The Sharpest Tool™

Allan Draper | How to Reach Your Goals through Visualization, Consistency and Finding Your Why

Allan Draper is the CEO and Co-Founder of proof. Pest Control. Scaling his own business from an idea to a thriving enterprise, Allan shares what it takes to see significant growth using visualization and goal-setting.

Alan Draper (00:03):


Josh Smith (00:03):

Hello everyone. Welcome back to the sharpest tool where we take this thing out of marketing. My name is Josh. I am your host and the vice president of marketing for home services here at scorpion. Today, I have the pleasure of jumping back in the virtual booth with Alan Draper. Alan is the CEO of proof pest control in Arizona, which he co-founded with his brother. And in just six years, he grew it into an eight figure enterprise across seven states. And as we learned on our last episode, just within the past eight days opened up two new locations. So Alan's a serial entrepreneur investor, business growth expert attorney and podcast house, and the hats just keep piling themselves on. As we learn more about him, he specializes in scaling businesses and helping entrepreneurs transform an idea into a thriving business. He's a proud father, husband, passionate about volunteering in his community. It's so good to have you back, Alan. Welcome back to the

Alan Draper (00:55):

Podcast. Hey, thanks, Josh. Glad to be

Josh Smith (00:57):

Here. Awesome. For those who might've missed episode one, and if you have missed it, go back, check it out. It's awesome. Alan, why don't you give us a little bit of a elevator pitch insight into who you are, your role a little bit about proof.

Alan Draper (01:10):

Yeah, we started proof started working on proof in 2014. I started with, with my brother and we opened our first branch in Detroit, Michigan of all places. And since then we've added seven branches in six additional states and yeah, we just continue to grow and, and have a passion for that. And for our nonprofit branch of our company, which is called proof gives back and I'm involved in a bunch of other businesses. I, I own a portion of a company called scorpion repel, which uses a non pesticide product to seal scorpions out of homes. And, you know, I think my passion is really talking with people and helping scale their businesses, as well as my own.

Josh Smith (01:59):

I love that, you know, we didn't get a quick snapshot in our prior episode of proof where it was in 2014 when you and your brother were starting it up versus where it is now. Can you tell us a little bit about the growth you've seen over the past seven years? Yeah,

Alan Draper (02:13):

So, and it's been technically just over, just over six, we started working on it in 2014, but we didn't have our first sales until about mid March of 2015. So we just hit our six year anniversary, well into the eight figures. We're a PC PCT top. I don't know what we'd be top 40 or 50, um, in terms of gross revenue. And you know, we're really proud about that, but I think there's some other things where we're even more proud about. We added 33% of our employee force during COVID. So other companies were laying off and we hired 33% more help and we're continuing to grow and, uh, eventually want to become a household name for home services. I

Josh Smith (02:59):

Love that. So on the first episode together, we, we dove into the details of scaling, why it matters different things to think about and whether or not it's the right time for you and steps you can take to really do it successfully. Now I'm curious of lessons that maybe you've learned from different mentors and coaches, what, or who are some of the biggest influences that have had an impact in terms of your ability to lead and scale businesses?

Alan Draper (03:24):

So I've been reading business books since I was probably 16 or 17. I just was really interested in and, you know, expanding my view of what was possible. I grew up in a really small town and to be honest, people don't really leave. They don't, even though there aren't really jobs there, the town I grew up in it actually gets smaller over time. There are a couple thousand people there, but it's a little bit of a trap because it's kind of both geographically and metaphorically separated from the rest of the world. The nearest Walmart's about 30, 45 minutes away and in a completely different town. And I have a couple of siblings that still live there. And as I started to read, I started to realize what was possible. And it was weird because I don't have any direct mentors per se. I have a couple of people in my life that have definitely helped, but reading is what really allowed me to view what was possible. And I always say that my best mentors are the authors of books and I've never met before

Josh Smith (04:34):

All of that. Likewise, I share that sentiment. There's just so much knowledge. If you just pick up a book and unpack it. And my goal with every book that I read and I tell this to everybody is find one thing. If you take one thing that you can apply today, it'll change everything, right? And so if you have all this knowledge that you read in books and it sits up here, it's not actually doing anything for you. It may make you think differently, but you've got to actually execute on what you're learning. And it's definitely something that seems like it manifested itself with obviously all the success that you've had. I'm going to talk a little bit about vision and setting goals with this. And I know when we talked last time, you had a very specific vision in mind of what you wanted to do when entering into business with your brother for proof specifically. So tell us a bit about what role vision plays in your business.

