There is no shortage of brilliant ideas, but what separates the real entrepreneurs from the wantrepreneurs is the execution. It is the reason why we always see incredible stories of unlikely people bootstrapping themselves to success in business. A lot of times, you don’t even need to have a groundbreaking product or process to disrupt the market; you just need to make improvements and applications that nobody has thought of before. Neil Amrhein, the founder of All About Care and My Goat, certainly embodies that successful entrepreneur vibe, having moved from room service to politics to home health and now to lawn care. To Neil, there is no one way to run a company – indeed, he uses two very different methodologies to grow his home health business and his lawn care operation. Despite the difference in the two business models, what ties them together is Neil’s readiness to execute instead of getting caught up in the idea stage. Listen in to learn if Jason Duncan’s five P’s hold up to this quirky outlier in the entrepreneurial universe.
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Ideas And Execution: What Separates Entrepreneurs From Wantrepreneurs With Neil Amrhein
This is a show where I interview super successful entrepreneurs and talk to them about how they grow incredible companies. I’ve got this theory that every entrepreneur has experienced these five keys to success without failure. They’re successful. They’ve been through these keys and it shows up in their story every time. With this show, it’s a way for me to test to see if that theory is in fact correct. In every episode, I talked to a super successful entrepreneur. Generally speaking, who I’m talking to people that started their own businesses without the help of a family business or a franchise. They’ve built that business to bring in over $10 million in revenue they’ve earned and built a net worth of at least $5 million as a result of that business. Those are the people I’m talking to who in general. Our guest fits right in that category.
Before we go any further, I want to let you know that we are at The Standard at the Smith House in downtown Nashville, Tennessee. We are in an amazingly beautiful room called the Matador Room and my guest is going to smoking some nice cigars because we are in one of the top cigar bars in the country. The Standard is 18,000 square feet of southern sophistication and style right in the heart of downtown Nashville. It’s one of the oldest antebellum homes still in existence here downtown. It’s owned and operated by the one and only Joshua Sterling Smith. As a member of The Standard, he is allowing me to use this place to do this episode.
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Let me talk about my guest and introduce him. Here we are sitting in the Matador Room at The Standard in Nashville. It is so cool to be in this room. My guest went from the Ritz-Carlton to politics, to home health, to robots. This is an interesting story. We’re going to talk about how this person goes from running a room service organization at college for the Ritz-Carlton, getting into politics with the National Republican Congressional Committee, then starting a home health company that has been wildly successful. Employing over 5,000 people, providing over a million hours of care to the patients. In the last couple of years, he has started a company and robots where Roomba meets Netflix for lawn care. I want to welcome our guest, Neil Amrhein.
Thanks for having me, Jason.
Tell us about how you got your start with the current company. My Goat is your company. Talk about what that is and what that’s doing.
My Goat is essentially Roomba meets Netflix for commercial lawn mowing. I stumbled into it by seeing an autonomous robotic mower about 36 months ago on a YouTube video. I always have the juices flowing and ideas going. I put together a financial model and operational model and said we could probably utilize autonomous robots to help with the struggles that I have within the home care business, which are labor shortages, recruiting, retention, saving costs, etc. We took the concept of autonomous robotic machines and we built a technology company that’s a software platform that allows these robots to be moved, managed, maintained and monitored through My Goat.
There are golf courses and cemeteries probably all over the country that have these tiny little robots running all over the grass at all time and nobody’s around it. That’s got to be super weird for the first time you see that. What’s that like for customers or people seeing it for the first time?
[bctt tweet=”As a CEO, your aim is to become the least important guy around the office.” username=””]
One of our core values is to be an educator. We talk a lot about, “Have you ever seen one of these things? Have you ever heard of one of these things?” There are about 2.5 million of these things that have been manufactured since the mid-’90s. It’s one of those things where I don’t look at technology as being newly developed, it’s just newly applied. “How do we apply it in the commercial space?” A perfect situation for us is, we have an entire cemetery that’s completely being mowed and maintained. We call it maintained more than anything else because the grass never gets long. We don’t have a traditional once-a-week thing. We call that Goatopia. We replace and we disrupt what’s the traditional status quo of mowing commercial properties for the last few years and that is a big guy, like me, on a big machine. How fast does it go? How loud is it? How big is the blade? The limitations are unbelievable when you look at a robot that can do things at night in the rain, on the weekends and make no noise. We’re so much more efficient.
Are you primarily deploying these at golf courses and cemeteries? Is that your primary deployment? Is that what you’re aiming for?
My initial business plan when I rolled it out to my investors was focused on the residential side of things. We spent about fourteen months or so in the residential space and realized that we needed to pivot. In 2020 or a little longer, we terminated all of our subscriptions with all of our residential customers. We turned around and went headfirst into the commercial lawn care space. We were specifically focused on golf courses, but also cemeteries, regional airports and any kind of athletic field, both in the college or university settings.
I knew a little bit about this because we’ve known each other for a bit, but the regional airport is interesting to me because you’ve got access issues with humans going into that. What you’re doing, is you’re putting a robot in that spot where there isn’t an access issue. You’re not going to have a problem with FAA Regulations of being on the runway, or close to the runway while planes coming in or going out.
A great example is here at Nashville International, they’ve got 3,000 acres. About 1,200 of those acres are outside of what they call the secure zone. There’s no reason why there couldn’t be autonomous robotic mowers out there through My Goat taking care and maintaining. The nice thing is, they have electricity, which is a requirement because these are all-electric and battery-operated. We are robotic gnostic, so we might use 8 or 9 different manufacturers that make it because we’re a software company. Inside on those runways, sometimes they’re as big as 14 to 16 acres, you have to keep the grass fairly low because if you have the grass growing, you have the chance of birds or animals, or whatever that gets in the flight pattern of landing planes or planes taking off. That coupled with the fact, that you can’t put 15-foot winged machines out there when it’s pouring rain, because they’ll fall into the runoff of the gully. You’ve got all these restrictions that My Goat takes care of because autonomous robots don’t need a human being out there and they’re not to fall off the runway.
