Going through such rapid growth, how has that changed you or how has it forced you to change and grow? It’s very different starting off, doing a solo business where you started, and delivering all the services yourself and now you’re a CEO with a team and a lot of fast growth.
There’re a couple of things. One is that I spent a lot of my time in marketing and sales because I learned from businesses I was a part of that failed that if you’re not bringing in new prospects, if you don’t have a marketing system in place that’s going to continue to bring people through the door, you’re putting your business at risk because relying on word of mouth or referrals that come in happenstance. I know, Steve, you have systems for how to generate referrals on autopilot in a way that most businesses aren’t doing. The way most businesses sit around and wait for referrals to come in, word of mouth, etc., most small businesses, at least, that’s a recipe for disaster. I spend a lot of my time in sales and marketing to make sure that I don’t repeat that same mistake myself.
I would say the second thing that I’ve realized is that, in EMyth, they talk about the different roles that you have to play as an entrepreneur. I believe in your infancy when it was just me working by myself out of my house, I had to do all of those things. As the company grew a little bit, I realized that I can’t do all of those things and I have to surround myself with great people. We have an amazing leadership team at our company that’s allowed us to get to this level that there’s no way in hell we could’ve gotten to without them.
Probably the biggest, the most critical role that we have in our company is the role of COO, because if you’re going to be the CEO, you need somebody else who’s going to be the integrator as they call it in EMyth so that you can be the visionary and do all the different things CEOs are supposed to do. In our company that’s been critical. We have a very strong COO who is able to do the things within the company to keep the company moving, all of the operational things, client fulfillment, etc., so I can stay very focused on the other side of the business and working on the future where we’re going, new marketing strategies, and all that stuff. Those are some of the biggest lessons I’ve learned along the way.
Definitely, as you’re growing your business, you have to be ready for the challenge of changing, of how you’re showing up and what your responsibilities are in the business. I have to consciously work on things like tending to the culture of the company. It doesn’t come natural to me. I’m an ex‑finance guy. Things like culture and stuff like that are not second nature for me. It’s still a learning experience, but at the end of the day, I find that when we treat people right, a lot of that stuff takes care of itself.
The ability to find and select and bring in good people is such a multiplier in a business. It’s funny a lot of businesses completely ignore it as a real tool. They see employees as a cost, as a thing that they got to have them and it’s a necessary evil. I’ve always looked at it the other way. In my first business, we were much bigger in terms of size because of the service we were delivering. Having those key management roles, so that as the CEO, you can be out there and working on the future, is probably the key move that separates people who stay small from ones who grow. If you don’t make that move, if you can’t have somebody minding the shop while you’re out creating the future, it’s impossible to have a leg on each side of that fence. It’s too hard to do.
Absolutely especially if you’re running a marketing agency. We have a lot of common friends in the industry, Steve, and I hear from a lot of people often who hate the done-for-you model as it’s called by some people. There’re two things that most people don’t get right, which causes them to hate it is. One, what we just talked about. They don’t have that integrator, the person to take care of the operations side of that, and then two, they don’t have it systematized so that when clients come on, it’s a repeatable process. Those two things, you could say that about any business, but especially if you’re running a marketing agency. Doing client work can be tough.
Earlier this year, we launched a done-for-you service around our specialty and we did it out of necessity because the clients that we were working with, while they love the approach, struggled with doing the work, which is I’m sure what you found as well because it’s not their expertise. I started thinking back. My first business was in engineering and all of our clients hired us and we had clients for life, like 25 plus years, where we had a single client paying us every month for that entire time.
We had lots of clients that stayed. I call them clients for life. To get to that point, you’ve got to create a situation where you’re plugged into their business. The best way to do that is to deliver them a result again and again and again that they need. It’s one thing to show up and have ideas and advice and that’s all valuable, but if you can get yourself in a position where you’re delivering the result for them and you’re taking their headache off, it’s pretty hard for them to turn it off.
That’s absolutely what we’ve found. If you can find something that they know that would generate lots of value for them, but they don’t want to do the work, there’s probably a great business in there somewhere.
It’s like the dirty businesses philosophy. All kinds of very wealthy, very successful entrepreneurs who are doing the dirtiest of all businesses that most people wouldn’t want to touch, but they’re sitting back, smiling and laughing and carrying buckets of money to the bank every day. You got to get in and do the dirty work. Let’s talk a little bit about LinkedSelling and Linked University. I know you have focused some of the offerings going into 2018. If an audience is thinking, “I think LinkedIn is probably the place for me,” start with who’s the best fit to be marketing on LinkedIn and how should they get started? What approach should they be taking?
If you’re listening to this, you probably already know whether or not you should be doing it, but at the end of the day, if you can go on LinkedIn and you can do a search for the people that you want to be doing business with and you can find them there, then you need to be figuring out how to tap into that. The biggest problem that people come to us with is they see all these prospects sitting on LinkedIn that are the perfect fit to do business with and they’re not sure how to even start with approaching them. If you go on LinkedIn and you can’t find anybody that looks like a good fit for your business, then don’t do it. Otherwise, you probably should consider getting something going.
What do you do to start getting something going? How do you start putting the pieces in place? There’s a couple things that I would say. The first thing is to go back to what I said, have a clear picture of who you want to go after. If your criteria for who can be a good customer or client of yours is way too broad, then you’re going to struggle. The reason is because on LinkedIn, to break through, you need to be positioning yourself in a way to where the prospect is perfect for your services when they see your information come across the screen, when you reach out to connect with them, when they see the LinkedIn group that you’re the founder of.