Alan Draper (05:22):

Well, I love this word vision too, and it's, it's becoming kind of cliche, but I like kind of the visual aspect of vision. And I always use vision versus a goal or, um, you know, uh, landmark or whatever benchmark, because in order for it to, to be a vision, you have to visualize it. Right. And I, every morning as part of my morning routine, I'll go through my visions and I'll spend five to 10 minutes on a specific vision of where I want to be in five years. And I break my goals and visions into seven different categories. But for example, if one is professional, I'll sit there for five minutes and I will visualize, I'll see myself in 5, 10, 15 years. I'll see that, you know, my hair is a little gray or I have a little less hair. I don't know whatever's going to happen, but I see myself and I think about what, who am I surrounded by?

Alan Draper (06:17):

Where am I sitting? What does it, what does it look like to attain that vision? Who did I bring with me? Who's helped me get there and all these things, but with proof and specifically in terms of, you know, creating a vision for a company it's so important because it helps answer questions before you have the questions. A lot of people will come to me and they'll say, Hey, Alan, you know, I've got an extra 30 grand, what should I do with it? And I'll say, well, it depends. It depends on your vision. What is your vision for your company? Where do you want to be in 5, 10, 15 years? And so it helps in terms of both attaining your vision and in terms of solving problems, because even down to personnel issues, you know, if one of your core values, one of your visions for your company is, is to help people grow. Personally. Maybe you hold on to a guy a little longer than you normally would because you want to see that progress. Yeah.

Josh Smith (07:15):

Yeah. I love that. I love the visual aspect too. And I think it's sometimes you don't spend enough time doing that, but it's interesting, the minute you start visualizing things, how the path starts to become a bit clear in terms of what actions you should take. And it sounds so corny to visualize it, you know, but there really is helpful because you start to respond and act differently, according to whatever target you're aiming to hit. Now, how do you see that different from maybe goal setting and how do you implement goal setting for the business?

Alan Draper (07:47):

So it's very similar, but creating a vision for your company and creating a trajectory has more to do with kind of the emotion behind it and the why behind it, as opposed to just numbers. So when you're leading a company and, and you're, you know, for example, a goal would be, let's do $5 million in revenue this year. Um, the vision would be, Hey, let's do $5 million in revenue because we want to be able to do XYZ. And we like, we like what that's going to do to our company and our personnel. I think a vision for a company as you know, the trajectory slash goals for the future of the company, injected with some emotion.

Josh Smith (08:36):

I love that define a good goal for me. What does it really mean to set good goals in the home services industry? So,

Alan Draper (08:43):

So I mean, there's the smart goals, right? So it has to be specific and measurable and attainable and, and all those things. But I think it has to be consistent also with the company. Right. I don't think if, you know, you're, you're into landscaping, that one of your goals should be to, you know, open a restaurant or whatever right. Within the shell of that company. But I think the goals that you set are just, you know, they're just a reflection of the company, creating goals, just, you know, it gives you a little bit of a roadmap. And a lot of times, especially with companies, you'll set a goal or you'll set a budget or you'll set a, you know, a benchmark and you'll get halfway there and then you'll pivot a little bit, you'll realize, Hey, you know what, we were off, off base when we set this and that's okay. It's okay. It's, it's better than to get halfway there and keep going in the wrong direction. Yeah.

Josh Smith (09:43):

You know, you know, what comes to mind too is, um, I think there's a lot of business owners too, especially on the smaller side, they're just getting started out. Everything's so money driven. It's so about, it's all about the numbers and which is important. You got to put that in its proper place. Right. But there's something that strikes me about how you've been shaping business as the, uh, the focus on culture, right. On things like the, the proof gives charity that you started. And there's so many more things that you have attention on that kind of, they seem to like a small business owner counter to like, well, how do I just make money? Right. So you got to kind of have that, but you also want to balance it with these other aspects of not just like, what do you want that end result to be, but who do you want to be as a business owner? Who do you want to be as a company? And sometimes I think that the more toxic cultures have a, they don't have a really clear idea of vision understanding of what their culture goals are. How important was that to you to set that up from the beginning? Or is that something that maybe came a little bit later down the road,

Alan Draper (10:47):

We actually were working on creating our core values and our purpose long before budgets and, and other things came into play. And the interesting, interesting thing about using monetary goals as the end all be all, and you hit the nail on the head, they're mandatory, they're necessary. You need to have them otherwise the business, no matter how noble their altruistic goals are, if they can't keep themselves afloat, then they can't reach those ends. But the interesting thing about purely monetary goals is that study after study has shown that money is not the greatest motivator and, and money is not even an end of itself. Money always represents something else. For some people it's security for some others, it's material possessions, right. It's money is, is means to an end. And people sometimes they'll put too much weight on it and it doesn't get them to where they want to be.

