Welcome to the Unstoppable CEO podcast. I’m your host Steve Gordon and today’s going to be special. I’ve got with me Scott Beebe. He’s the founder and head coach of mybusinessonpurpose.com. He’s also the host of the Business on Purpose podcast and he and his team liberate small business owners from the chaos of working in their businesses, and help them get their lives back by articulating and implementing intentional vision, mission, and values along with systems and processes. Scott, I love the word that you used there “intentional” one of my favorite words. Welcome to the Unstoppable CEO. Great to have you.
Steve, thank you so much. I’m excited to dive in.
Yeah. It’s going to be fun. I guess before we really get too deep here, I’ll love for you to give everybody a little bit of background so that they understand where you’re coming from.
Yeah, certainly. I tell people, Steve I’ve got kind of a fragmented blueprint of a life. I grew up all over the United States. Literally kind of circling the continent. Ended up doing high school in South Carolina, which led me into attending the University of South Carolina. I’m an alumni there. Actually had the privilege of playing football there in the mid 90s. I know you’re a Gator. We never beat the old Gators. They had Danny Wuerffel. They had a couple of key elements during that time. We also never beat the Tennessee Volunteers because they had a guy named Peyton Manning.
It was a tough season to be in football for that four-year swing while those guys were there, but it was a delight. Ended up going to theology school after I graduated from university. Graduated from there in ’01 and then went on a pilgrimage. Half of my time since that point has been in large, global multinational organizations and the other half of the time, Steve has been in really small faith-based non-governmentals.
I’ve seen a really broad spectrum, not only of the country here in the US, but also of organizational life here in the US. Ashley and I been married just over 20 years. We have three really fun kids: 17, 15, and 13 of the time of this recording. That’s a little snapshot of who we are and a little bit of my background, and whence we have come.
What Big and Small Organizations Have in Common
Diverse background for sure. I can imagine kind of living in the large organizational world and then the very small organizational world. Probably a lot of differences, but maybe more similarities that we might imagine. I think people in large organizations think they’re very, very different. People in small organizations think that the large organizations are full of bureaucracy and all kinds of things that they can’t relate to, but I imagine you probably found some parallels between the two. Go ahead.
Well, I was going to say if you take a speedboat and one of these mega tanker ships that are on the open ocean. They both got propellers. They both got rudders. They both got some sort of powerhouse that actually drives the propeller. If you look at organizations from a principles’ standpoint, there’s load of similarity. In fact, one of the biggest differences is really just speed and agility. Outside of that you’re going to have a lot of the same systems and processes, but the speed is going to be a lot different. Now, capacity obviously is very different, as well. A larger organization can carry a lot more capacity, but at the end of the day it’s really about speed and agility between the two.
So Scott, I imagine you been in all sizes of organizations and I’m sure in all of the places that you worked, things didn’t go perfectly all the time. There probably were obstacles, things you had to overcome, problems you faced. What are some of the ways that over the years that you’ve found have worked best to kind of push through that?
One of the biggest challenges I faced and I layout the story, and then wrap it up with the thing that I think I learned from it, and hopefully used through it. One of the organizations I was a part of, I was actually kind of the executive leader of day to day. It was really small organization and I was the international administrator. We did a ton of work in Nigeria and so I was back and forth to Nigeria a bunch.
It was my first role, Steve that I was answerable to a board; full nine member board. Very professional group of men and women. We were based in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. For a number of years, we actually volunteered as a family for this organization. I’m going back and forth to Nigeria. Well, when I had helped them and led them through the process of articulating a vision, mission, values for the organization they realized that it was going to need some day to day leadership.
They asked if I would leave where I was, which was a big, large, global multinational and come to this really small non-governmental. It took us about a year to make that decision because it was a pretty big jump for us. Ended up doing that and a couple of years in, Steve there was some serious, serious board of directors issues, and one of the things that it had taught me is you better button up the details on the backend even in a very small organization. A lot of times small agile organizations had the mindset of “we just cross that bridge when we come to it.”
The reality is at some point the bridge is going to come and unfortunately a lot of the bridges that you come to are very unforgiving for people who are very unprepared. So going ahead and buttoning up a lot of the details, for instance, in board situations with the guiding documents and sorts of things. Having that laid out with great clarity is really, really crucial to be able to do, not only that, but open communication. There’s got to be set times and flows for that communication.
So that really happened at about two and a half years in. Man, you talk about just imploding. It imploded at a director level. Nothing I could do about it, but my role was directly answerable to those boards of directors. I literally walked into a boardroom on a Friday at 9:00 AM and walked out three hours later at noon with no job. I’m 39-years-old and for the first time in my life I had nothing to wake up to and go to the next day. The thing that I found through that, Steve is the articulation of a vision. If you don’t have your vision articulated out, when those sorts of thing come, chaos is the default.
There’s nowhere else to go because you have nothing written down. You got no picture in your mind of what things could look like and so when chaos comes and it will come, then you got to have this articulation of vision down so that you can begin to walk towards that when the chaos is all surrounding you.
Sort of gives you a north star to remain focused on even when things are getting difficult.
