Transcript for Episode 1 – Go Live
Israel Lopez (00:00):
Hello and welcome! This is the ILC Business Podcast, episode one, Go Live. My name is Israel Lopez, I’m joined by our co-host, Joshua Klar. Since this will be our first episode, let me explain what we want this show to be about. This podcast is for business owners and managers working in a small to medium-sized business. We’ll talk about the challenges of those businesses and how we help those companies navigate a changing business environment. Expect a show from us every other week. We’re on Google Play, Apple podcasts, YouTube, and Facebook. Subscribe now and get notified on our next podcast release. With a little bit of the housekeeping out of the way. Let me introduce Joshua Klar, one of our associates, consultants from New York who is joining us via the power of the internet. I’ve had the pleasure of working with him for a couple of years now and he’s now part of our firm. Josh, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Joshua Klar (00:46):
Okay, so I met Israel in 2017 I was working with a client. My background is in QuickBooks. I’m a QuickBooks ProAdvisor, and of course that led into people wanting to know more about how to use inventory in QuickBooks and it’s really not that great, so I looked at Fishbowl and needed people to ask questions about when things got really customized or difficult, and Fishbowl support was difficult to get a hold of on a regular basis and other consultants weren’t that great either. So, I was surfing YouTube and I found Israel’s YouTube videos and talking about SQL and it was just really to the point and great and I wanted more and he was busy so they weren’t coming as quickly enough, and I kept touting him and then we started talking and eventually I had Israel working with a client of mine and then we decided, hey, let’s team up. If I can specialize on the QuickBooks side of things and I can have Israel help my clients with specializing on the Fishbowl side. We can make a good team. And so, that’s where we’ve been.
Israel Lopez (01:55):
Yeah. And actually, you know, I was making YouTube videos in 2015, 2016, 2017, taking a bit of a hiatus. This is our new kind of media effort here in 2020. But yeah, that was a whole lot of fun. Just sitting on a weekend with my computer and making a video up and things like that. I didn’t really make it for anybody specifically, I was just wanted to make YouTube videos talking about what I was doing in the Fishbowl market and just to essentially prove to other people like, “Hey, you know, this stuff is not that difficult. We can do it.” I didn’t realize that that’s really like a marketing strategy, so I had a lot of people interested in what we were doing and I even tried to make a, what was it, a SQL course as well, which, you know, things got busy.
Joshua Klar (02:41):
That’s the one that hooked me. That’s the one I liked.
Israel Lopez (02:44):
Yeah [laughs]. We’ll probably do something like that again, but yeah, it was a whole lot of fun during those three years, two years making those YouTube videos. But anyway, so let me talk a little bit about myself. I’m the owner of Israel Lopez Consulting, my name’s on the company. We are a business consulting and software development company. Our main platform is Fishbowl Inventory. It’s a warehouse and manufacturing software for small businesses, and that’s where most people know me from. That’s probably why you’re listening to this podcast is because, hey, it’s on my website, and if you’re looking for Fishbowl consulting, we’re probably the best company that can offer that, and in terms of the kind of feedback I’ve received from customers, and the type of customers we’ve been working with and how we turned them around, we think pretty highly of ourselves.
Honestly, no one else’s is going to toot our horn for us, so might as well do it. Anyway, so let me talk a little bit about my Fishbowl journey. My first exposure to Fishbowl was in 2009. I was a contract IT professional, doing break/fix for a medical device company. They were making heart valves here in Irvine, California. And, the Fishbowl consultant and I were just in the same room at the same time. And he asked the question, “Hey, do you know databases? Do you know how to write reports?” And I said, “Sure.” [laughs] I had come from a previous background, at a public company that had Great Plains and I was doing some queries and getting some of my own analysis teeth, you know, cut there. And eventually, you know, I started providing consulting services to this consultant and we started doing software development.
We even created a company, that company was called Fishbooks Pro. And, in 2014, decided to go solo, and with my own company, 2015, we actually set up an LLC for ILC. And ILC now is, I guess you could honestly call it a global company. I mean, it’s pretty global once you have, you know, bank accounts in multiple currencies, right? We do a lot of work in Australia, there’s a Fishbowl Australia down there, taking care of the Asia-Pacific region. We have a staff member in Brisbane, Australia. I have another staff member in India who provides a lot of software development services in that time zone. We have a software developer in Mexico City. We were just there a couple of weeks ago, doing our annual planning, and I’ve got a tech support in Hollywood, California. He works from home, we all work from home. And then myself here in Orange County, California. So yeah, that’s us and the company and what we’re doing. So anyway, so a little about the introductions out of the way, let’s go into what we’re talking about, the show. Josh, go ahead.
