Mike Munter: Alright. Well, let’s get started today with, Josh Matthews, founder of Endeavor Staff. And Josh, why don’t you just hop right in. Tell me a little bit about yourself, your background, where you were raised, college, previous jobs. Give us a little background.
Josh Matthews: Oh, I thought this was only like an hour. I didn’t know we had the next three days to go over everything. I’ll try and do the short version. I run Endeavor Staffing and TheSalesforceRecruiter.com. It’s a small niche staffing firm. I got my start in Massachusetts where I was born. I was raised in Massachusetts and Connecticut. I eventually traveled out to California for college. I was really a gypsy through college. I bounced around from Whittier college, San Francisco State, and eventually finished up my coursework at the university of Utah. I was an art major, which means I’m qualified to be a recruiter and that’s about it. Then I made my way out here to Portland back in 1996. With the exception of a few years overseas in Australia, where I was running staffing firms, the majority of my adulthood since age 23 or 24 has been here in Portland, Oregon – which by the way, had a snow storm and power is out for about 200,000 of us. So I’m at a different property today. I would normally be at my home.
Mike Munter: Cool. How long ago did you start this business?
Josh Matthews: I started this business almost two and a half years ago. It’s not my first time having this company, but I started this iteration of it in October of 2018, two and a half years ago.
Mike Munter: Can you give us a little bit of an overview of what you do, what your typical day is like?
Josh Matthews: Sure. So what the business does is specializes in placing professionals in the Salesforce ecosystem, both in technical and functional roles, with Salesforce partners. Those are companies that support the Salesforce software from a delivery standpoint. They implement it and integrate it with their clients or develope applications that sit on top of the platform. There are a lot of different companies that Salesforce owns and has brought under its umbrella, like Demandware, which became one of the Commerce Cloud iterations, Mulesoft, Tableau, Salesforce Marketing Cloud, and CPQ. There’s a lot of different technologies under the Salesforce umbrella. We hire people for predominantly direct hire/direct placement, head hunting, and recruiting for the Salesforce partners. We also place contractors as well. As far as a typical day, like most small business owners, there’s not a typical day. I can talk about a typical week and what’s involved in that. It depends on where things are going. I can tell you that the week really starts Sunday night when I’m planning out my week and my calendar. I’m going through all of my task list software and trying to iterate and make sure that I’m focused on the most important dollar productive activities. That’s generally a mix of doing client outreach through email and LinkedIn marketing campaigns, having interviews with candidates, having conversations and meetings with my clients, doing actual marketing and promoting the business through various social media outlets. LinkedIn is my number one marketing strategy. I have a YouTube channel called JoshForce and I produce some videos that help candidates and clients with their hiring. The rest of that time is spent managing my small team, their activities and their productivity and efficiency.
Mike Munter: Cool. You didn’t just all of a sudden start this business from scratch. How did you get started? You had some experience recruiting, right?
Josh Matthews: That’s right. I started in recruiting back in 1999. I was part of a “dot bomb” layoff at the time. I was sitting at lunch when I got the phone call along with about 59 or 60 other people who did what I did for this “dot bomb” out of San Francisco. He said, “Oh, you should call my friend Francis.” Francis had a small staffing company. So I did. And 30 days later I was hired. It was my first job as a recruiter. We helped service a large $3 billion privately held company. I did that for a couple of different iterations with that same company for four years. Then I switched to a contractor agency recruitment firm where you work with a variety of different clients, not just one. My career progressed from there. I went from being a recruiter to an account executive to a division director. T hen I spun off and did this business on my own for a little bit. I relocated to Australia and was the national director for the largest scientific staffing firm in Australia. I did some consulting, there, too. When I came back to the United States, I went back to the company I’d worked at before, a very large Fortune 500 staffing firm. I was vice-president. I had a lot of success there. I grew the team from one to 12 people and broke all the records that we’d previously set with my team 12 years earlier. On the day I broke those records, I left and opened up this business.
