David’s Story – Firing The Man Podcast

David: (00:00)
So I’d say that’s where, I got the entrepreneurial book And we, when we talk about firing the man, I have to say some of my inspiration comes from, from learning from Jim. I kind of realized like, I don’t like this. I don’t, I don’t like auditing. I was like, you know, damn it, this has been my goal for the last four years. And she said, Alexa ordered a laundry detergent and I thought, you’ve gotta be shitting me. My mom is not, she is not a technology waste by any means. And if she’s shopping on Amazon, man, this, this eCommerce thing is real. You know, it’s, it’s not just millennials anymore. It is a, it is everyone.

Intro : (00:40)
Welcome everyone to the firingtheman.com podcast, a show for anyone who wants to be their own boss. If you sit in a cubicle every day and to know you were capable of more than join us, this show will help you build a business and grow your passive income streams in just a few short hours per day. And now your host serial entrepreneurs, David Schomer and Ken Wilson.

Ken: (01:05)
Welcome to the podcast, the firing the man podcast hosted by David and Ken. Uh, today we’re joined here with David and Ken and we are going to be talking to David and learn more about him. So David, welcome to the show.

David: (01:23)
Thanks man.

Ken: (01:25)
All right. Um, yeah, let’s get right into it. So David, briefly tell me about your childhood.

David: (01:33)
So I grew up in Iowa and he had four younger brothers, fairly big family. My family had a little acreage on the outside of town.

Ken: (01:42)
So at what point did you realize that you were an entrepreneur?

David: (01:47)
I would say that happened around age 11 when my family first moved out to this farm. My dad let me and my brothers have an oversized garden and we grew all kinds of vegetables, mostly sweet corn, and we had too many vegetables to eat. So we started just giving them away to the neighbors.

David: (02:08)
And then we decided that we ought to set up a roadside stand and, uh, and start selling them. So that was around age 12. I think the first year we made maybe a hundred bucks. Um, but I loved it. I absolutely loved it. The next year we doubled in size and uh, Oh wait, maybe we made 500 bucks. As time went on, that expanded to be quite an operation. We found our niche to be pumpkin’s. And the reason for that was you planted the seeds, you waited for him to, you know, ripen and people like to pick their own pumpkins. It’s kind of a novel thing. So there’s really not a lot of labor that goes into being a pumpkin farmer. We had, Oh, I bet by the time it was all said and done, we had, we had five full acres of sweet corn and pumpkin’s and I absolutely loved it and it ended up being a decently profitable venture. So I’d say that’s where I got the entrepreneurial bug.

Ken: (03:08)
Yeah, it sounds like, I mean, you know, being in the eCommerce, what, what was the margins on, on pumpkin’s?

David: (03:13)
Well, we didn’t pay anything for the land there was no cash rent. And, uh, and my dad, he would pay for the seeds, so we had a hundred percent margin, so you would pay for the seats. So long as all the brothers split it up and did not argue about it. We did not keep score on who worked, how many hours we split evenly at the end of the year. And, uh, I think that that was a, a fair way to do it. And at the end of the day, all the brothers chipped in. Um, but, but awesome margins, uh, better margins than if I were to start a garden right now.

Ken: (03:49)
I bet now that that’s, that’s awesome. It sounds like, uh, it was a good, uh, experience for you and your brothers to work together and have some quality time to and learn, you know learn business as well.

David: (04:02)
Absolutely. Absolutely.

Ken: (04:03)
Very cool, so David what, what came after the pumpkin operation.

David: (04:09)
When I was 15 I had the opportunity to go work at a medical supply store. This medical supply store was independently run and uh, the owner’s name was Jim and Jim was my first business mentor. I would say Jim was an old school businessman. I mean just a rough and tough old-school businessman. And this particular store, they sold C-PAP machines for people with sleep apnea. They sold wheelchairs, walkers and breast pumps. And I’ll tell you what, there was a point in time where amongst 16 year olds, I probably knew the most about breast pumps more so than any other 16 year olds in, uh, in the entire nation. Jim took me under his wing, you know, I started out working in the warehouse, uh, boxing and unboxing things. Uh, then he quickly let me come up to the storefront and start waiting on customers.

