Using Technology as a Weapon: Elite Entrepreneur Trait #5 – EP 302

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In the 5th installment of my series on the nine traits of elite entrepreneurs and eight-figure real estate investors, we’re talking about technology and how to make it work for you.

Almost every entrepreneur who’s gotten funded on a show like Shark Tank and goes on to build a successful business uses technology as a weapon. They use powerful tools to manage and grow their businesses, get access to dynamic insights, and scale sustainably.

In today’s episode, I’m sharing a series of tips about why you need to adopt software tools to grow your business, and how to use them effectively. You’ll learn about the tools we use in our operations, how we get our team members to adopt them, and strategies you can use to make technology a cornerstone of your fast-growing business.

Key Takeaways with Josh Cantwell

  • Why you need to begin regularly using software for every part of your business operations (and make it mandatory).
  • How to make software a part of your reviews.
  • Why seven, eight, and nine-figure entrepreneurs don’t waste their time looking for important information in emails and text messages.
  • Why your software needs to be easy to adopt and use.
  • The value of using only a small portion of a software tool, but using it religiously.

Josh Cantwell Tweetables

“The more complicated, the less usage. The more complicated, the less growth you're going to have. Software has got to be simple.” – Josh Cantwell

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Josh Cantwell: So, hey there. Welcome back to Accelerated Investor with Josh Cantwell. I’m your host. And we’re going to continue our discussion today around the nine traits of elite entrepreneurs. If you’ve been following along the last couple of days, couple of weeks, we’ve been discussing the traits and characteristics of elite entrepreneurs, people that have been able to rub elbows with, people that I’ve coached and mentored, people that I’ve been coached and mentored by. Also, some discussions I’ve had with some very prolific investors like Kevin O’Leary from Shark Tank, Barbara Corcoran, Daymond John, Jack Canfield. You know, I’ve been able to have a number of one-on-one discussions with them at my events and on this podcast. And I thought over the last several months about some of these elite traits, these elite entrepreneurs, and what kind of traits it takes to become elite. What are some commonalities that I see within these investors that have eight, nine-figure businesses?

 

And certainly, I look at these traits, these nine traits, and think, “These are very important to me.” You know, we have a $250 million portfolio. We just offered on another $6 million property, we’re offering on another $17 million property, and we continue to build our portfolio regardless of the economy because I know that multifamily investing for cash flow is where it’s at, regardless of the economy. And so, we keep doing that. It’s just certainly put myself in this category as well, what we’ve accomplished and what we’ve done. And so, when people ask me, “Well, Josh, what’s made you successful? How are you able to build a portfolio of 4,300 apartment units currently active, 3,000 that we’re currently managing, a construction company, property management companies, and our headquarter team? What does it take?” So, over the last couple of weeks, we’ve talked about, number one, one of the first traits was to invest for cash flow now. Number two, to take 100% responsibility for your life and for everything around it. The third characteristic of elite entrepreneurs is that they have super, super time management skills. And we talked about some of the ways to do that. And then the fourth characteristic was to avoid and refuse to be around leeches.

 

And then that brings me to this episode, which is characteristic and trait number five, which is those investors and entrepreneurs that I’ve seen that have built big businesses that have a lot of happiness, that have a lot of free time and a lot of cash flow is that, number five, they use technology as a weapon. Okay. I’ll repeat that. They use technology as a weapon. And so, many people think like, “Well, we’ve built this big business or I’ve built this business and I’m making $200,000 a year and I want to get to $500,000 a year.” Great. And then they muscle it a little bit more. They try a little harder. They work a few more hours and they get to a half a million dollars a year. And now they’re like, “Okay. I’m already kind of bursting at the seams. You know, our company is making, let’s say, $5 million of gross income with a 10% or a 15% margin and we’re making $500,000 to $750,000 a year of net free cash flow. And I want to get that to $1 million, $1.5 million. Well, again, I hire more people. I work a few more hours and I push the business to almost $10 million of gross income.” And I’ve had numerous businesses that have done this. And all of a sudden your margins, although you’re still making a profit, the profit margin gets a little thinner. So, instead of making a 15% or 20% margin, now you’re making a 10% margin. Instead of working 40 hours a week, now you’re working 70. And it’s very easy to see that business as unsustainable. Okay. It’s not sustainable.