You are my first guest who’s in the robot space. That’s interesting. Before with your My Goat company, you have a company now called, All About Care Solutions that you provide home health care. You started that with your wife. Tell the readers what you do, the core business offering and then how you got into that business.
I decided to leave Corporate America a few years ago after essentially working for a technology company for almost a decade and becoming what you might call a mercenary sales guy. I took some of my skillset in that space, as well as my hospitality background with the Ritz-Carlton, and my wife is an occupational therapist. We took the clinical, the three legs of the stool, and we put together All About Care. It was started with a luxury experience in mind. We believe that we hired the right people to provide the right level of care that families would hire us privately to take care of their loved ones.
Oftentimes their loved ones might be our average is 65% of our clients are 75 years or older at this point, but we’ll also take care of folks who are under hospice care, but 15% of our folks. We’re in and out of assisted living communities, independent living communities, but also wherever they call home. This concept of home healthcare has been starting getting franchised in the late ‘90s. I looked at some opportunities with franchises and said, “I think I can apply what I’d like to do, build my culture, and have the values that we’d like to espouse with our families and go from there.” That’s what we did.
You and your wife started that company from scratch and chose not to go to the franchise model and said, “I can do this myself and build a culture that I like with systems in place.” You’ve quite successfully done that. You’ve done that now for years. I know a lot of the readers are entrepreneurs and they are at multiple different stages. You’ve got the entrepreneur who has the idea of trying to figure out, “How in the world am I going to get this thing launched?” You’ve got the entrepreneur who’s in the first 2 or 3 years of getting their one thing going. You got late-stage entrepreneurs who were looking at how to exit or start the next thing.
I’m in that role. I’ve got eight different entities that I own. I’ve got a big one that I’m trying to get. I’m doing startup all over again and it’s killing me. I didn’t know how hard it was to do a startup because I was much younger when I did my first one. You got My Goat, that’s a big new thing that you’re doing that has the potential to disrupt an entire industry, but you’re also in this traditional industry of health care, but you’re doing it slightly non-traditional. Although it could be argued that home health is becoming more traditional. How are you managing the CEO, executive and founder role in two companies?
You’re right. Having another startup mode here a decade later is taxing, to say the least. As you and I both know, the faster you get the right people in place, and put those processes aligned with those people, the more autonomous you can become. As I like to call myself instead of the CEO, I’m the least important person or the Least Important Guys. I’m the LIG around the office, because if I hire the right people, and I implement the right processes and we develop those things, then I shouldn’t be needed for most things which is probably okay by most of the folks on my team, my leadership team in particular.
With the home care space, it’s very people-intensive. I had mentioned, we have had over 5,000 caregivers in the last several years work between two offices in South Carolina and Tennessee. We realized, “Let’s build a company based upon the people. Let’s talk about what that product is that we’re going to deliver.” This is essentially a high-end level of care, and then let’s talk about the profit, and let’s talk about the process. I took that 4P stair-step and I reverse that with technology, having now built a technology company, I looked at, “What’s the process for this to scale? How do we make money doing it? What’s our product and how are we delivering?” We started in the residential space first, and then we moved very quickly and we pivoted to the commercial space. It’s a very difficult thing when you have revenue coming in the door and you decide, “I don’t want that revenue, I got to find this other revenue.” We’re applying the people to those processes. We’ve reversed that four-step, People, Process, Product and Profit.
I’m an alliterative guy. For those that know me, I spent the first several years of my career in ministry. Preachers love alliteration. They love coming up with three points in a poem and all points got to start with the same letter. My five keys to success that this show is based on, our 5 Ps Of Success. Before we go there, I want to dive in a bit, because I think entrepreneurs who are reading want to know, that you’ve got this 4P thing that you’re working with, People, Product, Process and Profit. Which are all important. There are entrepreneurs that I coach and consult with, who forget some of that piece that sometimes they pay all attention to profit. Other guys are only interested in people. Some people are only interested in the process. Some people are only interested in the product. You said a lot of people start with profit and move towards people. You did it the opposite way. Tell me a bit more about that.
Companies are totally different in the sense that I knew that we needed sales. All About Care, home health care is very people-centric. We needed great people to provide great products. We started with the people, part of mine, having spent some time in the hospitality industry, I had been hiring people and interviewing people for many years. I was very comfortable in that space. We have a very specific eleven-step hiring process within our business that we go through in order to mitigate risk and maximize the experience that families have because it’s very much a one-on-one situation. We emphasize the people, we talked about, “What’s the product and what’s the end unit? What’s the experience going to be?” We then moved into, “How profitable can we be?” Whether we have independent contractors who are working for us, or W-2 employees and what that looks like and what the family wants, because now the product is being shaped based upon, “Does the family want the same person over and over again? Are they interested in high-level, luxury care?”
We then talked about the process. “What do we need to put in place to sustain that level of care if you have a loved one who’s under 24/7 care under Hospice Care? How do you satisfy 168 hours a week?” There’s no one human being who can pay attention 168 hours a week. How do you put those people in place? The scheduling systems and the software that goes along with it. We did it that way with All About Care. With My Goat, we said, “Let’s look at the process first.” What’s the process of us ordering the machines that are out there that are being manufactured now, because we’re not a hardware company, we’re a software company? We’re robotic gnostic, “What’s the process for us to create the supply chain and bring these things in, through a dealership or distributor.”
We then said, “How do we make money doing these things?” We know that cost this. This is we call them the cost of pen sold because goats go in pens. We have a cost of goods, but it’s the cost of pens. We figured, “How do we make our money?” We then look at, “What’s the product ultimately that we’re delivering? Are we really a technology company? Are we a subscription-based service? What does the client need if they could have multiple goats running on their property?” They may have a different goat running in their tee box versus on their greens and somewhere in between. The idea is that pay the same price over and over again. Our product has an escalating discount in terms of the subscription. Unlike at Netflix, which might be going from nine $99 a month to $1,299 a month, to $1,499 a month, we go the opposite direction based upon what we know about technology, which is true, that it gets better, faster, and cheaper.
