Welcome to the H Vac financial freedom podcast, a show where we talk about H Vac business ownership and financial freedom by sharing stories and advice of experts who can help you get there now your host, john victoria Hello and welcome to the fact Financial freedom podcast. This is john victoria host and today we have an incredibly exciting episode for you today. I think it's, it's special because this is the first time we're having a podcast episode and our guests are on a boat first time this has ever happened.
Um so I'm excited for that and our guests are Justin and Kristen D's and just a quick background on them. Kristen is a business coach and certified behavioral consultant who helps businesses grow by strengthening the behind the scenes framework and communication strategies within the organization. After 20 years of business ownership with her husband and business partner Justin, she uses coaching as her vehicle in which to serve others and she also has a virtual CFO program found at Kristin disease dot com. And then Justin Justin is a serial entrepreneur who thrives in business sales and the leadership arena.
His love for small businesses evident through the many companies he started bought, sold and lead together. Kristen and Justin are a business growth force to be reckoned with. They have experienced the ups and downs of running a business while keeping their marriage alive and are sharing what they've learned with the world. Welcome to the podcast. Thank you, awesome man. I think there are some celebrations in order as well Kristen it was your birthday this week, it was my birthday and this is the last day of the month, but I celebrate all month long, So awesome.
And as a birthday gift, uh the partnership that was, that was part of the birthday as well. Right? That is yes, Yeah, was we got our, we've had multiple boats before, but this is the first one that we can spend the weekend on. Yeah, so it also happens to be a great sound booth. So here we are, awesome. And how does it feel? Just, you know, the boat and the birthday? You know, birthdays are such a monumental time of the year. And so how does it feel like entering this next chapter of your life?
Um, so obviously it feels great and the fact that we're even sitting here on a friday afternoon recording a podcast on our boat is pretty stinking cool. Um, so it's life is pretty good, awesome. And and one of the things that I also want to mention is that the life that you're living now, it's, it's one that was intentionally designed and that's something that I admire about both of you. Um, so the book that you both wrote when your business partner is your spouse, how to have a successful business and a happy marriage in the book and I'd love to get into the story right now as well, you know, where you first started was completely different than where you are today.
Um, I remember, I think you both met when you were teenagers, right, 17, 19 years old, um you know, just, you know, starting off as young professionals and then Justin you were, you were let go and at that moment you had a choice whether or not to, you know, find another job or to start your own business and I know that kristen you were uh feeling a bit shaky about that. Is that something that we should do? That? That sounds a bit risky. And so maybe to kick things off, I'd love to maybe start off with that story and in your perspective, because I love the book and it's written so well, but I'd love to hear it from both of you um that that initial story of your origin story really?
So, so for me that was the actual only real job I ever had, like an adult job, like a Cell phone, laptop, business card, yeah, tie, you know, it was a real job and I was probably 20 at that point and a lot of things were going on in the world, the industry, I was in kind of had a complete shutdown in 2001 and when it did a lot of the guys, we all got laid off and I remember driving because I remember thinking I got fired and one of my buddies like, no, no, you got laid off, I'm like feels the same, it feels the same.
I don't feel any different than whatever. And so I remember driving home and I said, I don't know like what is this gonna look like? So for clarity, um I stopped and got a 12 pack of beverages and uh went home and sat out on the porch and I don't know, I just kind of thought about what, what is the future gonna look like because I don't really like the job anyways, I didn't like having to be in the same place every day, every minute, every hour. So that was kind of the start and you were panicked because we had just bought a house.
Yeah, we, we had just bought our first house. So we were in, we were brand new and in our first mortgage and I was like, oh my gosh, how are we gonna make this house payment that we just bought? And we didn't have any kids yet at the time. But um it was, it was stressful. And so of course I was like, okay, cool, well you're going to go get a job right? And he's like, I don't think so. I was like, okay, oh my gosh, that's, I imagine that was, I mean that that initial leap is, is the scariest leap, but it takes an act of courage to do that because, you know, at that time, right?
There was really no, um really no plan at the time when you made that decision, but I think, and I noticed this in a lot of entrepreneurs, there's a seed of wanting to be able to, you know, take control over your life. And it sounds like because you were employed by someone else. It felt like your destiny was out of your hands and that's something that you didn't want to really go along with ever again. I was not, I was not ever going to be in that position.