 

And so, then you ask yourself, “Well, how do I grow a larger business?” So, when I was at one of my events, this is going back about five years ago, I was sitting with Kevin O’Leary from Shark Tank in the green room in the back and we talked about this and he said, “Josh, the way that I’ve seen people that have gotten funded on Shark Tank and built big businesses is they use technology as a weapon. They use technology as a way to manage their business. And it’s something that they absolutely won’t bend on. They just absolutely are fanatical about using technology as a weapon.” As we’ve built this $250 million multifamily portfolio, we couldn’t do it without software. Okay. We couldn’t do it without using technology as a weapon. So, we use different technologies like Infusionsoft for email marketing and for database management and for web forms on our websites. We use a software called Buildertrend to manage our construction projects. We use a software called HappyCo for due diligence. We use a software called AppFolio for investor management and for property management. We use QuickBooks software for our P&Ls and balance sheets. Our property management companies used software programs like Yardi and also AppFolio for their property management.

 

So, we probably have eight different softwares that we use. And because those allow me to have insight into the business, they all do something different. One of them’s for construction, one of them’s for marketing, one of them’s for P&Ls, one’s for due diligence, one’s for property management, one’s for investor relations. They’re all slightly different. There’s no one software that can do it all. Okay. So, there’s a couple of things that I wanted to tell you about, a couple of different kinds of tips I have to have you do a better job at adopting software and using it as a weapon. Because everybody that I know that’s built an eight or a nine-figure business uses software. Okay. So, the first thing I want to mention here is that in my company, my business partner, Glen, he started saying years ago, he started using this kind of tagline or this slogan, which was, “If it’s not in the software, it didn’t happen.” Okay. So, one of the things that we’ve said to our team, and this is kind of tip number one, to begin regularly using software. Tip number one is to make it a requirement. Make it a requirement. This is something that we require of our team. It’s something that we tell our team they must do, they must use, and they have to do it. It’s just part of the business. If it’s not in the software, it didn’t happen.

 

So, don’t tell me about it. If you have notes around construction, it better be in Buildertrend. If you have a budget for due diligence, it better be in HappyCo. If you have rents and leases that you’re signing, they’d better be in AppFolio. If you have a marketing funnel with new leads, that better be in Infusionsoft. If we have new investor leads and notes for investors, it better be inside of the AppFolio Investor Management portal. Make it a requirement. If it’s not in the software, it didn’t happen. So, that’s the first thing is making sure that leadership makes it a requirement, that’s tip number one, to adopt software. Number two, make it part of your team’s review. So, we tell people, “Look, if you’re not using the software,” remember, it’s a requirement. We establish that in tip number one to try to get your team to adopt more technology and use it as a weapon. Make it a requirement. Then number two, make it part of their review. If your team and your employees and your staff knows that their software adoption is part of their compensation, it’s part of their review of getting a good review, it’s part of their compensation of getting a change in title, increase in pay, a good review or an advancement to another level of your business, make it part of their review. And then during the review, ask them to demonstrate to you how they’ve used software and technology as a weapon.

 

Okay. Remember, compensation, guys, drives behavior. So, if it’s part of their review and it’s going to affect their compensation, it’s going to drive their behavior so they can come to the review and they could say, “Yeah. Look, I’ve adopted all of our software. I use Infusionsoft for marketing or I use Buildertrend for construction or I use AppFolio for investor management. Here’s how I’ve used it. Here’s how I’ve made things easier. In AppFolio, I’ve set up autoresponders or I’ve set up a funnel for investors.” Great. It’s part of your review. You get a bonus or you get a salary increase. So, that’s tip number two. Make it part of your team’s review. Number three, remind your team that the software was built for them. The software was purpose-built for them to collaborate together to make their job easier. Your business is never going to grow to an eight or a nine-figure business if you’re relying on text messages and emails, phone calls, back and forth. “Hey, we just accomplished this. Hey, we just turned this unit. Hey, we just finished up this construction project. We just added these new windows or this new roof or this new budget.” If I have to dig through my email to find all that or dig through my text messages, I am never going to build a seven or an eight or a nine-figure business. So, remind your team that the software was purpose-built for them to collaborate to make their job easier and faster.

