Learning through the decades


By James Alisch, Managing Director WOW 1 DAY PAINTING

It’s a really exciting time to start your own business. According to new research, there are currently 24 million American entrepreneurs, and this trend is set to continue.

The even better news? When it comes to age, entrepreneurship knows no bounds. It doesn’t matter if you’re 18 or 80 – if you’ve got a great idea, and you’re inspired and passionate, there are tools, lessons, and resources out there to help make you a success.

Having spent over half of my life working as an entrepreneur, or in and around entrepreneurial environments, there are lessons I have learned that, looking back, I wouldn’t hesitate to pass onto my younger self – a notion to which I’m sure many of you can relate. Here’s hoping that our younger selves would listen.

What I would tell my 20 year old self

Say it with me James: “Though you think you may have all the answers, you actually know very little.” Now that’s out of the way, let’s look at the many ways you will start to learn.

First, embrace your passion and your desire to prove yourself. Run with both of these things. It is your tenacity and your relentless pursuit of the goal that will ensure you are successful. In the absence of skill and experience, effort matters.

Second, understand that vulnerability is an inherent part of starting a business. There will be times (many, many times) when you will likely be overwhelmed. Combat this by working with people who will support, but also challenge you to meet your goals. Heed the advice of those who embody the principles of strong leadership: communication, confidence, and commitment.

Finally, say it with me again – you will have no clue what you are doing when you first start out. Embrace this, and take every opportunity to learn. Above all else learn.

Oh and remember – the word ‘entitled’ should be stricken from your vocabulary. Now get to work!

What I would tell my 30 year old self

Now that you know something about running a business, you may start to think you know a great deal about people and leadership. This is incorrect. In fact, the timing for real learning – given the accumulation of business battle scars from your 20s – couldn’t be better.  Purposefully look for ways you can become a better leader. Get better at the soft skills of business: conflict management, communication, priority management and coaching. Continue to make it a priority to expose yourself to people much smarter than you (this is not difficult to do), and people who are great leaders.

Finally, remember that vulnerability that made you work so hard in your 20s? Rediscover it by looking for chances to push yourself out of your comfort and safe zones. It is okay to be out of your depth, and falling down is okay, as long as you keep getting up and moving forward.  Yes it hurts and yes it can be  expensive, but pain and cost are transitory, and will result in added value in the long term.

What I tell my 40 year old self

I heard a wise man once say, “In your 40’s, make your bet.” Take all that you have learned, every bruise and bump, win and loss, and start to develop a plan on how you can use these things to contribute in a meaningful way.

Ask yourself, “Where are my gifts, and where am I great?” How can you connect with others over that which makes you exceptional? Answer these questions and see how you can improve not only yourself, but more importantly the success of others.

Pursue growth, support others, and define your leadership way.

What are the lessons you would tell yourself through the decades? Please leave a comment and share!

How to take your business to the next level


As seen in The Globe and Mail Careers’ Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views and advice about leadership and management.

It would have been easy to spend my life as a Rubbish Boy.

At 19, I started a junk-removal business called The Rubbish Boys to pay my way through university. A few years later, we had 11 employees and were pulling in half a million dollars in revenue a year. It was predictable and profitable. And it would have been easy to keep doing what I was doing. But I just couldn’t.

For many entrepreneurs, the thrill of early success is quickly replaced by the frustration of hitting a ceiling. You’ve cornered a market, or at least part of one, and you’re good at what you do. But you’ve reached a limit in terms of revenue, size and profitability. You know you want to grow, but you don’t know how to take the next step.

Fast forward 25 years and I’ve got a passionate staff of more than 300, with thousands of people working for franchise partners around the world. In addition to 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, I’m at the helm of two other brands and ready to launch a fourth. Along the way, I’ve learned important lessons about taking your business to the next level. For entrepreneurs hoping to scale up, I’d like to share a few tips from the frontlines.

Paint a picture

Among the biggest mistakes I made early in my career was thinking too small. I was so reactive to the day-to-day of building a business that I never stopped to look at the horizon. And, like lots of solo entrepreneurs, I was afraid to dream big – really big.