Uh, and, and plus for me, I got a severance package, don't remember what it was a couple of weeks and I thought I could figure this out in a couple of weeks. What do they say about entrepreneurs? If they jump out of a plane without a parachute, they build a plane on the way down. I love that. And so from that moment, um, so how did the initial stages of the business journey look like? I remember you were first, I think you're a recruiter and then things transform to other things like, what did that initial first few years look like for the business when he started it?
Well, the, the initial company, like one of the companies from that, I was working for a recruiting agency that specialized in telecom. And I remember when the whole thing was kind of starting to topple a little bit going to the leadership of this company and saying, hey guys, you know, nothing, of course, I was 19 or 20 I was probably 20 at this point. I'm going, hey guys, nothing happens in the world until a cell happens and most of them were like kind of patted me on the head and they were like, okay, kid, why don't you go make calls and make calls for who to what?
So, um, kind of a little bit of a journey it went from, I said, okay, when I got laid off, that's what I started doing. I started recruiting for sales people because I felt like that was what was the world was gonna turn to next. And so I started doing that and that in a very odd way, turned into installing dishwashers. But, but, but yeah, that it's, I mean sales recruiting for sales is similar to trades and that it's that it's that skilled labor basically. Um, but then when, once we made the, once we stepped two ft into trades, we have not looked back since then, And that's been almost 20 years now, almost 20 years.
And for you, what was that differentiating factor? Um, the trades versus doing something else? Was there something that just attracted you? Was there maybe it's just something intrinsic or because it's right, it's just like, I'm gonna plant my flag here? That's, that's a, that's a big decision. I mean, it would be really cool if it was that glamorous, but it totally was not. Um, it was kind of almost accidental right place, right time type thing. Um, we, he, you were like at one of the big box retail, home improvement stores and they asked if you knew how to install a dishwasher.
And so well like you said uh yeah of course totally do. Which he did not was fine. And that somehow morphed into a contracting vendor contractor to where we started doing appliance installs, kitchen appliance installs. Um and that kind that went from one big box retailer to the next one and then it kind of just started snowballing after that. Um but it didn't take him long to realize that he was not the technician. No, I was definitely not not the technician guy. Yeah and it was before Youtube was a thing too, so it wasn't like you could just pull Youtube out and be like okay how do I install a dishwasher?
So so what when I was standing in his, I'll this guy was, I don't know he was trying to fix the problem and I walked over and I was helping him because it was a problem I had just fixed. And there was a guy behind me, he said something about asked me a question about installing a dishwasher. Yeah and he brought me back and I met this other guy. Next thing I know I had a contract and I went home uh and I told chris and I was all excited, like we got a contract, we're about to start doing business and here's what we're gonna do and she said, but you don't know how to do that.
You know what, that's a good point, I'll be back. I went to the store, bought a dishwasher, came back to the house and I don't know, 78 hours later that puppy was in. He tried to put lipstick on a pig by giving me a new dishwasher. Oh no, no, don't worry, you're gonna get a new dishwasher out of this. Which is cool. But it's looking like, I don't know, eight hours to install this new dishwasher. And I'm thinking based on what they want to pay you to install a dishwasher, you're gonna net like 50 cents an hour.
So I don't know if this is gonna work out very well, which is fine. So then we had, you know, the neat thing about starting out in that industry is one that I'm not a technician. So I think a lot of people when they are in uh in our space, they start out as the technician and then they go into their own business. And I think sometimes the trap of that is to go out and fix whatever the problem is, I didn't have that as an option, which, you know, there's there's a lot of good to that and there's a lot of bad to that, but I was forced to go find people that were way better at me than me to do that kind of stuff, so that was really a blessing to.
Um and and sort of a curse. But yeah, because it it forced us to fix problems. Three people and systems versus just a wrench. Yes. And that's, that's definitely a problem I've noticed with a lot of the contractors we've spoken with, it's like you said, making that transition from being a skilled technician to being a true business owner because they had those skills and can fix and turn a wrench, that's the default versus like you said, how do we build a culture? How do we empower people?
How do we find the right people? How do we retain those people and then acting through that? Um And it's it's a, it's like a A mindset shift that that people have to make to do that. Um but so you started that and you also, you had a lot of success in the beginning. So you grew to, I believe it was around a $5 million dollar company, but even though you got there, there were some troubles, right? It was, you know, there was potentially some worries about payroll, there was, you know, maybe we're not taking as much home as we expected.
