don’t try it, we never know what’s gonna happen, we can either succeed at this and make a lot of money or, you know, maybe it won’t work. And then I always strategically look at failure and say, okay, what’s the worst case? the situation, if I lose this on this deal or this situation? Or this investment or whatever? What is the worst thing that can happen? And as long as it’s not so detrimental to my life, then I will take that risk and go with it. But you know, I don’t want to fail. But sometimes we do.
Gene Hammett [6:15]
Well, I think anybody really sets out to fail, because that would be kind of foolish. But you had said something that I thought was really kind of where I think about this is you don’t learn from your successes that much.
Aaron Muller [6:26]
No, you really don’t.
Gene Hammett [6:28]
When everything’s going well, it’s just like, okay, we’re just, we’re just, okay, it worked out. But when you learn from something that you missed, or a relationship along, or maybe it’s a leadership mistake, that’s when you truly learn and can grow from.
Aaron Muller [6:42]
I completely agree. I mean, you know, I feel like, though, when I was younger, and like, I was doing really well, in the very beginning, I thought I could do no wrong, you know, I was so cocky and just, you know, do anything and you didn’t need help or anything, and anything you did, and that was like a big slap in the face. And then now it’s, you know, everything you do, you’re kind of trying to learn from it. And there are little microphones, failures too in business, right. And as long as you’re really learning from those, which most people not gonna say most people, some people don’t actually learn from it, you know, and that’s sad. And it’s something that will never help them grow into being more successful in their business careers. Because you really have to self-reflect and see where I, you know, what you did to make that situation fail, not what other people did, or other situations that what you personally did to make that business or that situation fail.
Hold on for a second. Aaron just talked about failure. We know as entrepreneurs, that failure is part of the journey. But are you creating a culture where people can really fail? are you creating a culture where they avoid failure? Where are you creating a culture where failure is a central part of what’s really going on in the company. Now I know I just kind of repeated myself a few times, they’re in different ways. But the real key here is, your job as a leader is to create a place where failure is embraced, it is part of the journey. And in fact, people will look forward to failure, they will talk about the failures that are going on in the organization because you don’t want people to ignore the real failures, you don’t want them to be so risk-averse that they avoid taking chances making decisions, you want organizations that allow failure to be a part of the journey. Now you want to learn from the failure, you want to create a space where people know it’s okay if they fail, but it’s not okay. If you don’t learn from those steps, well, I want to bring this up and put a spotlight on it for you. Because it really is an important piece to powerful leadership back to Aaron.
Gene Hammett [8:47]
That gives us another kind of Ted subject to kind of talk on your to entrepreneur, because you’ve built so many businesses I’ve done, I don’t know, probably a dozen over the years, right now it’s down to to the executive coaching and we’ve got some real estate investing that we do. But when you think about, you know, your relationship with failure and growth, what is what’s really the, what drives you forward.
Aaron Muller [9:11]
You know, because I am a competitive person, and I just want to prove to myself that I can, you know, I think that people put a lot of emphasis on let’s say, college and you know, and glamorous things in life, right, you know, like, they have this, you know, tech company or, you know, they have a master’s degree, as you know, things like that. And I think it’s always like a little chip on my shoulder as a blue-collar type person who you know, didn’t go to college but just worked from I was a truck washer as a kid, you know, and I graduated from that and started buying, you know, or building business and buying into companies and stuff like that. And so it’s kind of like this, like, I’m going to show people I’m going to show those edgy, does educate people out there that you know, you don’t have to be like having masters to be a good business person and be successful and I think it’s a little bit of that, you know, and then it’s just that that, you know, because I did play sports, and you always want to win, and I just want to win when I do things, but I’m also willing to be like, okay, with the failures, too, you know, I don’t like, beat myself up too much about it.
Gene Hammett [10:13]
The interesting thing is, after hundreds of interviews with founder CEOs, it’s just like you from the Inc 5000. Very few of them actually have MBAs.
