In the late 90s, Chris Metzler sold everything he owned and bought a plane ticket.
After 7.5 years of successfully running several restaurants, he sold his stake and traveled to a country he’d never thought of before, but that was recommended as a place to visit: New Zealand.
Chris is a native Charlottean who had earned his degree from UNC Chapel Hill. At this time, he had no wife, no kids, no pets and no debt; he knew he was in a very unique position and wanted to take advantage of it. Little did he know, this would be the beginning of a 3.5 year backpacking journey from New Zealand to Central and South America, where he would learn much about the world, about others, and about himself.
When he returned from Rio de Janeiro, he pursued and earned his International MBA in Finance through the University of South Carolina; half of this program was taught in Vienna, Austria. Upon graduation, he opened his own general contracting company in Charlotte, obtained his real estate license and proceeded to flip homes, while building for others as well.
After 16 years, he decided he was done with construction. But what next?
He then joined The Entrepreneur’s Source (TES), which allowed him to leverage his extensive knowledge as an entrepreneur and what it takes to run a successful small business with his understanding of business dynamics (of both corporate and small businesses) to help coach clients to a point of clarity. He now helps clients figure out if entrepreneurship is the right move for them.
“I love what I do, and I look forward to helping more clients explore the world of entrepreneurship.”
In our exclusive interview with Chris, he shared more about his travels and how they’ve impacted him, questions every entrepreneur should ask themselves, and how, through The Entrepreneur’s Source, he can personally help you transform your business idea into a reality.
Keep reading to learn more!
CBRBiz.com (CBR): Hi, Chris! Thank you for letting us share your story. To start, can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
Chris Metzler (CM): I’m a Native Charlottean, married to an amazing woman with two small boys. I am living in the same area that I grew up in (Cotswold). I enjoy spending as much time outdoors with my family, whether it’s camping, mountain biking, the Whitewater Center, etc.
CBR: When did you first know you wanted to start your own business? What were the early days as an entrepreneur like for you?
CM: Out of undergrad (1990), I was working front and back of the house at The Village Tavern in SouthPark, still trying to figure out what I wanted to do. I had two job offers from large corporations, but it just didn’t feel right to me. I then helped open a small restaurant with a husband and wife team from Denver. It was wildly successful. That was my beginning of being a serial entrepreneur. I’d had a taste of working for a corporation while in grad school and quickly realized I was not cut out to work for others.
“I like calling my own shots and being responsible for the outcomes, good or bad.”
CBR: We understand that you’re a world traveler. Tell us a little more about your travels and where you’ve lived over the years. How have these experiences impacted you?
CM: Wow! Where to start?
I backpacked and lived in New Zealand for 11 months, where I was able to get a job as a substitute chef in the North Island and a bartender in the South Island. I came back to Charlotte and started a year-long backpacking journey through Central and South America. I stayed in Guatemala and eventually ended up in Rio. In between, I visited and stayed for various amounts of time in Honduras, Costa Rica, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. I also spent five weeks in Caracas, Venezuela. Then, I spent many weeks in the Amazon in Brazil, then a couple of months making my way down the Brazilian coast to Rio.
These travels have had an amazing and lasting impact on me. I learned much about myself as I had hours/days/weeks of ‘me’ time. I didn’t know any Spanish when I touched down in Guatemala, so I had to learn on the fly, sink or swim.
I learned that I was strong enough to face touch down in a foreign country, not know the language and survive.
When I have been asked what I learned, here is my “top 3” response, in no particular order:
a) I learned to trust myself, trust my gut, trust my intuition.
b) People are relatively the same throughout the world; they want to work, live, and raise their families in peace. People were generally good and willing to help. I had many people offer me a place to stay at their homes (without really knowing me), or providing me with help in various forms.
c) This might sound somewhat “out there,” however I realized that we are all not only similar in what we want and what we need, but I also realized how we are all connected and interconnected, not only with each other, but with the land, waters, life around us and around the globe. Now, “the butterfly effect” makes sense to me.
After Rio, I lived in and went to grad school in Vienna, Austria for 9 months, with visits to Slovakia and Hungary, as well as a trip to South Africa.
CBR: What has been one of the greatest challenges you’ve faced as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
CM: One of the biggest challenges I faced was growing the business smartly. When you grow, you have to bring on help. I realized what my ‘weaknesses’ were and admitted to myself that I should turn that part over to someone who could do it either better or just as good; that way, I could focus on other aspects of the business.
When you own your own business, you wear all the hats, especially in the beginning. It’s yours. To turn over any aspect can be a challenge. But, eventually, you need to surround yourself with people that can do parts of the business as well as or better than you; this way, you can continue to guide and grow the business, working ‘on the business’ not ‘in the business.’
CBR: What advice would you offer entrepreneurs dealing with a similar challenge?
CM: Understand yourself, your strengths and your weaknesses. Know when you need help and seek it out. Don’t be ashamed, afraid or too stubborn to ask.
You can’t grow a business without help.
CBR: Let’s talk more about your latest venture, The Entrepreneur’s Source. Can you tell us more about how you got started and what it is?
