Build, Scale, Exit – Why, How, & With Whom?

The little book that’s like having a #2 in your ___________ business

A ________________ is one of the most complex service businesses to operate. At every level, Owners and CEOs of ____________ run into roadblocks. 

These roadblocks get in the way of the desired outcomes they are trying to achieve as business owners. 

Those desired outcomes are different at every stage of business – build to $1M in annual revenue run rate, scale operation to $3M+ or some other larger number, exit my business by age 55 – WHAT you want to do with your ___________ business next – whatever you (as an owner) are driven to achieve. 

Before you answer this in your head, ask yourself, WHY?

I believe there are two reasons why every ___________ owner should want to operate a successful agency. 

  1. Build income 
  2. Build wealth

And, what you decide to do with that income and wealth determines how your lives play out to some extent.  

To those who have not lived it yet, this might sound greedy or self-serving. But for those who understand, it’s the gateway to the real life you want to live. 

Keep in mind, this book is written by someone with the life experiences of a perennial #2 in multiple businesses who focused far too long on building income and not enough time building wealth – you need both.

I have the laundry list of accomplishments that I can name off just like a lot of other entrepreneurs. Here are just a few.

  • Started my first business in college – a vending machine company (16 machines). Sold it to one of my Customers so he could use it to help pay for his Son’s college
  • At AT&T I became a Certified Business Process Engineer for CRM Software – Rational Rose (IBM)
  • Started my second business in 2002 – business and technical consulting, still going (Aponus Consulting)
  • Co-founded SaaS business CoreConnex in 2004, grew first product (ConnexIT Professional Service Automation) to 135 IT Service Firms across 4 countries globally
  • Raised $2.5M worth of investment over 4 years while leading the Marketing & Sales for the company
  • Launched first product (ConnexIT Professional Service Automation) and grew to 135 IT Service Company customers across 4 countries globally
  • Sold our customer base to a competitor (ConnectWise) and used capital to build, market and sell our 2nd product (Corelytics Financial Dashboard)
  • Won $25,000 Grand Prize and Category Winner for Intuit’s App Showcase (the launch of their app market for QuickBooks) with Corelytics
  • Launched The Small Business Tour to promote Corelytics to small business owners, secured sponsorship from Intuit, Microsoft, Dell, Cisco, and for 5 city tour across US in 7 weeks
  • Served as the Interim COO of Cloud9 Realtime (a QuickBooks hosting provider for Accountants and CPAs
  • Prepared financial statements for the CEO, provided financial analysis, and helped position C9RT for the sale of their $12M a year business to private equity group
  • Launched a financial dashboard product for Insperity with a skunkworks team in this $2B public company
  • Served as Interim Director of Marketing for live streaming company (Varvid) to help CEO clarify vision, market, and generate new business
  • Became certified in HubSpot (marketing, sales, and growth driven design) – lead FANNIT digital agency in adopting this platform
  • Became Partner of FANNIT – digital marketing agency, grown to multi-million business
  • Have helped 100s of business owners, CEOs as a Marketing Strategist build their lead gen and sales capabilities to hit revenue goals
  • Sold shares of Fannit Agency to invest in other business opportunity 
  • Provide Business Builder service to help small business owners start, build, scale, and exit their businesses successfully

A lot of these experiences have provided me with hind sight and examples for me to use to illustrate some key components of this book. 

____________ owners are those strange thrill seekers who take on significant challenges and financial risk to satisfy the reward-behavior component in our brains so that we can say to ourselves and the world – I built a successful business.

Why?

Some business owners I’ve interviewed have said they wanted to build a business because it gave them a sense of freedom and accomplishment. 

Others thought it was the best way for them to express themselves and their talents. 

And still others want to build a ____________ business because they want to do something good for their community or society. 

Back to income and wealth for agency owners. 

I won’t lie, income and the “business owner” status are big reasons most people start their ______________ business – they want to earn a respectable living, be looked up to and become wealthy. 

If you have not at least thought about this you’re lying to yourself – the worst person on earth to do that to by the way. 

We’ve all read the book Find Your Why: A Practical Guide to Discovering Purpose for You and Your Team. If you haven’t now would be a good time to grab a copy or download on Audible – choose your medium. 

