Idan Shpizear is the founder and CEO of 911 Restoration, a disaster restoration franchise ranked among the top franchises in the United States by Entrepreneur. In addition to running one of the fastest-growing franchises in the country, he is a sought-after speaker and a thought leader in business and marketing innovations.
Idan is driven by a passion for problem-solving and innovation… the skills that allowed him to build a thriving national franchise from an $800 Volvo and a single carpet cleaning machine. He has also founded a lead generation company, Milestone SEO, as well as Gazingle, a cutting-edge CRM platform that streamlines complicated processes to help businesses in the home service industry work more efficiently.
Today, Idan continues to push for innovation within his own company and among the companies he mentors. Never forgetting his own humble beginnings, he eagerly shares his hard-earned understanding of what it takes to make the move from tradesperson to successful entrepreneur. As a speaker and author, he guides the way toward finding purpose, success, and joy through the ongoing growth and strategic action.
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Table of Contents
Thank you for joining us today. Please introduce yourself to our readers. They want to know you, some of the background story to bring some context to your interview.
Idan Shpizear: I am the CEO and co-founder of 911 Restoration, a property restoration company that is now one of the fastest-growing franchises in the U.S. I am also a speaker and author with a passion for helping other entrepreneurs tap into the mindset that helps them succeed. Mindset is huge for me, because—like many of the tradesperson-turned-entrepreneurs I’ve worked with—I had no business background or business education when I decided to become my own boss. I grew up working on my father’s farm in Israel and came to California under the understand that money grew on trees out here… that everybody gets a pool. After a year of working for a carpet cleaning company, I took over the business. It took a lot of hard work, but I managed to build that company into a full-service restoration company. With further growth, we were able to franchise. And every major growth spurt my business experienced began with an internal shift within myself.
Sometimes this shift was a matter of thinking like a business owner—prioritizing data over gut feelings and pride, understanding the power of company culture, recognizing when I could widen profit margins in the long run by not fussing over them today.
But my most powerful mindset shift was when I began to realize that every challenge I faced was a gift… and an opportunity to learn, grow, and become the kind of leader I really wanted to be. That epiphany didn’t just change who I was as a CEO; it became the central value of my company. 911 Restoration is known as “The Fresh Start Company,” because our mission is not just to fix houses, but to be there for our neighbors in crisis and help them rebuild even stronger and better than before. This philosophy defines our customer service approach and the way we operate internally. The question is always, “How is this difficulty a stepping stone to our next big success?”
You are a successful entrepreneur, so we’d like your view point, do you believe entrepreneurs are born or made? Explain.
Idan Shpizear: Entrepreneurs make themselves. I am a big believer that we all have the ability to become the person we want to become. We all have strengths and weaknesses, but the skills essential to succeed in business can be learned or cultivated. Discipline, commitment, energy, a growth mindset… if you really *want* to be an entrepreneur, you can build these skills. As for other abilities, you accomplish a lot by doubling down on your own strengths and getting help in the areas where you need it—whether “help” means hiring new team members or just turning to a mentor for advice.
It’s definitely not an easy path. An entrepreneur has to be willing to be uncomfortable. When you’re starting out, you’re wearing most of the hats if not all the hats, which means you are constantly doing things outside your natural skill set. I think we’re all really only awesome at one or two things. So as an entrepreneur, you don’t have the option to avoid the kind of work that shows you your shortcomings. You face it every day.
It takes resilience. But I believe that kind of resilience can be chosen and built by anyone willing to walk into the fire day after day.
If you were asked to describe yourself as an entrepreneur in a few words, what would you say?
Idan Shpizear: I am driven by client needs, first and foremost. My interest in the restoration industry began when I was working as a carpet cleaner. I’d be cleaning carpets in a flooded home and watch these restoration crews come in, do the job, and send the invoice. There was no connecting with the client, no stopping to clarify their needs and address their concerns. And these are people in crisis! Their greatest asset is at stake. My goal as an entrepreneur has always been to see the needs that are being neglected and create a vision for addressing those needs. I even created a software company, Gazingle, so I could set up new technology that would make the entire restoration process easier for the client.
