Why entrepreneurs get stuck – Mike Malatesta | episode 39 recap


Today we discuss the shift of mindset required to move from “starting” a business to “scaling” one with Mike Malatesta.

After getting fired from a company that he hated after being there for thirty days, Mike decided to take the plunge and start his own venture. In 1993 with some investment from family, friends and a bank loan he started AWS, a waste management firm.

He ordered 2 trucks and 2 trailers, got a contract from their first client WI DNR (with zero operating history) which got him going.

The short story is that in 2015, by which time the other cofounders were no longer with the business, he sold AWS to a publicly-traded company called Covanta Energy. His team had grown to about 150 people, they were doing about $45 Million in sales, made money and had a great reputation in the marketplace. He says selling the business wasn’t easy, but it was the right thing for him, his family, and the AWS team.

Mike is now on a mission to help entrepreneurs manage the challenges that “come and will come” their way. He leverages his experience to help founders move from “business-starter to business-builder.”

In our conversation, we discuss in-depth how the skills required to start a business ultimately inhibit the business operator from effectively scaling the business. We talk about how most owner operators are too controlling and possessive in certain areas whilst too selfless and self-sacrificing in other areas.

Mike was such a pleasure to have on the show, he is a real gentleman with deep humility, he comes from the “pre-tech unicorn” era of business building, where building a strong and sustainable company with stable cash flows and profitable revenue is how you achieved a strong multiple on a sale.

I really recommend this episode to anyone within the entrepreneurial lifecycle, from planning and commencement through to the building or exit stage, you are sure to get a load of value from Mike.


Notable moments in this episode:

16:40 – The typical reasons why entrepreneurs get stuck
23:39 – Removing confirmation bias when the ego gets in the way
43:07 – How to be selfless without becoming resentful

Enjoy folks!


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