Alan Draper (11:46):

The interesting thing is that if you get the culture of your company, right, you get the vision of your company, right? Get the core values, the mission statement, all these kind of cliche things. You get those right in the beginning and they can evolve over time. That's okay. But if you get those right, the money's going to come guaranteed. It will come, you get those things, right. And you focus on those things. The money will come. Now, if you focus solely on money, a lot of people say, you know what? I need to make money. And then I'll focus on my, on my mission. Then I'll focus on giving back to my community. Then I'll focus more on my personnel. That rarely happens when money is, is the first thing. And so I think that's a key distinguishing factor between setting visions and merely setting monetary or metric goals.

Josh Smith (12:34):

You know, the thought that was coming to mind too about that is a, I always think of it like goals, financial goals, super important, understand it, know what it is, then put it on a shelf and don't look at it for a bit. And now focus on the day-to-day things, the things, the actions, the culture of the pieces that are going to ultimately make the team do the things necessary that are geared towards an oriented towards that goal. Cause I love how you put it. There's, it's always a representation of something. And the interesting thing about money is you could always make more, I mean, the goals a little bit arbitrary, I mean, you set it as like a target, a barometer for success, but is that the thing that is ultimately going to be the most fulfilling thing for you and the team and the people that are in your employ and more often than not, you know, people have a tendency to stay in cultures that are more life-giving than just what the paycheck has the potential to offer, even just from a personnel perspective. So I think, uh, I love where your head's at with that. What advice might you have for somebody who might be struggling with balancing the two?

Alan Draper (13:37):

I think they have to look down the road a bit. What happens is when, when a company starts making money, then they realize that it's actually not that big of a deal. And it seems, it sounds kind of trite for me to say it like that, but the more successful you are monetarily, the less money means, right? I saw something, some tweet from Elon Musk and somebody said that he was like the richest man in the world or what or whatever. And he replied and he said, oh, cool. Back to work because that's not why he does it. Right. And it takes a while for, for new companies, especially myself included to realize that in the beginning, I thought it was all about money. It's easy for me to kind of sit on my soap box and preach that. But if small business owners and people that are trying to scale their business, if they could look ahead a few years and maybe even do that corny visualization tactic, where they've already made $10 million, they have it sit in the bank account, what are they doing? What does their day-to-day look like? A lot of people think, no, you know, I would move to Hawaii or, you know, go live in a beach house forever and some might. But when you visualize that, then you find your true purpose and it's really cool when you don't have to work anymore. And then you're like, well, what am I going to do? A lot of people, they just keep working. Right. That's and that's because there's a purpose in what they're doing besides money. I love that.

Josh Smith (15:07):

That visualizing exactly where you at, you had no money. I was, I talked to us with our studios manager the other day and that's one of the exact things he said. We were talking about a particular employee here at scorpion. And he's like, where's like, if he could do this person could do anything like money, not an issue. What would they be doing? That's where their passion is. That's where the that's, where if they could live in that space and they were given the opportunity, you would get more out of that individual than you would in any other capacity. And so being able to tie somebody's passion zone to the core elements of the business is just, that's another way to that I've seen help, really grow businesses and align people with the common purpose to help the business grow. So that's awesome.

Alan Draper (15:50):

Yeah. And I think, I mean, it's really cool being in a position where you get to choose. I people ask me what my definition of success is. And I always say that it's being able to control your time in the way that you see fit. You can do whatever you want. If you want to move to why you moved to Y if you want to take two years off and spend it with your kids, you spend it with your kids. But when you visualize that right before you have it, not only does it help you put things in context, but it gives you this motivation, right? Like, Hey, you know what? I thought I was doing this for money and I'm not, I have small children and people always tell me how I'm going to miss these little annoyances and all these things they do when they're older and the house is quiet.