Can you talk to me about that situation and then um what that looked like and kind of what got you out of that, you know that because I imagine a lot of business owners feel that, right? It's that, that tension of, we're bringing all this money top line looks amazing, but you know where's the money at the end of the month? I don't there's more month than money. Yeah and I think a lot of people, I think a lot of challenge that people have is they view success by the size of that company, right?
So we did, we grew it, we had multiple offices, we had a lot of, a lot of people that worked for us and so top line, we were on fire but everything after that, it was like where where is everything? And that was that was a little bit of a roller coaster because you look at the sales, I would get really excited and then we would sit down to meet about financials and then I'm like what happened, what happened? Yeah, I mean the number one rule in business is to make more than you spend and there was a lot of times that we were breaking that number one rule um and we weren't even spending it on ourselves.
I think that was the thing that was so frustrating is we were just trying to keep the business afloat, so we've got payroll and we've got insurance and we've got taxes and we've got all these things and we're not even at the end of the day pulling any money into the business. Um And so it was it was de motivating but motivating all at the same time. Um frustrating for sure, but then also motivating in a way that you just keep hustling right? Like you keep you keep that hustle because you don't have a choice but to do that.
Um And then we then we got to a point where I think we were I know I for sure was I think he was probably there with me is okay. We either need to figure out how to do this the right way or we need to quit and go get a job because this is insane. We're working 1000 hours. We're not making any money. We had to well we only have one small child at that time. Um It just was too much like it was just super stressful and we were kind of at that breaking point and the last ditch effort was to get a business coach.
So okay a little bit before that two part of the challenge when people start a business is you don't know what you don't know and because you don't know, you don't know what questions to ask. So for us we didn't even know what that looked like right? So we have all these people coming to us all the time asking us questions, got to know the answers and at the end of the day we didn't know but like you said there was no youtube so you couldn't I don't even think there wasn't even a google at that point.
Um So we didn't even know where to go who to ask what questions? Um It was just a, it was a rough spot and then, because the truth is nobody is born knowing how to run a business. And I think so many people go, oh you guys know everything about a business, we know more now, but that's because we went and did the wrong things for so long that eventually you go okay, that didn't work, that didn't work, that didn't work. So it's kinda like thomas Edison didn't, he found 10,000 ways not to make a light bulb correctly before he finally made a light bulb of that and and that that business coach so that prior to that it was, I mean you have to do a lot of things and this is like a last ditch effort.
Almost like a we need to hire someone who potentially could be a guy that can take us to where we want to go. Um And I think that I think that moment of um enlisting the help of a coach can be a very vulnerable moment because I've noticed it for myself. I have to acknowledge that hey, I probably don't know everything and um I need some help. Like things are not going the way that I want, I need the help of someone who might have walked the path before or have some insights to get me to where I want to go.
Um And I think that could stop some people too right? It's it's not getting to that crisis moment? Um, could you talk on, how does someone who they might might be a bit resistance or they're afraid to really open up their books and show like this is really what's going on, Everything's on fire. My hair is on fire, that is on fire. It's it's a scary moment. How does if you were to coach someone like to like getting a coach, like what would you say to that person?
That's probably question? Um, I mean, in order for the, for a coach to be effective, you have to be coachable. So you have to be in a point in your business or in your life where um, the fear of the vulnerability is less than the actual pain that you're going through in your business. Right? So there was an analogy that somebody said at one point along the way that said something about a dog sitting on the porch on the nail because it doesn't hurt bad enough. Okay, well that person is not ready for coaching yet.
So, um, you got to get to that point where it's like the vulnerability of coaching is um pales in comparison to whatever it is that you're going through in your business and you're just ready to solve it. I see. So it's, so there's, there's some scale, there's the pain of being vulnerable versus the potential, you know, pleasure of living the life and building the business that you actually would like to, to live and to, to exist with. Uh, I love that. And, and can you talk about, so when you first hired her coach, like what did that process look like?
Um I know that there are probably a few exercises that she had to do, but what, what did that, those initial stages have worked with the coach look like. So my first challenge to overcome was the financial part of it, like the paying the money that we didn't have, we didn't have remember thinking, huh? That's a lot of money. How are we going to do that? Um, but again, we were at such a breaking point that it didn't matter, like we were gonna, we were gonna be all in or all out, that was, it is all in or all out.
Um, so that was the first big challenge was the financial, for me, the financial part, the second part was the time because I think it's easy to say there's not enough time. I think as, as business owners, it's easy to, uh, there's not enough time. You always make time for the things that are important to you. And, and you convinced me by valen told me that it was worth my time. Um, I mean, it's that idea of working in your business versus on your business and he was so in the business that even the thought of stopping that for just a little bit an hour.
