The cavnessHR podcast – A talk with Vincent Edwards of Empire Builders
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Social Media links for Vincent Below!!
Vincent’s email: email@example.com
Vincent’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/empirebuilders17/
Empire Builders website: https://ebuilders.us/
Vincent’s Book Recommendation!!!
“Million Dollar Consulting: The Professional's Guide to Growing a Practice”
by Alan Weiss
“The Lean Startup” by Eric Reis
Link to purchase these books is below.
You can email Vincent at firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to receive a Fifth of Bulleit Bourbon. https://www.bulleit.com/whiskeys/bulleit-bourbon/
Jason: Hello and welcome to the cavnessHR podcast and I am your host Jason Cavness. Our guest today is Vincent Edwards. Vincent, are you ready to be great today?
Vincent: I am definitely ready to be great today and every day.
Jason: Vincent is CEO of Empire Builders which has been a consulting business for 8 years. Mr. Edwards has a diverse background that includes 11 years with Proctor and Gamble and years of financial experience, financing. capital investments. loan negotiations, HR and more. He has helped businesses raise millions from investors and debt financing. He loves working with businesses and helping them conquer the challenges they incur. His top skill is problem solving and he has consulted well over 100 companies from various industries and business sizes. His current vehicle to help startups and entrepreneurs is about to disrupt the startup community and ecosystem. He has a proud Alumnus of the University of Kentucky. He loves coffee, bourbon, and cigars and is deathly afraid of failure. Vincent, thank you for being here today I really appreciate it.
Vincent: I appreciate being here.
Jason: So, Vincent what's keeping you busy right now? What is your focus on?
Vincent: As usual working with clients raising capital, as well as helping them structure and do other things it takes to be successful. As far as startups and entrepreneurs. So that's really taken up a lot of my time and effort these days.
Jason: Vincent, how did your time at large corporations help you now when you talk to small business.
Vincent: Well you know, I spent 10, 11 years with Procter and Gamble. What that did was it was like a million dollar education. Because it teaches about systems and processes and how to replicate those systems and processes. Then how to bring those down so the small business owners could learn how to use those same techniques and principles as they grow their businesses and also get themselves ready for true success.
Jason: So Vincent, when startup founders get ready to raise money, raise funds. What do you see them consistently doing wrong over and over again?
Jason: For most of them, for 90%. Well, it's not their fault. It's a new language. It's like walking into a new world or visiting a new country. It's a whole new level of jargon. There's a whole different level of matrices. All startups and entrepreneurs are usually great at the product or service they provide. That's what they know. If you're an engineer your great at being an engineer. If you are an attorney, you are great at being an attorney. Well, sometimes when you start dealing with business and raising capital. You are coming into a new landscape. You know doctors are great at saving lives, they are terrible at running finances. So this is the same thing with most startups and entrepreneurs. They just have to do their research and understand how the game is played and try to figure out how not to waste a lot of time and money.
Jason: It seems like most VCs are in San Francisco or New York. For someone in let's say, Wichita, Kansas. How you would you advise them to go get seed funding or venture capital money.
Vincent: First, I would tell them go through the normal process of friends, family and associates. People that know them, that may believe in a dream and be willing to take a chance on them to help them get started and exhaust that first. Next, I would go local. Almost most communities have some kind of local money available. Either in the state, in that city, local angel groups. I would start off local and then start to branch out. Whether they have success with that or not. Then hit west coast and east coast and Silicon Valley and New York and understand the challenges that when you hit those arenas. It's the big leagues, you're just another startup that got off the bus. They come every day. So you have to understand that when you start going after bigger money and bigger fish.
Jason: When should a startup founder actually start fundraising? Should they have a certain amount of traction? How does that work?
Vincent: It really depends on what it's going to take for them to get their business started. Some businesses don't take a lot of capital to get started. I would advise those folks to use their own resources. Again use family or friends and don't quit the day job if they can start it part time and get as far as they can. You know sometimes your current job can fund a revolution as I call it. So they have to use and be willing to put out not just time and energy. But also your own money to try and get started. Secondly, if you have an idea if you're in Biomed or biotech or healthcare and you are are trying to solve cancer. You obviously don't have the money to even go that route. I would get with the right consulting folks to help me build up a pitch deck. Also, look at putting together serious documents serious research in those arenas. You know you want to go and get money. But, you have to be prepared. You usually get one shot in a very quick time frame to sell yourself.
