Green Pal Founder Bryan Clayton Joins Us On The Steve Jobs Inspired Join Up Dots Podcast
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Introducing Greenpal Founder Bryan Clayton
Green pal founder Bryan Clayton joins us on the Steve Jobs inspired Join Up Dots podcast.
Today’s guest joining us on the Join Up Dots business podcast has created huge success in a market that I simply love.
As you will hear time and time again, when you can create Double Value business then more often than not you can scale massively and quickly.
But of course you may be saying “David, what does that actually mean?”
Well in this case, someone wants their lawn mowed, and someone wants to get a job mowing a lawn and connect the two of them together.
How The Dots Joined up For Green Pal
Today’s guest is the founder of Your Green Pal, a lawn-care service launched back in 2014
YourGreenPal helps customers get multiple competitive free quotes from lawn care services near them for free.
They can get started today and get their lawn mowed with out making a phone call.
The company which now has 10 employees has attracted 1,000 contractors in seven states and now serve 20,000 customers.
Your Green Pal aims to launch in a new city every two months.
So where did they see the greatest growth in the business once they got the ball rolling?
And why do more people not see the power of local search when starting their new business ideas?
Well lets find out as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots, with the one and only Bryan Clayton
During the show we discussed such weighty topics with Bryan Clayton from Greenpal such as
Bryan shares why he sold his previous business to a huge company in America, even though he hadn’t quite scratched the itch of the business.
Why it such a great idea to recruit the supplier first to get the resource for marketing to your customers. Get ready for the influx.
When you are building a market place your customers must want to come for the community first, but then stay for the tools. Huge lesson.
If your not gaining ground you are losing ground is a statement that Bryan loves and works into his business everyday.
How To Connect With Green Pal Founder Bryan Clayton
Return To The Top Of Bryan Clayton
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Full Transcription Of Green Pal Founder Interview
David Ralph [0:00]
Once upon a time, there was a guy with a dream, a dream to quit his job, support himself online and have a kickoff live. Little did he know that dream would lead him into a world of struggle, burnout and debt, until he found the magic ingredient and no struggles became a thing of the past, of course, was that person. And now My dream is to make things happen for you.
Welcome to Join Up Dots. When we’re young, we have an amazing positive outlook about how great life is going to be. But somewhere along the line we forget to dream and end up settling and Join Up Dots features amazing people who refuse to give up and chose to go after their dreams. This is your blueprint for greatness. So here’s your host live from the back of his garden in the UK. David Ralph.
David Ralph [0:52]
Yes, hello there. Good morning, everybody. Good morning. And thank you so much for tuning in to the old Ralph milestones. Join Up Dots. Yes, this is an interview show today, none of the solo ramblings and we’ve got a guy from the other side of the pond who has got a business, which is I love it. I love it for its simplicity, and providing value that people want. He is, as you hear time and time again, when you create double value businesses, then more often than not, you can scale massively and quickly. But of course, you might be saying but David, what does that actually mean? Now I will say you haven’t been paying attention. Well, in this case, somebody wants their lawn mowed, and somebody wants to get a job mowing a lawn, and connect the two of them together. It’s double value. And today’s guest is the founder of your green power, a lawn care service launched back in 2014. Now your green power helps customers get multiple competitive free quotes from Lawn Care Services near them by three. They can get started today and get their Lawns Mowed without making a phone call. Now the company which now has 10 employees is a trick In 1000 contractors in seven states and now serve 20,000 customers, and your green power aims to launch in a new city every two months. So where did they see the greatest growth in the business once they got the ball rolling or the lawnmower rolling, I should have said, and why do more people not see the power of local search when starting a new business idea? Well, let’s find out as we bring them to the show, to start joining up dots with the one and only Mr. Brian Clayton. Good morning, Brian. How are you?
Green Pal Founder Bryan Clayton [2:32]
I’m great, David. Awesome to be here, man. Thanks for having me on.
David Ralph [2:35]
It’s lovely to have you on because you have been hanging around the Join Up Dots world for about 1000 years now. I mean, yeah, it’s been. I don’t know it must have we’re recording now in April. It must have been December or something you first connected with there.
Green Pal Founder Bryan Clayton [2:51]
That’s right. Yeah. We’ve been trying to do this for a while. I’m glad we finally connected.
David Ralph [2:55]
Now you’ve had a few issues thrown at you. So tell us where you live. And I will give you reasons why you should leave bear and come over to the United Kingdom to leave because we don’t have. We don’t have any of those issues. Starting starting with we don’t have your president I ever made. That’s a plus point.
Green Pal Founder Bryan Clayton [3:15]
Yeah, I agree. I live in Nashville, Tennessee, grew up around here. And we had a tornado ripped through town about three weeks ago, and had to deal with that. And it seemed like the very next weekend we got that cleaned up downtown and then COVID really kind of set in and and the mayor shut the city down. So we’ve, we’ve kind of gotten hit with a one two punch around here. But it’s all good. Our business is still going strong. And I think at the other end of this, we’ll come out even stronger than we were going in. Now.
