Mehul Sheth Small Business Horsepower

Mehul Sheth was born in Pennsylvania to Indian immigrants and grew up in New Jersey. After getting married, he and his wife moved to San Diego. Mehul’s hard work, perseverance and instinct turned the business that was started in his parents basement in NJ into a multi million dollar distribution company. Mehul lives in Carlsbad CA, with his wife and boy/girl twins. He still is a NY Jet’s Fan despite living 3,000 and spending 25 years away from the field.

Topics we covered:

  • How a series of unexpected turns lead to his building a business around podcasting
  • Achieving career highs through networking for his podcast
  • Tips on creating a podcast and business made to last and grow

This episode is brought to you by “Podcast Accelerator Challenge“. I’ve been using podcasting as a powerful business growing tool for years. Nothing is more powerful than podcasting for help businesses grow. If you’re tired of playing roulette with your ad dollars and frustrated with algorithms constantly changing on social media platforms, the only thing that has changed about podcasting is the popularity of the platform.

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Select Links from the Episode:

Show Notes:

  • (1:58) How Mehul helps and showcases small businesses with his company and podcasting 
  • (02:39) From getting fired to lighting his own fire and starting a business
  • (05:00) The realistic journey of entrepreneurship led by dedication and commitment 
  • (05:45) How selling his business and writing a book became the start of Mehul’s podcasting journey
  • (07:09) Choosing podcasting because of its power to circulate inspirational stories of his and guests alike
  • (08:02) A crucial soft skill for every entrepreneur that is immensely improved through podcasting. 
  • (09:17) Building a network and career with podcasting 
  • (11:17) How the network he built with podcasting landed him an interview with a former NFL star, Jerry Seinfeld’s cousin, and a reality TV sensation.
  • (16:36) The key considerations in formulating interview questions bound to make an impact 
  • (18:53) Why Mehul considers this moment to be the most successful achievement he’s had with his podcast thus far
  • (21:59) Why the ability to scale and grow your small business is paramount in building a sustainable business
  • (23:35) How losing his $8 million company instilled and strengthened the growth mindset he has today
  • (25:49) Quality over quantity: the benefits of keeping your podcast episodes at 30 minutes maximum
  • (26:56) Consistency will be your best friend in growing your podcast audience

Transcript:

Cliff Duvernois: Today’s episode is brought to you by podcast pipeline. We’ll take care of all your podcast production so you can focus on your business. Visit us at PodcastPipeline.com. 

Cliff Duvernois: Hey, they’re world changers and welcome to Entrepreneurs on Podcasting. Now today’s guest was born in Pennsylvania to Indian immigrants and grew up in New Jersey. After getting married, he and his wife moved to San Diego. Now for our guest, his hard work and perseverance and instinct turned the business that was started by his parents’ basement in New Jersey, into a multimillion dollar distribution company, which he then turned around and sold to a huge company. 

Cliff Duvernois: He lives in Carlsbad, California with his wife and his twins, a boy and a girl. Today he’s playing small business consultant and he has started the popular Small Business Horsepower Podcast. And when he’s not busy being a New York jets fan, despite living 3000 miles away and spending 25 ways your field, uh, he is out there interviewing guests for his podcast and providing extreme value to his audience. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the show. Mehul Sheth. 

Cliff Duvernois: Mehul, how are you? Tell us a little bit more about, the small business consulting agency that you have.

Mehul Sheth: Oh, I’m doing great. And thanks for having me on the program. I really appreciate it. Well, I’m, I’m helping small companies grow. And that’s why I was telling you a little bit before we started, where I have a website called small business horsepower. And the idea there is to have guests on my podcast, which is called small business horsepower.

Mehul Sheth: But at the same time, if people want more information and want help building a small business, as I did, I can help those companies as well. So that’s what I’m trying to accomplish, help companies. And then also give back. And, and bring out the great stories of companies that have built small businesses.

Cliff Duvernois: Now, why is it important for you to give back to the, to the small business community?