Aaron Muller [10:20]
Really? Yeah, good to know. I guess they only the ones that say, say that they’re so smart, otherwise, that isn’t really doing anything.
Gene Hammett [10:30]
When you think about, you know, the businesses that you’re running now, I kind of curious around, how do you know when it’s time to move on to the next business? I know that there are systems you have to put in place, you don’t want to do this too quickly? What do you kind of your thoughts around starting up a new business before? You know, leaving one to go put all your energy into this new one?
Aaron Muller [10:52]
Yeah, that’s a great question. Because, you know, I try to, you know, help people with this, you know, answer this as well because a lot of people want to jump around really fast and get into this next big idea. And, you know, I would say that if need personally, what I need to be doing is completely running without me having to interject too often in the business where it can, it can run for months at a time, still make profits and run smoothly, without me having to be involved in that business. And once it’s at that point, and it’s proven, its profitable is one of the most important parts because you can’t pay people to do things, if you don’t have enough money coming in. So that’s really key is just the profitability alone will allow that business to be run sufficiently that you can go to the next one. And that’s, that’s probably the most important part. Air is simple, but you know, like, there’s no magic to it, you know.
Gene Hammett [11:47]
Inside of that, I think a lot of people would love to have sort of a self-running business or self-managing business, what have been the keys to you to create that, because it’s not just a great idea, you’ve got to have systems in place, you’ve got to have the right people, what do you think about the steps to create a self-managing company?
Aaron Muller [12:05]
Well, I’m gonna, you know, say this first is you have to actually lower your standards a little bit. So you know, a lot of people are perfectionist, and they, they can’t imagine something being done the wrong way and letting go of control. And if you have to, I’m not saying be at a level where it’s low quality, but something I learned when I was very young and 18 years old, and I had a business partner, and I was like, a tyrant. And I was really hardcore about trying to, you know, get everybody to do exactly how I wanted it to be and perfect. And he said, Aaron, you know, you’re gonna, like, you’re gonna scare everybody away, you know, you gotta chill out a little bit. And, you know, like, Can you just calm down a little bit. And so I realized something at that point that your competition a lot of times is, at, let’s say, this, let’s just say your competitions at this level. And you’re like, at this level, you know, and if you just go down to this level, it’s a lot more manageable, but you’re still better than the competition. And so like, just by lowering your standards, enough that you can now empower people around you to do just as good of a job, or maybe even better, because you now are starting to back off and giving those people being like a background leader, and letting people have the ability to make good decisions on their own and not be micromanaging them. That is, that is the best way I can explain, you know, getting a business to run on its own just by, you know, really having people do things and feeling comfortable with their ability to do it. And not being a micromanager and everything.
Hold on for a second. Aaron just said something really smart, I want to make sure we pause and take a look at it. lower your standards. where this comes from is a lot of leaders want to have people take control of this make decisions, but they don’t let go because they are not willing to let go of the standards of excellence. Now, I’m not saying that your company shouldn’t have excellence as a mantra, because I think it should, but you should learn to let go of your standards of you have to be involved. You have to be the one who has the ideas. You have to be the one who drives forward and overcomes challenges and puts out fires. Because when you hold on, and you don’t allow people to be themselves and stop expecting everyone to do it exactly the way you would do it. You are creating a culture that depends on you. You can’t create fast growth. You can’t create the kind of success you want and impact. If you’re holding on. You don’t let go of control. You really are missing an opportunity to create a stronger culture and to be a stronger leader to people that go beyond just you. Back to Aaron.
Gene Hammett [14:59]
You mentioned empowerment inside there. And I’ve always described this within my speeches and the conversations we have on the podcast as empowerment. It’s really the opposite of micromanagement because in micromanagement you’re trying to weigh in on the quality of something, or how can you make it better. But empowerment truly is letting them do it themselves and trusting that, that maybe it’s not exactly the way you would do it, but it is a path forward, and they learn more by doing it themselves, then you telling them what to do, you would never have a self-managing company if you continue to tell people what to do next.