Jason: I think what people don't realize is that these Venture Capitalists receive 1000s of emails a day. Then all their meetings and they also have a life as well.
Vincent: Yes and also, stats show that VC only fund 0.5%. Not even 1 percent. So when you start looking at VCs, they are last bastion. When you get there now. You have to check all the boxes, traction, momentum, the right team and the right idea. They might want IP and nowadays even in the Valley they want revenue. New York's all about revenue. In New York, everyone is asking, how much money you made, how much money you made.
Jason: Vincent when a company comes to you and asks you to advise them. What makes you say yes and what makes you say no.
Vincent: That is a great question you ask, you know what I've learned over the years is I love working with startups and entrepreneurs. But I look for the right fit. I want a high success ratio for my clients and I want be able to help them. So I have a committee with my company and we look at every application that kind of comes in and we see if it is the right fit. See if they have what it takes to get to the next level. We feel like if we can bring value to their proposition. I don't just sign up someone now because I want a check. We become true partners. We want to become equity partners with our clients. We want to be a true partnership where we can help them get to the next level and we both succeed together.
Jason: Vincent, so you know it is out there if you start a company don't quit. Be in it for the long haul. But when you do you tell a startup founder, you know what this is not working. You can't validate the product. You can't validate the idea. You need to move on to something else
Vincent: You know I don't like being a dream buster. But usually when it comes to that point that person will realize that dream has been busted. It's a fine line because you're going to have to be successful. You really get to that point in some way. Sometimes founders quit right before the sun comes up. So you are a little worried about telling someone to jump out and quit. When right around the corner might be success. But if it's taking a physical and emotional toll on you and your family. If now people in your family and you are having to make unreasonable sacrifices to keep this thing going. To the point of a breaking point where your life is just not fun. But you're losing things out of life. That's the point you have to pivot and decide this is not working. Maybe it was the wrong timing. Maybe you couldn't get the funding. But when it starts to affect your mental health, your well-being, your family, your kids to the point where everybody is pretty much had enough. Now you have to really take a good look in the mirror. Maybe I'll get another chance at my dream.
Jason: Vincent, I understand you also have expertise in job search correct.
Jason: Vincent for all people getting out of college right now or people who are looking for a new job. What advice would you have for them?
Vincent: My advice is very clear, have realistic expectations especially to millennials graduating college. Right now because you guys come up or those guys come up with a very unique era. Where they see all these opportunities and everything's online and everybody's a baller. Everybody is doing this, everybody is starting their own company. You know be realistic. You know a lot of folks graduating college or like, maybe I'll work one or two years, then I'll be a CEO. Maybe you might have to work five or ten years before you are a CEO. Just be realistic and learn. You have so many folks coming out now that have unbelievable potential and knowledge. But they don't have the experience and know how to truly execute in the real world. Until you know how to bring that potential to full tilt and be able to execute and show productivity and success in real world applications. You're not quite ready to run the universe. For other people who've been out of work or trying to find new jobs. Be willing to retrain, learn different skills, figure out your passion. You know people who find things they like doing are more apt to learn that and become really good at it. So figure out the right avenue for you to get back in the job scene in the right way and find the right job for you which would be the right career for you.
Jason: Vincent, it seems lately, like there is a big disconnect. Companies are saying oh we can't find any talented workers. The workers are like no we're here. But there's just a disconnect. How do we fix that?