David Ralph [3:44]
Obviously, somebody might listen to this podcast in 20 years time and they won’t remember the strange time that we’re in. But we are in Coronavirus. A virus has swept through the world and the whole world is on lockdown. We’re not allowed to come out of our houses. So how This fundamentally, you know, reduced your business because I would imagine, Brian, certainly I’m spending so much time doing gardening, but I wouldn’t have done before, because I just can’t go anywhere. So I’m just doing that has this reduced your income.
Green Pal Founder Bryan Clayton [4:15]
In short, no, we were leaving we’ve grown 100% year over year for the past six years. And we were slated to grow another hundred percent this year. And we’re right on track with that. So I think in some weird way, it might have even helped our business because normally, if you’re trying to track somebody down to come and mow your lawn or take care of your landscaping for you, you would have to inevitably meet with them in person either to go over the job on the front end or to pay them and our application and website allow you to hire a lawn care service whenever even meeting them, and in some cases, never even speaking to them on the phone. And so that contact list. Commerce has I think helped us in the same way that it has helped doordash or Uber Eats or Postmates as just a way that people are naturally gravitating towards to get things done, just get on an app, get it done. Don’t make a phone call, don’t even meet the person. And then it’s like magic almost.
David Ralph [5:11]
Well, your business is like magic because it is so popular, which is amazing. So credit to you round of applause coming your way into that. But also on the other side, what I love about it, and I really love about it is it’s quite simple. It’s a connection service, you have built the traffic, you have built the profile, and then for the lawn care service providers across the world, but haven’t got the traffic, you are just flowing back to them. When did the idea first come to you?
Green Pal Founder Bryan Clayton [5:43]
So believe it or not, I have been in this business my entire life when I was 16 years old. I was I was playing Nintendo my room one day and my dad said, hey, we’ve got a job to do. We’re gonna go mow the neighbor’s yard and I didn’t want to go did you have to sign
David Ralph [6:00]
That was he sounds like we should are we are we brothers? They don’t really?
Unknown Speaker [6:05]
Green Pal Founder Bryan Clayton [6:07]
And I man, I took that job kicking and screaming, and he made me mow the neighbor’s yard. But when we were done, it took two hours. And guess what I got paid 20 bucks. And when that happened, I was hooked. I was hooked on entrepreneurial ism. I was hooked on owning my own business. And I never looked back I and I, by the end of that summer, I had 10 people’s yards that I was mowing. And over time, I grew that into a real business and over 15 years, I grew it into a multimillion dollar business with over 150 employees. And it was the largest landscaping company in the state of Tennessee, where I where I lived. And when I was 32 years old, I sold that business to the largest landscaping business in the United States. And after that, I kind of retired I didn’t really know what to do next. I took a few months off. And then it hit me I started seeing what technology was doing for, for like in the cases of Uber Lyft. Airbnb how technology was making real world interactions much smoother and making real world commerce much smoother. And I decided I said, you know, this, this needs to exist for what I know. And I knew how hard it was for a homeowner to find a good solid lawn care service, and vice versa for a lawn care service to grow their business when they were first getting started. And so I decided to recruit two, two co founders and we started building the first version of the app and we we’ve just been grinding on it ever since. And now here we are today. And in 2020, we actually have over 100,000 users and we’re nationwide in the United States and so the slowly but surely this thing has grown and the compound interest of it is starting to take hold and and it’s working. It is like magic. If you if you need your grass cut, you jump on green pals app, and you’ll Have somebody in less than 60 seconds lined up to mow your yard?
David Ralph [8:03]
Brilliant I for them, because I hate mow my lawn I really do. And so when you first do the actual connecting, how does it actually work? So did you get the contractors first and then build the platform? Or did you build the platform? And Ben got the contractors?
Green Pal Founder Bryan Clayton [8:23]
Yeah, great question. So when these types of multi sided marketplaces, it generally is best strategy to recruit what they call the supply side first. And so in our case, it would be the lawn mowing professionals. And so whenever we launch a new market, we recruit the first 1020 hundred lawn care services, however big The city is onto the platform First, we vet them and we make sure that they’re up to snuff and then they are ready to be hired once we start marketing to the demand side, or the homeowners that need their grass cut in the earth. The days it was extremely tough, it was a lot of hand to hand combat. A lot of just hand cranking on getting the flywheel going in the first couple of cities we launched, and that those two cities were Nashville, Tennessee and Tampa, Florida. I know the inside of every coffee shop in Tampa, Florida, where I sat down and met and met with with hundreds of lawn care services personally, to make sure that they were they were legitimate, good solid businesses, because those early days that you’re early adopting users are everything. If you get that wrong, you’ll never take off. Now we’ve got it streamlined and a little more automated with how we recruit vendors to the platform. But in early days, it was a lot of hand to hand combat of getting it getting it going and getting the supply on board. So they were ready and waiting when when homeowners started listing their lawns for bids, and so when they could hire somebody,
David Ralph [9:54]
so one of the great things you did you got down and dirty. You actually went You did a personal sense check, because a lot of people just want to send an email out and connect virtually but never really meet the person. Do you think that’s a failing? Or is it just a different way of operating? Should you meet everybody first you think?