David: (05:01)
And for whatever reason he really did take me under his wing and taught me a lot about business. And that’s what ultimately led me to, uh, pursue business when I went to college. Um, was my experiences with Jim and, uh, he was a hard worker, but he was an independent businessman. And we, when we talk about firing the man, I have to say some of my inspiration comes from, from learning from Jim. I contrast that with both my parents. They worked at, a hospital and they got off when their shift was over or when they were done seeing all the patients seeing that level of control. I don’t think it really resonated with me when I was a young man, when, when I was experiencing, but years later looking back on that, it was something that, that was awesome. It was something that I wanted. And so, uh, when I went to college, I decided that I wanted to be some sort of business major. That was a, it was because of my experiences in the corn patch and the pumpkin patch and, uh, learning from Jim that this owner of this medical supply store.

Ken: (06:09)
That’s awesome. So it sounds like Jim was, uh, uh, played a really big role in and, um, kind of shaping you and given you some insights into, you know, a functional business and someone that makes their own decisions. So David, you said Jim was an old school business man. Can you share with us, uh, maybe a couple of stories kind of defining that?

David: (06:29)
Absolutely. Um, one of my favorite stories, he would walk around, he had two phones on his hip and when it came to negotiating with suppliers, he was ruthless. I mean, this guy really understood margin. He would get one vendor on one phone and another vendor on the other and, and he would be negotiating on price and he would be going back and forth. This guy, he’s going to sell me this product for 125 bucks. Can you beat that? And, and, and, uh, you know, he would just go back and forth with these vendors. It was ruthless, man. But you know, at the end of it, he’d sit me down and he’d say, all right, we started this particular wheelchair. We started negotiating at at $130. I got it for $105. And, uh, I sell, you know, X number of wheelchairs per year. Here’s the impact of this. And that’s when that was when I really started to understand margin was when, when he explained, Hey, here’s your cost of goods sold and you beat them down, beat those vendors down as far as you possibly can. And, uh, you know, years later I learned that in a textbook, but, but it was a, I don’t know, I would say I’ve carried that with me. I’m not as, as ruthless as Jim was, but God, that was great experience.

Ken: (07:53)
Yeah, that’s awesome, no that it sounds like a very, very good example of a, you know, kind of a real world lesson and uh, and really drove that impact home. Um, so after the medical supply job, what, what was next for David? Did you know, did you go to, did you go to college? Did, uh, what, what was next?

David: (08:14)
Yeah, so I went to school at St Louis university. I entered the business school with the intention of, of picking some major, I didn’t know what, what it was. I was business undecided and I looked up one day the highest paid business majors and accounting was number one and finance was number two. And so I decided I was going to double major in accounting and finance. And I’ll tell you what, that has been a decent fit for me. But if any of our listeners are deciding on a major or thinking about going back to school, let me tell you that that is a, a, a shitty criteria. Um, how much, how much money you can make. While I was in business school, I had an opportunity to, uh, intern at a small tax firm and I quickly learned that I hated taxes. Now I wanted nothing to do with that.

David: (09:08)
And the school really pushed for, uh, the accounting students to go to the big four. And if you’re not familiar with the accounting industry, there are four really big accounting firms: Ernst and Young, Deloitte, KPMG and PWC. And I decided, you know, Hey, I don’t like taxes, so I’ve got to be an auditor and all these professors are telling me that I, I need to go to the big four. And so that was my next goal. That was, I wanted to be a big four auditor and I applied. And they really don’t like to accept people until they’re in the last summer before graduating the master’s programs. So in the meantime, I, I interned at a consultant group at a middle market, a accounting firm. And within that role I got to work on a couple Ponzi scheme cases, uh, some fraud and forensic work and some mergers and acquisitions, litigation support, really just a hodgepodge of consulting activities.

David: (10:10)
And I loved it. I loved it. At the time I was thinking, this is, this is a building block for this big four internship, right?

Ken: (10:20)

David: (10:20)
So in the end, this going into the summer of my senior year, I finally did lock down this, this internship at KPMG. And I’ll tell you what, that is a good firm. I met a lot of great people, a lot of smart people work at that firm, but you know, when you set a goal and then you finally attain it, you’re there. You’re sitting in the office. I kind of realized like, I don’t like this. I don’t, I don’t like auditing. Ah, I, and I was like, you know, damn it, this has been my goal for the last four years. And so at the end of the internship, I ended up getting a full time offer and you know, a lot. I talked to a lot of my professors about it and they said, you know, you’re stupid to turn this down. But I went with my gut and I ended up accepting an offer at this consulting group that I had a really good experience. It, and I have been there ever since, you know, although this is firing the man podcast, you know, I am currently employed by this firm with the goal of exiting. I’ve had great experience. I kinda felt like I’ve, I’ve had a, a bootcamp for, for starting my own business. I’ve worked with over a hundred, uh, privately held companies, a handful of publicly held companies, and it’s really been a good, good experience. The message there was, I went with my gut. I’m really glad I did it in hindsight.