Another thing that defines me as an entrepreneur is that I’m good at communicating a vision and moving forward even when I’m not 100% sure how this will all turn out in the end. When I see a problem I really want to address or a service I want to provide, I share that mission with my team, knowing that I’ve surrounded myself with talented, growth-focused professionals who are as excited about the possibilities as I am. I am fully confident that if we keep moving forward together, we will get where we need to be.
I truly believe an entrepreneur needs to be passionate about a vision and be able to articulate that vision without getting hung up on the exact right way to get there. It’s all about trying, learning, adapting, and optimizing.
Tell us about what your company does and how did it change over the years?
Idan Shpizear: 911 Restoration is a property restoration company with branches all over the U.S. and Canada. We provide restoration services including water restoration, mold remediation, fire damage restoration, disaster restoration, and sanitization. Our teams serve both residential and commercial properties.
It all began with a carpet cleaning company. It was literally just me, my business partner, one carpet cleaning machine, and an $800 Volvo. I saved every penny I could to invest back into my business. I used to keep a McDonald’s cup on hand so I could get free refills! Gradually, we got more clients, and in time, we expanded our services from just carpet cleaning to full-service property restoration. This is a great move for anyone in-home services, by the way. Your profit margins increase, your job opportunities increase, and you have an opportunity to be there for people when they need you most.
I decided to franchise the business after helping with restoration efforts following Hurricane Katrina. During that experience, I met a lot of home service business owners from all over the country who had more experience and skill in the trade than I did but were much less successful. I talked them through their business strategies, and I realized that this was another meaningful service I could provide—helping other entrepreneurs achieve the kind of success they are fully capable of. And what better way to do that than by franchising my own company?
Now 911 Restoration is one of the fastest-growing franchises in the U.S. Entrepreneur has named us one of the best franchises for under $100,000. A lot of the credit for that goes to the incredible team I have. They all embrace the Fresh Start spirit wholeheartedly, and our franchisees do the same. I love working with our franchise owners. I’ve seen so many of them build incredible lives for themselves, their families, and their communities because of their dedication to growing as business owners.
Thank you for all that. Now for the main focus of this interview. With close to 11.000 new businesses registered daily in the US, what must an entrepreneur assume when starting a business?
Idan Shpizear: They should assume it’s not going to be the way they think it’s going to be. There will be obstacles they didn’t see coming, they’ll find success with something they thought was a long shot, and their sure-fire idea will fall flat. The culture will evolve, the market will evolve, the competition will shift, and they’ll change as human beings and as leaders. I see so many aspiring entrepreneurs hold themselves back from even starting because they don’t want to launch a business until they have everything figured out. They don’t understand: you will NEVER have everything figured out.
That’s why it’s so important for entrepreneurs—especially now in a competitive environment—to be open to new ideas and strategies and to be willing to stretch themselves. You must be able to adapt. You have to be committed to the vision but not get hung up on the path you take to get three. This is the mindset that ensures success, no matter what lies ahead. And when you start thinking like that, the unpredictable nature of the business is more of an adventure than a burden.
Did you make any wrong assumptions before starting a business that you ended up paying dearly for?
Idan Shpizear: Oh, absolutely. We all do, right? There are two that come to mind.
First, I didn’t fully understand how important it was to actively sell myself and my business. I took over the carpet cleaning business I had worked for with the expectation that I could succeed with just the clients who already knew me. Once I realized that building connections with new clients was an essential (and constant) aspect of running a business, I threw myself into it 100%. But I could have seen much bigger growth much faster if I’d been all in from the beginning.