We want to pass that on to our clients. We know the price of an HD television has been $1,000 in the past, and you get one at Costco for several hundred now. We want to pass that on. We want our customers to enjoy that. The nice thing is, their operating expenses remain the same or they’re declining. They don’t have to worry about the people and some of the other things that the gas price is going up, labor and things of that nature. The last thing is we bring the right people in to manage those processes and to deliver the product. We can do that through a very analytical component. Maybe this is a little plug for the Culture Index, but we’ve been very successful in using the dot program to identify the job description that matches with the dot-based upon their traits.
[bctt tweet=”Being an entrepreneur doesn’t mean you have to have a great idea. You can simply improve things that are going on around you.” username=””]
Let’s spend a little time talking about the Culture Index because you and I had a conversation about that. I took my Culture Index assessment in the last several months. I found it interesting what it did for me. With your company, I don’t know if it’s both companies or just My Goat that you use Culture Index. Culture Index doesn’t sponsor this, or we’re not paying them to do this, and they aren’t paying us. It’s a tool that you use. Can you tell people what it is and how it works as a tool for you?
It basically identifies the traits that reflect the job behaviors that you have developed since you were twelve years old. The traits that you have, haven’t changed based upon the level of autonomy that you have in your life, your level of independence, your social ability or willingness to be with people and talking to people, your patience level and your conformity. These are the four metrics without getting into a deep dive on what it looks like.
There’s a dot system and a matrix that goes along with that, and when you learn how to read people’s dots, you can communicate with them better and most importantly can motivate them even more. Instead of waiting for a traditional resume, we and All About Care, average somewhere between 160 and 180 new employees every year in each of our two offices and look through thousands of resumes and referral cards and calls. This is on the frontend. If the dots don’t match the job description for a caregiver who’s successful, or for a software developer who would be successful with My Goat, then we don’t use or accept them. We don’t even worry about the application and we don’t look at the resume referrals because it’s very analytical.
You’ve grown to be able to trust that as a tool so you can get successful employees faster. That’s what this show is about, is getting to the root of all success. You’re using a tool called the Culture Index to help you hire better people to get success more quickly. I know lots of entrepreneur friends who use tools similar to that. I know that in my coaching and consulting with entrepreneurs, I always recommend tools like the Culture Index. There are other versions of that. We use one, it’s Sales Test Online. It’s inexpensive and accurate. There’s Kolbe A test, which I thought was interesting. The StrengthsFinder is great. That’s one of my favorite. It does a little different than what the Culture Index does, but that’s good. Predictive Index is another one. Those are some tools that for anybody reading, you can go search online for any of that Culture Index, Predictive Index.
Myers-Briggs, those things are all great tools. This one has been the most effective that I’ve seen. Back to the culture, even the culture of your program here and what you’re trying to do and communicate to your audience. I learned a great deal at the Ritz-Carlton about culture, management, expectations, and non-delivery of service and experience. Even in my interview process with them, I went through 2.5-hour interviews to get to that point. Very exhausted, but they were asking a lot of the same questions over and over again.
Entrepreneurs and business owners who are reading, there’s a nugget of wisdom in what Neil is saying here, hire slow. He didn’t say this, but I would finish that by saying fire fast. “Hire slow, fire fast.” If you live by that, you’ll probably do okay.
I would say nobody gets fired or terminated, people terminate themselves. It’s all about if you set the values, you set the expectation, you set the core values there and they’re right in front. Ninety percent of the time, people find a better opportunity somewhere else, or a better opportunity within the business because they haven’t followed those particular core values.
Let’s talk about success specifically. You’ve been a very successful person. You started out with Ritz-, you had a stint in politics, working in the Republican Congressional Committee. At some point, you decided to move on into starting your own thing, doing your own business. That’s an arduous journey. Anybody who’s reading this, it started anything from scratch without the help of a family business or franchise, knows it’s tough. To be successful, I don’t have the numbers right off the top of my head, but I frequently refer to these when I’m coaching people who are wanting to do startups, is that a certain percentage of people won’t make it for the first couple of years. Depending on the industry, it’s even getting worse, but then to make it a decade, which you’ve done, that is a success. Success by definition, according to the dictionary is, “Achieving the results that you originally wanted.” Let me ask you, feel free to brag on yourself, but do you consider yourself to be successful? Do you think of yourself in those terms?
According to the Cultural Index, I’m a high A, so the short answer is yes. I defer to what the survey says. I’ll agree with them. I like to build stuff. That’s what gets me going is to build stuff, cultures, products, and processes. I’m a builder. My technical expert designation in my Culture Index profile is that I’m very mechanical, methodical, and those kinds of things. I exited Corporate America in 2008, I remember it was Friday the 13th, June 2008. I started All About Care. It was about six months before we had the Great Recession that took place. My timing was impeccable as far as leaving a very stable and safe place and decided to go out on my own, but you can’t foresee it. You have to jump out there.
I would share with your audience that my experience was I set a very specific timeline for what I considered a success. I knew that within fifteen months of me going out on my own, if I couldn’t be successful that within fifteen months, I was likely to be able to go get a job for somebody else or with somebody else, making at least 75% of what I was making before. I wish I had done it many years earlier, to be honest with you, but I was more cautious and conservative than some other entrepreneurs who might go out there and do their thing but that was my marker. That was my goal, my metric with my wife and I said, “If we don’t make it work in fifteen months, I’ll go back and do what I’ve been doing for the last decade. Being very successful as a mercenary sales guy in the technology industry.”
I don’t want to bore readers with my story over and over again, but I don’t think I’ve told you when I started my company. I was a school teacher and I didn’t get my contract and they do the same thing, recession. I didn’t have tenure. Even though it was the best teacher in the County for my subject area, it didn’t matter. That was the way they made a decision. I found myself as an accidental entrepreneur. You elected to leave Corporate America, but I did to give myself a deadline. I said, “If I don’t have something happen by this date, I’m going to go get a job at Lowe’s or Starbucks or something.” You did the same thing. Here’s what tells me is that, you are successful if you reach that goal. My goal is I’ve got to get something to happen by this date. You reached it. That’s success. That’s a dictionary definition of success, but what does Neil Amrhein consider success? If you had to define success in your own words for the listeners, what would you say that success is?