 

Tip number four, make sure that the onboarding and the ongoing usage is easy and friendly. Okay. Tip number four, the user, your staff member, your team member must be able to onboard the software, use it immediately, have it be user-friendly, and make the ongoing usage very simple. If it’s hard, if they’ve got to click all kinds of buttons, if they go back, they’ve got to go forward, they got to click this, they got to add that, the more complicated, the less usage. The more complicated, the less growth you’re going to have. It’s got to be simple. It’s got to be user-friendly so that they can onboard it quickly and use it all the time. Number five, find an internal team member who uses it religiously. Find some internal team users or champions on your team that will say, “Hey, I use this software all the time. I’m in the software. How come it’s not in the software? I put it in the software. Did you see my note in the software?” They’re using technology as a weapon to make everybody else’s job easier. So, one of our examples is in my company, our Director of Project Management that works inside of our construction company, his name is Brian Pfaffenberger

 

I’ve known Brian since I was in grade school, actually. We were good friends in high school, good friends in college. We still play fantasy football together. He works for us. He’s a great team member, but Brian has been our kind of internal team champion where he uses the software religiously to update documents, budgets, contracts, paperwork, notes, photos. He uses it religiously. Everybody on the team knows that Brian’s the team champion, uses it all the time. Okay. Number six, we want the onboarding to be as non-disruptive as possible. You don’t want software to stop your business and be disruptive. So, what I would recommend is that you use 10% of the software for the first three months. Okay. So, tip number six, to make this non-disruptive is tip number six is use 10% of the software. Find out one piece or two pieces or three pieces of the software that’s easy to use, that’s non-disruptive, and have them just start using that. Everybody, when they buy software, they’re spending $500 a month or $1,000 a month or whatever the number is. They’re like, “We want to use it all right away.” That ain’t going to work. So, tip number six is to use 10% of the software and have your team using it religiously. So, it’s non-disruptive. It’s actually better, easier, faster.

 

And if you use 10% of it, it’s like, okay, well, the expectation, the bar is set pretty low versus everybody want to use all the software tomorrow, and then your team’s like, “Oh my God, there’s so much to use here. It’s too confusing. It’s too disruptive.” Okay. Tip number seven, to use technology as a weapon is to make sure that your leadership, the C-Suites, the CEO, the CFO, the CSO, the COO, the C whatever, the C-suite, make sure they are using it. Your leadership team must adopt and use the software regularly. You can’t expect everybody else to use it. And then your leadership team just says, “Well, I’m in the C-suite. I don’t need to use it. I don’t have to use it.” It doesn’t work that way. It doesn’t work that way. Your C-suite, your leadership also must adopt and use the software regularly. So, whoever your team champion is, if they’re a director level, VP level, if you can get some of the C-suite to use the software, that’s the best way to do it. Now, let me tell you how I use it. So, a number of these software, as I mentioned, Basecamp, Buildertrend, AppFolio, Infusionsoft, they have apps, okay, and I can use those right on my phone. Well, when I have downtime, let’s say I’m at the gym working out, I can look up these softwares. I can use the app right from my phone and I can make comments, upload photos, ask questions inside the software while I’m at the gym.

 

So, my team sees that I’m using it but it’s also maybe not disrupting other things I want to get done during my normal business day. Okay. So, whether it’s downtime, let’s say I’m at my son’s baseball game and they’re in between innings or my son’s not up to bat. You know, I can log in and check things out and make comments and upload photos and look at budgets and still not miss my son’s baseball game. If I’m at a volleyball tournament, my daughter plays at like, say, 8:00 and she’s off at nine, and then she plays at ten, I’ve got an hour of downtime. I can look at the software, I can make comments, I can adopt it as a leader, and it’s not disrupting my free time. It’s not disrupting my time with my daughter. I’m not sacrificing watching her game or taking pictures of her or paying attention to my kid because I’m doing it in between the games when nothing’s going on or at the gym or on the toilet or while I’m sitting at the campsite. You get the idea. There’s downtime that I could be doing this. All right.