Green Pal Founder Bryan Clayton [10:15]
Yeah, in early days? Certainly. I see I see it both ways, a lot. I do some coaching for for some younger entrepreneurs and also established ones. And I see this on both ends of the spectrum. So you have some entrepreneurs that, that never want to meet their users or just, they’re just introverted, and they just they’re just not inclined to do that. And then on the other end of the spectrum, you’ll have you’ll have other business owners, entrepreneurs that only want to get out and get in and get in, get into the vehicle, get into the truck and ride around and meet people and they don’t actually want to write code or walk in their business. So it’s a difference of working on your business versus working in your business. And you really have to have a better Balance of both and and you’re going to slide on one end of the spectrum, the other as your business is taking off and growing, but especially in the early days, that that that, that face to face non scalable hand to hand combat is is key. Because you need those early users you and you have to curate them manually, you have to concierge them onto whatever technology it is you’re building. So you can get that feedback from them. And so you can understand where you’re letting them down, where you’re delighting them what things you need to fix and what things you need to double down on. And then as you get those learnings, you can like funnel that back into your, into your flywheel and and use that to get to the next step. It’s almost like a it’s almost like a video game where you know, the the first few levels are very different than the last few levels and it’s in you and you kind of have to adapt as you get through it. In the early days. Nothing replaces that face to face interaction.
David Ralph [11:57]
Now I look at your business again, and I I love it for its simplicity. But I also look at it and think, what stops you being screwed over by contractors? So the contractors get three quotes, where do you get your money from? How do you know that they’re actually going and doing the job? Or maybe they go and do the job, but they don’t men tell you and pay you. How do you make sure that you’re not miss? Yeah,
Green Pal Founder Bryan Clayton [12:22]
great question. So from a process standpoint, when a when a homeowner lists their lawn for quotes, they’ll get five quotes back within less than 60 seconds, they read the reviews of the of the pro they want to work with, and then they hire them through the platform. And then after that connection is made, they get their phone number, all of their contact info and then we we have it such that the contractor needs to personally interact with the homeowner and introduce himself go over what’s included in the service and so on. Then after that, they complete the service. They upload photos of the completed job through the platform that is sent to the homeowner to approve. So we have a lot of have users that own properties throughout the country, whether it be real estate developers or investors, and they don’t see these properties. And so they get pictures of the completed work. And so they don’t even have to go look at the job, they can approve it digitally. And so that’s a big value add for a lot of our users. So that kind of mechanical aspect of the workflow ensures that it the from introduction to complete a job that is occurring onto our platform. But to answer your question, how do we how do we stop that? That the deceit this the collusion, I guess you could call it screwing us
David Ralph [13:37]
over? Brian screwing? Let’s say as it is,
Green Pal Founder Bryan Clayton [13:41]
yeah, well, so in any marketplace, if that’s happening, you’re not delivering enough value to both sides of the transaction. So if the homeowner is cool with that, then you’re not solving enough problems for them. And if the vendor wants to do that, you’re not solving enough problems for them. It’s So you really kind of have to look at it that way not like oh, I’m, I’m getting screwed over which you are. But you have to attack it from a different paradigm of what how am I not adding enough value with my technology to where they would even want to do that. And so, for us, on the vendor side, we are the platform that he or she plugs their entire business into, they run their entire business on top of our technology, from getting new customers to scheduling to getting paid quickly for those customers to understand the understanding the health of their business, to understand where they’re making money, where they’re not, it’s an entire suite of tools that they get for free for running their business on top of green pal. So for them to to take a customer outside of the platform, they have to abandon all that and the switching costs are pretty deep. Right now we’re in the early days, it was a it was a lot of faith and a lot of relationships oriented but now with with thousands of vendors it’s really a it’s really a factor of, it’s harder to do it the old way than it is on top of GreenPower once you’re installed into it, right,
David Ralph [15:10]
right. Okay, so you you over delivered basically because your ultimate client is the consumer with the loan. But in your business model, your number one client is the person mowing the lawn that the supply chain
Green Pal Founder Bryan Clayton [15:24]
That’s correct. Yeah, we have to go we have to go a mile deep for for he or she on term in terms of tools and value that we just give away for free. So there’s there’s a saying that says, when you’re building a marketplace, your users need need to come for the network and stay for the tools. And and that’s that’s how we’ve approached it. When we first started, it was just Hey, this is a place to earn new customers. But now it’s Hey, this is a place to run your entire business to where everything just happens automatically and clean. You don’t have to spend three hours a night doing bookkeeping. You don’t have to sale out invoices, you don’t have accounts receivable. You don’t have to hand out flyers anymore. You don’t have to have eight different points of sale, square, PayPal Venmo all these different ways that people want to pay you cash check, you have one clean way to operate your business, all you got to do is just do a good job executing the service. That’s the value proposition to the vendor. And they, you know, some don’t get it, you know, we’re probably a good fit for seven out of 10. But the ones that get it really do well on the platform, they earn more money than they could otherwise. And that’s really why we exist.
