MP recently spoke with Moshe Pourad, Co-Founder and Owner at 26 Motors. Pourad was born and raised in Queens, NY. His passion for cars started from a very young age. Pourad’s father worked as a car wholesaler, and he used to ask him questions about the different makes and models. He had extensive knowledge about cars, from how much they cost to the gas mileage they received, which further fueled his interest in the car business.
During the 2008 recession, Pourad’s family lost everything. Their house went into foreclosure, and they didn’t have money to pay the bills, which forced him to take the lead in finding a job to help support his family financially. Pourad started working at 12 years old washing cars. Then, he sold his first car at 14, realizing the sheer opportunity in the car dealer industry. Pourad finished school early to continue working to support his family and alleviate financial distress.
Pourad opened his first dealership when he was 17 with only 32 cars, had it for three years, then opened a second dealership with 80 vehicles. The stress of running a dealership had pushed him close to wanting out of the car business. Then, he met his partners and the group created 26 Motors.
The entrepreneurial journey is one of self-discovery. What have you learned about yourself while building your business?
I’ve learned that you must have a lot of patience.
You’re working with many people, from bank representatives to finance, body shops, mechanic shops, etc.
To maintain your business correctly, you must educate yourself about what’s happening worldwide.
Knowledge is power, which is the most valuable thing I’ve learned.
You can have all the money in the world, but without the knowledge, you can’t get too far with it.
The entrepreneurial journey is often lonely. Have you experienced loneliness as an entrepreneur? If yes, what was that experience like, and how did you overcome it? If not, why do you think this is the case?
It’s a very lonely journey.
It’s excruciating and, at times, painful.
You have to figure out things on your own, even when you have partners. Everybody is doing their own thing, working on their projects within the company, so sometimes you have to pull more weight than the others, making it feel like everything falls on your shoulders.
This alone is a challenge, but that’s what makes you stronger, and that’s what makes you a successful entrepreneur.
However, I don’t consider myself an entrepreneur. I’m a regular guy who works hard every day to make something out of nothing.
The Psychological Warfare
Entrepreneurs generally sleep less, work more, and let their health slip. This combination, combined with loneliness, often results in insecurity, self-esteem issues, and low self-worth. Have you experienced any of these issues as an entrepreneur?
There are a lot of things that you have to be willing to sacrifice when becoming an entrepreneur.
For me, in particular, sleep is one of them. I go to bed at 2 AM and wake up at 6 AM. You don’t get much rest, and you’re always working. Although I work a full day in the office, I continue to work even when I get home.
Your health is affected, considering that you work from morning to night, skip meals, and don’t get adequate amounts of rest.
Because of the lack of work breaks, it’s nearly impossible to find time to work out or maintain your body, but it’s something you have to sacrifice to get to the bigger picture.
Is it the right thing to do?
You can have all the money in the world, but if you don’t have health, you have nothing.
Newer entrepreneurs often equate their success with the success and value of their business. If their business fails, they are a failure. If their business succeeds, they are a success. Have you experienced this warped perception of reality?
It’s 100% not accurate.
If you don’t fail somewhere along the line, then you didn’t succeed.
No one started a business and simply succeeded; it doesn’t work like that.
You have to take a lot of losses, including people.
It’s impossible to succeed if you don’t fail first.
You will fail, and when you do, it’s a success.
What are your three biggest fears as an entrepreneur, and how do you manage those fears?
1. My Biggest Fear Is the Protection of the Business
It is like having a child. When you’re a parent, you want to protect your child and feel obligated to do so. So if anything happens to your child, it will affect you.
It’s the same with a business. When you see certain things that don’t go how you like them, it hurts you physically and emotionally, but you get up, continue moving and try to improve it.
You don’t cry about it; you get up and keep going.
2. I Also Fear for My Employee’s Health and Satisfaction
The car industry requires long hours and dedication to the job, but I want to ensure my employees know their mental health is always at the top of my mind.
I care about my employees like I do my family. I want to ensure they have the tools they need to succeed, which also involves prioritizing their hours and mental health.
3. I Fear I Won’t Be Able To Leave Behind My Legacy
When you are an entrepreneur, I believe you get into the business to leave behind a legacy and a trademark. I fear that my kids won’t know the hard work I put into the business to help them succeed in the future.
What are three mistakes you made early on as an entrepreneur, what did you learn from them, and how can others avoid these mistakes?
1. Don’t Be Naive
People feed off of your success.
