Paul Contris Interview [August 2018] – Transcripts

Working through Tough Times in Business

Katherine: Hello, and thank you so much for joining us today on This Needs To Be Said. Our friend, Paul Contris of Welcov has joined us again. We’re going to talk about working through tough times in your business. I had to really bribe and talk really nice to Paul, because we’re talking business and I appreciate every time he comes on, because it’s not just about Welcov, which that is his business. He gets to share his experience of being a business owner, that journey, with me. I get excited about that Paul, so welcome back and thank you for bending to my will today. We’re going to talk about working through tough times in business. So anyway, welcome back to This Needs To Be Said, and how have you been?

Paul Contris: I’ve been well, thank you Katherine. How about you?

Katherine: That’s good. I’ve been fantastic, making adjustments in life, of course, but enjoying some nice weather and talking about the weather but I feel well. I’ve always been wondering, you know, different things about business, and I’m like, “Oh, I get to talk with Paul, so what do I get to ask him?” When I tell you I’ve been thinking all day long about what we’re going to talk about, you really have no idea. I literally have been thinking all day long and I’ve changed my mind. So when we finally got to the topic for today, working through tough times, I was happy, happy you said yes to that.

Katherine: So I’m in business. I’ve probably been nine years in business and I have hit a lot of hiccups, a lot of stuff I didn’t know how to do, learning things and having that hindsight 20/20, oh, I should of, could of, would of. Then I’ve also had the times of what we’re talking about today, of thinking, “Huh, I might not get through this. I might need to quit. This might not work”, but yet I find a way through. Not always the prettiest way through, but I always find a way to work it out.

Katherine: I don’t know what to blame that on, but I know that we run into those tough times and we, as entrepreneurs, don’t always have someone to talk to. So I’m fortunate, I have you, and I can talk with you about this so This Needs To Be Said audience can hear it. Welcov followers, fans, supportive family, can also hear how you’ve grown where you are and how you’ve overcome and what’s kept you in business. So, I’m going to ask you if you would share with us. I love when you share with us your stories about business. Give us, and I guess how to work through because whatever the tough place is I think it’s the same. It’s still a tough place. How do you work through that and remain in business?

Paul Contris: Well, I think you just summed it up pretty well there, Katherine. I mean I think you said it pretty well.

Katherine: I don’t think so.

Paul Contris: I think you did. You made the statement that I’ve made and every entrepreneur that has a business for any period of time basis. It’s a roller coaster ride.

Katherine: Yeah.

Paul Contris: There’s up times where things seem to be just going great and, I mean, maybe there’s a small percentage, maybe, you know, who knows? Some businesses that start out without any major challenges that just skyrocket to the top and never have those rough patches. But I don’t know if I know of any.

Katherine: Not personally. I don’t know anybody personally.

Paul Contris: Yeah, I mean it’s just that’s kind of the nature of the beast. The nature of being an entrepreneur is you need to expect to run into those situations that look like, “Oh boy, this is it. I don’t know how I’m going to get through this.”

Katherine: Um-hmm.

Paul Contris: There’s a lot of sleepless nights, lots of stress. You said it. You said, “It didn’t look like I was going to make it but somehow I just did what I had to do and I made it.” I guess that’s … It definitely happened to me on a number occasions with Welcov. Started the Welcov actually in 1997 so it’s been a little over 20 years now and again, that’s just the nature of the beast. Obviously there are certain steps and things you can do when you start running into those challenges, depending on what the challenges are. But you go back to the basics, the block and tackling. Are my expenses where they should be? Am I doing everything I can on the revenue side to maintain my margins? But you know, you really need to kind of step back and look at the market in general and say, “Hey, is … Or in your industry, what are the trends? Are there some kind of tectonic shifts that are going on here that I need to adjust for?

Katherine: Yeah.