Um and working on the business was, it felt like it was more than what could happen. Maybe the whole place was going to burn down in that hour, who knows? Um But it was definitely, and and it's a significant mindset shift to change from working in the business to on the business and it's hard to do that with the switch. Um You know, it takes a little bit of ramping up period sometimes. And our business coach was basically like, you know, we can say your and talk all day long, but until you actually make the commitment to work on the business, nothing's gonna work.
Um And that was, that was a big hurdle probably for I think more for you than for me, but only because he's the one who's front line with the technicians and he's front line with the stores and he's front line with the customer service people and I'm kind of behind the scenes doing numbers and spreadsheets and stuff. So I'm like can't you just like do it, like can't you just mark off an hour and think about the business instead of working on it? And he's like no, wow.
Um But yeah, those were the financial and then the mindset shift and working on business is probably the two toughest things at the beginning because um and I tell this to my clients all the time, coaching is heavy lifting on the client's part. Um a coach is not a magic pill. A coach is going to help you guide you and give you some pointers and give you some ideas and suggestions and help you brainstorm. But at the end of the day, it's up to you to do the heavy lifting and to do the things in your business that need to get done and um if you're not willing to put in that effort, then you're not going to get a whole lot of where with any coaching, no matter who it is, that's like the Yoda luke skywalker analogy, right?
Yoda can't fight all the battles, luke has to walk and do all the battles himself. He has to walk the hero's journey can give all the advice you want. But like you said, it's, you have to be open to that coaching and then um you make the time to to actually do it. And I can imagine like why it was so tough because right, if the financials were off and now I have to spend more plus I'm spending time away from serving customers. It's it's this vicious cycle of never getting to work on the business because we need to work in the business and until it was that breaking point that that pivot point, that's the time when when things actually could change.
And one of the things that I loved, and you mentioned in the book was one of the first exercises you did with your business coach was before we got to solving a lot of the day to day problems, which Justin it seemed like that's that's the thing that you wanted to solve right? There's these fires, we need to put these fires out. The coach was like, no, we don't want to put out that we need to first design the future and what that looks like 3-5 years from now, far from the fires of today.
And could you talk to me about like what some of those, I guess, how did you like, what was that process like? Because it's, it's so proactive in the future and some people can think it, so it's very woo woo, it's, it's all out there, but it seemed like that was an important first step and that's what your business coach wanted you to do. So could you speak about that visioning process and how it helped? Um so, so for me it became an accountability piece for me, uh being an entrepreneur, it's so easy to say yes to every opportunity.
Once we had everything laid out, it was our roadmap, so any time an opportunity came up, it forced us to sit down together and say yes, we're gonna change our vision to go after this opportunity or no, we're not and I think that was pretty powerful to kind of take a break for a minute, so it wasn't me making crazy rash decisions or you, but but yeah, I think that was the biggest, the biggest trick to it is just became an accountability piece for us, I think it was, it was difficult for me to be able to think and dream about what could be possible in 3 to 5 years when I felt like we were in over our heads at that moment already anyway, it was really hard to step back and kind of have that bigger, that bigger, higher level view um at that time and so there was two exercises that she had us do, that kind of helped put things into perspective a little bit.
One of them was the ideal day, um the ideal day exercise was kind of on that minute level, what do I want, my ideal day to look like and what I want to be doing and who who do I want to be around and I was like so overwhelmed at that point that I couldn't even think of that I had to think about what I didn't want anymore to even start to think about what I did want and so I made a whole list of all the things I didn't want anymore and then that was enough to clear out some brain space to then say, okay well now what do I want for my ideal day and so that was kind of a cool exercise to do from that um lower level daily thing and then the second exercise she had us do was she had us write our own eulogy and that was an interesting exercise in that it makes you take all of these little things that you were just fretting over that you didn't want to do one or whatever and it it just like mutes, makes it blurs all that out, mutes all of that noise and all that chatter and shows you at the end of the day, like the big things that are really important.
So it was a really neat range of exercise to go from very small to very big. Um and that was kind of what we needed in order to be able to start thinking thinking into the future and what do we actually want out of the business and what's really important at the end of the day and and it had nothing to do with P. And L. Statements. It was crazy. I know, crazy. It's amazing. Yeah, it's, death can be a very sobering thought and a lot of the minutia of today, which it falls to the wayside and um and I love how your coach directed you, hey what's ideal day, but also, you know, the end of your life, how do you want to be remembered by, you know, what do you want others to to say about you?