Vincent: From an employer standpoint because of the gatekeepers and technology. They are able to sift through resumes without even reading them and looking at them. Employers have to have a realistic expectation on the job. They have gotten these job descriptions where if you can do everything on that job description. Why would I need to work for you? I should be president of the United States or something if I can fill out these new requirements you're asking me to fulfill. Just to get an entry level position. So employers have to be reasonable. Also, no one's going to come in and know that job 100 percent other than very specific niche jobs. You still got to train them and you're looking for potential. Be willing to talk and actually interview more people as an employer. Part of the reason is employers they don't want to do more than three interviews. I mean back in the day they did 20 50. But they've scaled back their HR departments. So they try to cut it down. That they only meet two-three people. Well, how do you know that was the 2-3 best people out there for that job. As far as people that's been out of work. You guys you have to get some retraining, learn some new skills. I mean those industries, the mortgage industry lost tons of talented people. Construction, manufacturing any kind of labor work if you're on the sidelines and you're outside looking in. You've got to figure out where you can get in and figure out what skills you have and what you can do. Right now the problem is we don't have enough skilled labor. So you have to figure out how to get the right skill based off your age and temperament and what you can afford to do. Many times a lot of trade skills are just not getting filled and people not wanting to do the unglamorous jobs that pay great money We can't find enough people do that work.
Jason: So that brings up a good point. A while ago there was a FB meme that had one person with a Liberal Arts Degree and $100,000 in student loans and a salary of $50,000. Then someone who was doing the trades with no college degree and a salary of $60,000. The caption read, now who is the dumb one?
Vincent: Well you know most baristas have college degrees and they are making nine dollars an hour. You have to figure out how to get the right education to get you where you want to go so you can earn a decent living.
Jason: Yes you made a good point. I think a lot of employers are waiting for the 100% perfect fit. So these positions are going empty. Then other people are pitching in to do the empty job and that takes away from them doing their own job. So many people want the 100%. Well, what is wrong with 80 percent and train them up.
Vincent: When I look at startups that's what I look for. I love clients that I see a great idea. I see a passionate entrepreneur. But they may have pitched at a pitch that was horrendous because they just didn't know how to do the pitch. They are like diamonds in the rough. I want to find the Tom Brady's of the world. I want to find that gangly teenager and turn her into a supermodel. Turn that ugly duckling into a swan. I mean take that diamond in the rough and it shines as bright as any other diamond.
Jason: Vincent, next talk about a time you were successful in the past and what we can learn from this and what you learned.
Vincent: Every job I ever had I have been promoted. I got at least one promotion every job actual job I ever had other than running my own companies. What I learned over time is whether you even like that job. You do it to the best of your ability and be persistent and just put in the work. It will pay off someplace sometime. I mean I've actually you known people and companies and I've even done it myself. Hire baristas that they saw their work ethic and how much attention to detail and how much passion they put in their jobs. Even though the job is a menial job and got plucked for bigger opportunities.
Vincent: Now if you get an opportunity you have to take it. You have to be willing to do what it takes to make those opportunities. So put in the work. Be persistent. You know it's not always going to be glamorous. But you'll get your day and your time to shine. You've got to figure out when your 15 minutes of fame are going to come. But if you learn a trade and got good at it. If you showed a good work ethic. When that time comes you'll be able to capitalize on it.
Jason: I think people forget sometimes that they're always on. You never know who is watching.
Jason: Next talk about a time you failed in the past. What you learned from this and what we can learn from this.
Vincent: One of the things that I've learned from many failures because we fail every other day. Something is to take a step back and analyze what happened and be real legitimate in your analysis. Be open minded to get constructive criticism and even sometimes be open minded to your haters. To the people who just criticize you because they don't like you. Take it with a grain of salt but always look to improve and learn from the times that you've failed.
Vincent: You know when I came through the big mortgage thing I was doing. I had my mortgage company and I was doing great. All of a sudden we had the big downturn 2008 2009 and I hung in there for quite a while. I was doing commercial and then commercial crashed. But you know one of the things I learned is you have to be flexible and take those same skills and use them for other things. So even though because the economy and because money dried up I couldn't do one aspect of what I was good at. What I did was say hey you know I went back in and I became a trusted adviser for commercial clients. Because I'd helped him out in other areas. They started hiring me for stuff. That's how I got into consulting. So all of a sudden I became the renegotiation king. So all these people with money and great credit these banks were calling their loans in on them. Just because the paper wasn't clean they didn't do all the backend work. They didn't do credit checks. They didn't have a clean file. I went in and helped them refinance those loans get a clean file on those people. It was common sense approach and all of a sudden I was flipping loans left and right. I saved a bunch of people’s houses. That led me into what I do now which is business consulting.