Mehul Sheth: It goes back to that word horsepower. I think that’s what it’s all about because I remember, as you said, I started this business at, I was 27 years old. I got fired from my day job. My boss at the time I worked in the world trade center. He had a cigar outside of the human resources manager’s office.

Mehul Sheth: As they’re asking me to leave the company telling me that I’m no good. And that was the day I started my business from my parents’ basement. As you referenced here, uh, to open the show and I started with about $25,000, no leads, no business plan, no contacts, no idea exactly what I was gonna do. I had an idea of what I’d like to do.

Mehul Sheth: And then we can get into that if needed, how I got there, but when I started it, I, I, I delivered food on the side to people’s houses. I mean, when I came out to California I sold encyclopedia Britanica to people. I got the worst leads because I was building this business and I wasn’t a full-time.

Mehul Sheth: These people were buying CDs at the time, but here I was sent out to sell a $2,000 set of encyclopedias. And I would do that in my suit, in the heat of San Diego, in the inner city, earning a $400 commission on the weekend. I did that to keep my business alive. So to get back to your question, When you do those things to keep your dream and your passion alive, you know, what horsepower it takes to get there.

Mehul Sheth: And you realize how hard it is to get there and having that realization, I feel like, and knowing what it takes to get there, I feel like I can help other people.

Cliff Duvernois: And I gotta say, I, I absolutely love. That story about you having to take on side hustles just to keep the business going. Because I think there’s a lot of entrepreneurs that, are starting out or maybe they’re six months in or a year in whatever it is that are having to work these side gigs in order to keep money coming in too, keep food in front of their family and to, pay the bills to keep the electricity turned on.

Mehul Sheth: That’s correct. That’s what it’s all about because you know, That it’s going to take as an entrepreneur, a period of time to build any venture. It just doesn’t happen in one day or two days. So you have to say, okay, if I’m dedicated and committed to building that venture, I have to do whatever I can to feed my wife, my family, my husband, whatever.

Mehul Sheth: Right. Uh, for a period of time. And that’s so important that you have that mindset going.

Cliff Duvernois: Yeah I agree. And so you’ve got the, you’ve got the small business consulting agency. You’ve got a very defined mission. Why did you decide to get into podcasting?

Mehul Sheth: I have some great stories over the last 21 years of owning the company. And then when I sold it five and a half years ago, I was a local CEO until this January. So 27 years in my own business, or partly my own business for most of the time. And. I started to write a little book about putting down some anecdotes from.

Mehul Sheth: The travels that I’ve had the meetings, I’ve had some of the fun stories and the relationships that you make, which is what business is all about. And so one day I was talking to my sister on the phone and I was, this was during the opening of the pandemic March, 2020. And I was like, yeah, I’m working on this book and I’m struggling a little bit putting the ideas down and she goes, You know, you’d probably be great doing a podcast.

Mehul Sheth: I said, what is the podcast? I’ve never heard of it. And I never listened to one. And she said, well, you should cuz it’s during the pandemic, people are home and you’d probably be able to tell your stories on a podcast and have people to listen to it. So I said, all right, let me look into it. But then when I started.

Mehul Sheth: Looking into it. And I thought about it. Yeah. I could tell my story and I’ve got some good ones and I might get to that. But what I really enjoyed was finding great guests who have their own story. Right. Everybody has a story. Whatever that story is, you have a story. I have a story and all my guests have great stories and I love bringing out those great stories to my listeners.

Cliff Duvernois: The story is a very powerful way for you to impart knowledge, impart wisdom, as well as imparting experience. So that way people can listen to your story, they can learn.

Cliff Duvernois: So if you say, Hey, here’s a story. This is where I made a mistake. This is what I did. This is what I did to fix it. Then here, here is the outcome. It gives the audience a chance to live through that without really experiencing the pain, but really take advantage of that knowledge that you’ve learned from that mistake.

Mehul Sheth: If you listen and pay attention, you learn from other people’s mistakes. Right? And that’s one of the problems that I’ve always had. I mean, I’m being honest in a lot of entrepreneurs. We have small businessmen, personalities, or business women. We like to listen to ourselves talk and that we like to listen to ourselves more.