That ended one day on the dock of my parent’s home on Bowen Island, outside Vancouver. I’d taken my business as far as it could go and I felt defeated. So I closed my eyes and dreamed what a future could look like. It was an exercise in pure possibility – no nagging voices saying you can’t do this or that won’t work. When I opened my eyes, I had a plan, a ridiculously ambitious one: In five years, my company would be in the top 30 cities across North America.

Some of today’s most recognized and successful entrepreneurs took a similar approach: from a young Mark Zuckerberg (who insisted social media could be a billion-dollar industry) to Steve Jobs who, in 1976, came up with a plan “to put a computer in the hands of everyday people.”

I call my visioning process the Painted Picture and use it to this day. It can encompass everything everything from a brand’s look and feel to crazy, audacious goals that seem impossible. At heart, it’s about dreaming big and not selling yourself short.

Fire fast. Hire slow

So now I had a dream. There was just the little matter of making it come true. The first step was one of the hardest: I had to fire all 11 of my original employees. Why? I hadn’t surrounded myself with the best people from the start. Some were okay; others were just bad apples. But they weren’t going to cut it.

LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner said it best when he pointed out that the best hires do three things: “dream big,” “get shit done,” and “know how to have fun.” For me to get where I wanted to go, I needed people just as ambitious and inspired as I was. They also had to be individuals I trusted and could connect with – the kind of people I’d invite to a backyard barbecue.

For a few lonely months, the business was just me – answering phones, cleaning trucks, hauling the junk. It was exhausting, but worth it. Slowly, I was able to put together the team I needed and 1-800-GOT-JUNK? took shape. To this day, even with hundreds of employees, we exercise the same care when hiring to ensure cultural fit. It may require more outlay upfront, but in the long run it’s worth it.

And there’s no shortage of data and observations to back that up. The U.S. Department of Labour, for example, estimates that the average cost of a bad hiring decision can equal 30 per cent of the individual’s first-year potential earnings. Meanwhile, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh insists that bad hires have cost his company $100 million and now pays employees a $2,000 quitting bonus to get duds out the door.

Nail the formula, rinse and repeat

I’ll be the first to admit it: junk isn’t rocket science. Immaculate trucks, uniformed drivers, catchy branding and serious attention to customer service distinguished us from the pack. We took what was considered a dirty, disreputable business run out of people’s garages and turned it into a modern, professional operation.

For many entrepreneurs, this would be the end of the story: mission accomplished. For us, it was just the beginning. Having found something that worked in one context, we immediately set out to deploy that same formula elsewhere. This mental shift is critical for ambitious business people looking to scale. Franchising – with partners operating in major cities – seemed far and away the best strategy.

There was just one problem. Everyone I spoke with said junk removal couldn’t be franchised. There was too much competition. The barrier to entry was too low. Anyone could do it. But we had a secret weapon: systems and processes, for everything from how we ran our call centre to the uniforms that our truck team members wore. These were actually written down, each process compressed to a single side of a page. It sounds boring, I know. It made all the difference.

Because we had systems in place, we were able to replicate our success in cities across Canada and the United States. Franchise partners had both a solid foundation to build a business on and plenty of freedom to adapt to local conditions. With time, we expanded to hundreds of locations.

For entrepreneurs, dreaming big, hiring the right people and putting systems in place has an added benefit: It creates a positive feedback loop. Each achievement becomes the launching pad for the next. After two decades with 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, I realized the structures we’d created could apply to other fields, so we leveraged the infrastructure to launch a moving and painting company. Each new venture brings its own risks and headaches. But, when I look back to my days as a Rubbish Boy, I’d take the joys of scaling, growing and dreaming any day.

Follow @Globe_Careers. Read more Leadership Lab: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/careers/leadership-lab/ 

Touch base with Brian Scudamore on Twitter @brianscudamore

How to communicate with your real estate agent


Buying a home can be a stressful process. You want to find your dream home at the right price in a timely fashion. One of the best ways to make the home buying process go as smoothly as possible is to communicate effectively with your real estate agent.

