Mission control, we are go for spitballing. Three, two, one, here we go. Welcome to the Spitballing with Ecomm Elite podcast. Spending time dropping knowledge from luxury locations all around the world, with seven-figure entrepreneurs, Todd Snively, and Chris Keef, get the inside scoop on how to really obtain freedom through Ecommerce. Get ready to learn how to make money online with your hosts, Todd and Chris. So, let’s get started.
Hello everyone. Todd here, and welcome to our first ever Ecomm Elite Spitballing Podcast. Now, to be honest with you, this is something Chris and I have been wanting to do for a long time. So, why haven’t we done it? Well, the fact of the matter is there’s so many business projects that we like working on, you know, it’s hard to find that time. We’re all working towards that four-hour work-week, so a podcast never seemed … We just couldn’t find a place to fit it in, right?
So, why now? Well, I got to tell you, and we like giving credit where credit is due. And it’s because I started listening to Russell Brunson’s Marketing In Your Car podcast. I used to think podcast had to be two, three hours long, had to have guests, and fancy music, and things to talk about. After listening to Russell, 20 or 30 episodes, I’m like, “Oh, you know what? The dude gets in his car, he talks for five minutes, and he’s able to drop some wisdom, tell some stories,” and I feel like I’m getting to know his journey.
I said, “Well, I can do that. Chris and I can do that.” So, I’ll probably do some podcasts. Chris’ll do some podcasts. We’ll do some together. And eventually we may even bring on a guest. Bring on another Ecomm Elite member to talk about their successes, because there’s a ton of those guys and girls. So we’ll just see how this goes.
Part and parcel of this is so that you can get to know us, also. My journey to where I am today, it’s been a long journey, and not a perfect journey. Some of you know my backstory and some don’t so through the course of doing these podcasts and trying to impart the wisdom of how to really do Ecommerce, do it long-term, whether you’re a dead start beginner or even some advanced stuff for people that have been doing it for years and years, I think part of that is each time I’m going to try to give a little bit of my backstory, maybe not every time, but if you follow these podcasts, I think you’ll get to understand some of my thoughts processes, some of the risks I took, some of the huge mistakes I made, and be able to pick out, and I’ll try to identify, the things that really made the difference in my life to get me to the point where I am today.
Along those lines, I want to talk about, today, the very first business that I had, and what happened to it, and the regrets I have about that first business. Well, this goes all the way back, now, to 1983. I’d just gotten out of the air force, was trying to figure out what I wanted to do, thought bartending would be a fun thing to do while I was trying to figure this life thing out. So I became a certified mixologist, and started working in a bar.
Well, I got to meet all kinds of interesting people, and through the course of that employment I met a guy that owned a process service company. He asked me if I wanted to make some extra money by serving subpoenas and summonses and garnishments. If you guys don’t know what any of those things are, that’s a good thing, because it means you’ve avoided the civil litigations system which is, again, a good thing.
I was the guy that would take those summons and complaints and track down the defendant and serve him with the papers so that he’d have notice of the lawsuit or I’d take garnishments to the bank, which was the easiest thing to do. But people would end up getting their bank accounts seized. I mean, it was kind of a weird business. But while I was doing this, eventually the guy that had hired me moved on to other things, and it became my business.
So, I started to go to all of my attorney clients and ask them, “What other services could I offer you guys that you’d be willing to pay for?” And without fail most of them were saying, “Judgment collection.” Because apparently attorneys are really, really good at suing people, and getting a judgment, but suck wind on actually turning that judgment into money. They needed somebody to locate these defendants because a lot of them had just skipped or took off and then locate the assets of these defendants to be able to do the garnishments and writs of execution and subpoena for creditor’s exams, and things like that.
In any event, I started doing that, and I found I have a knack for it. And it was kind of fun. I mean, you’re raining misery onto people’s lives in some ways, and I had to struggle with that. But people make their own bed, and I was just … I wasn’t doing any wrong, it was just sometimes I struggled with it. But in any event, I got good at it, and one of the unique selling propositions that I had with my business is I would front all of the fees. If there was a court filing fee, if there was a skip tracing fee, credit report fee, I would front all of those fees, and not expect to receive those fees back until I actually collected money for the attorney.
I would get my fees back first, and then he would pay me my commission on that recovery. Word on that got around. These attorneys, they talk to each other. You can imagine them at the country club, right? “Yeah, I found this guy, he actually pays the fees upfront to collect judgments for me on judgments that are 10 years old.” So word got out and I started to get more and more business, and things were going pretty good. Remember, this is back in ’83, ’84. I’d come out of the air force making a, I think, $150 a month or something like that. So if I was making $2,000 or $3,000 a month, back then, that would have been huge money to me.
One attorney called me up and said, “Yeah,” you know, “so-and-so referred you to me, and I have a bunch of judgments I’d like you to come in and talk.” So I went into this guy’s office, and I mean, he had files. And I’m not joking, they were stacked four to five feet high, all around the circumference of his office. A ton of files.
So, we sat down and we were talking, and I’m like, “Well, how many judgments do you have that you’d like collected?” And he just pointed to all the files. He goes, “I had all these brought in for you today for our meeting. I have all these judgments.” He said, “Now, I’m going to give you all of this business,” he goes, “and you’re going to make a ton of money on it,” he goes, “but I have one requirement, and it’s that you work all of these cases equally, and I’m only going to give you about six months to get as much as you can out of these judgments. So you got to work them all equally.”