David Ralph [16:36]
Let’s listen to the remarkable Oprah Winfrey and then we’ll be back with Bryan.
Oprah Winfrey [16:41]
The way through the challenge is to get still and ask yourself what is the next right move? not think about, Oh, I got all of this too. But what is the next right move. And then from that space, make the next right move and the next right move and not to be over? whelmed by it. Because you know, your life is bigger than that one moment, you know, you’re not defined by what somebody says, is a failure for you. Because failure is just there to point you in a different direction.
David Ralph [17:12]
So with your business, there’s gonna be times where you look back on it and up. What were we doing? Why did we operate that way, but it’s also a learning process. And so it would have been times when you would have sat quietly, like Oprah says, and just sort of reflected on it. And with this, what was brilliant about your business is, but you could literally show it, somebody totally how to do it. And it wouldn’t make a blind bit of difference to your success. You know, there’s so much abundance out there, but somebody could take this system and they could do it for a locksmith. They could do it for a fence panel person, they could do it for a window Glazer. It’s the same concept, isn’t it finding value in your local marketplace and finding somebody wants to business.
Green Pal Founder Bryan Clayton [18:02]
Absolutely. And and, you know, there’s there’s so many different things coming to mind as you’re talking in the value is in the execution. I get a lot of entrepreneurs that want my advice, you know, cuz I do some coaching for free, cuz I love doing it and and they’re like, you know I’ve got I’ve got this idea but you’re in technology and I really don’t want to tell it to you because I think you’re gonna steal it. Like, listen, listen, I don’t take this the wrong way, but your idea is worth about 10 bucks. And I’m busy doing what I’m doing. So no, I’m not going to steal your idea. So that’s a common mistake that budding entrepreneurs make the think that the value is all in the idea. It’s really not it’s in the execution.
David Ralph [18:48]
But do you get some ideas thrown at you and you think my god that’s that’s that’s brilliant?
Green Pal Founder Bryan Clayton [18:53]
You know? Yes, yes, I do. But I but I know that the Bringing that idea to life is so damn hard. Yeah, that that I’ve got my path that I’m set on and but I know that that getting these these ideas are stillborn right and bringing them to life require years and years and years of gruelling, gruelling work. No matter how simple it sounds,
David Ralph [19:21]
as I always say to people, Brian, I say online business is easy, hard, is easy in concept. It’s easy to plan it is easy, but then you do have to do the work. And I find that some people but because I do coaching now, I can show them exactly we know where the market is, everything’s gonna flow towards them. They know where the traffic is, but then they don’t do the next step of actually building it. It just blows me away.
Green Pal Founder Bryan Clayton [19:47]
You’re exactly right that online technology based businesses are beautiful, for many reasons. One you can you can scale and automate your way through problems that you can’t in traditional businesses. However, there is still an element of hard work that that cannot be replaced in any other way, but just just gutting it out. And and Yeah, sometimes capital can help entrepreneurs move faster. You know, you see that in these in these two or three or four year overnight successes, but make no mistake, the founding team is working their butts off bringing that idea to life and, and a lot of people, you don’t see that that stuff’s not fun. It’s not sexy. It nobody talks about it. But believe me, somebody’s doing it. And so they’re, you know, no matter how brilliant that idea sounds, there’s a tremendous amount of hard work that’s going to take to bring it to life.
David Ralph [20:41]
Yeah, even from artists or you know, there’s no overnight successes there. You know, everybody has a backstory of sitting on a bed in their underpants trying to learn the first cold, trying to learn how to play the piano before they ever end up at Madison Square Garden. Well, we got here some work. And then we’re gonna be back with Ryan Creighton.
Unknown Speaker [21:05]
Are you ready to make a full time living online? Check out the amazing Join Up Dots business coaching. Hello, my name is Alan. And I’ve just completed the excellent eight week course with David.
Unknown Speaker [21:15]
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Unknown Speaker [21:21]
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Unknown Speaker [21:30]
Within literally minutes.
Unknown Speaker [21:32]
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David Ralph [22:36]
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So we’re talking to Brian Clayton from your green power. And grant Brian has created a global Well, it’s not global at the moment, but I imagine it could easily be global business. Putting contractors in contact with customers who want their lawn mowed all the time. Now, because I come from the dark side, Brian, I have ideas, but everybody screwing you over with time. And so how does it actually work? Let’s actually flesh this out, somebody comes to your website, and then they say, I am David, and I’m in the United Kingdom in this area. And then I want to quote that then automatically goes to people’s phones or their email account, it goes to the contractors who then say, this is how much should I charge? Or do I need to see the job first? Do they need to have an understanding that they’re not going to say it’s $50 and then they get around and it’s 15 acres of acres of grass. Theyve got to mow.
