by Audrey Perrot
Mikkel Pitzner takes the phrase working hard or hardly working to a whole new level. As a self-proclaimed serial entrepreneur, Denmark-born Pitzner admits that working a nine-to-five schedule was never the right formula for him who has spent his international career building businesses from the ground up or becoming part of companies and taking them to new levels.
“I have tried it and it is not always that much fun,” he laughs.
There are risks to be taken, he admits, and he’s experienced a number of them. Having moved to the United States just three and a half years ago, Pitzner arrived just prior to the economic crash of 2008. But he adds that’s just part of the life of being an entrepreneur.
“You never have a day off when you’re an entrepreneur but if you believe you’re safe because you have a job then you’re simply just fooling yourself. There are great risks and great rewards and sometimes the reward is not money but that you can do your own thing because you love it so much,” he says.
His career started in the car rental industry and moved on to personal transportation and limousine services. His instinctive business savvies helped grow that company by nearly 400% and more than 200 employees in only a few years.
And that’s just one company of many. Since going out on his own, Pitzner has been involved with more than 25 companies. He’s still involved with 12 of them and is currently starting up four new projects.
He’s become an expert in building businesses and loves the thrill of taking great ideas and turning them into successful companies. His personal website, www.mikkelpitzner.com, which he also affectionately calls his ego website details the variety of businesses he’s built and partnered with throughout the world.
But the most impressive part of his day-to-day managing of his businesses is that Pitzner spends very little time in the office. In fact, for one of his past successful companies, a limousine service company, he only spent a mere 60 days in the office throughout the 14 years of ownership. So, how does he do it?
“I maintain control and ownership of seven main areas of the business but have systems and other people running the operation based on my direction—so that affords me to do other things,” he says.
He adds that entrepreneurs and owners should maintain control over the most important aspects of the company such as controlling the money, liabilities and office locations then leaving the rest to a talented and trusted team.
“Find really good people to run your daily operations, but make sure you have the final say over aspects that are putting serious liabilities or expenses on your company,” he says.
It’s all a part of his secret to success in business and in life. That secret is what he plans to share with aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners in 2012 in his latest venture, a new product and website he’s launching called The Automated Millionaire.
The Automated Millionaire, www.theautomatedmillionaire.com, is an online tool to help other entrepreneurs build a successful business by doing less work, utilizing tips and tricks Pitzner has learned over his many years in building and running companies.
“It’s kind of like outsourcing,” he says. “Not working harder but working smarter and with the advents of internet, improved communication devices and many tools available today, the opportunities are growing bigger every day even in a down economy.”
Pitzner describes The Automated Millionaire as a promise to building a business that is going to generate revenue without having to do much work but he emphasizes that it’s not a get rich quick scheme. It will require hard work and dedication in building the business, he adds, but the program is designed to teach entrepreneurs and business owners how to build it so that once it gets going, it will require more big picture guidance and less day-to-day management.
He’s essentially proving that very concept as he builds The Automated Millionaire by enlisting experts throughout the creation process whose strengths complement his own. Utilizing tools such as automated webinars, streamline marketing and automated sales, Pitzner created The Automated Millionaire to take people “off the treadmill of the job.”
Pitzner’s original desire to create businesses stemmed from his father, a successful farmer and businessman.
“He was an educated farmer so he had all the agricultural background but he started off his own business and grew into one business after the other and ended up having multiple businesses in a big way,” he says.
But as Pitzner got older he realized his father’s success was only in business. The other parts of his life, Pitzner says, were in shambles.
“He had seven marriages, six kids of his own but with rocky relationships with each of them, was an alcoholic, and I used to say he was successful but then I realized that’s not really being very successful,” he says. “I would rather be successful with a great family, great relationships with my kids, having businesses that work and affording me time to watch my kids grow than just be successful at making money.”
It is possible to have that, he says, and it’s all about working smarter, working differently and expanding your mindset.
One fellow entrepreneur he met at a networking event, a world-class free diver, was struggling to find clients. After five minutes listening to his dilemma, Pitzner recommended the guy rethink his target audience.
“He was focusing on people who were already interested in free diving. Those people oftentimes are adventurers who don’t have the money to spend on the services he was offering so I told him he should focus on a whole different set of people for his customers and should go for the CEOs that are high performers, ambitious and potentially super stressed,” he says. “This guy could hold his breath for 21 minutes. You have to be able to manage something very special about your mindset and keep yourself completely calm to accomplish a feat like that. So instead of selling how to free dive, he should really sell how to control your mind for optimal performance.”
The man followed Pitzner’s advice and within three weeks had landed two highly prestigious companies, training their top level management and tripling his income.
“He’s not working harder. He is not in need of changing his program offered. It’s just changing the way he did things and how he viewed his business,” he says.
Pitzner is quick to admit it is difficult for him to focus on one interest because he has so many. His friends and business associates often invite him to partner with them but ultimately it’s great ideas that inspire him: ideas like a company called Freetrailer.
Freetrailer is a company that partners with large box stores such as IKEA and rents out box or cargo trailers to customers—for free—to take home the purchases they cannot fit in their cars or on the bus. The company sells advertising space on the trailer to the stores providing around-town and highly targeted advertisements as well as a free, convenient service for their customers.
“The whole thing is powered by a very powerful but simple website with a flow that’s almost like a self-service: fast, efficient and gets the result for everyone involved. Customers book the trailer, put in their card and print out their booking info. You go and show up and get the keys and use the trailer and then return it when you are done. For IKEA it’s a great concept because they get super customer satisfaction and loyalty and simultaneously get very targeted advertising in which their message gets out by their customer into the neighborhoods where all the other potential customers are,” he says.
The best part is, Pitzner adds, is that a person doesn’t need to be a customer at IKEA to use it. Individuals will show up to the IKEA parking lot to rent a free trailer but will often go and find that lamp or book shelf they wanted.
“We have partners that get 10% of their new customers simply from offering the Freetrailer service that we provide,” says Pitzner.
The company has adapted the program for smaller uses offering free rental of bicycles and small trailers. Starting with only five, the interest in this concept has grown like wildfire with international acclaim in Australia, Canada and Japan, as well as lots of love from environmental advocates such as www.treehuggers.com website and more.
And while Pitzner has experienced numerous successes like this, he adds that they haven’t all been winners. That’s okay, he says. “I also had some crappy years but I managed to get a lot of good stuff out of it,” laughs Pitzners. “There is great knowledge to be learned from failures.” Through his successes and failures, he hopes to mentor other entrepreneurs by leading them into a new way of working and a new way of life.
“I grew up with the notion that you have to work long hours and very hard and all that stuff. Part of The Automated Millionaire system tells you to be lazy to some degree. I’ve struggled with that because it does not sound good to be lazy,” he laughs. “I say that kind of jokingly but with some sort of half truth. People might say I’m all about making a lot of money without working but that’s not the case. I would like my results to really multiply with quantum leaps, big leaps but with ingenuity and clever ways of doing it. Sometimes that does require you to do a lot of footwork in the beginning or at interim periods of time, but if you do it right you can then set it up so once it is running you can be freed up by having systems and other people and tools in place to take care of it while you step back and instruct on a broader level and perhaps on a more visionary and strategic level. That’s how it becomes possible also for you to be engaged in multiple businesses and projects at the same time.”
He wants that opportunity for everyone else, too, and offers hope and optimism for those who are struggling whether it’s because of the economic blowout of 2008 or because they are in the midst of a failed or stagnant business, both of which come with the territory of being an entrepreneur.
“In this economy, you really got to believe in yourself and take charge of your life yourself and then you’ll have all the opportunities in the world,” he says. “Some things are not as easy as they might be but bad times also give opportunities and you’ve got to find what you can bring to the table to be compensated for. I often meet really stressed out people, sometimes entrepreneurs, who are struggling with their incomes and their lives and it truly gives me huge pleasure when I can help them sometimes with just minor adjustments to turn all of those things around and see them begin to get the results they have longed for.”