It’s financial freedom. The ability to get to the point where you may have mailbox money, as far as getting some kind of reoccurring royalty or have a situation where you have the ability financially, but also from a time perspective because that’s the only thing you have to offer in life is your time, treasure and your talents. The more time and the more talent I have and the more treasure I can share, then I can do other things that are philanthropic. I can be on boards in nonprofits and things of that nature. That also fills me up.
Due to my personality, for me, enough equals more. I’m going to always be searching for something as a restless person but that’s okay because I want to be successful and I like to fail. Some of the biggest failures I’ve ever had are the biggest lessons I’ve ever learned. That’s okay, you got to hit the wall. When Tiger Woods change his golf swing 2 times or 3 times, and he was winning majors and still changes golf swing? Having the ability to pivot and taking a calculated risk in my experience is something that’s super important for you to elevate your game to the next level. You probably have some other guests that use this term of, “Surround yourself with people who challenge you.”
I love the last thing you said there too, because when I’m interviewing or mentoring or working with modern apprentices who are young. They’re in their teens or twenties and I’m trying to show them, here’s what it takes to be successful and we have to define what that means. One of the things I always tell them, “You got to surround yourself with good people.” It is said by a psychologist that you’re the average of the five people you hang around with the most and that’s everything. That’s an attitude, that’s the quality of marriage, quality of life and finances. If somebody out there reading and they’re struggling financially and they’re not in the job that they want, they don’t know what the next step is, they’re doing a good job by reading this blog, because they’re getting access to your brain and to opportunities that, “I didn’t know you could do that. I didn’t know what the Culture Index was. I should look into that.”
I would tell those people, “If you’re not where you want to be, look around. Who are you hanging out with?” If you look over there and old Bobby or Johnny, they’re pretty much losers and you look at them and go, “I don’t want to be that.” It doesn’t mean you have to discard them from your life, but you need to pick more people to hang around with that can lift you up. I love that you said that. Let me talk about the first of the 5Ps of my theory and that is Passion. Every entrepreneur I’ve ever interviewed has shared with me some little bit of passion about what it is that they do. I’m going to take a wild guess that passion, you don’t wake up every morning, “I can’t wait to play with robots.”
When I started my LED business, I was never passionate in the terms of excitement, exuberance, and joy about the product. My passion originally was, “I got to feed my family. I got to pay my mortgage. I got kids in a private school. I got to pay tuition.” My passion was in providing. The other side of passion is something I don’t think most entrepreneurs think about, although it is present and that’s what I want to ask you about. Is passion means willing to suffer or endure for some cause or reason? If you think about the term, the Passion of the Christ, he wasn’t excited to go to the cross. That wasn’t something he woke up like, “I can’t wait to do this.” It was, “I’m willing to do it for a greater cause.” Tell me and tell the readers where, if any in your story, that either side of passion or both sides showed up with All About Care or My Goat.
I believe that great entrepreneurs have the ability to tell a story. They’ve had an experience in life and a lot of times they can build that. You don’t have to have a great idea. You can improve things that are going on around you. That’s been my experience. Some people will say, “I don’t have that idea, so I’m never going to venture out.” My home care business, they’ve been doing this and franchising and helping old people in the home for a long time or seniors in particular or people who were disabled, or mothers who were on bed rest and so forth. With my background as a hospitality guy in the hotel industry, I felt compelled having been as close to my grandparents as I have always been, that we can do better, people could have a better experience, they kept that luxury level of care. My wife is an occupational therapist, different than it being a nurse, and nurses are more involved in the medications and things of that nature.
Therapists, whether it’s occupational or physical, their mantra is, “How do you get better yourself? How do you get more independent? How do we use the tools that help you to carry on your life? That even though you’re aging, you’re aging in a place where you want to be when you’re on your own terms, as well as you can be, but you have that sense of ownership and pride.” What drives me a lot is your liberty and your freedom, your ability to make choices and do that, which is obviously where we’re the greatest country in the world, is that the constitution tells us we can do that and that’s awesome.
[bctt tweet=”If you’re not making any money, you might want to pick another hobby.” username=””]
Play by the rules and work hard and you can pursue happiness in life and liberty. That’s a big part of where All About Care was derived from. I had this ten-year run with technology and was very well versed in what that meant. A decade later, having seen autonomous robots and recognizing that this could help labor shortages, and make things a little bit better for labor shortages and things you’re going to have with landscapers, and things of that nature along with reducing costs, across the board. My business sense started kicking in like, “We could help people to save money.”
You couple that with the environmental component of, I’m not one to like, “You should intentionally throw your trash on the floor,” but you should consider that there’s an environmental impact when you have 87 gallons of gas from a zero-turn mower spilling every year on a golf course, or you’ve got a carbon footprint that does this. When you have robots, I’m very intrigued by what Elon Musk has been doing with the idea of an electric, robots, artificial intelligence, and electricity as a form of transportation. That has intrigued me. I don’t live by that, but there is a component of it that’s been very well received by my customers in that space.
On the passion scale of endurance and suffering, I know that early on, I gave myself a deadline and I hit the deadlines and it worked. I wouldn’t be sitting here if I didn’t hit my deadline but that doesn’t mean that I went from school teacher to millionaire in six months. That didn’t happen. It took a much longer time than six months. What we’re talking about here is that, your early days in All About Care, now you’re in the early days of My Goat. There’s probably a lot of crap you’re having to deal with people, technology not working correctly, government interference, COVID, everything comes, but entrepreneurs who succeed are willing to go through that mess because they realize what’s on the other side. Do you want to share a story about any mess that you went through?