Green Pal Founder Bryan Clayton [23:59]
great questions. So we it’s a little bit of all of the above. So the way it does work is homeowners lists their long for quotes. And then a text message is sent out to all of the available lawncare services within a four or 510 mile radius around them. Then on the vendor side, they get that text message, they pull it up on their app. And then we use technology to make their job a little easier. So we show them an aerial image of your lawn. We tell you how many square feet that size of that lot is we show you a street view image of how it looks from the street. We tell you all the preferences that the homeowner wants. They want it weekly every two weeks. How long has it been since they last got their grass cut? All of this information is his tip, the typical type of info that the lawn care services is going to need to prepare their quote. Then after they look at that they can say okay, yeah, I can do this for $35 a mo $40 a month, whatever their prices They submit that right back through the app, you as the homeowner get 345 quotes back in less than a minute. And then you can hire who you want to work with based on their reviews, what other people are saying about them, and also some statistics about them that you’re not going to see anywhere else we tell you, how often do they show up on time for their clients? How often do their clients book them for a second mowing, what their rank is in your city or, or or town? How many lawns they’ve made in the last week. So we tell you all of this data about the business so you can really understand Okay, this is somebody just getting started or this is an established business. And then you can compare that against what the different prices are because different contractors are going to charge different prices based on what their availability is what what part of town you live in. Do they have five other yards already on your street. There’s a really there’s a lot of fluidity in and in terms of what this stuff can cost. So we help you make the best match bait in terms of price and quality. That You want?
David Ralph [26:01]
And how do you get your commission for it? Do the contractors pay to be on your system? Or do you get a
Green Pal Founder Bryan Clayton [26:08]
job, we charge a very small transaction fee only 5% of whatever business is conducted through the platform. And so the contractor for it’s an, it’s a no brainer for them, they only pay for the new business they get, and they only pay for the revenue that they’re generating through green pal to their business. For the homeowner, it’s completely free. There’s no fees or charges on their side of the of the transaction. The price that they get quoted from the from the lawn Pro is what they’re going to pay on their credit card statement. And so it’s a real it’s a real no lose proposition to vendors, which helps us recruit them fairly easily. Now, we don’t have to have a sales team or anything like that. As a matter of fact, we’ve got we’ve got a good flywheel going where that side of the of the of the marketplace pretty well takes care of itself. Now that we’re five, six years in, we’re kind of heading household name in that community. So people know about us Lawn Care Services know about us, where we really what we really want is that is that guy or gal that’s just getting started in the lawn mowing business, or that fireman that works three days a week, but wants to mow yards two or three days a week to that person that’s just getting started is an awesome fit for our platform because they can go from zero customers to 100 in a year. And they can and we see this hundreds of times where were early lamoni services just getting started on making more money in their, quote, side hustle than they are in their full time job. And we love that that’s why we are working our butts off building this thing, because that’s where we have real material impact for some of our users. Now,
David Ralph [27:44]
the bottom line, I’m interested with your 5% cut on this. I imagine that you have to put it through PayPal or some kind of processing system but Ben take two and a half percent. How do you sort of make sure that it remains profitable or do you Yeah, that’s a
Green Pal Founder Bryan Clayton [28:00]
great question. So so we use a, we’re embedded with stripe, that powers all of our payments through through our system that is actually above that. So 5% is is green pals fee and then stripe takes a 2.9% fee from from the supplier outside of that. So in the end all fees in is about 8%. However, I would say half the 75% of the traditional way of doing this business is done through credit cards regardless so so those service providers will have to pay that at one point or another.
David Ralph [28:34]
So let’s take you back in time, like we had like to do Brian and so you you sold your business before and it was a very profitable business. Why why’d Why did you sell it? Did you just kind of get burnt out by it? Or were you looking for a new challenge? What was the reason for setting the successful business?
Green Pal Founder Bryan Clayton [28:54]
Yeah, that was a tough call because it was profitable. It was doing it was doing well. I was I had been building that business for 15 years from just myself and a push mower to myself and 150 people. It was my baby It was a lot of my identity was wrapped up in it selling it was hard. But I had taken it as far as I could. We had over $8 million a year in annual revenue, we were the largest contractor in our in our local market. The next step for me was to take it to multiple cities throughout the southeast United States. And and I didn’t have the fire within me to take that next step. And I’m the kind of guy you know, one of my favourite quotes is George Patton, if you’re not, if you’re not gaining ground, you’re losing ground. I and so I have to be constantly moving forward, I have to constantly be taking on new challenges and I just didn’t feel like I wanted to spend the next 510 years of my life building out this business to become multiple cities. And so we started the start looking at the option for an Exit and from the moment I made the decision to to the business was sold was two years. So that was not something that occurred quickly. And it was something that I had to kind of groom the business along to become one that that that could be sellable. But looking back, I made the right call at the right time. I got very lucky I sold it at a good time in terms of the macroeconomic state that we were in and so I trusted my gut on that one and it worked out.