Jason: Vincent can you talk about someone who has helped you and how they helped you.
Vincent: You know it takes a village. I recently went to a friend of mine I worked with at Proctor and Gamble. It reminded me of when I worked with this guy years ago. He's one of my first mentors and I'll tell you a story. We were working on a project at Proctor and Gamble and we were there and it was me, him and about three other gentlemen on his team. The three other gentlemen would leave work early. I was like why aren't they staying late like us to get this work done? He goes don't worry about that.
Vincent: He says worry about your job and what you are supposed to do. I was jealous, I was frustrated because these guys were not putting in the same effort and they were going to get the same the same credit. So long story short we got the project done. Everybody got a little credit. But one of those guys got fired because they realized he wasn't doing his part. It was a lesson I learned early on and that character is what you do when someone's not looking. When you have something to do you do it regardless. That was one of the things that first started teaching me self-discipline. It doesn't matter if someone is watching or not. You know what you have to do and you do it. There was a great mentor to me and he helped me see a lot of things as a young person in his first professional job. He helped me learn some good discipline and techniques so I could be successful. As far as showing up to work on time and doing what I was supposed to do.
Jason: Vincent, next tell us something about yourself that most people don't know about you. Your close friends and family know. But most people don't know this about you.
Vincent: It is a small group that do know but it seems to be growing now because my friends like to tell stories on me. I was a D.J in college. A lot of people don't know that. I used to be a workout fanatic. I used to bench press five hundred pounds before and leg pressed 2000 pounds before. Everyone knows I'm hooked on coffee. I am a Starbucks fanatic.
Jason: I'm the same way, my wife says are you going to get some of that crack from Starbucks again.
Vincent: People do know that part about me. But the D.J piece and my DJ handle, still a nickname that I carry to this day. Big Sexy, so a lot of people do not know that my nickname is Big sexy. All my friends know that.
Jason: I understand you have a book or two to recommend for our listeners.
Vincent: I have a couple. One that I think is a great book. It's a classic. Alan Weiss, "The Million Dollar Consultant" I think it's a great book. If you're ever looking to start your own company. If you're looking to be a freelancer. He is up to his 6th edition of it now. Just a truly great read that could help you if you're ever looking to run your own company. The other book I'm going to recommend is called "The Lean Startup' by Eric Reis. It's really transitional to lean manufacturing, lean everything is just about a process of how to do something economically and make improvements. As you go along without spending a lot of money or being very efficient your time or your energy.
Jason: Vincent, I understand you have something for our listeners.
Vincent: For one of your lucky listeners, I like to give them a fifth of that Bulleit Bourbon that I like to drink. I know the owner and founder or former owner he sold out. But he's still a heavy stockholder. Tom Bulleit is a friend of mine and he keeps me in Bulleit Bourbon. I got a fifth of Bulleit Bourbon for one of your listeners.
Jason: Thank you. Now that is very valuable indeed. Vincent, can you give us your social media handles for yourself or your company so people can reach out to you?
Vincent: You can go on our website at www.ebuilders.us. It's ebuilders17 on Facebook and Instagram.
Jason: Links to Vincent's book recommendations and social media and other items will be on the show notes. You can find the show notes for this episode at www.cavnessHRblog.com Vincent, we are coming to the end of our talk. Do you have any last minute advice or wisdom for our listeners.
Vincent: Sure, my last minute comments go to what my passion and focus is now, which is startups and entrepreneurs. As I say you may be a boss, you maybe be the owner. But do you have an empire? We can help you build an empire and stop building someone else's empire, build yours.
Jason: Vincent, thanks for your time today. I know you're busy person doing great things. So thank you very much.
Vincent: Thank you Jason. It was great talking to your listeners.
Jason: To our listeners, thanks for your time today and remember to be great the great every day.