Joshua Klar (05:31):
Okay. So we planned this and set aside some questions to ask each other, and I’ve got the first one to ask you. Israel, what was the start of your entrepreneurial journey?
Israel Lopez (05:40):
So, believe it or not, when I was growing up, always been pretty entrepreneurial. As a kid in high school, I’d be, you know, doing those stock-picking contests on Yahoo, CNBC. In fact, my first, job was under the table at a computer data center in Orange County. Later I got a work permit, so that got all squared away. But that all worked out. And I guess you could say that my first LLC I created with a high school friend. That bombed [laughs]. We barely made any money, but we walked away from the LLC, couldn’t pay any of the fees for California. California has a very high LLC annual fee. But then that didn’t discourage me. I ended up creating a second, a third, and a fourth, and, again, all of those bombed as well. That’s for another show. But all those taught me something new about business, right? So, I think my entrepreneurial journey really just started with trying to figure out what a business was really like and learning. I guess for many people, you know, school of hard knocks, what a business is not, you know. And yeah, I’ve been taking a lot of that experience and learning from my customers and trying to help other people. Josh, what was the start of your entrepreneurial journey?
Joshua Klar (07:04):
I would say, I used to go to the library as a kid and they had these Boys’ Life magazines, you know, the ones for Boy Scouts. In the back of it, there was always this glossy picture of toys and games and stuff. And it was by Olympic Sales Club. I don’t know if anybody remembers that, but it was in the ’80s. Basically it was a safer time then where they would entice children to go door-to-door selling stationary in exchange for prizes. So, maybe slave labor? I don’t know, is was pretty cool, ’cause it was like a dollar. The rewards were like a dollar for each item that you sold for like 10 bucks. So in the end, I think I made like a couple thousand dollars, as like a 10 or 11 year-old kid. But what was interesting is, I had somebody living in our house. He was boarding there, and he was like a salesman. He really liked doing a spiel on everything. You know, you knock on the door, you don’t say, “Do you want to look at these parts?” You say, “When would be a good time?” So, there’s no yes or no answer. It was all this psychology, and I liked it. We even made some business cards and stuff. But that was something that got me into it and kept me organized and I had to make sure to deliver everything.
Then later on, I got into Ebay. I was just fascinated by Ebay and the sales and how everything went there. I remember trying to buy a Flash card and it was so difficult to buy them. People just kept outbidding me and I thought, “Wow, maybe I should sell these.” So I called up Dane-Elec, actually in Orange County, and they didn’t say, “Hey, do you have a college degree? Do you have anything else?” They wanted a tax ID number. I used my dad’s [laughs].
Israel Lopez (8:45):
[laughs] You used your dad’s tax ID number?
Joshua Klar (8:46):
I used my credit card. My first order was like, $4400. I bought 256-megabyte Flash cards, CompactFlash, and 128-megabyte. And yeah, I sold them within like a week, and doubled my money, and I was like, “Oh, wow, this is cool.” And so I kept doing it. But meanwhile, while I was doing this, I didn’t really understand, you know, inventory and how it was working and I really didn’t know if I was making any money until, you know, I was just spending a huge amount in credit cards, paying them off a month or two later. So I always had money in the bank, but I didn’t know if it was mine or not. It was a little scary. And then finally when I stopped the business, I sold everything off and saw exactly what I was worth, so that was a little frightening and I didn’t like that.
I do like to be organized. So, it was definitely uncomfortable to be going through business that way. And so basically, yeah, from there I got into QuickBooks. I started doing it for other people, and just because I was so terrified of QuickBooks myself, handling it on my own, I would basically with my own business just keep pushing this off. But, once I started working for other companies, I was able to objectively look at QuickBooks and then just kind of get the pressure off and just really understand how to do it piece by piece over a few years.
Israel Lopez (10:08):
That’s awesome. It’s funny how like you’re talking about going door-to-door sales, cause I’ve actually done that before [laughs]. You know, I think that’s a common rite of passage. I hated it, you know? I hated it. You know, childhood for me was really different than, I guess, adult me. But, it was good, you know, you learn, we learned how that was like.