Um it's it's it's a very sobering thing, I think a lot of us don't think about it, but it's it sounds like that's something that's very clarifying um how you should live your life now in order to get to that end result. And so one thing I thought could be fun as well since I do have the book here, if you guys are open to it, I can for those of people who have not written a eulogy before, would you mind if I share just very briefly?
Um the eulogies that you wrote? So the first one will be for Kristen. So yeah, your eulogy says Kristen became a person who took all the best qualities of her parents and grandparents to become her own intelligent, loving, respected, and strong individual. She was always devoted to her projects, whether they'd be at home or work. It was amazing to see how she successfully balanced herself, her family and her business, neither struggling from her lack of attention. Kristin was always educating herself, always asking why or how she loved to take things apart and make things with her hands.
She was an excellent hostess and entertainer. She always enjoyed inviting loved ones into her home for good food and fellowship. She loved adventure so much so that when her Children were in high school she ingested recast on the then popular reality show called the Amazing Race. Amazing. That's we got two more years now, we've got anyone, anyone which, you know that show just a tidbit of your remarkable remarriage and um and she was strong and active up until the day that she died. She always encouraged everyone around her to be their best, physically, mentally and emotionally while she will be dearly missed.
Everyone who had the opportunity to get to know. Kristen can take away a warm memory and know that she was completely ready to leave this world knowing the ones she touched are a little better off because of her now. How long ago did we write that? Um like eight or nine years ago I think I would have my guess would have been 10 years. Um would you change anything about it? I don't think you would either, which is still hard to hear like even writing it. Um but it is a good reminder I've been in just now are eight years off to.
So for Justin here lies a wonderful husband and father, a man that worked hard and played harder. Justin was someone who was never afraid to go against the grain to achieve his objective. His favorite poem was The road not taken by robert Frost and I believe he described his life and how happy he was about the chances he took in the path he chose the life. He was a well respected leader in the community, but also someone who not lived just a good life but a great life.
Use the following objectives to describe him, loyal, honest, open minded, great listener, passionate, giving optimistic, humorous and most of all fun. Loving Justin lived a very fortunate life and with his vast amount of wealth, he was able to help many people was also able to see the world with his family and able to be married to the most wonderful woman in the world for the past 74 years. He's 98 years on this planet. Got a long way to go Justin, he has left definitely left this earth a better place than he found it.
I'm in good company. The Queen died at 98 And so you mentioned, you both wrote this 10 years ago and how have you seen this shape the trajectory of your life since you wrote it? Um I mean, I'm a very detail oriented person and so I can get super worked up about the little things. Um so I think that's a nice reminder to settle down just a bit, simmer down, Simmer down just a little bit um because because it does kind of help you step back and be like, okay, now is this really worth getting worked up over or can we just let it go and move on and Justin How about you?
I think for me, the big takeaway that I got from doing that exercise was not to take it so serious, you know, like every day was so serious and I think it was just a reminder of, you know, at the end of the day and both of our eulogies didn't really have anything to do with the businesses that we ran are the ones that we bought or sold or anything, it was about people in relationships. So for me, I think that was the big takeaways. Just don't take it so serious, like it's fun, which I think sometimes is maybe too easy going, but for some people very on brand, very on brand with the eulogy. Amazing.
And and so from that, I mean it's so different right today uh like the life that you're living now um you know, I think believe recently you had a 75 day RV journey across nine states. Um and of course you have the partnership boat celebrating another year of life and um yeah, just very excited for the next year. And so there's just been a lot of changes with Justin, I think you mentioned like buying selling businesses kristen with the virtual CFO services, there's just been so much has happened since then.
And so I guess currently today, like for you all, like what does, what does life look like because for the people who are not currently in the position you're in right now. I think they're also curious on the vision of what they could potentially build in the future and it seems like you all have arrived there and are continuing to do more. So what is, what does the day to day life look like for you. Um Nowadays, well considering that we're filming this from um the boat on a friday afternoon, there's that um We, so as all entrepreneurs right, they go into business because they want to have more um time and financial freedom and then they realize that they're working more and making less than they ever did when they worked for somebody else and they go through their crisis mode and so then it's about um trying to find that balance and turning it over into a profitable venture.