It’s almost having no memory or short-term memory, and sometimes you have to learn lessons. Although my brain, oftentimes I learned things by what I learned and I don’t forget them. You also have to accept certain things that are failures and go on. I remember early on with All About Care, I’m in the business of providing caregivers in homes and billing them by the hour. There was a need for us to get to a point where we had enough caregivers on staff. It was never a shortage of people who needed care. It was a shortage of people who could and would provide care and follow through with what they said they were going to do.
If you have somebody who’s scheduled to be with somebody under hospice care at 7:00 at night, “Do they show up? Will they show up?” Is there a restriction on if it’s snowing outside that they’ve never driven in the snow before? I may hop in the minivan and show them how to drive to the family’s house. In some cases, I’m even showing some folks how to drive in the snow, which of course, Tennessee doesn’t snow that much, but there are lots of hills. The last time I checked, 2 snowplows and 3 small trucks. It shuts the city down by large. Those are some experiences early on running a 24/7 shop, and running a 24/7 experience, hearkens back to running a room service department where you could get whatever you want at 2:00 in the morning or 2:00 in the afternoon. It never ends.
I always go back. They don’t have any locks on the door because they’re open. They never close down. I never thought that’s what I wanted to do, but my motor is built in such a way to make that happen. You have to have that kind of a motor but setting sprints, as opposed to that long-term has been my experience of success. Set those milestones and continue to try to knock them down. Some you can’t knock down, sometimes you have to move the goalposts a little bit. You can’t keep moving them or you’re going to have a very difficult hobby. If you’re not making any money, you might want to pick another hobby. I have lots of other hobbies.
As far as My Goat’s concerned, we took on investors. We’re in our series eight now as far as rounds of funding. I had a number of folks who trusted me, who believed in my business acumen, my dedication, my responsibility to making them money and turning this around and into an organization that would have an impact on them financially, but it’s a big risk. You have big shoulders, you and I both do, and we carry a lot through the goal line and what we do every single day. That’s been my experience with both organizations. I bootstrapped one and I took on investors in the other.
You bootstrapped one, you’re getting investors in the other, without making anybody angry or tipping anybody off, which one do you prefer?
I have to get back to you in the next one, because I’m only short ways into the investor situation, as far as bootstrapping, but the fewer bosses you have, the less distraction there might be.
Your willingness to suffer chart changes when you take on investors because you’ve got other people telling you what to do, expectations go up, etc. If you’re not willing to suffer, if you don’t have passion, you are not going to make it with investors. One of the companies I own, it’s a very small investment company where we look for opportunities to invest a little amount of cash, and I get people that’ll call and say, “I got this deal.” That’s not what I’m interested in, but then I have people call and I’ll say, “That’s interesting.” When I get into the weeds, these people are not willing to suffer. They got an idea.
I told the guy on the phone and he’s a good dude. This is not a slight against him, but he had this great idea. He said, “Here’s an idea. It was a technology play.” I told him, I said, “Here’s the thing, there is no shortage of ideas. There are homeless people with amazing multimillion-dollar ideas, but it isn’t the idea that pays us. It is the execution of that idea. If you’re not willing and able to execute that because is going to take a lot of money, time, energy and investors to make that happen, pick an idea that’s less than a million dollars, but one you can execute, go do that.” He’s like, “That makes sense.” Your ability to suffer is the first key to success. If you aren’t willing to suffer, you need to give up on that particular venture, pick a different one, because that might be a good idea, but if you’re going to have to suffer and you are not prepared, then it’s going to be tough. The second P is Place. This refers to the idea of the right place and the right time. I have never met an entrepreneur who has succeeded that doesn’t have a story about the right place, right time, so tell us yours.
I’d rather be lucky than good. At the end of the day, give me the luck over being good. As far as being an entrepreneur with my home care business, I recognized that I’d run as far and as fast as I wanted to in the corporate environment. I was willing to take a risk on myself in building something out with a home care business, which was unrelated to what I was selling in technology as far as the customers are concerned. Being in the right place, I don’t know that I would recommend that you start a company six months before a recession or you’ll gamble all that away, but then nobody knows. You can only prepare so much as far as what that looks like, but I certainly realized that in that space, people are living longer and they’re dying longer and they still are.
What may have taken your life many years ago, in two months, you can live with the same diagnosis for two years with the technology and the medication now. The question is in between, “What’s your quality of life? Is there an organization that can improve and enhance your quality of life and allows you to live with dignity and independence in your home?” For me, I had some grandparents who were at that point in life and it was good timing and I had some experience with them. I happen to be in the right place at the right time and recognized there was a great potential opportunity and it’s not going to go away.
If I had robots who can help me with my 90-year olds and put them in bed at night, I would definitely consider that because of the reliability and things of that nature, as long as there’s that bedside component that is so necessary. With My Goat, I happened to see a YouTube video. It was the first time I was ever exposed to an autonomous robotic mower, never in my life had I even heard of one, let alone seen one. I have probably some other interviews out there that have shared a little bit more of the detail, but because of All About Care, as a springboard of entrepreneurship and being able to meet a lot of folks who have ideas, I was able to get more and more ideas. It’s one of those things where you can’t catch enough of your breath.
My wife gets on to me, she said, “You probably have 50 ideas before 9:00 in the morning.” I’m like, “Yes and 99.9% percent are terrible. I wouldn’t do it.” I subscribed to a theory of small minds talk about people and discuss people, average minds talk about and discuss events, and great minds talk about and discuss ideas. The caveat to that is, there are entrepreneurs and there are wantrepreneurs. Being an entrepreneur means you got to execute, not just have the idea.
I don’t know if you saw this or not, but on the entrance, on the second level of The Standard, when you come in, there’s a plate on the door that has that quote from Eleanor Roosevelt that you mentioned about how small minds talk about people, average minds talk about events, and great minds talk about ideas. You’ve got the right place right time. Now, the third P I talk about with People is this idea, it’s people. It’s knowing the right people. I know that in my story, as a successful entrepreneur, and everybody else has sat behind the microphone and your side of the table, that there is a person or persons that they can point, no matter had that person not being here and there’s no telling. I might’ve still succeeded if somebody else would have helped me. Who do you have in your life?