Mehul Sheth: And then we like to listen to ourselves more again, and we’re not listening. I’ve never been known as the greatest listener. I just love to talk. And really by doing this podcast, I’ll tell you this. It’s helped my listening skills because I have to let the guests talk and explain their story. It’s not about my story.

Mehul Sheth: So that’s actually helped me grow my listening skills. And so back to your question, the people that are looking to get into business by listening to some of these things, They’re listening rather than talking. Right? Cuz they can’t talk during somebody else’s podcast, they’re actually listening to ideas and hopefully some of those ideas will generate some benefits for them going forward.

Cliff Duvernois: I love that entire approach. really highlight it. What, what has podcasting done for your business?

Mehul Sheth: I’ve made my whole career networking. When I started a company and I’ve been in the aviation distribution business of consumables, representing big companies and selling materials to airlines, to aircraft maintenance facilities, to satellite builders. I got into this, that business by accident, which is another story.

Mehul Sheth: I didn’t know anything about it. I never, I wasn’t a technical guy. I wasn’t a patent guy. I wasn’t a sealant guy. I wasn’t a coding guy, but you know what I was, I was a networker. I could take part a

Cliff Duvernois: Be.

Mehul Sheth: and relate it to part B. And so to answer your question directly, I think what this does is right along the line of something I’ve done my whole career.

Mehul Sheth: Which is networking. I network with my guests. I keep in touch with my guests. They introduce me to other people then who introduce me to other people who introduce me to other people. And some of those people may need my help to help them grow their small business or something else.

Mehul Sheth: But I think that’s what it is all about for, for me. Is that skill of networking and that’s what my podcast helps accomplish.

Cliff Duvernois: Beautiful. I’m coming up with these Cliff’s laws of podcasting and Law number one is podcasting is the ultimate relationship building tool. Perfect for networking. It allows you to have access to people that you normally wouldn’t have access to. So it’s, it’s good to hear that you are really using it to. Really to scale, you’re already innate ability to network with others.

Mehul Sheth: I’ll tell you a great story about that. Listen to this. So I went to high school with Eddie Dean Eddie was a kicker and and he played some other positions. Then he went to Delaware, university of Delaware. We kinda lost touch after high school, university of Delaware. He was the kicker rich G. Who was an NFL MVP quarterback, super bowl.

Mehul Sheth: Winning quarterback was his holder at Delaware. Then he went into real estate, went down to his last dollar, went to Brooklyn. We’re from New Jersey. He basically hawked his watch. One time to pour gas in his car. That’s how low he went in terms of money. He turned that around to become a bartender.

Mehul Sheth: Someone said, well, while you’re doing your dream real estate, why don’t you bartend on the side from a bartender? He became a bar owner out in Brooklyn. Then he owned two more in Manhattan. Then he went Ibiza, Spain and found the owners of Pasha, one of the largest and most Vibrant nightclub in the world.

Mehul Sheth: And he brought Pasha to the USA, to New York city and then had the largest nightclub in the United States. Steve Wyn tried to buy the rights to it and everyone else. And. We became friends about 15 years ago, we’re really close friends. And I had him on my podcast on my second episode, the Eddie Dean episode, while Eddie Dean, you’re talking about networking.

Mehul Sheth: He. In his fantasy football league has Evan Seinfeld, Evan Seinfeld’s, Jerry Seinfeld’s cousin. And he had a band called biohazard. He sold 5 million albums and he liked this TV show called Oz on HBO. So they invited him and he became one of the stars on the show. And then let me put it in a gen sweet terms.

Mehul Sheth: One of the leading adult film actresses loved the show, wanted to meet him. He ended up marrying her and taking her website and everything to number one and so on and so forth made millions of dollars. And he played on a stage during biohazard with David Bowie. John Bonham is his best friend. They were on a reality show together.