Figuring out your why will help you get through those days when it feels like endless work with nothing in sight but more work. 

You might also go through the exercise of writing down your Personal Priority Matrix. Here is mine. 

Priority

My Personal Meaning

Activities / Time

Focus / Intention

Faith

Trust

Intentional visualization on feelings, outcomes and tithing

Trust in abundance and love

Family

Wife, Son, Close Family

Let wife retire, walks, evenings out, board games, work on the property/house, trips

Be a good husband and father

Fitness

Heart, Body, Mental, Diabetes Care

In-office weights, nightly pushups, floats, massages, walks, golf

Eat right, exercise regularly, monitor insulin, recharge mentally

Finance

Wealth and Income, Freedom

Quarterly work / priorities

Grow income to build wealth – multiple purposes

Fun

Joy

Golf, helping others build and scale business to grow income and wealth,

Guilt-free enjoyment

It might sound silly, but whenever I am feeling up against it, I say the five priorities to myself a few times and it calms me down and gets me back to center. 

Why? Because I understand the intention behind each Priority – like a mantra. 

Told you it might sound silly, but it works for me. And it could work for you too. 

We’ll come back to this later.

Want a second set of eyes on your business goals?

How?

After you’ve started your ____________, the question on everyone’s mind, even mine today, is – how do I/we [build, scale, exit]? 

You fill in the blank for yourself, your leadership team and your ____________ business depending on which stage you are currently in and where you’re trying to get to next. 

In 2004 I had the opportunity to attend a presentation by Verne Harnish, one inspiration for the path I took in business. He has written several books like Mastering the Rockefeller Habits and a follow on of Scaling Up

Mr. Harnish talks about why hiring a #2 for your business is the single biggest decision you might make as an entrepreneur. 

On a few occasions I’ve tried to implement his system in businesses I’ve worked for as a consultant. 

With any new system in a business, you’ll need someone to take ownership of making sure your people are educated and bought in, drive the process forward, and quality control the results you achieve with the new system. This is a big task. 

I came to the conclusion that simple is better. 

That’s why I’ve stuck with the 4 Elements of Small Business Transformation when helping business owners decide how

To achieve your desired outcomes you’ll need to get good at removing the constraints within each major part of your business. 

 

Attract

Convert

Deliver

Manage

Outcomes

Generate new leads / prospects 

Close new revenue opportunities

Provide quality services / products

Optimize profits and equip your

people 

Constraints

    

Profits

    

People

    

Process

    

No matter which stage of business you are in there are constraints that continuously arise. Here are some popular ones.

  • The person you have in a certain role isn’t a good fit
  • The profit you are making is not high enough to sustain the service or product
  • The process your people are following does not produce the desired outcome
  • We don’t know what to do next to solve the problem we THINK we have
  • The software we’re using is more of a blocker than an efficiency maker 

Recognize them early, fix them fast, and move on – that’s the recipe. It’s about progress, not perfection. Easier said than done.

However, I will tell you this, the right people for your business will be the ones who understand the issues and are capable of helping you resolve them. 

People are a strange mix of past experiences, emotions, bias, motivations, and skills, BUT … they are critical to building, scaling and helping exit businesses.

Want to explore ideas about how to get your business to where you want it to go?

With Whom?

One of the most famous books is Good to Great by Jim Collins, recommends business owners need to ‘get the right people on the bus’ first before deciding how to make the changes in your business. 

This refers to finding the right people for the roles you have or will have to help achieve your desired outcomes. 

Another eye opening book is Do You Have Who It Takes? Managing Technical Talent in a High Risk Technical Workforce by one of my past clients Steve Trautman. 

I’m sure there are several more books out there.

The most important thing I’ve learned over the years in working with a variety of teams at every stage of business is that certain people are capable of functioning and performing well at certain levels of the business.

You may have someone who is amazing at getting things off the ground, but terrible at managing a sustained performance. 

Or, you might have someone who has the imagination to see beyond where your _____________ business currently stands, but unable to execute the consistency needed for the day to day. 

It is incumbent upon you, the leader of the team, to know who to bring in, when to bring them in, and what you expect of them in that role.

Want to discuss who you might need on your team next?