CM: The last home I built as a general contractor was a 6,000 square foot home. It was the one that burned me out; it was not fun anymore. My first son was born, and my wife and I agreed that we didn’t want to put him in daycare or with a nanny for at least the first year and a half of his life. We decided that it was time for me to shut down my company, and I would be a stay-at-home-dad. It was awesome.
However, after that year and a half, I was itching to do something. I started looking to see what I could do. I didn’t want to work corporate. I didn’t want to build anymore.
I met Lauren Cantor here in Charlotte. She introduced me to The Entrepreneur’s Source (TES). TES is actually a 32 year old company. It’s a franchise that allows me to work independently, on my own schedule.
I work for myself, but not by myself.
What we do is work with clients that are interested in finding out more about entrepreneurship. I can help a client flesh out a “mom and pop” concept, or help get them financing, legal help, whatever they may need for it. I have the resources. What I specialize in is working with clients, usually corporate employees, that are either now unemployed, underemployed, or are tired of working for someone else.
Through our Discovery Experience, I help identify the top three or four franchise business models that best fit their specific criteria. We work with over 300 different franchise business models. I then help coach my clients as they explore the different franchise models. The great thing for me is that my services are all 100% free of charge, which makes it a fun process, as there is no pressure, no sales, just education and information for my clients so they can make informed decisions.
CBR: The Entrepreneur’s Source sounds amazing! Can you give us an example of a Charlotte business you’ve been able to help establish?
CM: Yes, one of my recent clients, Mark Davis is a golf pro; he golfed at UNCC and was recently the GM and golf pro of a country club in eastern NC. He wanted to get back to Charlotte with his family, but didn’t think he wanted to try a golf/pro shop as that market is cornered by big retailers, and he didn’t want to work for someone else.
Mark went through our Discovery Experience. We discussed his strengths, weaknesses, financials, his family goals, what kind of lifestyle he desired, etc. I was able to identify three businesses for him to explore. He talked with all three, and had subsequent conversations with two of them, but none of them panned out.
When we analyzed what he did and didn’t like about the three, and why none of them really worked, I was able to identify a fourth business model. This one checked off all of the boxes. He will be opening a My House Fitness in late summer 2016 in the Waxhaw/Weddington area.
CBR: How do you think your own experiences have benefited you in your role at The Entrepreneur’s Source?
CM: I have only been an entrepreneur. I have been there, I have done that. I can share my experiences to those that have no clue what it’s like. I can help those that have a dream of growing their own idea.
I realize the benefit now of a franchise and can help laser-focus the top three or four franchise business models that best fit my client’s specific criteria and assist someone in taking that step into entrepreneurship and self-sufficiency. I am fortunate to be able to assist people in making life-changing decisions. I don’t take that responsibility lightly.
CBR: In your opinion, what types of questions should people ask themselves before starting a business?
CM: Entrepreneurship is definitely not for everyone. The following are a handful of the questions you need to ask yourself:
- Are willing to work your butt off? Do you understand what it will require of you? Really? Everyone always says ‘yes’, then after a couple months, they will admit that they had no idea.
- Do you have the proper amount of finances in place? Can you pay your bills/live for your ramp up period? A common fatal mistake for many failed businesses is having insufficient operating funds. Business owners underestimate how much money is needed, and they are forced to close before they’ve even had a fair chance to succeed. They also may have an unrealistic expectation of incoming revenue from sales.
- Do you have a business plan? Is it realistic (see above)? Have you had it critiqued?
- If you have a significant other, are they on board? Although it just might be you working at it, it will affect everyone you are close to.
- What is your exit strategy?
CBR: You also teach business courses. What’s your favorite part about this?
CM: I love giving presentations and providing education and information to others. I could do a presentation for one person or an auditorium of hundreds.
Education is an important part of my life. I could have been a lifelong student, but that doesn’t pay the bills. I enjoy what I learn from the classes I teach as well as from educating others. The information I provide is designed to help others make decisions that could have huge potential impact, personally and financially; providing that information is an honor. Helping others get the information they need is a joy.
CBR: So, let’s get this straight. Over the years, you’ve opened a small chain of restaurants, traveled, lived in many countries, studied abroad for your MBA, worked for The Entrepreneur’s Source, taught business courses and been a stay-at-home-dad. You’ve made some amazing accomplishments. Did we miss anything? What motivates you?
CM: My ultimate motivation is my family. That being said, I truly enjoy meeting, talking with, and helping others out. Whether it’s with The Entrepreneur’s Source or even with construction issues, for which I still get some requests.
As I mentioned, I believe we are all in this together–we are all connected–so to help one other is to help many others, which ultimately can help yourself.
CBR: Is there anything we didn’t ask that you’d like to add?
CM: I just appreciate the opportunity to share my story.
As part of the TES mission to provide education and information about franchising, we also offer the following free web based services:
These allow someone to explore potential business options from the comfort of their own couch, 24/7.
Thank you, Chris, for taking the time to speak with us, as well as for sharing some valuable information with our followers. For more information about Chris Metzler and other like-minded entrepreneurs, be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!