Today we interview Mike and Joe Naylor. Mike comes from a military background and after many years in service, has decided to go on his own. He shares his story below.
Francois: What did you do before life at WSI?
Mike: I was an intelligence officer with US Army Special Forces. I deployed three times to Afghanistan, and I provided intelligence support to US and Afghan night raids for targets there. As that slowed down, I was assigned to teach economics at the US Military Academy. We decided that we would leave the army and settle down, so I was looking for another option.
So from teaching you started to think about doing something else. I guess you looked at a number of options. What made you choose WSI as an opportunity?
I looked at several options, maybe taking a job with a corporation, or several different franchises. Ultimately for me it was about who do I want to spend my time with? In the military, I was always working with sharp folks who were not afraid to take a risk. The closest parallel in the civilian world is small business owners, so that sealed the deal for me.
I like the way you relate “business owners” to the military, where you are working with folks who are not afraid to take a risk. I can relate to that even though I only did military training but was never deployed. Who was your biggest influencer in helping you decide to buy a Digital Marketing Franchise?
I called eight or nine WSI business owners. The one that really sticks out for me was Ken Kelly. I was trying to speak to his partner Ryan, but Ken answered the phone and was just so down to earth. He was successful in another business before, and he had a lot to say about what made WSI the right choice for him and his company.
Ken and Ryan are a great father and son team. And it shows how Ken’s influence and guidance has helped grow Ryan’s profile in the digital marketing industry. What attracted you about owning your own business?
I want to build something that has value separate from myself, something that my kids can take over. I want to build a place to work where people can be proud of what they do, where they can earn what they want, and where they can feel valued as a person. Also, after over a decade in Government, I was tired of working for The Man.
It always takes a leap of faith to leave something you know and are comfortable with. The point of building value for yourself and being able to work hard to earn more is exactly what made me eventually “pull the trigger” and start something on my own. What was your first day of training at Home Office like?
With the time zone change, I got up super early and made it out for the training ready to go. Except that everything was locked - I was an hour early. The other new consultants finally showed up, and we got to know each other and chatted a lot. Then Raj came in and just charged the room with this electric excitement. It was really a great experience.
What was the biggest thing you learned at Home Office?
To be honest, the week was so full of info, and so packed with little nuggets that it’s hard to pick. I will say that finding a business pain is the key to unlocking a business owner’s chequebook.
I’ve heard many consultants say that Home Office training is like a boot camp – lots of information to take in – but you end up knowing who to go to for help in any part of your business. Do you keep in touch with your training class? With the training staff?
We set up a WhatsApp group so we could chat, and now we use it to make snarky comments during online trainings. One member of my training in particular has been great— Dave Johnson (editor note: you can check out our interview with Dave Johnson here) had so much great advice for me on networking and other things that he and I chat maybe once a month.
This is where the difference in this business is. You don't just start and go it on your own. You can build great relationships and partner with others in exactly the same business that you are in without fear of competition or giving away any secrets. Using the WSI network is a major competitive advantage over other owner-run digital marketing businesses.
What impact has this decision had on your life?
I’m home when my kids get home from school. I worry a lot more about my performance. I spend hours a week on self-improvement, and WAY more time on social media. I also feel free to really set my own agenda, to write my own mission statement, and to really be whoever I want to be.
This is the freedom that many of us go for. It’s great to write your own agenda but you still have to work hard. What I like is the continuous learning in this industry and the creativity that goes with it.
What’s something about your country that others may not know?
I’ve driven from coast to coast several times, and despite rumors to the contrary, the US really is just 3000 miles of people who eat at the same restaurants, wear the same clothes, and drive the same cars. Also, we have the New York Yankees.
That’s funny. Here in South Africa we have 11 official languages, so if I travel the 800 miles across our country, I will feel like I could be in 11 different countries, but as you say we all eat at the same restaurants.
What skills do you bring to your business that you are excited about?
I’m really comfortable talking to people about anything at all. I’m a naturally curious person, so making small talk is something that comes naturally for me. Interviewing a business owner to discover and help resolve their business pain is something I genuinely enjoy.
Being open to networking is key to the success of this business. The more we interact with business owners the more we build our expertise and reputation. All of this helps for future referrals.
Do you have any other partners/employees in your business?
I invited my brother Joe to join me. He’s been a web developer for as long as I can remember, so he was a natural fit.
It seems that you have skills that compliment each other really well for this business.
What plans do you have for the next 12 months?
I really want to identify our best vertical, and go all in. Businesses find riches in the niches.
That’s a good plan, focus and make your mark. A number of the consultants in our network have vertical focus and Eric Cook comes to mind in the banking industry.
What would you tell other people who are considering joining WSI?
For the first while, you are the business. If you feel like business owners would trust you and want to work with you, and you can push yourself to put in the hours, then there’s no way you can fail. Read Robert Frost about the road less traveled.
Thanks for the book tip, I’m sure many of us would like to read it.
Where do you see yourself and your business in 5 years?
I want to use the next few years to refine our system, and by year 5, I want to be nationwide. I’ve always said that my goal is a $250k personal income within 5 years.
That’s a great target and doable. You should speak to Neal Lappe and a few of the Top 25 performers to see how they have built a million-dollar business.
If you share one piece of information with the audience today, what would it be?
Besides the niches riches thing? Read books, read books, read books. Online information is too atomized for you to really put together the whole picture.
What type of holidays do you like to take?
Camping is one of my favorites. I love to be outdoors, whatever the weather.
Now we have something in common – I spend around 3 months of the year camping in a caravan. We call it our mobile office!
If we went to happy hour, what would you order?
Diet coke. I don’t drink.
Nothing wrong with Diet Coke. I use it as a mixer with Jack :)
If you could be anywhere other than here talking to me - right this minute, where would you be?
Motorcycling. I would be exploring some dirt road through a mountain in the American west.
It shows that you like a bit of “me time” and be on your own.
Thanks to both of you for sharing your experiences with me today. I am sure this interview is going to be valuable for anyone in the military that is considering starting a new business on their own and I appreciate the insights that you shared on how you made the leap of faith.