Aaron Muller [15:34]
No, because they’ll never have the competence to make that decision to do something else. I just dropped my speaker by that.
Gene Hammett [15:43]
Aaron Muller [15:44]
So you know, that’s, that’s is that is, you know, how can they ever make good decisions, and then they’re scared to make decisions, and then you’re like, sitting there, you know, over their shoulder all the time. And, and it’s stressful, you know, like, if you’re, if you’re constantly like, I mean if I was trying to do nine companies, and I’m constantly on the phone dealing with them, you know, I could never do what I did. There’s no way and it’s just not possible. So doesn’t matter what the decision is. Pretty much I let them make decisions. And it’s a trust that you develop over a period of time with your management and staff.
Did you know we have a YouTube channel, on YouTube, we put a lot of content that you won’t find anywhere else? And if you want to be a better leader, you want to take your company to new levels, go to genehammett.com/YouTube, you can subscribe, you can find content that will help you be a stronger leader.
Gene Hammett [16:34]
You have a business where you have a real executive leadership team chomp actually has a uniqueness that you don’t have a full team around that because it’s an idea. You guys probably have contract manufacturers and things like that. This other business where you have an executive leadership team, how have you gotten them to the point where they’re kind of self-sufficient and fully optimized?
Aaron Muller [16:56]
Well, I mean, this is gonna sound horrible, but I am, I don’t have a lot of patience. And I’m a terrible trainer. And so I pretty much hire people who want to be left alone, not micromanaged. And I even asked them that in the interviews, and I, I try to find people that want that, that takes a lot of pride in like almost like they own the business themselves. And if I do that, I generally find the right people. And if they’re not fitting in alignment with how I manage people, then we part ways in a very short amount of time, like within a month, it’s not working. And so it’s the people that step up to the task, and I give them an opportunity, and I’ll back off, and then if they’re not getting to the place where they need to be to really run the company properly, I’ll have my discussion with them.
Aaron Muller [17:53]
It’s almost like an ultimatum. And that sounds horrible, horrible, but I’ll just like, you know, you got to step up. If you want this position and you want to do this, you need to step up. You said you didn’t, you’re okay with not being micromanaged and not fully trained on every little thing. You need to do it, and they will step up if they’re good. I mean, it’s happened multiple times, and they’ll step up, and then they feel empowered, because I leave them alone, you know,
Gene Hammett [18:18]
Yeah, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Either way, if you micromanage someone and self-fulfilling that they come back for more micromanagement, but if you empower them in the right way, they will keep trusting themselves and moving forward. And if you have the right relationship with failure, you know, one of the things you mentioned in there is this feeling of ownership. And it’s the next book I’m writing, I appreciate your kind of contributing to this because fast-growth companies want people to feel like owners because when they feel like they treat the customer like it’s their own, they treat these projects, they overcome challenges. And they do feel that sense of empowerment. When you What is it besides empowerment that makes people feel like owners in your world?
Aaron Muller [19:02]
You know, I think by giving them recognition when they do well, you know, like, like giving them the kudos people are a lot of people are words of affirmation, you know, and they want to know that they are doing something right from the leader, you know, I’m the leader of the company. So when I compliment them, and I’m not, I don’t give compliments easily either because I always know what’s going to become come next out of their mouth is Oh, well, can I get a raise then you know, like, so I’m very cautious about how I give my compliments, but I let them know, you know, when they’re doing good and when they do good things. And that just keeps them motivated and obviously create good benefits program, pay programs, bonus programs, so that they are incentivized by something as well. So that they go you know, I wouldn’t want to own a business. I make enough money doing this and I am running someone’s business and it’s less stressful than, you know, having all everything myself.
Gene Hammett [19:57]
When you think of all the things we’ve talked About today in your journey of entrepreneurship and creating a self-managing company, what’s something that we haven’t talked about that you feel is important?