Second, I thought building a unified team was going to be much easier. In those early days, I just brought on skilled people who seemed to have good attitudes and figured they’d just do what I needed them to do. I didn’t really understand how we, as human beings, bring a unique perspective to everything we do, which means the solution that’s “obvious” to me may not be obvious to someone else. I’d get so frustrated when employees weren’t doing their job the way I wanted them to, not realizing that they were genuinely trying to bring me their best work and move the business forward. We just weren’t on the same page about top priorities and preferred procedures. That was when I learned how important it was to do training and communicate my vision clearly.
If you could go back in time to when you first started your business, what advice would you give yourself and why? Explain
Idan Shpizear: Three things.
First, I’d tell myself to trust myself and my intuition. This is so important when you’re starting a business because you’re walking into the unknown. Your vision is the only thing you have to hold onto; it’s the one anchor when everything around you is constantly evolving. You have to believe it in it, and you have to trust that voice telling you that you’re on the right journey. I did trust myself to some degree when I started out, but I still think I could have benefitted from a deeper faith in my own intuition. It would have motivated me to push harder (not work harder—I don’t think that would be possible!) and would have helped me build a strong team faster. When you trust yourself, hiring and leading become a lot easier.
That leads me to my second piece of advice. I’d tell myself that I can’t afford *not* to have amazing people on my team.
Finally, I’d also tell myself to double down on my strengths and stay in my lane. I wasted a lot of energy trying to be good at everything. And in the end, that’s not just a waste of energy; it’s also a drain on confidence. As entrepreneurs we are sometimes in situations where we have to do things that fall outside our natural skill set. But the whole point of building a team is to surround ourselves with people who are strong in our areas of weakness. When we think we have to do it all and know it all as leaders, we’re bound to fall short, and then we discount ourselves. We accomplish so much more when we double down on our superpower, stay humble and curious in the areas that are not our strength, and motivate our team members to do the same.
What is the worst advice you received regarding running a business and what lesson would you like others to learn from your experience?
Idan Shpizear: Two things immediately come to mind.
First, I really like creating meaningful connections with people, and I tend to care a lot about the people around me. Colleagues who knew this about me warned me not to care too much about my employees. Their philosophy was that the people you hire come and go and they don’t really care about the business. The advice was to just focus on making as much money as I could and not get wrapped up in team relationships. This is the exact opposite of what I do today, and I truly believe that anyone who finds themselves inclined towards connecting and empathizing is actually holding a superpower. If you can understand what’s important to your employees, what their dreams are, what they struggle with, where they shine… you can nurture them, support them, and help them become total superstars within their area of expertise. Not to mention, you enjoy your job so much more than you would if it were just about trying to squeeze whatever work you can out of a person before they burn out. The sooner you find the right people for your team and nurture a spirit of unity, the better your business will do.
The second one is kind of funny. Early on in my business, I overheard someone talking about this new way to market online through something called “Google AdWords.” I thought it sounded so exciting and immediately invested a lot of time, energy, and money into this new strategy. Literally—I went home after overhearing that conversation and stayed up all night learning everything I could about AdWords and creating my first Google ad. I got a call for a job the next morning. Colleagues warned me online advertising was just a fad. They told me I should stick with the Yellow Page. I’m so glad I didn’t listen; we got a call from Google ads pretty much every day from there on out. The takeaway here is that you have to be alert to the ways in which the world becomes more convenient for your customer, and you have to make sure you’re riding that wave. A lot of times when we write something off as a “fad,” it’s coming from our own resistance to adapt. Even fads lead us away from “the way it’s always been done.”
In your opinion, how has COVID-19 changed what entrepreneurs should assume before starting a business? What hasn’t changed?
Idan Shpizear: Well, my previous advice was that entrepreneurs should assume there will be big changes and major disruptions along their journey. So I think COVID-19 affirms that advice.