Joshua Klar (10:33):
Okay. So, Israel, what would you say your childhood was like?
Israel Lopez (10:38):
So, my childhood, let me kinda paint the picture a little bit. I grew up in San Clemente, California, very sleepy surfer town. I believe Nixon, or one of the past presidents, I’m dating myself now, called it the Western White House, ’cause they had a big property there. I’m not even sure that’s right either, I think that was Yorba Linda or something like that. But I knew San Clemente had basically be a sleepy surfer town for many years, that’s how I remember it. Many summers walking barefoot to North Beach with my best friend and, you know, body surfing for hours on end, much to the annoyance of my mom, who much preferred me to be at home, away from the scary waves ’cause that’s, you know, who knows if the life guard will get me to get to me in time, who knows if I’ll get hurt. Even my best friend got hurt, dislocated his shoulder on a wave. But yeah, that was basically childhood. But after the sun was down, my best friend and I would head back to his house and we’d be playing video games and sometimes, you know, we’d be playing Warcraft over dial-up modems in the evenings ’cause, you know, my mom would demand for me to be back home. So I’d run back home, I’d dial him up or he dialed me or we tried to do this over the internet. And we’d be total nerds just trying to play video games. And as most kids are trying to do, stay up past their curfew and just be cheeky like that. All my education was in San Clemente, from elementary school through high school. You can honestly call me 100% Grade A, full-fat nerd. Did Academic Pentathlon in grade school. Did really well there. Tried Academic Decathlon in high school. Did not do well there at all. Different kind of vibe. The academics, I don’t think I was too interested in. And I ended up back into my other love, technology. And I guess I just loved computers from a very young age. So, Josh, what was your childhood like?
Joshua Klar (12:43):
My childhood, I grew up in New Jersey in the suburbs and you know, I’ve always loved technology, as well. Not computers as much as just tinkering and stuff like that. But I always loved, I remember even as a kid, I loved to be organized. I just didn’t always have the the skills to be so. So I was, like, frustrated a lot. I was very obsessive compulsive about things and need everything to have an order and a place. And it just drove me crazy that I didn’t have that. I would take things apart to try to figure out how they worked. This is pre-YouTube, so I had no idea how to put ’em back together again. So there was a lotta broken things around the house that were waiting to get fixed but never did. And so, that’s really it. I traveled a lot when I got a bit older. I hitchhiked through Europe, did stuff like that. And I was just looking for something to grab me. Israel, what is your consulting superpower, and what is a superpower you wish you had?
Israel Lopez (13:44):
Okay, so I had this experience rather recently. I was onsite with a customer in Austin, Texas. I love going onsite ’cause you get to see everybody you talk to on the phone and you get everyone’s attention, and we get a lot of things done. And one of the common things that, I don’t know when this started happening, but I think I was just a habit from my telephone support days, My first job was in telephone support, you know, you’re helping grandma set up their email. So while I was talking somebody through, I’d be also trying to troubleshoot something with my hands, typing something out. And I think over the years I’ve kind of honed that listening and talking ability into just being able to type and think at the same time. And one of my superpowers, I guess you could say, is I have the ability that in a room or by phone call to be listening for somebody’s data request out of the database, with any database, but Fishbowl’s my #1, where I’m very, very comfortable, and I’ll start typing out some SQL in real time. So as these business leaders and executives or managers are talking about, “Oh man, I wish I could have sales data for this or that,” I’m actually either furiously clicking to copy and paste queries together, or I’m typing something out by just memory. And I’m barely looking things up, and it’s kind of fun to go from letting a sidebar conversation of like, “I wish we had this information. I wish we had this insight somewhere available,” and being able to just have it readily available on hand by the time that conversation finished five minutes later. Because invariably that doesn’t happen. You have an idea and you gotta wait a week for the response and it’s kinda fun to have that kind of superpower to be able to take the idea and execute it as quickly as I can.