So now um I I'm not in the business day to day um on a day to day basis but I am in the financial aspect and I do operate as a CFO of paradise and services which is plumbing in um H. V. A C. And then I get to spend the rest of my time while one being a mom to teenagers which is super amazing all the time. And the the other part of it is helping other businesses in the trades from that virtual CFO standpoint which is really cool.
So I kind of get to enjoy that my favorite part of the business with other business owners and they like it because it's not their favorite part they don't get excited about like I do but it's really cool because it allows us to kind of work where we want to work. It allowed us to take that long RV trip when our kids were just at the perfect age where they could remember it. Um But they they weren't trying to get away from us quite yet. And so we pulled him out of school for a semester, put them in online school before the pandemic before online school was a curse and um we literally went across the country and our daughter was in fourth grade at the time and she was studying american geography essentially and uh we were going to the places she was studying about, which was really cool um And it was just it was just an experience that we would not have been able to have if we were employers with somebody or if we had made different choices um in the past and I think that's probably the most amazing thing about all of this is um we are getting to experience that freedom of doing things differently, just not doing the same thing, you know just being different, it's pretty cool, I love that and and what a beautiful experience as well.
Um Yeah studying particularly about the geography than actually living. That that is a very special thing, like not a lot of people can say that and um that's that's just incredible, a beautiful picture of you know what what could be possible. Um And I also love to dig into, so you mentioned your virtual CFO services like what does that look like, you know let's say that you run into a business and you're helping them with their books, like what does that type of consulting look like when someone is first getting started with you.
So there's a couple different layers of the virtual CFO um The most intense layer would be um I I train their accounting in house accounting people. So businesses a lot of times will just relies solely on like a C. P. A. To do their books until they get to a certain point where that doesn't work anymore, where they're too big and they need information faster. Um But they're sometimes afraid to hire somebody in house because they don't know how to do the tasks and so how could they possibly train somebody how to do the test that they don't even know how to do themselves.
And so I'll take that person and train them how to do their job and make their job description and and do all of that and then all they're just basically they're implanted into that company, I train them how to do everything and then um I'll go over the financial statements with the business owner and kind of provide that oversight so that they can trust the information and trust the person because it is tricky to hire somebody, especially somebody that you don't know to start working in your business in terms of access to bank accounts and paying bills and maybe processing payroll.
It's sensitive information. Um I've seen a lot of business owners who've gotten take advantage, taken advantage of which has been super unfortunate. Um And so providing the training, but also kind of providing that oversight so that they feel confident that there's nothing shady going on. Um, So that's kind of the most intense level and then, um, there's the middle level is we do that financial review every month. Um, but I also provide some additional support to their accounting team. Um more from, hey, maybe we're operating in this certain software and I'm not sure how to do X, Y or Z, how do I do that?
Or, or I'll work with the business owner and say, hey, let's, we identified some opportunities for improvement based on your financials. So let's do a little bit of coaching outside of that, um, that review on how we can fix those certain areas and then that the highest level is just um, a financial review once a month and sitting down and digging in and looking at trends and looking at budgets and looking at things that went well and things that maybe didn't go so well and um, just geek out on all the numbers, which is my favorite part, especially because most business owners, we want to talk about, what does that top number look like and what does that bottom percentage look like And there's so much more to, there's all the, all the in between stuff which I'm, I'm pretty sensitive to the fact that most business owners, um, numbers aren't their gig, they don't love spreadsheets and I get that.
And so I try to make things um as practical as possible and I try to make them simple. Um There's no reason to over complicate it if we don't need to. Um I use lots of graphs and pie charts because they're easier to read than spreadsheets and numbers. Um And it's it is nice to be able to take a whole lot of information and just kind of curate it down into bits and pieces that are easy to use and implement in your business. That's that's incredible. I've also for a lot of business owners.
Uh the general advice is you have to be able to inspect what you expect. That's talk a lot about that in the Navy and business owner. There's no idea right there. Look at these numbers, you know what's, it's scary and it's such a valuable thing to be able to, it sounds like build train Systemized and also audit just to make sure that things are going in the right direction because you don't know like you said earlier, you don't know what you don't know and to your point like you could get taken advantage of if you aren't careful.
Um And then Justin I believe you also uh so not in addition to being the owner for paradise, you also do some consulting as well a little bit most of my time right now is is spent with paradise is growth. We we sold a plumbing company in 2017 I think 17 we swore we wouldn't do it again? I won't do it again the day are not opened was over, we merged with another company and created paradise home services. That was in 2020 and we went from, I don't know four to over 40 employees with two locations since then.