David Ralph [30:31]
And you have to don’t you and I think one of these sort of the the mantras of Join Up Dots obviously we will hear from the speech of Steve Jobs later is if it’s a bad decision, it can be a good decision later down the line. You just kind of make it so you you you pivot you I you know, I don’t see any bad decisions in my life. Now I look back on it. As I say other than the drunk Spanish girl I met once and that’s the only bad thing I’ve ever made in my life. What was I thinking? You know what?
Green Pal Founder Bryan Clayton [31:02]
That that bet it was exactly what you needed because you didn’t make that bad choice again. That’s right. You say?
David Ralph [31:09]
I learned from it. I learned from it. Absolutely. Now with the business again. Okay, so you you come up with the idea. How much of the mourning period did you have to go through from selling the business beforehand? Because when you’re so wrapped up into something, there certainly is a period when your body doesn’t know how to operate, because suddenly you’re not doing what you’ve been doing for 15 years. How long did you need before you started to get that itch again?
Green Pal Founder Bryan Clayton [31:36]
Yeah, that’s a that’s a really, really good question. Because I did go through that. And I helped the new the new company, run my business for for several months after, but you go into the office or several hundred people there, you’re their leader. They look to you, they respect you, and all of a sudden, the next day, you’re not. You’re kind of there and you’re helping You’re helping the new people it’s kind of like almost if you’re married and just watching another man be you know, live in your house and and be your wife’s husband and but him not listening to anything you’re saying in terms of what she likes. And so it was a lot like that it was a weird it was a weird moment in my life where something that was mine for 15 years no longer was and I just kind of had to grit my teeth through it and there was a mourning period where like a part of my identity had gone and and and i didn’t i didn’t see that coming. It I got over it and then starting the second business was very much a piece of getting over it. I did take several months off. But you’ve learned that there’s only so many beaches you can lay on your you’re oriented to be a problem solver. You’re oriented to be winning, and that’s what makes you happy. And that’s why you get back in the game. And and so for me a lot of a lot of getting over the mountain. Cali of selling my business was starting the next one. And and that was a lot harder than I thought it would be. But I’m glad I did it because a lot of times for me, my businesses are the vehicle for my personal development and my personal progress. And I love becoming better than I was last year. And my business is the thing that gets me there.
David Ralph [33:21]
Now, with your dreams and your aspirations, especially with your business now your green power, you can go, I’ll tell you, what would it be brilliant if we could get a text to go over to them instantly. And then a picture of Google streetview comes down, wouldn’t it be brilliant, but how do we do that? How do we do that? Is that possible? And once again, that’s a stumbling block that people have, they know how they want to move it on. But they don’t know how to do it. And they haven’t got the ability to invest, to have it develop over them. How did you overcome those obstacles?
Green Pal Founder Bryan Clayton [33:57]
Yeah, it’s tough. You really You have all of these ideas that you would love to see this thing do. But you really have to distil it down to a core basic set of features and functionality if you’re going to do this thing. So whatever your idea for an app or website is the in the tech circles is called your MVP, the minimal viable product, you have to distil it down to what are the basic things that this thing can do. Let’s get that bill. And let’s get 100 people to use it. And let’s just see if this is a good idea. And that requires discipline because it’s tempting just to go work on something for a year or two years, and then release it only to find out it was not a good idea. After all, nobody wants it. But for us, when we first launched our business five, six years ago, the app did very little you could you could you could get quotes and you could hire somebody, that’s it. We didn’t have payments, we didn’t have reviews. We didn’t have Have a lot of the features that vendors use, such as statistics on how to win more business or how to how to grow their business, we didn’t have a lot of the things that that homeowners used it down, make hiring decisions, such as the ratings and so on. And so there’s a lot of there’s a, there’s a tonne of functionality that has today that didn’t have in the in the first iteration. And you really kind of have to hold yourself accountable to just build out the minimal basic core set of functionality that you can to validate is this even a good idea? Because a lot of them aren’t, you know it when you’re inventing something that doesn’t exist in the world, you you’re really taking a leap of faith that people will even want it and so you have to validate that first nail it then scale it,
David Ralph [35:46]
but you do know that at its core, people want their Lawns Mowed, you know, it’s bit Bingo. That’s the key thing, isn’t it? It’s that pain point. You know, I always say to people if you can find something as well mundane as water flowing down your stairs, Ben, there’s a business because people don’t quit. How about we leave it till next week? They just say no, let’s get it done. We need it sorted bangs.