Especially when somebody sees another person succeeding, they get jealous, envy you, and it causes hatred, among many other things.
2. You Can’t Trust Everybody
You must be very selective with who you trust.
You can have an employee for a few years, and greed gets in the way, and they think they know better.
I have had employees try to take control of a situation that is way above their pay rate.
It can ruin your reputation.
This is why you have to be careful with who you trust.
You must protect your reputation and who you let in your inner circle and personal life. It’s possible to financially take a hit for something that shouldn’t have been a problem in the first place.
3. Know Your Target Market
One time, I bought some cars to test the market and see how it went. I can tell you, that it didn’t go well, and we didn’t end up selling the cars.
I don’t call this mistake but rather a learning curve.
Ultimately, there are no mistakes but instead learning opportunities.
You have to try it first to realize that you did fail, but it’s not a failure.
It’s a success.
You can’t avoid mistakes.
Make mistakes, and then you’ll learn how to do better.
What are three things you see that are often overlooked by entrepreneurs you encounter, and how can other entrepreneurs be aware of these things from the beginning?
1. Take Care of Your Employees and Not Just Their Pockets
Many business owners only care about their pockets instead of taking care of the foundation of the business, the employees. Without employees, you can’t run a business.
Learn every aspect of your business, and know every part of your operation. Be involved with every department in your business.
In our company, you must be involved with sales, DMV, finance, inventory, and even lot attendants.
To run a business, you have to understand it first.
2. Take Care of Your Customers
Customers are an essential part of any retail business.
Make sure your customers are happy and don’t just care about the money they give you. Treat them like family and make them feel special.
Not just for your profit but your reputation; ultimately, it makes you feel happy about what you do for them.
3. Treat Everyone As Equals
Many CEOs feel they are better than everybody and treat people as such, which is a big mistake.
You must treat your janitor the same as you would want to be treated.
Today you can be a billionaire, and tomorrow you could be broke.
You have to build relationships with your everyone and never burn bridges.
Don’t keep your nose up; keep your head down and stay humble.
What are some seemingly insurmountable obstacles you’ve faced as an entrepreneur, and how have you overcome them?
I’ve faced every obstacle imaginable, and it seems I hit another every day. There’s no actual guide on how to overcome problems.
You learn the situation, study it, and perfect it so the next time, you’ll have a better answer and a better way of dealing with it.
There’s no guide to say, okay, if you do this, you will prevent the problem. There are a lot of best practices to keep in mind, but everything is a learning curve. I’ve been in this business for 14 years since I was 13, and there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t learn something.
I learn something new daily, which makes me a better entrepreneur.
What are three ways you have managed to boost your productivity without causing burnout?
I have felt burnt out multiple times, but I do a few things to maintain a healthy mental and physical state.
1. Take a Vacation
I go on vacation and take a few days for myself to relax.
2. Analyze Everything About the Business
After allowing time for myself, I come back with a clear head. I analyze everything about the business and take an internal audit.
I look at what can be improved with the company, employee challenges, and what’s wrong within our actual business process.
3. Create a Plan and Strategy
After the internal audit, I create a plan and strategy to execute it. Improving our business each time we go through the process.
How can newer entrepreneurs develop a healthy work-life balance even when it seems like an impossible task?
It all depends on what type of operation you’re running, how many stores you have, and how many employees you have.
There’s no middle ground.
You must sacrifice something to get to the top.
You can try to do your best, but it’s very hard.
Unless you have some type of financial backup, you’re doing everything on your own, and you have to hustle to jump that hurdle but making time to take vacations or even booking an hour to yourself a week can help.
What three key pieces of advice would have made your entrepreneurial journey easier, and why?
Nothing really could’ve made my journey more manageable.
The only things I saw were the things I had to do and learn daily and doing everything I could to perfect it and ensure everything was afloat.
But If I had to give three pieces of advice, I guess they would be:
1. Try Things and Do Things
When they don’t work, try something else and learn as much as possible from the process.
2. Avoid Feeling Bad
Don’t feel bad for yourself.
3. Don’t Cry Over Failing
When you fall, don’t sit down and cry. Just get yourself up and fight harder than you ever fought before. When you fall, it’s making you stronger; whether you believe it or not, it’s making you stronger without you even knowing.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
I hope anybody reading this finds excellent success! If there is nothing else you take away from this, know this, do not be afraid to fail because failure will mold you to grow your business.
Responses provided by Moshe Pourad, Co-Founder and Owner at 26 Motors.