He even said, “And you’re fronting all of the expenses until the money’s collected.” So I did some quick calculations, and just on the various credit report fees and filing fees, I’m like, “Wow, this is going to be $35,000.” Now, remember, I might be making $2,000 or $3,000 a month, and I’ve only been doing that for three, four, five months, right? And so, you know, I’m scratching my head about what to do. So I told him I’d think about it and get back to him.
Shortly after that, my banker called me up. Real nice lady from a bank that doesn’t even exist any more. Invited me out to lunch. That’s just what they did back then. And she’s like, “What’s wrong? You seem a little down.” I’m like, “Well, yeah,” and I told her the story that I just told you. I said, “I don’t know what to do. I don’t think I can take that amount of business on.” She said, “Well, how much do you need?” And I told her $35,000, and she did some quick calculations, made a phone call. She’s the branch manager.
She said to me, “Our bank will loan you $50,000 on a 90-day note that you’ll be able to use to get going on that. Will that be good enough?” And I said, “Well, what’s a 90-day note?” And she says, “Well, you have to pay the money back within 90 days plus interest.” I said, “What if I can’t pay it back within 90 days?” She said, “Then we’ll roll it over for another 90 days as long as you pay the interest at the end of the 90 days.”
So, I’m thinking, “Oh, man.” I said, “Well, what at the end of that 90 days?” She goes, “Nope, that’s it. We’ll roll it once and you got to pay it.” So I figure, well, okay, I had six months to pay back this $50,000. So I went and I thought about it, and thought about it, and thought about it. I got another phone call, and this was a guy who I had been talking with a little bit before, who wanted to quote, unquote, buy my business.
Now, you have to understand, I didn’t really think I had a business. Right? I had an old Mac computer, some file folders, and a client list, and the one thing that I did not know was the most valuable thing in the business, and that was a contractual agreement with the three major credit bureaus to obtain credit reports for permissible purposes, but not in the scope of employment. Or … Maybe it was another thing. But it doesn’t matter. It turned out that this agreement that I had, the credit bureaus weren’t making them any more for companies like mine, but I was grandfathered in.
Anyway, I was basically a licensed credit bureau is what it came down to. And the pricing that I was getting from these credit bureaus was direct from them. So we’re talking about, I’m paying 35 cents to be able to run a credit report, okay? I had no idea that they weren’t giving these agreements out any more. Well, this guy needed a credit bureau with that kind of an agreement. So he offered to buy my whole business. I want to say the number was $20,000, right?
So, here I had this decision to make. Do I take the quick $20,000, with no risk, get rid of an old computer and my cases and move on to something else, or did I say, “No,” to that, take a $50,000 loan and go invest in that other client and make, potentially, scads and scads of money, or go broke?
This was my first real major business decision, and I have to tell you, I panicked, and I let fear take over. I let the devil into my head, just kicking my brain, saying, “You can’t do this. You’re going to fail. You’re never going to make it. Might as well take the quick money and go do something else.”
I sit here today to tell you that was a major regret that I still have. I have a few, more than few probably, but I remember that one as one of the major ones. So, you know, what do we take away from this? Well, several things. One, you do need to know your own risk tolerance. Obviously, my risk tolerance has changed, especially once I learned why that guy was willing to give me all that money for my business. I didn’t understand everything, so I made a decision that I wasn’t fully informed on to make. It was not a great decision, because I didn’t have all the information available. He actually had more information than I did.
But the bottom line, what it really came down to, was I folded. Rather than rise up to the challenge and take it on, and take that calculated risk — it wasn’t a crazy risk, it was a calculated risk — rather than do that I took the easy way out, and not to go too far down this rabbit hole, but I took the money and I finished off my professional pilot training. I was already a private pilot at the time, but I said, “Oh,” you know, like I said, I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do in my life. I figured, well, if I can take the money and get my commercial license, and my multi-engine, and my instrument rating, and become a certified flight instructor, and all of that, that would be a good use of that money because then I’ll have a job and I’ll be able to have a job flying.
Well, flying, that was my dream job growing up. So I thought that that, at the time, was a good thing. Turned out to be not the worst decision, but it turned out to be the wrong decision. The first of a lot of bad decisions. Not the worst decision I ever made, like I said, but it affected me so much that while I may not specifically think about that decision now, in the present, when I’m making decisions, I know for a fact that it influences my decisions, because it was a major event in my life, and along with other things that influenced my decisions, all subconsciously, of course.
But, you know, people look at me today, now, and they’re like, “How can you just make a decision so quickly to jump into something? To do something? To try something? To take a risk?” And it’s because I learned a long, long time ago that it’s better to jump off that cliff, and build that plane on the way down, than not to jump at all. And that’s really the takeaway for today.
All right. Well, that was our first Spitballing with Ecomm Elite podcast. I hope it didn’t suck too bad, and we’ll go ahead and get going with the next one, and if you guys can leave me some comments on what you thought, and eventually we’re going to have this on iTunes, and we’ll be begging for reviews and all of that so that people can find the podcast a little easier. I’ll let you know when that’s happening. But for now, just thanks for sticking with us. Take care. Have a great …