Mehul Sheth: And this guy did my podcast. So you talk about networking. You’ve gotta know a guy in high school, Eddie deed and rich cannons is holder. He becomes the largest nightclub in the us. He’s friends with Jerry Seinfeld’s, cousin, Evan, who in his own right sold 5 million albums became a TV star and then a creative talent.

Mehul Sheth: In the adult business and the next thing you know, he’s on your podcast. So that’s how, what networking and knowing people is all about and how it helps you get

Cliff Duvernois: Yeah. It’s one of the things with podcasting and having a podcast is it gives you access to people that you just normally wouldn’t have access to.

Mehul Sheth: Absolutely. We had some great stories. We had Allison Jordan. She went by Allison wait was a Playboy playmate, has a master’s degree from San Diego state. And what happened was her and her husband went to a restaurant. She was pregnant, had Perrier and her friends have six bottles of wine.

Mehul Sheth: And then they split the bill. She was not happy. She told her husband about it. And the next thing they do, her husband said, let’s do something about it. And they developed an app where you put your money on your credit card. Some the other couple puts it on their credit card. You order, before you even sit down, the house gets paid, the chef gets paid and nobody splits the tab.

Mehul Sheth: So they started that company together and she was on the episode. I’ve been fortunate to have so many great guests. You never know who you’re going to have on your show.

Cliff Duvernois: You’re you’re absolutely right. Let’s go back to when you first launched your podcast, why don’t you tell us what one of your biggest struggles were?

Mehul Sheth: Well, I mean, one of the biggest struggles is obviously what questions you’re gonna ask. How, what your audience is gonna find. Interesting. Cause you may find something interesting, right? Like if you, your mindset is, Hey, I know cuz what I, let me go back a little bit when I, my first guess were people that I knew from.

Mehul Sheth: Working with people. For example, my first guest, he works for a large corporation that helped me build my distribution business when I own the company. And even after I was local CEO and sold it. So you know that person and you can have a banter with that person. You know them personally, but you have to think okay, what are the guests gonna get out of this?

Mehul Sheth: What are your listeners gonna get out of it? It can’t be just a fun session between the two of you. You could do that on the phone later. So I think that was the biggest challenge at the beginning, trying to ask questions. That an audience can benefit from later, that becomes a little easier. And I’ll tell you why, because later you run out of people, you know, that you won on the program and you start having people that you’ve never met.

Mehul Sheth: So you have a little bit of a more formal relationships with the questions just. Develop that way anyway, but at the beginning you have people that you’ve worked with for years and you have to respect that the audience doesn’t know that or want to know.

Cliff Duvernois: Yeah, I agree. I wanna circle back to one of the points that you mentioned before is, you know, making sure that the episodes that you’re producing, whether they’re solo episodes or they’re interview episodes, you gotta remember that, in addition to using it, to build your network, you gotta create content that people are going to find interest.

Cliff Duvernois: That’s going to speak to your, to your ideal listener, avatar, so to speak. So with your podcast, I you’ve talked about, you’ve had some pretty big names on there. Is there a single, like a really big success that you’ve seen from your podcast, or maybe you’ve helped somebody out or something with your podcast that you would like to share.

Mehul Sheth: I had John Warlow on and he had me on his podcast. He came on my podcast. And he’s got a show called Built to Sell Radio. He’s got over 300, some episodes. The guy is amazing. And I learned so much from his podcast. And I, I think my guest did, because he talks more about like how listen, this guy owned a company, he was ready to sell it.

Mehul Sheth: It was so successful. And when he went to sell it, nobody paid for it. So he asked the guy, why didn’t you buy it? He said, cuz it’s about you. If I buy it and you leave tomorrow, we’re done.

Cliff Duvernois: Oh,

Mehul Sheth: So he turned around and his whole podcast, his books, everything is based on how to build your business so that someday it could sell.