This is easier said than done, but if you can find a real estate agent who you feel comfortable working with and talking to, finding a home will be much easier. These tips will help you communicate effectively, and get you into your new home sooner.

Work with one agent

Be direct and ask your agent about terms of exclusivity if you are unsure. Often if you sign a contract with an agent, it is expected that you will only work with him or her.

If your agent expects exclusivity, do not communicate with or call other agents. If you find a home that you want to see, contact your agent, not the realtor on the listing. You hired your agent to find you the right home.

Going behind your agent’s back could potentially ruin your client-agent relationship and affect your communication. Your agent may not make you a priority, making it more difficult to find your dream home.

Be clear with how you want to communicate

Do you prefer phone calls, texts, emails, or face-to-face? How often would you like to meet with your agent? You want to maintain an open line of communication with your agent at all times. The method and frequency that you talk with your agent play an important role in how successfully you communicate with your agent.

Also, be reasonable. You should feel like a priority to your agent, but keep in mind that he or she has other clients. Ask your agent for a typical timeframe of when you should expect to hear back from him or her. That way, you know if and when to follow up.

Communicate your wants and needs

Your needs should be a list of what you absolutely cannot live without in a house. Your wants should include perks but not deal breakers. Be upfront about your wants and needs so your realtor can easily find exactly what you are looking for in a home. If you aren’t clear with your agent from the beginning, you will waste your time looking at houses that you’ll never purchase.

Ask questions

Asking questions is another way to communicate effectively with your agent. Ask questions before you sign with the agent, during the home search and after you have found your home. Write down all of the questions you have if you cannot meet with your agent right away.

Effective communication with your realtor is one of the best ways to make your home buying experience pleasant and stress-free. Don’t be afraid to offer feedback or suggestions if you feel unhappy with how you and your agent communicate. Be open and honest throughout the process, and before you know it, you will be ready to move into your dream home.

Whitney Bennett is the SEO Specialist at Landmark Home Warranty, a home warranty service provider headquartered in Utah. Whitney enjoys writing and developing helpful, informative content for homeowners.

A Brush with Success: Back to School

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The back-to-school season is coming upon us. You’re probably already thinking about shopping for your kids’ school supplies and clothes, debating what the healthiest afternoon snack is, and trying to organize after-school schedules. But even with the the most advanced graphing calculator, the most comfortable shoes, or the highest-protein-lowest-sugar granola bar, there is something else that could be affecting your kids’ grades: the paint color in their bedroom.

We are all moved by the colors around us, and studies have revealed many of the ways we are subconsciously influenced by colors. Colors can either be active, passive, or neutral. Bright colors tend to be active and do exactly as they suggest: give us energy. Muted colors fall into the passive category: they tend to be calming and comforting. Neutral colors (think mid-tone beiges) don’t really affect us either way.

When picking paint color for you child’s bedroom, you should consider their personality and needs in order to assess which color is best.


Sunshine, daffodils, and rubber ducks. Is that what comes to mind for you too? Most people think of yellow as a cheery, uplifting, energetic color – and they wouldn’t be wrong. However, yellow is the most tiring color for the human eye, and studies have actually shown that large amounts can cause frustration and anger, which makes people more likely to lose their temper in yellow rooms.


Tip: avoid an all yellow room. But if you want your tantrum-prone kid to benefit from a little more natural cheeriness, consider painting a yellow accent wall and including yellow accessories like pillows or lampshades.


Known for being a calming, introspective color (studies have shown that blue can actually lower blood pressure), blue is surprisingly also the most productive color. However, too much introspection can be a bad thing: some blues can evoke feelings of sadness (hence the phrase “feeling blue”), so certain shades could negatively influence your already moody teen.


Tip: avoid dark and cool blues. To create more tranquility and productivity, choose warmer shades like cerulean or periwinkle.


The color of nature. Green is the most restful color for the eye; it offers tranquility and promotes good health (so no surprise that it is frequently used in hospitals). Studies even suggest that green can improve reading ability. Fresh greens can feel clean and vibrant, while muted greens (think olive) can be slightly depressing, and pastel greens can end up feeling sickly and quietly overwhelming.