Um and what's cool about that is I have such a great partner uh and he is such an integrator that I mean yes, she's a partner but it's pretty cool because you know, even before I was having to be the visionary and a lot of times the integrator and my business partner in that is such a great integrator that it does allow me to kind of stay in my visionary lane and then he can just make it happen. So it's pretty cool. That's amazing. And even both.
I was thinking earlier when we're starting that you both are visionary Integrator duo. Um It's, it's so yeah, I can totally see it. Um that's awesome. So primarily running Paradise at the moment. Um and I guess one thing to dig in with that is I had a question around because I think because you've built and sold businesses in the past you've been able to move out of just being that operator and finding integrators to help you. Um If you were, if you were to give advice to someone who is still making that transition.
How how could you help coach someone who still is, I want to be the technician and really fill that seat as a business owner or a visionary in their business because it seems like it's something that you've, it came natural but also you just mastered over the years. I would say that the cool thing about owning a business is you can do whatever you want to do, right? If you wanna be the technician, be the technician, but at the same time you have to recognize and acknowledge you're not gonna grow that business and you're not gonna scale it.
Uh probably the way you want to. Uh And realistically if you've got, I would say, I don't know, I'm gonna say more than three technicians, I'm just throwing that out there and you're still turning a wrench. Honestly, you're probably doing a disservice to your team by doing that. So so if you're not doing anything you don't want to do in your business. You gotta find somebody to do it because it's things have to be done. Uh there's there's got to be a plan for growth, there's got to be somebody who's implementing and leading.
Um So yeah, if you're gonna be, honestly, if you want to be a technician that bad, you probably should find a really good company too well and I don't think that everybody's vision has to be massive fast growth. However um you have to be able to adapt or die. So you you have to be able to have the wherewithal to recognize what's going on inside and outside of your business. And if you are, if you are the one turning the wrench all the time, you're going to miss really important cues and you're gonna be behind the curve ball.
So you don't have to have massive dreams of $20 million company and sell out to a private equity and this and that. You don't, that doesn't have to be your vision. Um, but you do have to be able to pay attention to what's going on in your business. Um, and if you do, if like Justin said, if you do want to be the person that, that is in the field, then you have to surround yourself with the people who aren't. Yes. And it's, it's also that resiliency. Um, you know, let's say that you get sick or something unexpected happens or you know, life is so unpredictable if it is so dependent on you, you know, your business is at a standstill if you have to be that person, but maybe it sounds like it's the optionality of being able to, if you want to do it great, but we've built in redundancies with the team with the systems in place.
So that, um, this business can survive without me. Um, whether that's you want to take a vacation or worst case, like something really bad happens and um, all the people that were, depending on you, you know that you've hired in your business. Um you know they're out of work because the owner didn't set things up properly with the systems and um longevity plan. And so so yeah for anyone who's listening, that's that's definitely something to be thinking about, you know, build your company to sell, but that doesn't mean you have to sell it or doesn't completely step out, but it's you have options because again life is so unpredictable um just like the ocean that you guys are on.
So unpredictable, awesome. So I guess as we're I just want to transition to one last topic and you know this this show is all about financial freedom. So one of the questions I always ask our guests is you know what, what is financial freedom like and what does that truly mean to you? Because there's so many definitions of what that is, I'm gonna say podcasting on a boat. Uh you know this is this is a lot of conversation that we had at the very beginning as we were trying to get our 35 year plan, like what is it that we really wanted?
Because I think that was one thing um that we that we struggled with figuring out like the why, like why are we doing this? Why are we working so many hours? Why are we? You know not getting sleep, like what's the why? And eventually it came down to we wanted the freedom to do what we wanted to do whether and freedom doesn't mean to do nothing. Um, but it is really picking out what it is that we love to do. So again, the kids on the RV trip or you know spending time on the boat or whatever.
The other things that we get to do that, that was really is just time. Freedom is the time. And, and I will say that um, we have diversified a lot. Um, we we we own paradise own services, but we also do coaching and we also do some real estate investing and we also, you know, to other businesses. So um being able to have the time and financial freedom from one business means that we're able to easily diversify and then if something God forbid tragic happens in one of them, we still have backups to lean on where it also, um, um, there's still a certain amount of hustle, but it's not the life or death hustle.