Mehul Sheth: And he goes into some very interesting stories about that. And if you listen to my podcast with John Warlow, he, he could learn a lot about it. But I think that that episode, when I talked to some of the listeners that I even know personally, who subscribe to my podcast, they really benefited from that because building a business. Is great. A small business, not everyone builds it to sell. Okay. John Warlow goes into the fact that some people just build it to build it and they wanna build it as fast as possible. And if they have to take investors and partners, which aren’t always the best to have when you’re trying to sell it, they don’t care because they just want to get top of the mountain. They’re a mountain climber. They want to climb it at any cost. 

Mehul Sheth: Then you have other people who say, okay, let’s be a little strategic about this. I, I’m not gonna have partners and investors right away. It’s gonna be more of an organic approach. It’s gonna take time, more time, less investment by other people.

Mehul Sheth: But when I’m ready to sell it, I own it. I control it. I sell it to who I want. And. It’s a different way. So I think that episode really resonated with my audience because at the everyone’s looking at, Hey, if I build it, what is my exit strategy at some point?

Cliff Duvernois: A lot of people, a lot of entrepreneurs that are out there building a business they’re they don’t, they don’t see that, Hey, you know what? This could be a business business that I could build up and sell one day. Uh, I think what it is is their primary focus is how do I just pay the bills this month?

Mehul Sheth: Absolutely. The problem with that is. It may not be a great successful business over a long period of time, because as what happened in my business, you reach a certain mass of a business, right? If you start it like I did in my parents’ basement and you take it.

Cliff Duvernois: Yes.

Mehul Sheth: 21 years, you get to that point where you either have to keep investing to get bigger and bigger as companies get bigger today.

Mehul Sheth: Right? The big guys get bigger. The I always say the, uh, Circuit Cities were pushed out by the Best Buys. The Best Buys were challenged by the Targets. The Targets were challenged by the Walmarts and the Walmarts were challenged by the Amazons. Right? When you look at it, the bigger guys are getting bigger, or there’s a guy that can work from his basement.

Mehul Sheth: Like I did with very little overhead and bring in some money, but you can’t stay idle in that. So as you start building and reach a certain critical mass, you’re either gonna have to either keep investing or you’re gonna have to do what I did, which is you’re gonna have to tie your cart. To a more powerful horse.

Mehul Sheth: And in order to tie your cart to a more powerful horse, you have to build your business in such a way that the people that own that horse are going to wanna buy it. And it’s gotta be sellable because they’ve gotta feel that they can pick it up and run it basically without you for long term.

Cliff Duvernois: certainly. And that’s actually a really good analogy that you just used there, tying your business to a horse and then having that horse turn around and buy it some day. So is there like an example that you could give to kinda like make that a little bit more concrete?

Mehul Sheth: I look at my own business. We were on our way up, we reached about $8 million in sales from $25,000 when we first started it and it looked like we were gonna grow like crazy. And then that bank crisis, that world crisis hit in 2000.

Mehul Sheth: What was it? Eight, nine that.

Cliff Duvernois: Yeah. Yeah.

Mehul Sheth: 2008 nine. The next thing I know the banks are calling me saying, we’re terming out your credit line. I said, uh, excuse me, why are you turning out my credit line? I never made, I never missed a payment. I’m in good shape. Well, it wasn’t, I was in bad shape. It was that the bankers were in bad shape and they were just turning out.

Mehul Sheth: So then if you don’t have partners or investors, like I didn’t then bankers are your business partners. And if bankers are terming out, growth capital, then you’re struggling. And so I struggled from that period and I made my way through it, but quite frankly, I’ll put it on the table. The company was never the same in terms of growth pattern after that.

Mehul Sheth: And so that’s an example of my cart was still going down the road, but. There were bumps in that road and the horse was drinking water every 10 minutes. So what did I do when the my, the company that bought me found me, I found a more powerful horse. I took my horse off, tied their horse to my cart. And we started growing again with their cash flow, with everything with I mean, that’s what it’s all about is you have to have a horse that can carry that cash flow through.

Mehul Sheth: One

Cliff Duvernois: Nice. Now the question I got for you is you’ve got your business. You’ve got this podcast. You’ve had some. Had some really impressive people on your podcast for the entrepreneur, the small business owner that’s out there right now. They have a podcast, maybe they’re struggling with it. What would be a, what like one or two pieces of advice that you would give them?