And a superpower I wish I had, well I was thinking about this for a while, and a superpower I wish I had, I wish I had the power to give people an instant self confidence boost, and I’ll tell you why. A lot of things that I deal with is just like, “Guys, you know, if you’ve only seen the things that I’ve seen already,” or like, “If you just had a little more either risk tolerance, or maybe you knew that it was not as risky, or it was possible already, that maybe you’d want to do it. You’d maybe want to try something new, or maybe you’d be able to push forward an idea.” This applies to people that are junior associates at accompany, or even executives. It’s like, hey guys, have a little faith. You’ve built this business, you definitely know what’s going on. Sometimes I wish I could just say that I had a magic wand, and I can just tap ’em on their head, like, instant self confidence boost! [laughs] And then, “Aw man, we can do this. This is fun! This is great!” And the energy comes out and, and we stop hand-wringing problems. And we kinda get moving forward. So yeah, that’s kind of the superpower I wish I had. So, Josh, what is your consulting superpower and what is the superpower you wish you had?
Joshua Klar (17:03):
Okay so, for the superpower I’d say it’s more of an advantage that I have is that, I touched on earlier, I started as a terrified novice. I even remember finding somebody on Craigslist who knew QuickBooks and paying over $200 to teach me. And then let her keep the deposit, never called her back ’cause I just really didn’t wanna go through it. And finally what helped was just, once I realized I could be objective and just look at someone else’s business without getting emotionally involved I was able to really start at the beginning. But, even though now I’m an advanced ProAdvisor with 10 years of experience, I still very much remember that pain in my stomach I felt every time I had to do something new or go out of my routine a little bit. And so I think that allows me work with both people that are accountants and people that are totally new to accounting. When I’m training them, working with them, people just assume that I’m coming from a place where, if you’re good at QuickBooks, you must be naturally good at math or accounting or something and I didn’t even get started on this ’til I was in my 30’s. Before that, everything was just a mess. So that, I think really helps people hear that, and they feel a little bit more at ease. And I try to train people the same way I wish I had been trained. There were things that really didn’t make sense to me for years, I just kind of went along with it. And then maybe made sense one day, and then I was just wishing that someone had just showed me this sort of model and just explained it in a way that made me understand it. So I think I’m able to bring that to beginners and people who are even advanced that are just starting a new thing, like getting into inventory or a different part of technology that they just haven’t been exposed to before. Power I wish I had, I would say I want yours. I want that SQL power, that’s pretty cool. [laughs]
Israel Lopez (18:56):
[Laughs] Yeah. When people see it, it’s pretty amazing.
Joshua Klar (19:01):
I guess I don’t need it ’cause I have a crutch, I have you so if I need any of that stuff I just ask you to do it, and I don’t need to spend the hard work putting into actually getting good at it. But I’d like to one day, so that’s something I’d like to work on.
Israel Lopez (19:13):
You’ll get there. Separately, actually to the audience, Josh and I sometimes will have time going through me showing him how databases work and things like that. And that’s something that we care about here at the company quite a bit, like we want people to have a really accessible skill level with technology, with anything that we do here at the company so that it’s not, you know, that foreign. But, yeah, we’re working on Josh’s case, so hopefully Josh will get that superpower and will share it with other people.
Joshua Klar (19:45):
Okay. So Israel, what are your 2020 goals?
Israel Lopez (19:50):
Sure, well, number one, I have a burning, burning desire to fly a plane. I’ve always been interested in aviation as a young kid, played a lot of video games with planes in ’em. And, I don’t know, I guess when I turned 18 and got into this business world, I never thought that I’d get back to that. It was just, put away childish things, you know. Let’s get the Excel sheet and get to work. But no, so I’m going for my pilot’s license. I even got all my books that I need to read, all the FAA literature that I need to get through. I even have flight simulator equipment here at the house. And yeah, so I’m going to go for my pilot’s license in 2020. On top of that, I’ve also, more business oriented, ’cause I ask people, “How do planes fly?” And everyone talks about the physics of air and gravity and air foil and things like that. And I just say, “Nope, money. Planes fly on money, and you need lots of it.” So what we’re trying to do with ILC is like, on top of just making more money, and that’s just a given, I want to have a more data-driven process. More than just financial budgets, I wanna have time and project and internal development budgets, very precise in what we’re doing. So I’ve hired a new dashboard company out of Australia. We’d actually like to include him here on the show one day, to talk about our journey with that. And ultimately, give us more to show other executives, look it is possible, yes it’s someone like me, who hasn’t had a dashboard before and is now putting one together, but I can tell them, “It’s going to cost you this. You have to think about this. You have to have your provider or your partner who’s doing that needs to help you this way. You need to be this kind of honest with them,” et cetera, et cetera. Because, yes, at the end of the year, we do want to grow our revenue by somewhere between 30-37%. So that’s a pretty big lift and with no new employees. That’s the biggest thing. I made that statement in 2019, “We’re not hiring anybody.” Same thing in 2020, I’m not hiring anybody. We are gonna do more with the same amount of people because we’re gonna provide different services, different products, we’ll have a store in 2020 actually that should be live. Now as part of the company, so there’s store.ilx.io that customers can go to, put that little little bit of housekeeping there. But that should be live, we should be selling some products, some plug-ins, some port solutions, integrations, things like that and, you know, that should be a bigger part of our revenue going into 2020. Anyway, that’s that’s the boring, business stuff. Josh, what is your 2020 goals?