Green Pal Founder Bryan Clayton [36:14]
Yeah, that was one of the, I guess you could say competitive advantages for me personally, I had spent 15 years in the analogue version of the industry. I had seen the pain points day in day out for a very long time from the supplier side and from the homeowner side because as my my landscaping business grew, our company no longer service the residential market. We were just too big those smaller 30 $40 jobs were just not profitable for us anymore. And so we no longer service them. However, because we were we had a local brand in our local community. We would still get 2030 phone calls a day from homeowners say Will you come cut my grass Will you come mow my yard And we would maintain a list of smaller contractors at our receptionist, receptionist desk, that would refer these people out. And what we would find is like that person say, Hey, I call them but they were full or they’re no longer taking clients. And effectively, it was just this ongoing like round robin of we were constantly making these referrals for free just to help people. And that I saw that and I knew, yes, technology can solve that problem, because these contractors want that business. But these homeowners can’t find those contractors, and can’t connect with them in an easy way. And so just seeing that and experiencing that, I knew that this was going to work. So for new business owners, entrepreneurs, it can be helpful to solve a problem that you’ve experienced in your career, your industry, whatever you’ve spent the last five or 10 years doing with your life. A lot of times that’s a safer bet, than going and learning a new industry and trying to solve a problem when you’ve never walked in those users shoes.
David Ralph [38:04]
Through my coaching, one of the exercises that I do, and it seems very, very simple is I get people to write down the things I love doing the things I like doing and the things they hate doing. And more often than not, we’re aiming to try to find something of a love places. But there’s always obvious ones that come up in the hate, where you look at it. And you think, well, if you hate that, do other people hate that? And, you know, just simple things like washing up every night. You know, somebody looked at that and said, Who wants to wash up every night? Let’s create a machine that does it. It pays the pain point. People can always look at our own lives and think to themselves, I hate doing this is a business idea in their mind.
Green Pal Founder Bryan Clayton [38:45]
Exactly. And I get asked a lot.
Would you recommend somebody come from come attack the problem from a technology background and just somebody who’s just an excellent coder, an excellent engineer, and when Do you rather that or would you rather somebody who is more comes from a blue collar traditional background, who knows the problem and then learns the tech, both are hard executing on the tech side is extremely hard. However, knowing the problem exists, knowing those pain points and having validated that already, a lot of times can de risk whether you’re going to spend the next year, three years, five years building out this company, only to find out that there really isn’t a lot of users that have that same problem.
David Ralph [39:30]
I would be interested to go back over Join Up Dots, the two and a half thousand episodes that I’ve recorded, and look at how many people solve their own problem. And that’s what became their business. I can certainly think of quite a few of them. Right? I would imagine
Green Pal Founder Bryan Clayton [39:46]
something that happens 100% of the time, but a lot of times it does a lot of times that is you know, we’re in the case of Uber. You know that those guys were at a conference and they couldn’t get a cab and they thought Wouldn’t it be awesome if and, and that’s where the idea came from. They were solving their own problem, I would say, eight out of 10 times the entrepreneur is solving a problem that they have experienced at a deep level.
David Ralph [40:13]
I don’t understand Uber. I’ve never used Uber or I don’t understand, in any sense. I just don’t understand why you would get into a strange car.
Green Pal Founder Bryan Clayton [40:25]
Yeah, it’s crazy how quickly our behaviour changed around that one, but it’s like running water here in the States.
David Ralph [40:33]
Yeah, very, very strange. Well, let’s listen to a man who created huge businesses, and he was always looking for simplicity. Steve Jobs.
Steve Jobs [40:43]
Of course, it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college, but it was very, very clear looking backwards. 10 years later. Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will start Connect in your future. You have to trust in something, your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path, and that will make all the difference.
David Ralph [41:18]
You believe in those words, sir?
Unknown Speaker [41:21]
Green Pal Founder Bryan Clayton [41:23]
It’s if you have to synthesise your gut your experience. But also you have to make your best guesses you have to use what data you have. It really is an art form. And man that he put it so eloquently how he did it. And you know, that guy’s a hero of mine. I could listen to him all day long.
David Ralph [41:45]
I think most of us have done the same thing every week. You know, when I look at certainly my life. There was no plan. It was just me doing stuff every day and just getting up and putting in the hours you know, and I know it’s not sexy. I know it’s not the answer that people want when they think, right. I’m earning 60 grand a year and I want to earn 60 grand a year by creating an online business in two months. And I always say to them, the first thing you should do is is look to create $600. And learn if you can scale back not try to do the big thing because there’s work involved.
Unknown Speaker [42:22]
David Ralph [42:24]
Now, oh, boy, yourself, Brian, when you look back on it as I ask every guest, do you have a big dot when you think yeah, that’s when the business really really started going. That’s when clarity hit me.
Green Pal Founder Bryan Clayton [42:39]
Yeah, for for green pal. The first year, maybe even two years was an exercise of faith. The first year, we we set a goal that we wanted to do 100 transactions in a week. That was the goal for the first year and we ended The year with 42. And I think, I think probably 20 of them were friends and family. And so the first year was was just gruelling, and we just we just knew we just had faith that, that it was a good idea and we’re just going to keep grinding on it. And it wasn’t until the second year when we were able to get into the local paper about our business that we had. I think it was over 200 people sign up in a day it was a Saturday I remember it and and when those 200 people signed up in a day, and over 100 of them booked. That’s when I knew that this would work. I said okay, yes, we just keep repeating this playbook, keep doing what we’re doing. We will win at this and slow and steady we have grown and we if you look at our traffic, it’s just like a big huge mountain that’s developing over time that’s just beautiful to look at. And, and but having that faith in the first time Several months year, maybe even two years is important. Now on the on the other hand, a lot of times you have to know when when to pivot, or when to fold. And that’s really, really hard. It’s, it’s, it’s hard, you have to just trust your gut, you have to look at the data. It’s good to ask, ask advice. You know, luckily, today, you know, we have things like this podcast, and we have, we have YouTube, we have a million ways that we can learn from people who have been through this kind of stuff before. And you have to take all of that and you just have to make your best gut call. Because a lot of times when your gut when something feels off, usually is
David Ralph [44:37]
my mom used to say that if it seems too good to be true, it generally is. And
Unknown Speaker [44:43]
isn’t that true?