Alan Draper (16:33):

And so, because I know that because I can sit at my desk and I can visualize, Hey, where are my kids going to be in 15 years? And what is my house going to sound like? Then I'm able to enjoy the process more than I would be able to, without that information, even though I'm not there yet, my kids are still in the house, but I can take a deep breath when they're driving me crazy. And I can enjoy that to some degree. Um, because I know 15 years down the road, I'm going to miss that. Oh yeah,

Josh Smith (17:05):

Yeah. Stepping back, slowing down, getting out of the rat race a little bit. So you can enjoy those moments because you know, it's interesting that helps you be a more balanced business owner. And so now you're able to bring that to your people in a way that you couldn't otherwise, if you didn't embody that, and then they start to embody that. And it's a wonderful trait that perpetuates itself throughout the course of your organization. And when you have an organization of people that just embody those things, you have an organization that's untouchable because the one thing that people can't replicate, people could replicate process. They could replicate product, but they can replicate your people. And, uh, so I love that. Is there ever a time you have an example of a time, maybe you realized you needed to make a personal change through your visualization or anything like that in order to achieve a business goal? Just kind of curious if you have any times like that, that come to mind.

Alan Draper (17:50):

Yeah, absolutely. Um, personal development for me is one of my favorite things about being an entrepreneur. There were all these things I thought about myself before I started to employ people and scale businesses. And I learned that some of those things were completely off basis. One of those things was I used to think that I was such an effective communicator and, and I learned that I communicated to people the way I would like to be communicated to. And I learned that that was wrong. I had to communicate to those people the way that they wanted to be communicated to or with. So I think communication was a big slap in the face for me. And along those same lines, I needed to listen to people more. I'm a very confident individual. And it took me probably six months into my first business to realize that my boots on the ground, um, every once in a while, and usually more often than not, they had some really good ideas and I needed to not only be receptive of those ideas, but I had to go out and seek them.

Alan Draper (18:58):

I had to actively ask my people, Hey, what can we do better? How do we improve this process? How do we implement this new system? Um, and as a business owner, especially when it's your company, your first company, that's your baby. It's hard because you think you have all the answers and you think that just because you may or may not care a little more, that it's your way or the highway, but you've really got to listen to your people. And the interesting thing about that is not only are you going to improve your business by listening to your people and implementing their ideas, you're actually going to get better people because people like to be listened to, and they're going to get more engaged. They're going to care more because when they care more, they can actually effectuate some change in the business. And so those were two things that I really struggled with letting go of some of that control and working on my communication. I love that

Josh Smith (19:53):

Allan, Hey, you've been a successful CEO and attorney entrepreneur business coach for nearly 10 years. As we kind of wrap things up here. Do you have any closing pieces of wisdom on how business owners can grow their businesses successfully and set meaningful goals for the organization?

Alan Draper (20:10):

So I think it really comes down to getting to a point where you set aside kind of the, the corniness of, of going through this process. It was really hard for me in the beginning to meditate, to visualize and to spend the adequate amount of time. But what happens is just like, you know, with me in that small little town that I grew up and that people didn't really leave as we spend time with introspection and visualizing our minds grow because we realized that there, there are things that are possible that we never considered before. And when we, as business owners and entrepreneurs, when we start to believe that things are possible, then we're going to act consistent with those beliefs and we're going to make it happen. And it's, it's really common in, in home services and in kind of quote unquote blue collar industries, because it's like, we feel like we're just in the grind, but as we can expand what we think is possible, that's when we can really scale a company and we can really start doing things for the right reason.

Josh Smith (21:20):

That is a phenomenal note to end on. And I will leave with posing a question when you're approaching a problem. That seems impossible just for a minute, stop, step back and think, ah, this looks impossible, but if it wasn't, how would we do it? And that could be the seed thought for something pretty amazing for the organization. Allen, it has been awesome to chat with you. Where can people find out more about everything you have going on?

Alan Draper (21:44):

Yeah, they can find me on my website, Alan Also my podcast is the business growth pod with Alan Draper and it's on all major platforms.

Josh Smith (21:54):

Awesome. Allen, thank you so much for sharing your time, your wisdom and all of these awesome nuggets for our listeners really appreciate it. My pleasure now. So for everybody listening, wherever you might be listening at, definitely hit that like button and give that subscribe button that nice little tap. If you found this episode valuable and you know, somebody who wants to hear it or needs to hear it, definitely share it around. Do us a favor here, shared around, open up that podcast app again, make sure you're subscribed. Review us on iTunes. It helps the algorithms gets this information in front of even more people. And it's just awesome to hear from everybody who's listening. Share the episode with a friend, check out some shows and some notes over on our website too at scorpion that CEO and from all of us here at scorpion and the sharpest tool until next time, we'll talk to you all soon.

Speaker 3 (22:43):


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