 

And finally, my last tip for you. Number eight. Okay. Eight tips on how to use technology as a weapon. This is, again, one of the traits of an elite entrepreneur and an eight-figure investor is to close every day with updates and usage of the software, even for 10 minutes. Close every day making comments, uploading photos, uploading budgets, uploading documents, adding tasks, checking things off. Close every day with updates and usage of the technology. And honestly, I learned this over 20 years ago when I was just out of college. I lived with one of my roommates, and I was maybe 22. He was about 25. He was in pharmaceutical sales. And every day at the end of the day, he would be out in the field, he threw on his nice suit, driving his nice car, go call on doctors, go to hospitals, come back. And at night he would sit on the living room floor with his receipts, with his proposals, with his computer, and he would update the software. It was a requirement going all the way back to number one and number two, our first two tips. It was a requirement and it was part of his review.

 

So, guess what he did? He wanted a promotion. He wanted a bonus. He wanted a salary increase. He wanted a new job title. He wanted a larger territory. It was a requirement that they update it every day at the end of the day when they were done with their day, and it was part of his review. In order for him to get this bonus or get more compensation, he had to be using the software. Compensation drives behavior so close out every day. Have your team close out every day. Spend the last 15 minutes of their day updating the software. Upload your receipts. Upload a new budget. If you have tasks that have been done, cross them off. Mark them as complete. If there’s a task you have to create for somebody else, create a new task for somebody different. You know, if it’s a marketing funnel, update the marketing funnel with whatever new copy that you wanted to use. If it’s for recruiting and managing investors, at the end of the day, putting your notes around those investors. So, the next time you talk to an investor, you can say, “Hey, remember last time we talked, we talked about your wife and your kids and you like to ski and you like to climb mountains. And you went to Europe when you were 18 years old.” You can rehash the conversation quickly to make that relationship. So, close every day with updates and usage of the software.

 

So, as I close out this podcast in this video training, let’s rehash this number five. And again, this is part of the nine traits of elite entrepreneurs and eight-figure multifamily investors. Trait number five is to use technology as a weapon and the eight tips to use technology as a weapon is, number one, make it a requirement. Number two, make it part of your staff’s review. Number three, the software, let them know that the software is purpose-built for them to collaborate. Number four, make the onboarding and usage super user-friendly. Number five, make sure you have an internal team champion like Brian who uses it religiously. Number six, for the first three months, only use 10% of the software. Make it non-disruptive. Number seven, make sure your leadership adopts the software. And number eight, close every day with updates in usage.

 

Well, guys, there you have it. And by the way, this is one of the strategies that I teach inside of our coaching and mastermind and partnering program. It’s called Forever Passive Income. And so many people that are in that program are telling me, “Look, Josh, this isn’t just about investing in multifamily. What you’re teaching us is how to build a real business. What you’re teaching us is how to build a seven, eight, nine-figure business like you have and you’re showing us the real strategy behind building it, what’s behind the curtain, Not just talking high-level concepts, but talking in the dirt about how to actually do it.” And so, if you want to apply for that mastermind or coaching program, go to FreelandVentures.com. And there you can click on the coaching program and/or you can click on the mastermind program and there you can make an application. You’ll get on the phone with us, we’ll interview you, we’ll see if you’re a fit, and we’ll go from there. So, go to FreelandVentures.com and check out the application for the coaching and mentorship and mastermind program.

 

[CLOSING]

 

Josh Cantwell: Guys, listen, this is one of my favorite episodes. I love talking about this because I know it’s so critical to growing a big business and it’s something I think so many people miss out on. If you enjoyed this episode, I would be so honored if you would go back and share this all over social media. Share it to your Facebook. Share it to your Instagram, your LinkedIn. Leave us a comment. Leave us a rating. Leave us a review. I love to get that kind of feedback to know that we’re doing a good job and that you’re getting value from this. So, whether it’s in Spotify, whether it’s in YouTube, whether it’s in iTunes, let us know how we’re doing. Leave us a comment. Leave us a rating. Leave us a review. Share this on social media. I’d be so privileged and honored if you would do that for me. I hope you enjoyed this episode and we’ll see you next time. Take care.

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