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18: Own a Business Asset Instead of Buying Yourself a Job With Disruptor Artem Mashkov

Artem discusses with us today the best way to own a business asset as opposed to buying yourself a job so that you can make your money work for you instead of you working for it all day long. He also opens up about his struggle as a nice guy, always wanting to please and help everyone and how that backfired, losing him $92,000 – which turned out to be the best ROI of all of his investments.

My Guest: Artem Mashkov

Artem Mashkov is the founder of Devtribe, a serial entrepreneur and industry disruptor in retail, hospitality, automotive and business services. He currently owns 12 paging zone Verizon stores with other investments including sports bars in Manhattan, a vegan creperie in Williamsburg and an auto leasing company in South Brooklyn.

Pivotal Moments

  • He didn’t get into college so he went to work in a cell phone store and learnt sales, as well as everything else about the business.
  • His boss offered to let him buy him out and he partnered with an investor to buy into his first store – that he already knew how to run.

  • Partnered with 2 other investors to buy his next 3 stores in 2008, to lock down long-term leases when there was cheap rent because they had good credit.

  • Once he had invested in other stores and money was working for him, other investments came his way.

  • Lost $92,000 when he invested in someone who was not a good person – and a bad businessman.

The Advice

If you want to know if you can trust someone to be your partner in business, lend them $20 and see how fast they give it back – if they give it back! If they don’t, it will be the best $20 you ever spent knowing that this is someone you don’t want to work with.

If you are interested in buying businesses, franchising is a great idea as they give you everything. However, you need to really look into the rules. Some require certain amount of cash liquidity, others are owner occupied which means that you bought yourself a job, not a business. All franchises have different rules, but most have two ongoing costs: a percentage of sales and a co-op marketing fee. As a general rule, the smaller franchises give you more freedom and the larger ones, less.

When building a team, let people organically grow to do what they are best at.

Most of your management team should be built up from the inside, then you can hire a few people from the outside to add to the talent pool and they will adopt your company culture from the inside people.

Emphasize the good. Artem focuses on customer service, so his team share their good reviews on their group chat. Encourage what you value and want to excel in.

A 40% return on a financial investment is considered good – that’s what you can expect to get if you decide to invest.

The Struggle

Artem loves people and wants to please and help everyone. That’s how he lost $92,000! His struggle is that when he reaches out to people to offer his help, they think he must be insincere, trying to sell, or just plain lying. His “niceness” also gets him in trouble when he enters deals that are not good for him because he wants to help out. How can Artem stay true to himself and be the nice guy that he is, without getting involved in deals that are bad for him?

The Breakthrough

Artem needs to use filters. Before he begins working out a deal with anyone, they need to fit a clear set of criteria. We mentioned a few examples: if Artem is not familiar with the industry, if he has  no opportunity to investigate, if he doesn’t know the person personally or even through a third party and hasn’t been able to check him/her out… There are many more filters that Artem can set up – his $20 idea is a great one – that will weed out the people he doesn’t want to work with before he gets stuck.


“Don’t treat my kindness as a weakness.”

“Sell on strength, buy on weakness.”

“My time is more valuable than anything.”

“Put zero value into ideas and put everything into people and opportunities.”

“Get uncomfortable being comfortable.”

Resources and Links

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About the author, Estie Rand

I love turning ideas into money, and helping others do the same. I help small business owners with everything from marketing to fiscal management, business plans to staffing, database architecture to work/life balance coaching and I love it all! What do you need help with today?

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