But one thing I do think the pandemic has shown us is that entrepreneurs can assume they have very limitations when it comes to building a team. Now that we’re all familiar with the technology we need to connect virtually, The options for business owners are wide open. If you find an incredible salesperson three states away, you can hire them without begging them to relocate. If you could really use a social media manager for your San Francisco business but you’re just getting started and can’t afford someone who has to pay rent in San Francisco, you can find someone of equal talent in a town where the cost of living is much less.
What is a common myth about entrepreneurship that aspiring entrepreneurs and would-be business owners believe in? What advice would you give them?
Idan Shpizear: A lot of aspiring entrepreneurs think “being ready” means being fully prepared for every eventuality. They wait so long to get started—or never get started—because they want to be certain their product will succeed and they’ve mastered every skill set an entrepreneur needs and they can make such a compelling case for how ready they are that their spouse and parents and friends will have no choice but to believe in them 100%.
This version of “ready” does not exist. It will never exist. Readiness is more about your mindset. Are you open to changing courses when you have to? Do you trust your own intuition? Have you done your best to plan and strategize with full acceptance that your next step is to optimize and adjust your strategy based on what you learn? That’s what ready is.
What traits, qualities, and assumptions do you believe are most important to have before starting a business?
Idan Shpizear: A growth mindset. Curiosity and compassion for the people you work with and the people you serve. A playful and creative spirit so you can solve problems more effectively. Clarity about your vision, flexibility about how you get there. A habit of focusing on opportunities instead of obsessing over problems. And of course, discipline, which is just the choice we make to consistently follow through on the promises we make to ourselves.
How can aspiring leaders prepare themselves for the future challenges of entrepreneurship? Are there any books, websites, or even movies to learn from?
Idan Shpizear: The absolute best thing you can do is to work on yourself. Your team and your business are a direct reflection of who you are and how you move through challenges. Start cultivating a growth mindset today. Learn to root your self-worth in your ability to learn and improve, not in what you own or what accolades you earn. The ultimate goal is to be someone who is open, focused, sharp, creative, and playful. If you’re the person who is always resisting tech or growth opportunities by saying, “That’s not me, that’s not the kind of thing I do,” examine that resistance. When there is an opportunity to create something new or meaningful, what is it within you that’s stopping you from making it happen? Is it a fear of failure? A fear of fear? An inherited belief that having too much money will mean you’re greedy?
Every entrepreneur grapples with old beliefs and self-imposed limitations. Start discovering and confronting them now, and do it by walking straight towards something wildly uncomfortable that is going to help you grow.
I believe so strongly in this that I’ve actually created the resources I wish I’d had when I was starting out. I have a website (GetOutOfTheTruck.life) with free ebooks, tools, blogs, and video courses centered on this topic. I’ve also written a book about it: How to Transform Your Mindset and Become a Self-Made Success Story.
You have shared quite a bit of your wisdom and our readers thank you for your generosity but would also love to know: If you could choose any job other than being an entrepreneur, what would it be?
Idan Shpizear: I don’t have an exact answer to this, but I will say I’d want to do something that makes a meaningful impact in an area that is very important to me. Probably something that involves saving the rainforest or elephants or whales. I believe in dreaming big, whatever I’m doing.
Thank you so much for your time, I believe I speak for all of our readers when I say that this has been incredibly insightful. We do have one more question: If you could add anyone to Mount Rushmore, but not a politician, who would it be; why?
Idan Shpizear: A teacher. I don’t have a specific teacher in mind, but someone who has made a remarkable impact on a lot of kids. So many people who are in these less-glamorous, “every day” professions like teaching… they’re playing such a big game. When they do their work with their whole heart, they create a brighter future for all of us. A good teacher shapes the way children see themselves and others.
They nurture self-compassion, curiosity, kindness, love, creativity, and unity. And if we celebrated the people who fill those roles in a more Mount-Rushmore-sized way, we as a society would probably place more value on what they do. More people would aspire to that level of whole-heartedness.
Larry Yatch, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Idan Shpizear for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Idan Shpizear or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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