That’s a great question because it’s one I ask in every single interview that I have ever had, which is, “Who’s your mentor in life and why were they your mentor?” I hear people say, Jesus or their mother, or their father, or somebody that they met. I believe strongly in paying it forward, especially now that I’ve had some opportunity and some experiences to share with others. It’s a whole group of people ultimately that has allowed me to have the confidence to be bold and make a difference. I also think there’s a survival component of when you get too comfortable, a lot of times you can get complacent, mediocre. I have strong faith, my family has a strong faith.
We rely very heavily on that faith in terms of keeping us together where it’s our unit, that’s what we do. It starts with me personally and my relationship with God and our relationship and how that works, and what I do, and obviously with my wife and our children. That’s the core, that’s the foundation. There’ve been tons of influencers in my life. I’ve met great people, investors that I have, people that have been my boss. I probably had 2 or 3 that I can think of, my groomsmen were my former bosses in Corporate America. In some way shape or form, I worked for them or we worked together. You are who you are hanging out with, is what I believe. You’re never a victim, you can make the change, you have to understand and reflect on the circumstance that you’re in and then except that you need to make the change.
[bctt tweet=”There are entrepreneurs and there are wantrepreneurs. Being an entrepreneur means you need to execute, not just have an idea. ” username=””]
You said that your wife is an occupational therapist. I’m not exactly sure what an occupational therapist is, but I’m going to make a guess that the fact that she is an occupational therapist had something to do with your choice of going into home health. Am I correct?
There’s no question about it. I had a hospitality background, which made a lot of sense. I was like, “We’re going to deliver a high level of care and service.” I had a technology background, so I knew the systems and processes, and I had been able to sell and be successful doing business development. Certainly, my wife had been an occupational therapist, being able to help people to become more independent. If you have your hip replaced or your knee replaced, it’s not just the physical therapy of the exercises, but is occupationally, “How do you now live in your home? It still has the same steps that are still missing the same grab bars or whatever it might be to become as independent and to what level can you become independent?”
It fits perfectly into what we were doing. We can go into the home, we can say, “Have you ever thought about pulling all the rugs off the carpet, so that you don’t have a tripping hazard, or have you ever thought about taking the door off of the frame, because nobody’s here, you live by yourself.” You can get in and out of that room with your walker more effectively because whoever thought of the idea of throwing some water on a slippery surface and calling it a shower and then having somebody try to step over and jump in. That’s 72% or so of falls that take place in the bathroom. The occupational component to your point, you’re very perceptive was the frosting of the cake.
You’ve got everybody’s stories, that person that you point to that was a catalyst in their story to get to success. All About Care solutions would not be the successful company it is now, had it not started with day one, you look at your wife go, “I know how to do high levels of care from a hospitality standpoint. I know technology, you know healthcare. I bet there’s a company here.” The fourth P is the most difficult and that’s Preparation. What I mean by preparation, when I talk to entrepreneurs and I dig out from their story, this particular key to success, is that, “Do you have the know-how to accomplish what you are setting out to accomplish?” For example, you mentioned Elon Musk. If you look at preparation for him, he started SpaceX. I’m going to assume that you and I couldn’t do that. I’m not going to be able to start a company that’s going to go to the moon or Mars, because I don’t have the preparation. It doesn’t mean I can’t get it. I can start working on it, but I got to prepare to get there. A lot of entrepreneurs don’t succeed because they may have the people, they’ve got the right place, right time, got passion, but they’re not prepared. They simply don’t know what they don’t know. They’re not even in a position to get there. How did you prepare to become the successful entrepreneur that you are now?
I think knowledge leads to confidence. Knowledge is power. They talk about the words you use, the books you read, I’m sure you read a lot of books. The average millionaire reads a book a month or more, and the access to information and data is supercritical to people getting and having the capacity to come up with that idea and execute on the idea. I sometimes reflect back to when I was in middle school, it would be a huge advantage if you had an Encyclopedia Britannica or a World Book. You didn’t have to go to the library and then your buddies would come over and borrow it, you flip through the pages and footnote it. Now, you have the internet. You have all the information.
This information and other information, you now have to come to go through the deductive reasoning and critical thinking skills, which is even more difficult, the analytics but the reality is it’s there. All the information is there. It’s right in front of you. It’s just your will in putting it all together. To your point about SpaceX and people coming up with different plans, I’ve got teenage kids and they’re intrigued by YouTube videos, TikTok and all this other stuff that’s out there. It’s massive, almost too much information, but for me as a libertarian, I’m like, “Give me more. Let me decide. We’ll have some regulations and rules around there, processes so it’s not chaotic.” Overall, that access to information can allow you to be great.
You mentioned about, is the traditional institution of higher education going to sustain itself as far as anything other than maybe a networking tool or, get some blocking tackling, or can you start that in high school or earlier with vocational trades and things that you can do. We’re always going to need electricity. You need people to be able to do that, plumbers and things of that nature, not everybody needs to have a Political Science degree from the University of Georgia like me.
On the preparation side, I think back to your story about starting at the Ritz-Carlton out of college, going through 2.5-hour interviews to get a job running room service. People who know Ritz know that’s why they do that because room service is one of the most important parts of that whole experience is getting anything you want anytime of the day. You had that as a preparation for entrepreneurship, even though at the time, nobody would have said, “This is preparing you to own your own company.” Nobody would have said that, but it prepared you for it. Working in politics, for the Congressional Committee, I can’t imagine what benefit you would’ve got from that because I’m an apolitical person, but I know that there were benefits there that you got. You told me a story about your boss at the time said, “You got to go.” Can you mind sharing a little bit of that story?
I get out of Washington DC as quickly as possible. If you want to be a statesman, if you want to serve people, go out and connect, get a real job, get involved with community, have a family, give and then you’ll be able to be involved in serving essentially. It was an interesting two stories that then I’ll share with you. One, when I was at the Ritz-Carlton in one of our locations near Washington, DC, we had a guest that had purchased a few signature glasses from Union Station. They have labels on them. They were standard rocks glasses and they had left them in the room. The room was clean and the rocks glasses that looked like everything else, except for they have a little label on them were missing.