Aaron Muller [20:07]
I think that as far as, like what we haven’t talked about, I think that that dreams, dreams are like, our great, you know, people that have like big, big dreams of doing things. But when it comes down to it, it’s about, you know, you know, just going after things and making things happen, right, versus always just talking about it. For example, my wife, are you familiar with the Myers Briggs personality profiling. So my wife’s kind of more like an intuitive type, right? The other big picture always looking at this. And she feeds herself a lot of times by talking about what she’s, you know, going to be doing right.
Aaron Muller [20:47]
And instead of doing it sometimes, and she’s not horribly intuitive, that way, she’s gonna do her too, but, but really, what I, what I always try to tell her too, is like, Listen, stop talking about it, because that’s feeding you enough that you don’t do it. And if you just do it, now, there’s action, things are happening, and it’s tangible. But if you continue to just talk about it, and tell people what you’re going to be doing, you’ll some, a lot of times, you’ll never do it because you’re getting fed enough by just talking about it. So I’d say just do things. And don’t worry about all the failures, it’s like, a big thing, saying we always use is getting ready to get ready. Don’t be that person that’s always like organizing, organizing the desk before you start making the calls, just start making calls. And if you fail, who cares? You know, like, just keep going and figure it out.
Gene Hammett [21:31]
I used to be that person, too. That was a big thinker. And…
Aaron Muller [21:35]
Gene Hammett [21:36]
You know, there’s a balance between having time to think because I think one of the things I talked to a lot of leaders through this podcast is they’re like I’m so overscheduled, I don’t have time to think, which I think is very dangerous. They can’t see around corners. But there’s nothing like taking action on a big goal, like really moving forward, do people want this product or offering our service. And I really appreciate you talking about, you know, being a doer, and not just a dreamer. When you think about leadership, and you think about anything that it takes to be a successful entrepreneur are anything you do in your daily schedule, that really helps you tune into, showing up fully for the businesses that you do run.
Aaron Muller [22:15]
I just care, you know, like, just actually, I don’t want to go into be a little bit on the defense, right? So you know, you can get comfortable that kind of like yourself, you did, you kind of get to this, you know, the lifestyle business owner mode. And, and I, I never say just don’t ever do anything in your business, and don’t just sit back and it’ll never, it’ll just run forever. Great, right, you have to always be a little bit on the defense and be trying to find potential problems and, and being aware of am a pulse on your business at all time.
Aaron Muller [22:45]
So don’t ever think that it won’t fail. Because it’s right around the corner of business is gonna fail. And businesses are very difficult and challenging at times, to the point where I mean, they that’s why to like, an example is, you know, you buy a house and, and the value of that house goes up every year because just that’s what real estate does. business, you can buy it for a million dollars, and it goes down to $200,000. Within a year or two, if you just ran it incorrectly, you know, we’re out of business. And so any turn it can be out of business. So just be on a little bit on the defense, and you’re looking for those pitfalls that might come about, but don’t be paranoid about it either. So you have a quality of life.
Gene Hammett [23:30]
Aaron, thank you so much for being on the podcast.
Aaron Muller [23:32]
You bet. Thank you.
Gene Hammett [23:33]
I just gonna wrap up here a little bit to give you some perspective around what we just talked about. Because I really think there are some key lessons inside of this around your relationship with failure, but also your relationship with empowering and maybe even lowering your standards. Because I understand that your standards have gotten you to where you are today. But if you truly want to create a stronger business, you’ve got to empower people. That means trusting in them and trusting yourself. All of this comes back to your own transformation. My job as a leader, helping founders and executives grow to that next level is to go beyond their fears and find that breakthrough. So if you have any questions about what your next step is, make sure you check out the free resources Etchingham calm as always leave with courage. We’ll see you next time.
A QUICK FAVOR
And lastly, please leave a rating and review for the Growth Think Tank on iTunes (or Stitcher) – it will help us in many ways, but it also inspires us to keep doing what we are doing here. Thank you in advance!
If you want more from us check out more interviews: