Sean Pour is the co-founder of Sellmax, a used car buying company based out of San Diego, California. At the age of 14 he started working at his family’s company, inspiring him to continue in the industry. With over ten years of experience dealing with the purchasing and selling of used vehicles, Sean has become an expert in his field. His alma mater is San Diego State University, where he graduated with a degree in computer science. Sean has further specialties in web design and online marketing, skills he has employed to drive the success of SellMax. In his free time, Sean loves running, reading, and spending time with his family.
Where did the idea for Sellmax come from?
Growing up, I watched my father work extremely hard to build his used car dealership. He was a great businessman and encouraged me to learn and get involved with his business. For a while, things seemed to be sailing along smoothly. I dreamed of one day running his business myself. And then the 2008 financial crisis came around. The car dealership was slowly falling apart, and I couldn’t stand to just sit and watch it happen. I decided I had to do something. Though I was only 14 years old, I created a website to help my father expand his inventory. In the process of finding solutions I taught myself HTML and PHP, learned about WordPress and marketing. Then the whole effort spun out of the realms of my imagination, and here we are today as SellMax. The inspiration I needed came right from my home.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I wake up around 6:00 and start to work around 7:00. I wait to have my coffee at the office. Once I’m all settled in and ready to get going, I’ll have two shots of espresso to give myself that extra boost. Then, truthfully, I take a “get it done,” approach. I know what I need to do based on the tasks I laid out for myself, and like to check off all of the items as fast as I can. But here’s the key to keeping the productivity flowing all week long: exercise. I go for a run every day after work. It sharpens your mind and relaxes you. It’s the best way you can take care of your mental health and body, which makes hard work a little less strenuous in the long haul.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Most of the time, an idea or concept has already been executed in a similar form by someone else. The first step to fleshing out ideas into tangible objectives is doing research. Take the time to study competitors, similar concepts that exist and are successful, and start devising an approach informed by those examples. Once I’ve sorted through the “how to”, I mobilize my coworkers to collaborate with me and make it a reality.
What’s one trend that excites you?
AI is certainly a fascinating development. I’m curious to see how it will evolve over time, and the roles it can play in society. I hear a lot about driverless cars, and well—that wouldn’t be great for SellMax—but at the core of this is AI, which is being explored in various avenues well beyond vehicles. I think it stands to shift the status quo, changing the world as we know it. That’s exciting in my book.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Exercise. Unfortunately, people are busy, but once you get in the habit of making it a priority, the benefits reach every aspect of professional life, as well as your personal life.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Fail as fast as possible. When I was younger, I tended to get down on myself for failures. But these failures should be looked at as successes. All my biggest wins stemmed from everything I learned from doing things the “wrong way”.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Adversity is extremely beneficial. As a kid, I was surrounded by uncertainty. My family was under a lot of pressure. However, the constant exposure to unpleasant circumstances allows you to get used to it. Once you’re familiar with situations many people fear and avoid, you know how to walk right through it with your head held high. It’s made me more willing to take risks and be fearless in my business tactics.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Though I am repeating myself, your longevity and mental focus depends on whether or not you exercise regularly. That’s what I’d recommend to everyone else. At one point in my life, I sacrificed health for business. It was the wrong decision. It really put a strain on my growth, I had less energy and quite honestly, I was depressed. Exercising helps me stay positive, and motivated.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Curiosity. When you don’t know how to do something, research it. I am self-taught for the most part. When a question pops in your mind, don’t wait for someone else to dig up an answer for you. Take some time and sort it out. This allows you to gain knowledge that you’ll build on over time.
Additionally, now that I know how to do particular tasks it becomes much easier to outsource to my staff. It makes hiring easier because you know who “gets it” and who doesn’t.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
When I was initially scaling the company, I experienced forms of failure everyday. I can remember one that affected me badly though. We had just leased a newer office and made some new hires when all of a sudden, we saw a significant loss of revenue as a result of an advertising channel becoming less lucrative. It was devastating, and I felt overwhelmed.
The answer to overcoming it was to have several different sources of traffic for the business. I learned that day that income diversification is key for a business to thrive.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
An on-demand rental car service. So it’d function within a mobile platform, like Uber or Lyft. You can view available vehicles near you, and request one to be dropped off at your location. Of course, the users will have been pre-vetted to qualify for a rental. But technicalities aside, I think this could be pretty lucrative.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I recently purchased noise-canceling headphones. I’ve been using regular headphones without questioning it, but the difference is night and day. Music sounds better, phone calls are clearer, and it’s nice not hearing every bit of background noise.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I’m a big fan of Trello. It’s a collaborative platform that organizes your projects in a clear and simple way. It’s perfect for my team to stay up to date on what everyone is working on.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“The 4-Hour Workweek” by Tim Ferriss. The title is misleading but the messaging results in a paradigm shift. After reading this book, you’ll gain a tangible perspective on what’s truly possible. We tend to hold on to this false assumption that success is only earned after long, strenuous hours. But by using collaborative teams and outsourcing aspects of your business, your work/life balance will drastically improve.
What is your favorite quote?
“Anything can be earned.” That’s what my mother told me many times as I was growing up, and I’ve held onto that belief.
- Business ideas aren’t always found far from home. Trying to solve a problem that’s right in front of you can lead you on an entrepreneurial path that may turn out to be lucrative.
- Working hard can only be sustainable if it’s combined with regular exercise.
- Trello is a useful platform for collaborative work and team management.
- By taking on a mindset geared toward success, failure will no longer be an option. You will be looking at how to overcome hurdles, rather than caving once something doesn’t go as planned.
- Adversity can be your friend. Get used to being uncomfortable, and you’ll be more likely to take risks.
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.