Paul Contris: Like maybe I can’t just keep doing business as usual as I have been and that’s something that’s happened in the skilled nursing business. I mean, you know, 20 years ago skilled nursing, we were taking care of patients that are really being taken care of in assisted living right now. The shift has been because of the advent of assisted and independent living, now in skilled nursing we are taking care of very medically complex patients, patients that would have been cared for in a hospital 30, 40 years ago.

Katherine: Um-hmm.

Paul Contris: So, you know, that’s kind of one of the major changes and shifts in my industry. You look at what’s going on with retail right now with the Amazon encroaching on their market and all those businesses.

Katherine: Oh, gosh.

Paul Contris: It looks like some of the big retail players like Walmart and Macy’s are actually kind of bogged down and turning the corner. They saw what was coming and kind of adapted and adjusted their business and did their own online stuff and now they seem to be turning things around. From the biggest businesses to the smallest businesses, it’s kind of the same type of challenges and issues I think as far as when you hit those tough times kind of being able to step back and look and figure out what it is you’ve got to do to make those adjustments.

Katherine: Right.

Paul Contris: Sometimes it’s helpful I think too is if you’re able to get a third party, independent party, to look at it. Like in my business a number of times we’ve gone to investment banking firms. Individuals that see a lot of different situations and they can look at you from the outside and say, “Hey, have you thought of this? Have you done that?” Because when you’re in your own little bubble in your world, sometimes it’s hard to see the forest for the trees.

Katherine: Yeah, that’s true.

Paul Contris: You’re so caught up going from one crisis to another and then it’s sometimes good to get that independent, objective kind of review and advice. That’s one thing I’ve found helpful over the years. Yeah, I don’t know. It’s a roller coaster ride being in business for yourself, having your own business.

Katherine: So as I browse over social media, because, you know, everybody can be a business owner today and that’s fine and that’s true. I even encourage people, “Live your passion. Do what you love. If you’ve got to work, do work that you love.” We’ve heard those quotes, that thing. But when I look at … Okay, boy, I can’t wait until they really, you know, when the rubber meets the road. Because it’s easy to pick up a cute name, get your website and write a couple of blogs because writing the blog itself keeps you busy. But then you think, “Okay, well, I need to do more stuff that’s making me money as opposed to things that are costing me money.”

Katherine: And I noticed that new business owners will do a lot of things that cost them money and they think, “Oh, well, this is the …” Whatever was sold to them they were told, “Oh, this is the next new idea that’s going to take off right away,” and they’re only disappointed because it didn’t take off in 30, 60 or 90 days because somebody forgot to tell them, “Oh, you’re going to need years of experience and you’re going to need patience and you’re going to need to expect that you’re not going to go through this ride of being an entrepreneur smoothly.” They get frustrated. So building up your entrepreneurial muscle is what I’m talking about here. What do you recommend for entrepreneurs? As we’re going through, you said to expect there’s going to be conflict.

Katherine: What are some things that we could do? I guess I’m thinking like a fire, like there’s a fire we’re going to need to escape. Our exit before we have the actual fire we practice some things. So I’m asking you, are there some things that an entrepreneur can practice before they actually run into tough time?

Paul Contris: Wow! I guess one thing comes to mind always is just the idea of the concept of persistence, not giving up. You’re going to get knocked down and when you get knocked down you got to get back up and keep going. Because it is, it’s pretty … It’s kind of human nature you get knocked down it’s like, “Oh, that wasn’t pleasant. I don’t want to do that again. I’m going to give up and try something else.” Obviously there are certain situations when maybe you need to try something. It’s just not going to work. I don’t know. I think if you have, like you said, something that you think is a viable concept and you’re passionate about it, you really need to give it your best shot and not let any kind of interim set back or defeat make you give up. You just got to go at it and keep going.

Katherine: Um-hmm. I have one more question for you before we wrap up here today, Paul. I hear people say, “If it’s for you, it’ll be easy.” What do you say about that as far as business goes? If it’s for you, if this is what you’re supposed to be doing, it will be easy.

