Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in business services but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Aaron Stahl, CEO of P3 Cost Analysts, located in Fayetteville, AR, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Our business is called P3 Cost Analysts. We are a nationwide cost reduction consulting franchise with franchisees in 23 states and growing. We use our expertise to help businesses and city/county governments across the U.S. reduce their overhead costs. We specialize in expense categories such as Telecom, Waste/Recycling, Utilities, Property Taxes, Merchant Processing, Copiers/Print, and Uniform and Linen. We work on a shared savings basis. If we can't find savings, there is no fee. We find savings at over 90% of the clients we work with.
Tell us about yourself
I got started in business in college, doing real estate/construction. After that business, I started P3. Ultimately I had just decided I couldn't function in a 9-5 world (without ever having a 9-5 job, ha). I learned that about myself, though, as I saw friends preparing for college graduation and interviewing for 'real' jobs. I caught the entrepreneurial bug then and have never looked back.
As far as what motivates me every day, I think it's just seeing the results we get for clients and the impact that has both on their business and our franchisees. It's fun saving businesses money and helping them be more competitive as a result. And it's really special when someone breaks out of the 9-5 and creates a business that sustains a new lifestyle.
That's what our franchisees are doing. When they help their clients, they are growing their own business. They only make money if we save people money. It's fun to watch because I can remember that feeling of freedom myself. It's a ton of work early on and can be a grind, and honestly feels like the opposite of freedom... but when you break through, having built something yourself, it's a special feeling and puts you on a path to a better life.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I would say the people who have worked with me for many years are my biggest accomplishment. We have quite a few employees that have been with us for a long time. And one that's been with us close to the start. It's not hard to make a lot of mistakes as a business owner. That's part of it. But when you have people that stick with you, it certainly makes you feel like you're doing things right.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
This obviously varies for every business and every business owner. I think early on in business, it's figuring out how to get your phone to ring or get new business. Later it's how to get your phone to stop ringing and create jobs for people to handle things you used to do so that you can focus on growth. So it depends on the stage of the business. Overall I would say you need to be wired for problem-solving, though. You will be doing it every single day, all day. And there will always be new problems to solve. Sometimes that's fun, and sometimes it's not. If you enjoy hard work, you'll be fine, though.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Start small... It makes for a better story, and if things don't work out, you might not lose your entire shirt. There is ALWAYS time for growth. Start small, test, learn, then grow.
- Make sure you are ok with never mentally taking a break. Business ownership has countless perks, and I encourage everyone to do it if they really want it. But there will likely be a permanent blur between your business life and personal life. Vacations are most often working vacations, and nights are most often spent working as well (at least early on). You will be thinking about it while working out, with friends, family, and everywhere. For me, the benefits of being in business vastly outweigh any negatives. But I think many people just don't have any idea how difficult it can be and need to go into it with their eyes wide open. It's not for everyone, and that is not only ok but also necessary. Not everyone should be their own boss. No business would function without great employees.
- Hustle and tenacity are probably the biggest character traits I've seen succeed in business. You don't have to be super smart or have a ton of money or any of the other things you might think make for a good business owner. You just have to go for it, work hard, hustle, and not give up. People that do those things will almost always succeed.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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