Tip: pick rich and vibrant, but natural tones – like fern green. Whether your child is just learning to read, or is a Shakespeare expert, make all their friends green with envy over this color’s natural influence.


The color least associated with nature, purple is instead associated with luxury, wisdom, and creativity. Purple elegantly balances the calmness of blues and the energy of reds (while leaving the hostility of red at the door). Darker purples can have a dramatic effect, whereas softer purples can be calming and relaxing.


Tip: use both! Give your kid the royal treatment by painting the walls lavender, making up the bed with plum sheets, and adding a purple orchid to the desk.

Choosing the right color for you kids’ rooms can give you an A+ grade by positively influencing their success and well being. But don’t let your own well-being be overshadowed – back-to-school can be such an overwhelming time in itself that we’re happy to help you get the job done.

Rachel Morgan is a Communications Coordinator for WOW 1 DAY PAINTING and sister companies 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, You Move Me, and Shack Shine. Rachel loves to spend her free time reading, listening to music and enjoying the outdoors.

Franchise opportunities for women

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Business. Entrepreneurship. Franchising.

What was long believed to be a man’s game has, in the last few years, seen a dramatic shift in climate. With more female entrepreneurs than ever before we are seeing a spike in female owned and operated franchises.

Why the shift?

Franchising offers some exceptional benefits, such as:

  • Flexible work schedule –  allowing for better work/life balance;
  • Training & systems – learn from a team of knowledge experts and benefit from developed systems;
  • Ongoing support – a franchise network with a pool of resources to fish from for shared learning opportunities;
  • Opportunity to be collaborative yet autonomous – ultimately it’s your business, but you’re not alone! There are a bunch of Franchise Partners that have been there before and can offer advice.

Women and Home services

At WOW 1 DAY PAINTING over 10% of our franchises are female owned and operated. In a traditionally male dominated painting industry we are seeing Franchise Partners such as Leesa Franklin and Leesha Cunningham in Ottawa succeed and build a solid business. They believe that being women in a field typically controlled by men gives them an advantage. “It puts them (the customer) at ease right away,” says Leesha. “Women are all about relationships and building networks”.

Leesa and Leesha are clearly capitalizing on this innate advantage.

ottawa with sprinter van apr 2014

Tammy and Terry Ricketson of WOW 1 DAY PAINTING Cleveland, OH are seeing the benefits of having a family business. With Tammy owning the networking and Terry managing the paint crew, they are able to focus their strengths and positively grow the brand in their hometown. In one month Tammy attended over twenty-one networking events. They saw a dramatic increase in the number of estimates and brand awareness, allowing them to develop relationships with construction companies due to increased public trust in their brand.

To learn more about WOW 1 DAY PAINTING franchise opportunities visit http://www.wow1day.com/franchise/ or call 1-888-WOW1DAY

Chantelle Jones is an Operations Coordinator for WOW 1 DAY PAINTING. A well-traveled Welsh girl living in Vancouver, Chantelle has a knack for getting things done and making an exceptional cup of tea. You can connect with Chantelle on Linkedin.


what our customers have to say

"My first experience with WOW 1 DAY PAINTING certainly won’t be my last! They were punctual, professional and provided an amazing experience. I needed my business painted over the weekend and done quickly in order to reopen the following Monday. They delivered on their promise, and exceeded my expectations. This is not your typical paint company!"

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what our customers have to say

"The guys from WOW 1 DAY PAINTING did a great job repainting my master bedroom, master bath, and closet. It was a great experience and the quality of work was top notch."

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what our customers have to say

"We used WOW 1 DAY PAINTING to repaint the exterior of our home in Lenexa. It was in pretty rough shape initially but now looks like a brand new home. And all done in 1 DAY! Amazing!"

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what our customers have to say

"This is really a great idea! I hired WOW 1 DAY PAINTING to paint the interior of my house and couldn't believe they actually finished it in the same day! They were punctual and professional and did a great quality job. Very refreshing to have found a group that's so easy to work with. I will definitely be recommending them to anyone who is painting their home!"

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The Difference 1 DAY Can Make