Mehul Sheth: don’t make it so long. I talked to you before this started, I said, Hey, how long will this podcast be? You said 30 minutes. That’s what I do. My podcast goes 25 to 35 minutes. Max. Why? Because I listen to some other podcasts with some famous people. And I guess people listen to ’em cuz they’re famous, but an hour and 15 minutes later, Feels like the guest is kind of falling asleep and the host is interjecting his or her stuff and going on and on about things.

Mehul Sheth: And you just don’t know when the damn thing is gonna end. I like that 30 minutes, because you could be in your car and you can drive somewhere and listen to it. Cuz the biggest thing I hear from people is like, I like to listen to it when I’m in my car and I’m driving, but then if they’re only driving for 15 minutes, they don’t wanna listen to it cuz they don’t want to turn it off and back on, but they don’t wanna spend two hours listening to the same episode in the car either.

Mehul Sheth: So that 30 minutes is the first thing it gives you. The second thing is my audience is starting to grow. And I’m happy with that, but it’s taken time. I’m not gonna lie. I mean, the first episode you make and you look at how many listeners you had when they, your, you look at your host and they tell you these statistics, it’s not rosy.

Mehul Sheth: It’s like building any other business. You start from scratch. There’s thousands and millions of podcasts out there that you’re competing in that space. Let’s face it. And it’s not like everyone’s gonna leave the, uh, Joe Rogan show and come to your podcast and you’re gonna have a million listeners within one episode.

Mehul Sheth: but you have to stick to it. For example my host sent me a badge of honor after making 20 episodes. I’m like, what is that about? and what I found out. Most people don’t even make it to 20 episodes. Uh, most statistics, I, you would know more than me, but apparently people don’t even make it to 10 episodes.

Mehul Sheth: They make three or four episodes. They say, Hey, nobody’s listening. And the next thing they’re out playing golf where, if they have to carry it through. So I’m in my 23rd episode and I’m still trying to build my listening audience. But I’m not deterred because I, the people that do listen, give me good feedback.

Mehul Sheth: And I stay true to it and hope that someday I will get a good base of listeners.

Cliff Duvernois: Nice. I absolutely love that. Don’t make the episode so long and just know that you’re gonna start out small, but consistency is gonna help you definitely grow your audience.

Mehul Sheth: Consistency. Everything in business, small business podcasting that you referenced. I’m a jets fan. I’m not only a fan. I’m a season ticket holder. I live in California, but I go to three, four games a year. Now that’s one. Event where the team hasn’t had consistency. So I’m also an idiot for that. But other than that, everything needs consistency right in life.

Mehul Sheth: If you’re a golfer which I’ve taken up, if you go out once a year in play, nothing’s gonna happen. If you play once a month, not much is gonna happen. If you play once a week, you’re gonna get better. But you’re gonna peak. If you play two or three times a week, your less rest of your life may collapse, but you’re gonna be pretty good.

Mehul Sheth: So it’s about the effort, the consistency, and that’s what all goes into horsepower. And that’s why my podcast is called small business horse.

Cliff Duvernois: Beautiful. Love it. Speaking of which, if somebody’s listening to this and they wanna check out your podcast online or your website or whatever it is, what’s the best way for them to do that.

Mehul Sheth: Online, we’re on apple podcasts. We’re on Spotify. We’re on Google podcasts, all of those pod bean, which is our host, all of those. You can find the small business horsepower podcast by mahi chef. We’ve got 23 episodes. We’ve got a couple more that I’m recording that I’m very excited about. And the other place you can find it is on our website, which is small business horsepower.com.

Cliff Duvernois: Nice. And for our audience, we will have those links in the show notes down below Mahol. It’s been great having you on the podcast today. I’m loving your stories. You’ve had some very interesting characters on your podcast. But yeah, once again, thanks again for taking time to chat with us today.

Mehul Sheth: Thank you for having me on the show. I really appreciate it.