Joshua Klar (22:46):
Well, I’ve been working for years on getting a better way to organize my time and I started using Accelo as a project manager, which we both started using independently of each other. Now we’re both using it. But I’ve been working recently to just really understand it better and better handling of my time and following up on small leads. Like I said, I’m obsessive, but at the end of the work day, I end up worrying, did I miss anything? So even though I’m not doing any work, I’m still worrying about work. So I’d like to have a way to have everything, just know that anybody wants to take you up, I wanna to delegate any job, I have everything organized and so I’ve been doing that this year and I wanna really implement everything to smooth out all the creases in 2020, just really take that so I could just block out my time for important things and I’d like to have a system where the priorities get done right away and then nothing falls through the cracks.
Israel Lopez (23:46):
Awesome, yeah. And I think that’s a big challenge with a lot of businesses. I’ve talked to several businesses where I say, “You know, unless you really know where your time’s going, you don’t really know what your business’ priorities are.” You say that your priorities is this or that, but if that’s not your #1 time investment, that’s not really your priority. And, you know, Accelo, we’ve been using Accelo for a few years now, and we definitely don’t use Accelo to its highest degree either, but it’s working well for us, and we’ll probably have another show talking about business project management in-time tracking systems, et cetera, et cetera. But yeah, for now, Accelo is the best kind of platform I’ve seen for a professional services company like ours. And Ijust to explain it a little bit, Josh has his own firm on his own, we just borrow Josh [laughs] when we have QuickBooks issues with our customers, and it’s better for someone who’s actually trained in QuickBooks, not someone like me, who’s had to learn it because there was nobody else around who could help the customer fast enough. And that it’s been great working with Josh because he brings a huge amount of knowledge and experience to the QuickBooks world, and I bring the same amount on Fishbowl, and that just complements us really well. Anyway, so that’s the show. I think we’re done, we’re out of questions. We don’t wanna keep our audience on the hook for too long. So let’s talk a little bit about what we’re planning on talking about in our next show topics.
Israel Lopez (25:23):
You know, we’re gonna talk about, what is the best way to prepare for a consultant. You know, if Josh or I show up, how is that experience going to be like? Let’s kinda bring you through a from-start-to-finish kind of engagement. We’ll talk about, how can my business be successful with an ERP implementation? We’ll talk to you about some of our horror stories, some of our success stories, you know, challenges companies can face with that process. We might even be able to invite a customer to talk to us about that. We’ll talk about selling with Shopify and eCommerce strategies, how does that work? How do we deal with dropshipping? How do we deal with inventory management? How do we deal with that order processing payments, et cetera. We’ll also talk about CRMs, such as Salesforce, Base CRM, Zoho, there’s hundreds of thousands of them out there, and they all provide different things. We’ll talk about, when do I need custom software? My firm, we build software every week, right. And we’re very used to going through that process, so we’ll take some time out to talk about how we do to prepare for that custom software, and how companies can think about when the right time to use custom software, or when is it the right time to just buy something off the shelf? We’ll tackle topics such as forecasting, budgeting, with relates to inventory, the sales and the general expenses that happen in an inventory-manufacturing business, and things like that.
We also take questions at a podcast.ilx.io, that’s “P-O-D-C-A-S-T” at “India-Lima-X-ray” dot “I-O”. We’ll take questions there, we’ll read them on the show. We’ll even send you an ILC mug. Anyway, that’s it. That’s our first podcast, and thank you for joining us. Whether you’ve got a $100,000,000 business or a $1,000,000 business, the challenges are all the same. And we’re here to talk through all of it. Join us again in two weeks. Take care, good-bye.