We had to scour 7,000, 8,000, 9,000 glasses to find these things. When we didn’t, we took the initiative to go down and buy two more for them and bring them back. If you want cookies from Kroger at 2:00 in the morning, you can ask for those at the Ritz. It will cost you, don’t get me wrong, but that’s the level of, there is no, no. It’s yes, and. The attitude is, “Yes, and what else can I do for you? How may I assist you?” Politics, same thing, you’re going to drive yourself into a scenario where it takes a vote and it takes money. You’ve got to raise money and get a vote, but you’ve got to have a message.
You got to get people to believe in you and you’ve got to talk about the right time and the right place. It’s a pendulum. It swings back and forth. We see it now. We saw it in 2020. We’ve seen it in the last 2 or 3 decades. You may be in the wrong place at the wrong time and you may be messaging out. Ronald Reagan didn’t become president until 1980, but he’s 76 they thought he should be president. He had all this political capital that he had gone through and being twice governor and he was an actor. Things like that got to be inspirational, but only in America can that stuff happen.
The last P in the 5 Ps is Plan. A lot of people when I first bring this up, they say, “Business plan. I got to have a business plan.” That’s not what I’m talking about because honestly, and most of the entrepreneurs I’ve interviewed casually or formally didn’t have a written business plan. Not they knew what they were going to do, but they were pretty much shooting from the hip. They’re bootstrapping on their own cash and their own money. They’re trying to make it happen. When you go get investors, I realized that if you’re getting institutional or private investments, you probably going to have a written business plan, but that’s not what I mean by planning.
What I mean is financial resources. What I mean by financial resources, is that you need to have a plan or a strategy to obtain and deploy those financial resources to be able to accomplish. Every entrepreneur has been successful that sat across this table or that I’ve had a cigar with at the club or met for lunch and we talked. I know that they’re successful. They’ve been very successful financially, in every other way imaginable. At first, I didn’t know what the hell I was doing, but at some point, I realized, “I got to have a plan.” This takes finances. You can’t do this without finances. Nothing good happens without finances. Somebody, somewhere had to provide those resources. I love your story because you got two sides to this. You’ve got a bootstrap and been very successful in twelve years. You’re in a brand spanking new early stages of investing through series of funding. Tell the readers how to plan it back with All About Care to obtain and deploy financial resources.
The first thing I did was save money and have a budget and realize that this is it. I knew that every single day they went by, if I wasn’t making money, I was losing money. What was my tipping point for profitability? I wasn’t in the business of building a brand that might have a market cap or might have some valuation that somebody projected. We weren’t going to spend $11 so we can make $10. That doesn’t work. Our plan was to start with a budget and look at that and then we would say, “Maybe this isn’t the greatest website that we can put together, but it’s one, we need to hang a shingle. They need to know that we exist. Maybe we can’t put X number of dollars into marketing, sales, project management, or hiring.”
There are all kinds of ways to spend money, you have to pick those resources, and so you’re bootstrapping, you’re doing that so you can hopefully have that intersection where at some point I, as the entrepreneur can make a dollar. You have a tipping point as to whether or not you can or can’t do it. You might spend thousands and thousands of dollars, but you hope to make tens of thousands of dollars or hundreds of thousands of dollars, or millions of dollars. It’s almost like a poker game, but you got to know when to hold them and when to fold.
When you started, did you know what that was? How long did it take for you to know?
I had a fifteen-month window. That was it. I was running, I was on the treadmill. We’re open 24/7. I was on call the first 584 days in a row. If the phone rang at 2:00 in the morning that somebody didn’t show up, I was going to provide care. The other part on the investor side with My Goat is I intentionally said, “We need to raise X number of dollars and I need to put this plan together.” A lot of times, believe it or not, read a great book that talked about when you ask for money, you’re likely to get advice and when you ask for advice, you were likely to get funded.
[bctt tweet=”When you ask for money, you’re likely to get investment advice. And when you ask for advice, you’re likely to get funded. ” username=””]
For me, especially as we’ve gotten now further in our rounds of raising, now we have to be very defined on where we’re going to spend the capital where we’re going to deploy it. Where’s our intersection of profitability? For us it’s EBITDA and it’s multiples of EBITDA and it’s highly scalable and it’s moving a lot faster than more of a lifestyle business, which is All About Care and home health care because it’s harder to scale. You need more resources and things of that nature, but it’s flatter. You can get on a rocket ship quickly with having a technology company.
Specifically, in my early rounds of raising money with my investors, earmarked 71% of every dollar would go to technology and sales marketing. I would limit the number of administrative. I don’t need an executive assistant to help me with my calendar. If I can use Calendly or some other tool, that’s going to block it off, so I can save $50,000, $60,000, $70,000 a year by not having that there, using technology to get me to that level. Where are we focused? We’re focused on building a technology company that has software developers that has the right tools and the practical application and telling the story, messaging like we’re doing now.
I hope a lot of people will look you up. That’s at MyGoat.co. As we wind this conversation down, what 1 or 2 pieces of advice would you give to an entrepreneur reading this that says, “I’m just starting out. I’ve got an idea I want to get going.” Are there one or two things that this is what you tell those folks?
I’m a data hog. I love to grind analytics and numbers. Give me the facts. I don’t have a great instinct or gut for a lot of things. I’m mechanical about stuff. I would say interview. You are who you hang out with. Go talk to 2 or 3 people about your idea that is in the space or how space. I’ve built boards of directors and advisory boards. I needed somebody who had government experience. I need somebody who had a .edu in their email address. I need a business leader. I need somebody who’s in the .org space. All of those people have a different lens than they look through. Spread your wings, go out and ask somebody if they can introduce you to somebody. I would say that in either case, not 100% of people say, “That’s a great idea. You should start a home healthcare company,” because you have no experience doing a home healthcare company.