David Ralph [44:44]
Yeah. And if there’s words of wisdom now, I think my mom knew something. Do you know that broadly enough, I suddenly realised that my mom was a wise old woman. So we went yourself in. This is the piece of the show that we’ve been building up to and I hope you’re ready for it because this is the part that we call the Sermon on the Mount. When we’re going to send you back in time to have a one on one with a younger Brian, if you could go back in time and speak to him, What age would you choose? And what advice would you like to give him? Well, we’re going to find out because I’m going to play the music. And when it fades, it’s your time to talk. This is the Sermon on the mic.
Unknown Speaker [45:24]
With the best bit of the show,
Green Pal Founder Bryan Clayton [45:40]
sermon on the mic, I would go back to myself when I was 22, maybe 2122. And I would, I would try to get myself to understand the awesome power of compound interest. I’m sure I was aware of the term back then I’m sure so I’m sure somebody told told it to me. And I probably thought I knew what it was. But I would try to be into my younger self head the awesome power of compound interest. And I would make him read The Autobiography of Warren Buffett because that’s what a lot of that book is called, is called the snowball. And in understanding how how a snowball can just start with just a little baseball size snowball and he roll it down a mountain and but and then by the time it gets down the mountain is this huge boulder. I would try to get him to understand that. Warren Buffett knew it better than anybody knows it better than anybody. And if you can understand compound interest, you can move mountains.
David Ralph [46:40]
Do you know I wasn’t expecting that kind of advice. I was. I don’t know what I was expecting. I was expecting. Get down and get your hands dirty and and listen to your dad when your dad says come and move alone. rush out, rush out eagerly to do it.
Green Pal Founder Bryan Clayton [46:56]
Well, it’s a it’s something like I just turned 40 last week. And, and my nephew, he and I do Jiu Jitsu together. He’s 15. And and I’ve been doing Jiu Jitsu for about three years. And I was actually telling him this a couple of weeks ago, I said, Listen, man, if I had, if I had been doing Jiu Jitsu, when I was your age, I would be a total just bad dude right now, like you couldn’t, I would just be awesome at this sport. So you get better every year. And then you learn from the things you learned last year, and it just builds and it builds and it’s compound interest. And it applies to everything in life financially, business, sports, health, relationships, it doesn’t matter. And just understanding that is just key, like, oh, there’s a story about Warren Buffett in the 70s when he was already worth 20 or $30 million. And he would he would stay at the the Waldorf Astoria in New York, but he would negotiate the stay in the janitor’s closet for $20 a night. Now, here A guy that was already worth eight figures but he’s sleeping in the janitor’s closet and and they asked him why he did that he said Listen, I don’t look at $100 as $100 I look at it as $1,000 because I know that’s what it will become. And and this that simple this outlook that through the benefit of compound interest things manifest exponentially and that the years are gonna pass anyway you might as well leverage compound interest.
David Ralph [48:30]
Warren Buffett didn’t have my wife they would there’s no way on earth I could be worth 30 million and I’m getting some rubbish little room Really?
Green Pal Founder Bryan Clayton [48:40]
I know right? Isn’t that awesome?
David Ralph [48:43]
Have a how he managed to I don’t know. Anyhow, I don’t either. Over listeners out there what’s the number one best way that they can connect with you
Green Pal Founder Bryan Clayton [48:53]
just shoot me an email Brian dry n at your green pal calm
David Ralph [48:58]
and we will have all the links of the websites on the show notes to make it as easy as possible. Brian, thank you so much for spending time with us today joining up those dots. And please come back again when you’ve got more dots to join up because I do believe that by joining up the dots and connecting our pasts is the best way to build our futures. Brian, thank you so much.
Green Pal Founder Bryan Clayton [49:19]
Right on, I appreciate it. I had fun.
David Ralph [49:24]
Your green pounds. So somebody wants their lawn mowed, they go on an app, they click a button, they get three quotes. And then somebody says yes, are happy you the money goes into a kind of suspense account. Once it’s actually done, the person gets paid. Seems simple, done it. It seems simple to me. And that’s generally the best businesses. Until next time, for everybody out there, Look after yourselves. And please keep on coming back to Join Up Dots. Because one of these episodes, the penny will drop and your life will change forever. I promise you that’s happens