Mike Munter: That’s wild. So it was about a 20 year journey. You knew you could do. It was just a matter of stopping working for someone else and starting to work for yourself?
Josh Matthews: That’s right. You know, there are a lot of downsides to working for yourself and everybody knows what they are. It’s a four letter word, starting with an R and it’s RISK: How are you going to get paid? How effective can you be? When you’re an employee for another company it’s pretty straight forward – this is our job, we clock in. We knock out our job and maybe those jobs don’t clock out until midnight. But I’ll tell you, I had this experience when I was reading a book called Purple Cow by Seth Godin. He’s a great marketing blogger. There was a cartoon in there with two frames. The first frame showed a guy in a cubicle with the boss looking at him through the glass window. And this guy had a thought bubble. It said, “The harder I work, the sooner I can be the boss or the sooner I can be King,” or whatever it was. The next frame showed the boss looking out the office window at the worker and his thought bubble was, “The harder he works, the longer I get to stay boss.” That hit me like a ton of bricks. I thought, “Crap, ain’t that the truth?” I always worked my tail off for the companies I worked for. I got the trophies. I got paid well and all that stuff was great, but the lion’s share, of course, went to them. I didn’t necessarily agree 100% with the way business was being done there. I didn’t like some of the constraints of how they did business. I can be outspoken at times and that didn’t always sit well in a Fortune 500 company. So, it just seemed like, “Now’s the time to change. I could go get another job. I could elevate my compensation even more.” But where does that leave me when I’m 50 or 55 or 60? “Am I going to have the kind of lifestyle that I really want – plus the compensation? When do I get to be the ‘boss’ boss?” The VP title at a big company doesn’t mean you’re the boss. It’s really difficult to really be the boss until it’s your company.
Mike Munter: Yeah. Speaking of compensation, how do you make money now with your business?
Josh Matthews: Well, I make money by placing candidates with my clients and my clients pay a percentage fee. Typically, it’s based off someone’s first-year compensation. So, if someone makes $150,000 a year, I’ll earn somewhere in the $30,000 to $40,000 range for placing that individual. It sounds like a lot of money just for finding someone and placing them in a job, but it’s very difficult. Particularly in my industry for the positions I service, like project managers, business analysts, technical architects, Salesforce software developers, consultants, vice presidents of sales, and these types of roles. It’s 0% unemployment right now. Everyone’s working. Anyone who can and wants to work has a job. So it’s quite a lot of work to be able to cut through the noise, develop the trust and rapport with the passive candidate market. And then make really good sound decisions that are going to help the clients I serve well, so they can make more money and be successful.
Mike Munter: Yeah. When you first started, how long did it take you to become profitable?
Josh Matthews: About four to six weeks. It didn’t take very long. I think I carried a little bit of debt in that first year, that’s pretty normal. I had a friend who needed some help identifying someone – not in the Salesforce ecosystem – but they needed to find an operations manager for their business. They gave me the job order. I went after it and found them a really terrific guy. He’s still there. It’s almost three years later and they love him. He’s done an amazing thing for their practice. That placement paid me $20,000 of startup money, plus whatever else I had saved. That bought me enough time to really figure out what niche do I want to do. I invested in coaching for about seven or $8,000. Even though I was pretty good at what I did, I knew I needed to update my skillset a little bit. It was the best $7,000 I’ve ever spent. Then I launched into week after week after week of 15 hour days, scrambling so fast, running so fast, especially in that first six to nine months.
Mike Munter: Yeah. In those first few months, was there any time that you were like, “Oh my, I should not be doing this. I made the wrong choice?”