It's the hustle because we want to hustle, you know. Um, so that kind of makes it a little bit more fun too well and it's, and it's easier to pick whatever opportunities or freedom looks like too. That sounds like completely different minds at the beginning. It's, it's survival. Like we need to, we need to be able to pay payroll, but now it's okay. I have the abundance, we have a diversified set of assets and if one goes down completely fine, I mean there's just, it seems like there's just like a different level of peace that you have a peace of mind that you know, things, it's okay if things go wrong and we can just no matter what choose and chart our, our destination to, you know, wherever, wherever that is for the next few years.
And so I love that and what's next? So we got where we're at now um diversified right now. So what does, what does the next 3 to 5 year picture look like for the both of you? Well 3 to 5 years will be totally empty nesters and so I think the verdict is still out on exactly what that looks like for me anyway. Um um there's definitely gonna be a lot of traveling. Um, we started doing some speaking. Um, so I'm sure that we'll probably incorporate a lot more speaking in different locations um when the kids are off to college and marines and all those fun things.
Um Yeah, exactly, so um, it's, it's gonna be interesting to see what the next few years look like. I'm excited. It'll be, it'll be a lot of boat time time, a lot of time, a lot of beach time. That's so exciting and I can't wait to stay up to date on the journey and because it's, it's, it's a lot of decisions that are coming up with, with travel and you know, becoming empty nesters, There's from what I've heard, there's just that identity shift. Um, you know, when, when the kids leave and um, yeah, who knows?
And potentially just re imagine, I mean what you think now, it could be completely reimagined later on. So I think that's the beauty of being in control of your destiny and you know, being able to decide what the future looks like, definitely awesome. So with that, I think we can move to close um, if someone wanted to get in contact with either of you will be the best place for them to, to reach out email. Is it the website? Um we're both on facebook um, are my email address is kristen at gCB coaching dot com.
Um I do have a website for the virtual CFO um program which is kristen dot com. Super easy to remember. Um and then the book is available on amazon and audible. And how about you? Justin the best way to catch me is Justin at gCB coaching dot com. And really everything that we've got going on, whether it be uh the upcoming podcast or the podcast series from the book, you can all get from kristen dot com as well, awesome man. I know you guys are going to some events coming up soon.
If anyone else is going to the event, you know, what events will you be at right now? We've got service world coming up in a couple of weeks uh in Tampa, hopefully everything's good there and then we've got air a seal X coming up in March, actually the beginning of March. So anybody who's an aerosol dealer where I think even wanting to become an aerosol dealer, uh, is invited to the event, which is actually in Sandestin, which is right down the road from here, which would be pretty cool because we will be on the boat from there, take the boat there and stay there, you know.
Uh, so that's, that's what's coming up in the next, I don't know, 90 days, whatever that timeframe looks like 90 days. And, and for anyone, I just want to highlight again the book, It's initially I thought it was just going to be, hey, like if my, if my current business partner is my spouse, I thought that that only the relevance. But when I dug in it, I think this is a book that anyone should read. There's a lot of things to do with visioning with time management, getting your accountability charts in place.
It's, I think this is a business book for anyone. Um, regardless of whether your business partner is your spouse or not and really designing a life of financial freedom and one that you love and I believe that both of you are are great examples of that, the life that you live now, it was intentionally crafted and it wasn't by accident, right? It didn't happen to just fall into this life, There's, I mean, maybe in the beginning, there were some things, but since you designed that vision, it's something that you breathe life into.
And so that's the, that's the seed I want to leave with everyone who's listening that really, it's, it's possible. You know, there's like, like planting anything, right? You, there's a seed, you nurture it, There's water, there's sunshine, There's um a lot of different things that make this plant grow. But the formula is out there, right, Especially for business, especially for life and read this book. Um it's, it's incredible. So if you don't, if you aren't ready for coaching, you know, start reading this book and really start to build a better path in your life.
So, you know, thank you both. I was, this is one of the podcast episodes I was so excited for thank you for your time again. A first of many things with being on the boat. Um I appreciate you both. Hope everyone enjoyed and any last parting words before we head off. No, I I appreciate you inviting us on. It was great to meet you and where were we ST louis ST louis for the event. It was, it was great to meet you and yeah, if anybody has any questions, feel free to reach out. Awesome.
Thanks so much everyone, we're gonna close it out, take care and we'll see you on the next one. Thanks, thank you for joining us for the H VAC financial Freedom podcast. Follow us on Stream Yard Apple podcast, Spotify, amazon music and check out our main website, www. Dot h. Vac financial freedom dot com, to find out how you can also achieve financial freedom.