Ken: (11:40)
Nice. No, that’s great. And, uh, it’s really good that you, you know, you had the balls to choose, uh, you know, your own path and not listen to others, you know, and it’s really important to do what you want to do every day and not something that, you know, you’re just grinding out for money. No that’s awesome. So let’s circle back and, uh, can you, can you share with us, you know, what, at what point in time you started your eCommerce business, um, how long have you been running your eCommerce business and, uh, what made you actually just take action and start it.

David: (12:12)
So I started my eCommerce business about three years ago with the intention of earning a little extra cash. I had taken the CPA exam while I was working full time and growing up on a farm, I’ve always been an early riser. And so I’d wake up before work, you know, I’d usually wake up at four and study from 4:30am to 7am for the CPA exam. And I passed that. And then, uh, I’d moved on to the CFA exam, the chartered financial analyst. And that was a three year adventure with a lot of studying, a lot of studying. And uh, I would, you know, wake up at four study from 4:am30 to 7am. And this lasted for, you know, it was in six month increments, but this lasted for three consecutive years. And when I got done with that, I had my mornings, my mornings were freed up and I had been in such a routine of waking up early that I wanted to do something to, to fill my time. So that happened. And then I had a comp adjustment and I had really been busting my ass that year and I wasn’t happy with my comp adjustment.

David: (13:23)
And, uh, you know, one of my mentors, it said, when you work for somebody, they tell you how much your time is worth. And when you work for yourself, you decide how much your time is worth. And I had that in the back of my head and I thought, you know what, I, I need to take action. I enjoy my job, but I need to take action. I need to do something else. And you know, I thought about my years, uh, working at that medical supply store, an independently run business and it just made sense. And so, you know, like many I took to YouTube, started learning and uh, slowly at, uh, I’ve built that up to to be something that I, I intend on, you know, replacing my income and ultimately firing the man in the foreseeable future. So it’s been a three year run, but it did start as a side hustle.

David: (14:19)
And you know, like you mentioned, I didn’t have a lot of confidence. You know, I, I am not a technology whiz by any means. And that was something that kind of kept me on the sidelines for awhile and I’m glad I, I’m glad I took that first step. And I would say if to any of our listeners, if you’re thinking about doing it, do it, just do it. Put your head down and do it. I’m certainly glad I am. And it takes that first step to grow $1 million business. It needs to make its first dollar, right you that first sale. So I took, took that first step and, and I’ll never forget that first sale. That was before FBA or before I had enrolled in FBA, fulfillment by Amazon. I walked into that post office with my chest puffed out, like I was ready to conquer the world is a $15 sale, but man I just knew that this is a great feeling and I can’t wait to replicate this. Had some inventory in my basement, continued to grow my orders and, and source from different suppliers. And, and pretty soon it turned into to a real business.

Ken: (15:26)
Just to circle back I would absolutely agree with you if it, for our audience, anybody listening, you know, you just have to, you have to take action and make it happen.

David: (15:36)
You had mentioned, you know, we, we’ve talked about taking that first step. And one thing that held me back was what are my parents gonna think? What is my wife going to think? What are my brother’s gonna think? What are my friends gonna think? And that was something that really held me back. It’s something that I really struggled with. And you know, ultimately they’re not the ones waking up at 4:00 AM to put in that morning grind before work. Um, they’re not the ones that really have skin in the game. And getting over that hump was tough. Fortunately, I had a supportive wife, still have a supportive wife and uh, you know, that’s been awesome to have her on my team constantly encouraging me, you know, you can do it, you can do anything you set your mind to you. But, and that was something that, that really helped me up was, you know, I’m going to sell, I’m selling stuff online.

David: (16:24)
You know, it sounds kind of ridiculous to the naysayers, right? The naysayers have a decent position to tell you that, Hey, this is kind of a, a dumb idea, but I can tell you it’s not. It’s not. You know what made me decide that I wanted to start selling on Amazon. I was home for Christmas and my mom had gotten one of those, uh, Alexa and she said, Alexa order laundry detergent and I thought, you’ve gotta be shitting me. My mom is not, she is not a technology ways by any means. And if she shopping on Amazon, man, this, they see ecommerce thing is real. You know, it’s, it’s not just millennials anymore. It is a, it is everyone.

Ken: (17:04)
There’s opportunity out there. If you want it, you have to go take it again. David. Thanks for sharing your story and we’re going to wrap the show up.