Josh Matthews: No, not at all. I had absolute conviction in my ability to deliver good clients. I had picked a niche that it’s not that hard to get a job order or to identify a client who wants to work with you and get a job order. The hard part is finding the candidates. And that’s where I had a lot of confidence. A lot of my recruiting competitors are under 30 and they’re limited in their depth of experience. They don’t have much business experience at all, much less in recruiting practices. So, I felt a lot of confidence in my ability to deliver. I didn’t really have any doubt at all. I had the support of my family, which is very important. I had to adjust. I knew I had to work on myself to get this to work. It wasn’t just about logging the hours. It was changing the systems, changing the style of engagement that I had with the marketplace in general and my messaging. I had to learn so many new things like marketing. At the end of the day, my business is a marketing company first and then it’s a recruiting company. I don’t do sales calls. I don’t cold call. I don’t do any of that stuff that was the rigor for the industry I was in for 20 years. I didn’t do any of that. Everything was just learning how to be a really good digital marketer. That way I could focus on identifying good candidates.
Mike Munter: Yeah. So how did that first customer come to you? How did get the first one?
Josh Matthews: It was from my friend. He had a law practice and said they needed to identify a really good operations person and could I help? I took on the search and placed a great guy. Like I said, he’s still there. So, that was the very first win. And then the second win didn’t come for several more months. Actually, maybe it came like six or eight weeks later. It was a client that I’d worked with for at least 10 years, but hadn’t done any business with for some time. They were outside of the non-compete that I’d negotiated with my prior employer. That might’ve been a little 10K deal. It was just enough to keep feeding the hungry new business engine. And then the third one also came from someone that I’d worked with before that I served years ago. He was a CIO at a large ad agency and I helped identify a good software engineer for his team. So, those first three placements had nothing to do with Salesforce and everything to do with my network and my relationships.
Mike Munter: Interesting. That’s how we get started in business, with a little bit of a soft runway, before we start finding clients that we’ve never met before and that are now starting to find us. I think you mentioned LinkedIn. Is that your number one way of acquiring new business?
Josh Matthews: Yeah. I’d say between LinkedIn and email marketing campaigns. Both of those are intrinsic to my ability to identify, qualify, and attract new clients. I think that there are some other ways that help impact the successfulness of that, too, such as your involvement in social media, developing a YouTube channel, and trying to differentiate yourself as an expert in the space you’re operating in, as a different voice, right. There’s nothing wrong with a different perspective, cutting to the chase. As one person I know talks about, “dividing the herd.” If you try to be all things to everyone, good luck. When you’re a small business, it’s much better to divide the herd, figure out who are the people who absolutely love your style, and engage with those. When you do that, everyone’s happier and you’re going to be more successful.
Mike Munter: Yeah. I hear this objection from other people who want to start a business. They have an idea and then they go online and find that other people are already doing it. And I think that speaks to what you just said. You don’t realize that there are opportunities to really “niche down” with the internet and even though there’s a whole bunch of other recruiters out there because your style is going to match up and identify with certain people that other people aren’t and there’s going to be plenty of business to sustain you.
Josh Matthews: Absolutely. It’s a really critical point. I’m glad you brought it up because it’s super important. And I’ll tell you, Mike, before I even picked this niche, I did a lot of research, which is not like me. I’m like a little bit more, “shoot from the hip. Like, okay, let’s go. Yeah. It feels good.” That’s not always going to be the best way to move forward, anymore than being overly rigid about numbers is to decision-making. So it’s got to be a good balance. Before selecting this specific niche, I ran the numbers on all of the different skill sets that I placed in the past. I looked at, “Where is it harder? What is the hardest niche to identify really good people with the highest levels of compensation and a track record of massive growth over the last five, five to 10 years?” So, I looked at all of that stuff and I tried to replicate what happened to SAP in the nineties and in the early two thousands where it’s so hard to find these people, but they’re making $200 an hour. If you can find them, you can be successful. So, that’s what I tried to mimic and copy. And then once I started to get involved in it and began working with clients and getting more and more involved in the community, I recognized that it was much easier for me to market to the Salesforce partners than to the Trans Americas, the Nordstrom’s, and the United Health Groups, all of the large companies that employ dozens or hundreds of Salesforce professionals. It’s so much easier for me to identify who the leaders are with the right size of business to go after so that I can actually be an exclusive recruiter. And that is what I do. If someone’s working with me, nine and a half times out of 10, there’s no competition on the job. And that’s unlike 95% of all the other recruiters out there. So, I’m able to get that exclusivity. And then consequently, of course, I deliver on that promise and have great, strong relationships with the CEOs of these companies, which typically range from about 250 people or less, versus going after the 500,000 person Accentures of the world and competing for absolutely every little opening out there against 20 other companies. That’s not much fun for me.