That sounds like a good idea. If you get a lot of yes people around you, you may sink your ship faster than you think, so you want people to push back on you and you want to find that failure quickly, but recover even quicker. Those are a couple of thoughts that I would have as far as a methodical what I would do is I set timelines and deadlines. One of our core values is time is a number. I can’t get back the last hour of your life that I’ve taken here. I want to deliver value to you and hopefully vice versa, but I only have 168 hours in the week to work. I got 5,780 hours in the year to work or 8,780 hours. What do I do? I set goals. I set things that some I achieve and some I don’t. Just treat people like you want to be treated.
Is there anything that you want readers to know about your story that we haven’t talked about? Any parting thoughts or comments?
Depending on where you are with, if you’ve got a big idea, you’ve got an idea or you’ve seen something that you think you could streamline. There are so many interesting opportunities out there for people to build stuff and create things in this country. I understand you have to go through tax hurdles, legal hurdles, regulations and things of that nature. There’s a lot stacked against you, but simple things like, “I wish I was the guy that was smart enough to take my roller skates when I was in seventh grade and put them in line and call them rollerblades. I wish I was as a guy who grew up skateboarding in California, smart enough to realize that you don’t need a nose and a tail on a skateboard, you can have two tails and do lots more tricks with it.” I wish I had patented that idea because every skateboard I see now has two tails. There’s no front or back. They’re both. It’s simple things like that. You look around be aware, be bold, be unafraid, be entrepreneurial. It’s the future of what we’ve got is innovation in this country. It’s no secret that some of the greatest companies have been built in the last few years.
I subscribe to, as far as technology is concerned, nobody’s inventing new technology since the internet. They’re applying it in a different way. I’m taking autonomous robotic machines that have been around for many years with over 2.5 million units. I’m putting it in a subscription much like Peloton has done with their model. They took a stationary bike, put some software on it, charge you a subscription on a monthly basis and charged you with a $2,000 bike and give you toe clips. It’s a stationary bike in the 1970s. You just now have software now on it and you buy it as a subscription. A lot of things are going subscription-based. We’ll see what that looks like in the long-term.
If everything becomes a subscription, if your appliances become a subscription, “Why would I replace a $3,500 refrigerator when they’re not even building it to last more than five years? Give me a monthly number, like my phone bill and let me do it.” There are a gazillion ideas, like I said. None of those are good ideas but the skateboard one and roller blades worked out pretty well. The other ones, who knows where they’re going. Peloton obviously is doing some things and fascinating story nonetheless. That’s what I leave to people. I love ideas.
How can people get in touch with you?
There are two websites, www.AllAboutCareSolutions.com. If you are interested in reaching out to me at All About Care solutions, you can put [email protected], and you’ll get to me on the home care side of things. If you’re interested in learning more about My Goat or seeing what we have the videos and testimonials www.MyGoat.co, and [email protected] and you can reach me via email at any one of those spots. I’m sure it’s one degree of separation in Nashville. If you need to get my personal cell phone, it wouldn’t take too much.
Do you have any special offers you want to make to our readers?
If you’ve got a loved one who you’re not sure what service you need or what have you, call us. We do evaluations and assessments. We’ll waive the assessment fee. If you have a call in, but probably 2, 3, or 4, we can work through and see if it’s the right fit. On the My Goat side, we are all about demonstrations specifically for commercial customers. I would offer at least five demonstrations where we could show you what the product looked like, maybe put it on your property, but it would be based upon the size of the property. We have to do cost justification, but let’s do 5 and 5 to make it easy, five interview fees waived on the All About Care side and five demonstrations.
The first five people to reach out to Neil through any of those contact information that he gave, if you will mention that you learned about him on the show, he can make those things happen. For him to waive the caregiver interview fee on the All About Care solutions or he can do the free preview demonstration on the My Goat, which I want to see one of those. I haven’t seen one of those yet. Neil, thank you for being here. This is great. We know each other, but we don’t know each other. This is cool for me to learn more about your story. I love it. Thank you, I’m honored.
With that, what I see now is that if you read this blog, you will see that Neil story is a successful entrepreneur, both in a bootstrapped home healthcare business, and an invested company where he’s going to investors primarily in the technology space, is that these 5 Ps of Success happen for everybody. It’s passion. It starts with your willingness to suffer. You don’t have to be excited about the product. If you are, even better, but you don’t have to be, but if you’re willing to suffer through that and push through that, and you’re at the right place at the right time and know the right people, if you’re prepared, you’ve got the education, you know what to do. You put a plan in to obtain and deploy those resources, you can be successful.
Now, if you’re interested in understanding, doing an assessment on what your probability of success is, I offer a free assessment called the 5 Ps of Success assessment. You can go to my website, TheRealJasonDuncan.com/success, and on that page, there is a little promo video of the idea of the 5 Ps, but you just read this blog, you could skip that, but go straight to Download Your Assessment. You can take that assessment. It’s free. Once you complete the assessment, you’ll get a customized report that tells you what your probability of success is in your venture, based on the answers to those questions.
I run those through the 5 Ps like we went over with Neil in this episode. I will see you next time, all of you who are on iTunes, Spotify or Stitcher. I’ll see you again on YouTube as we get into another interview on the show. Thank you for joining me. I know that it’s time out of your day, but I hope this has been helpful for you. I will talk to you in the next episode. Until then, remember, Jesus is King.
- Neil Amrhein – LinkedIn
- My Goat
- All About Care
- 5 Ps Of Success
- Culture Index
- Predictive Index
- [email protected]
- [email protected]
- YouTube – The Root of All Success
- iTunes – The Root of All Success
- Spotify – The Root of All Success
- Stitcher – The Root of All Success
About Neil Amrhein
After receiving a degree in Political Science from the University of Georgia, Neil Amrhein initially worked as an executive assistant at the National Republican Congressional Committee. Something changed though to turn Mr. Amrhein into an entrepreneur when he founded Simple Solutions/All About Care with his wife Melissa.
As an experienced CEO and entrepreneur with a background in health care and business planning the sky is the limit. His new venture is as the founder and CEO of My Goat- leading-edge mowing technology- which he started because one day he saw a robot on YouTube.