Paul Contris: Wow! You know, I hate to … This sound negative. That sounds good to me but it seems to me most of the entrepreneurs or people who own their own business, I don’t know if they’d say it’s easy but if it’s a labor of love … It’s like my dad used to say, “Anything worthwhile is worth working for.” That’s what gets you that satisfaction. The fulfillment of making it work is the fact that it was so hard. If it’s so easy I guess … It sounds nice but I don’t know. From my own experiences, having your own business is … It’s very challenging.

Katherine: Yeah. I think getting into business is easy. Staying in business is the work.

Paul Contris: Well, there you go.

Katherine: And that’s when you decide is this what you really want and what I say to people, Paul, is if I’m going to struggle. Because I thought I thought about it before I started my business. I’ve lost jobs. I’ve even had to quit them … You know, I had children or schedule change or I’ve been fired from jobs, like some of my life was in someone else’s hands. It depended on what they said. If I could go spend time with my kids at their school or if I could take time off for my child being sick. For me the motivation was the flexibility of being able to do the things I found important and not depending on what someone else said was important. But you also got to be good at something. You need to be good at something more than I need flexibility. But when you don’t work, you don’t eat.

Katherine: So you have to determine, “Okay, if I can’t do a five day schedule or I can’t find a job with a three day schedule that will accommodate what I need and what’s important in my world, then I’m going to have to create the opportunity. That’s how it happened for me. It was out of necessity and I discovered, “You know what? I don’t have to create a sick voice or have a doctor’s note or I don’t have to be an impersonator of something in order to get time off from this person’s job. I need to take control of my life because no one else is that interested in what is important to me.” I found that out on jobs.

Katherine: If you don’t have a job that’s accommodating to what you need, and this is for families with special needs children, small children. Maybe you’re married. Like you have so many things to consider but when we go get a job we’re just thinking, “Oh, they’re going to pay me and I can work these hours,” and then forget that they don’t care about the rest of your world as much as you do. Now, if you find a company out there that does, please give that company … And I’m not saying everybody should be an entrepreneur and that they should start their own business, that’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying in my scenario is that it was a challenge for me to find a job that was going to really fit the needs of what my family needed.

Katherine: Yes, we need money but is this job going to be the best suited for me and me being a mom of boys? And they were boys. They were rowdy and in stuff. They don’t always give you time off for boys that are flexing their muscles. It was a challenge for me. I encourage people to … You really have to take charge of your life and decide what’s going to work for you. As an entrepreneur it makes it worth it for me to fight to stay on this journey because I know what it was like on the other side for me. Everybody consider entrepreneur journey different ways, whether it’s a family business, you start your own out of necessity, out of, you know, I just absolutely doing whatever this is and I can’t stop. Whatever it is for you. It doesn’t mean that it’s going to be easy because that’s what you chose or what you felt like called you.

Katherine: And so, Paul, because you’re my senior in business for sure, I think that I’m on the right track a little bit because there’s conflict and there’s resolution and there are growing pains and then there are moments that we get to succeed and then you get back to work. You’ve shared a lot with us here today and I appreciate that as always. Is there anything else you would like to leave to This Needs To Be Said audience with on today? You told us to expect that there are going to be hard times and to just work through those things, reflect on how we got where we are. But is there anything else you’d like to leave the audience with today?

Paul Contris: You know, I don’t think so. I think your comments are right on point. I think you summed it up pretty well there.

Katherine: It must be a good thing.

Paul Contris: Yeah.

Katherine: Well, Paul, until next time I want to say thank you so much for stopping by This Needs To Be Said and chatting and giving me an opportunity to talk business with you once again. If you don’t mind before we get finished here, go ahead and let people know how to get in touch with you and Welcov outside of This Needs To Be Said.

Paul Contris: Yeah, that would be our website, the Welcov website, www.welcov.com.

Katherine: Awesome, Paul. Have a wonderful day and until next time. Talk to you.

Paul Contris: Thank you, Katherine. Bye now.