Mike Munter: Alright. What’s the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
Josh Matthews: Oh gosh, that’s a good question. I think the toughest decisions are almost always around one or two things like where do you invest your time? Do I continue to invest my time in this client or do I fire them? Do I continue to invest my time in this employee or do I let them go? It’s just a time question and you just have to balance out the risk-reward on each of them, because the there’s opportunity costs. If you work with a client and they’re non-responsive and they don’t interview the candidates, even though you’re sticking your neck out and saying, “You’re crazy not to interview this person!” If they still don’t, you really have to question whether or not that’s a client you want to serve anymore. I have clients that I’ve spent two months cranking hard on and never got a deal, never made a dime. And it costs me thousands of dollars in advertising for candidates, for my employees and staff and all the work that they put into it, and it never paid for itself. Then firing the clients who were not a good fit. Those are the toughest decisions, but the toughest are usually the employees: When do you cut bait and when do you invest in them even more?
Mike Munter: Yeah. That’s the fun part of having our own business, playing around with these different marketing strategies, finding out what’s going to stick, what’s going to yield the best result and then mining that.
Mike Munter: Alright, Josh, what do you think it is that makes you successful?
Josh Matthews: Oh, good question. I think it’s a combination of factors. I think there’s an inherent drive and I think part of that too honestly, is around who you surround yourself with. I once heard that you’re the average of the people you spend time with. I’ve come to believe that more and more. When I look at my friends, if I look at my close knit group of friends – you among them – that I’ve been tight with for anywhere between 15 and 20 years, they’re all business owners. All of them have their own business, they are a significant shareholder in a business, or they own a brokerage that’s part of a larger organization. But at the end of the day, they’re running their own business. I think when you surround yourself with other business owners and colleagues who understand what it’s like, you can’t help but get inspired by those around you, learn from their mistakes, and feel supported when you’re hitting some of those really challenging and difficult roads ahead. So, my peer group is probably the number one reason why I think I’m successful. There are other factors like getting enough sleep, having the right kind of energy, having drive, and being goal-oriented. Then all of those avoidance behaviors of never wanting to have a fricking boss ever again in my life. We run toward things and we run away from them, too. And it takes a little bit of that push and pull, I think, to get people in that mindset of how to be successful. So yeah, all that other stuff is hitting just fine. But if I was doing this – and while there’s nothing wrong with it – my peer group worked at grocery stores, were baristas, and drove Uber for a living, I can’t imagine I would have as much inspiration, drive, and self-belief that this is something that’s possible. So, surrounding yourself with other business owners, I think is absolutely critical, those who are successful and who are good. You can be friends with business owners who aren’t good at business and those are going to be the relationships that pull you down. But if you surround yourself with people who are growing and want to do well and want to contribute to society and want to be successful and get a little bit better every day or every week or every month or every year; when you’re surrounding yourself with those folks, you can’t help but get better yourself.
Mike Munter: Yeah. It’s like having your own private mastermind group, pretty cool. So far, what’s been your most satisfying moment?
Josh Matthews: I think my most satisfying moment was getting debt down to zero. That was awesome. I had some loans and it wasn’t a lot, but it was a couple of maxed out credit cards and a bank loan and all the things that we have to do to survive some of those lean months. My sales cycle could be three months or four months before I’d get a deal. And then I might not get paid for three or four months after that. So covering some of those dry times in that first year and getting to that point where it was like, “Oh my God, the only thing I owe money on is my house.” That was a watershed moment for me. It just felt great. And I know for a fact, I couldn’t have done it just staying in the job that I was in, or whatever position I would have accepted afterwards. I could only become debt free because I gave myself a pay raise when I took on the risk of having my own business.
Mike Munter: Yeah. It’s such a big deal. I know we’ve talked about this a lot – going from working for someone else, particularly in sales, and maybe getting 10 or 15% of whatever you sell – to having your own business when, you’re like, “Oh, I get to keep all of this.” Of course you have expenses, but it’s 100% yours.
Josh Matthews: Yeah. And my business is not much to run, like five or six grand a month.
Mike Munter: Cool. So, what are you excited about going into the future? Are there any trends or anything that excites you?
Josh Matthews: Well, the trend in my industry is great, right? I’m not in hospitality. I’m not in hotels or restaurants or airlines and some of these other industries that have been massively negatively impacted by COVID. The industry I’m in is hot. It’s on fire right now. So, I’m excited that I think I made a good choice. I also felt like when I started this, that some recession was coming. I didn’t know where. I can’t predict the future, but everybody knows when it’s cranking, like it was in 2018 and 2019 – and I’ve been through a few recessions in business already – you can see it. You can feel it coming. Who knew that it was going to be a disease that kills thousands and thousands of people, it’s horrible. But it happened. So I’m just glad that I ran as fast as I did now. It’s really about servicing and delivering to the clients that I serve. And then the next level is really about growth of the business. And that’s going to happen through additional employees more than anything – getting help because I could hire five people tomorrow and they could all be super busy with work. There’s enough work to go around for everybody.
Mike Munter: Yeah. That’s one thing I wanted to ask you about. I know we’ve talked about hiring like that first employee. That feels to me like it was a big step. Like that was almost more risky than starting the business. Can you comment on that?
Josh Matthews: Yeah. I did it. And I think I had to go through a couple people. I had to test it out, try some folks out, just Upwork stuff, overseas support. I think when someone’s got a small business, it can be really tempting to say, “Okay, I’m going to hire an administrative assistant or an executive assistant or an operations person or a salesperson.” But if you’re the person with all the knowledge, finding someone who can do that five, 10, 15, $20 an hour activity for you, so that you can focus on that hundred, 150, $200 per hour activity, that’s the best investment that you can make. Just understand, it takes a little bit of time to get someone properly trained. And I can tell you right now, my assistant – she probably has five different titles – Jesse has been with me for over a year. She lives in the Philippines. She’s super dedicated. She’s a joy to work with. She’s got the best attitude in the world. I love working with her. I love her whole family. She takes good care of me. I take good care of them and it’s a really great relationship. She makes every day more joyful and fun to be part of this business. Honestly, I’ll even get her online, to just be like, “Okay, I’ve got to do all these things,” and she’ll just hang out with me and make sure I get it done. I’ll be like, “What’s next?” “Well now you need to review these people?” “Okay.” And I don’t mind paying her to just hang out with me while I’m trying to get the stuff done that I know I put off. She helps me with that. I’d pay her tenfold what I do if I could. She’s just fantastic. So, don’t settle. Don’t settle for employees that are sub-par. But understand too that she and I are at this point now in our working relationship, because we’ve had more than one hard conversation about expectations and we’ve looked carefully at what the minimum things are that have to happen for the relationship to be sustained. And she’s also been rewarded for making those achievements pretty quickly through raises and bonuses. Not just stinky little ones, but good ones that really make a difference in her life and to the life of her family. There’s a great opportunity for anyone who’s starting to start small with their first employee and look at the contingent workforce on a platform like Upwork. I’ve had the most success with folks who live in the Philippines from an assistant standpoint or from a support standpoint than I have from other countries. For what it’s worth, that can be a little bit risky. You don’t have to hire a bunch of people. I’ve got a guy who helps with my Bullhorn development. I’ve got someone else who helps me with my bookkeeping. I’ve got a web developer. We talk at least once a week. He’s on retainer with me. He supports my website. I’ve got other people who help me with marketing or identifying emails. I’ve probably got five or six different people, ancillary people, and they’re just paid on a per job or per hour basis. I don’t need a full-time staff to do that. It’s quite affordable to operate like a larger business with less, with not having to spend as much money.
Mike Munter: Yeah. Especially those overseas folks. When you get them trained and up to speed, like you said, it can be just phenomenal.
Josh Matthews: Yeah, absolutely.
Mike Munter: Alright, just a couple more. What advice would you give to your younger self?
Josh Matthews: How much younger? Because that would depend.
Mike Munter: Well, let’s say your’re maybe 25 year old or 30 year old self You’re just getting your career going. Looking back 20 years, what would you say?
Josh Matthews: Yeah, God, that’s a really good question. Don’t get into recruiting? [Laughs] I think it’s a cutthroat business. It’s hard. I mean, I do well at it, but it’s not the easiest job in the world. Well, probably not that. I’d probably just make a recommendation to continue to invest more in knowledge of other areas like marketing. I’ve never been the guy who stays up to date on all the periodicals of cutting edge sales techniques or cutting edge marketing techniques. That’s just not me. It’ll probably never be me. Right. Figure out a way to differentiate yourself. Find out what works. Be out of debt as early as possible. Don’t get the bigger house. Don’t buy the Mercedes, don’t get the Beamer. Live as simply as you possibly can. Squirrel that money away, invest it early. Then use that to start your business sooner. I was 46 or 45 when I started this business. And again, I’ve had them before, but “Wow,” I think, “what would this business have been like if I’d started when I was 40?” And what did I need, twenty grand to get started? That’s it. So yeah, go into business sooner than later and, and don’t get into debt.
Mike Munter: Cool. Are you a willing to be a mentor?
Josh Matthews: Look, I am. I don’t have a lot of time and I mentor people in my company. But if there’s the right fit and someone wants to join some of my calls, I’m more than happy to. I can also tell you, I do some training on YouTube site and something I’m really excited about that’s getting launched next Tuesday is on the Clubhouse platform, which is currently just an iOS platform. That’s almost like having a radio show where people can pipe up and you can answer questions. So, I’m going to be starting that next Tuesday with another niche, Salesforce recruiter here in the United States and possibly add one more mediator. So, anyone can jump onto any of those calls. I’m on every Friday with a different group, Friday at 8:00 AM Pacific time. Then I’ll be on Tuesdays at 9:00 AM on Clubhouse, with a different group. So, you can find me by typing in my name or typing in JoshForce into Clubhouse. And then as far as like direct mentoring, I’d be more than happy to if it’s the right fit.
Mike Munter: Gotcha. Anything that we missed here?
Josh Matthews: No, I mean, this has been great, really good questions, Mike. I’m glad to get to be a part of INSPIRERY. I think it’s a really wonderful idea. I think anything that helps people whether they’re seven years old or 70 years old, looking into getting a business, being able to learn from other people, who’ve gone through some of the challenges and find inspiration, is good. It’s all about that belief in yourself and the willingness to iterate. One thing I didn’t say is I I’ve been doing this thing. I belong to a group called Asian efficiency, which is fantastic. It’s a great group. I’m a lifetime member there. I’ve learned so many things. But one of the things that I’ve learned to do is once a month, I write down all of the accomplishments for the month. Then I write down all the failures, also. Then when we get to the year end, I can look at all of them. I’ve got a whole compilation of everything I sucked at and should learn from and everything that I did well and did right. And that really helps me to develop a better plan for the next quarter or the next year or whatever it is that I’m planning for. But when we don’t track the stuff, we miss out on the successes that we really do need to celebrate. It’s not all about, “Well, I’ll be successful when I have a boat,” that kind of stuff, and shouldn’t be like that. Like, “What did we learn from?” And I think we’ll also learn that it often takes twice as long to achieve some of the things that we want to. We always have these big, giant ambitious goals, but it does take time. So, give yourself that time and learn from your successes and your failures.
Mike Munter: Well, you are my first video interview here on Zoom for INSPIRERY. So, thank you for doing that. Thanks for your time.
Josh Matthews: It’s my pleasure, Mike. It’s always good to be on here and happy to come back.
Mike Munter: Alright. Catch you later.
Josh Matthews: All right. See you buddy.