How to Make Sure You Aren’t “Flying Blind” With Your Business
Yeah. Absolutely. You’ve got to have that. The best metaphor is probably the metaphor of a pilot. If you got instruments on your dashboard, then the clouds might still make you a little nervous, but you’re much better set to be able to fly through the clouds when you can’t see anything. Visibly is zero, but if you don’t have instruments embedded on your cockpit and you’re just literally flying blind, it’s not going to end well.
Yeah. It’s so interesting because the point you bring up that most of us in smaller organizations tend to kick the can down the road on some of these things. I’m sitting here thinking of a few companies that I run. All of the organizations that I’ve been involved in and it never occurred to me. You articulate in a way that I hadn’t heard before. How important it is to have all those things nailed down because I’ve seen all … Probably all the different types of issues that could crop up. I mean and things go sideways in a hurry sometimes, and I love this idea of having kind of this one overarching vision that you keep working towards that kind of keeps you on track.
I know you spent a lot of time with organizations trying to help them develop that vision and I really I think what I want to do is dive into that next. Before we do, we’re going to pause for a quick second. We’re going to come back with Scott. You’re going to love what we come back to, too. He’s an absolute expert at helping pull that vision out of people’s heads. So we’re going to go through that exercise with him when we come back. Stay tuned.
Welcome back. This is Steve Gordon. I’m here with Scott Beebe. Scott, you had a great point about vision before we took the break. I love for you to kind of now guide us through your thinking on vision and the process that you take people through to find that vision in their organization.
Yeah. Steve, the foundation for this is we’ve got to realize that vision is not a novel concept. This is not a novel 21st century just the latest, greatest kind of technological splurge. Vision is very, very ancient. It’s very uprooted and it’s not a Peter Drucker thing. It’s not a Jim Collins thing or Harvard Business Review thing. They all use it, but it existed well before the modern business philosophers that were all very well-aware of. It goes way, way, way, way back into Jewish tradition. There’s a great quote. It’s a Jewish prophet named Habakkuk it says, “Write the vision down so that those who read it may run.” Write the vision down so those who read it may run.
So let’s take that pragmatically. If we were to literally with a pen or pencil and paper, or a Google doc or whatever you want to do. If you were literally articulate and write your vision down, now what happens … Let’s go to one of the modern prophets, Michael Gerber, the guy who wrote “E-myth.” A classic small business book if you’ve not read it, it’s crucial that any small business owner read that book. In the book he says, “If you don’t write it down, then you don’t own it.” If you don’t write it down, then you don’t own it.
Let’s go back to that Jewish quote, “Write the vision down.” Once it’s literally written down on a sheet of paper, you own it at that point. Recently Ed Sheeran got into a little bit of hot water because one of his beats sounded like a beat from somebody. I believe it was Barry White of all people from a couple of decades ago and this beat sounded like how do we know that? So we got a historical precedent and say, “Okay, Barry White kind of owns that beat. That rhythm, that timing, those sorts of things.” Now we can go to modern day and go, “Okay, we’re going to tie that back there.”
When you write it down at that moment you begin to own it. Now, by the way, this is for a whole other discussion, Steve, but I think that’s one reason a lot of people don’t like to write things down. It’s because they’re not sure they want to own it, but if you write it down, now the second part of that quote is, “Write the vision down, so that those who read it may run.” When you got your vision articulated, documented, however that looks. Whether it’s on a painting canvas. If it’s on a document. If it’s however. If it’s recorded in audio or video. However it looks, once you got that documented you set all of us up to be able to make a choice to do one or two things.
We can run towards your vision and say, “Wow Steve, I really like your vision. I want to come with you,” or we can run away from your vision. Because I look at your vision and go, “That doesn’t resonate with me.” I’m not mad at you. It’s not that I don’t like you. That vision doesn’t resonate with me. So Steve, if you told me, “Hey, we’re going to go to Ames, Iowa or Hey Scott, we’re going to Riomaggiore, Italy.” I’m going to go with your second vision, not your first. Not because I don’t like Ames, Iowa, it’s just I really love like Riomaggiore, Italy. That vision hits with me. So I rather go there.
Steve, does that make sense with a foundation before you even get into the vision. We’ve got to understand the even point of actually documenting a vision story and why it’s so important just to get it written down.
Finding Your Vision and Using Its Power
Yeah. I appreciate the fact that you brought in the kind of historical context of this. Because the idea has been around forever. The ancient Biblical quote that I’m familiar with is “Where there is no vision, people perish.” I think those two together really give you a picture of the importance of this. At really all levels of your life. This is something that I became aware of as I was running my first company and I think we did a horrible, horrible job of trying to articulate it because at the time we were really tapped into kind of the big business approach to this, which is to put often very lofty and meaningless words around what a vision ought to sound like.
I have come to learn that the more practical you get usually the easier it is to understand it. How do you take people through this? Because I think that’s kind of a natural inclination is to make this a really lofty thing.
Yeah. Let’s make it super simple. In fact, the most basic thing we could do is take a pen and a sheet of paper. So, anybody listening just take a pen, sheet of paper, and I’m going to give you seven categories that you can think through. Number one, just write the word “term.” T-E-R-M. So what the term is, is how far out do you see this vision. So if we see a snapshot and a definition of a vision story is a detailed snapshot of the future of your business. We want to create a detailed snapshot. So how far out is that snapshot?
If you have no idea where to start usually what we say is start with three years. Because in three years that’s still close enough to be touchable, but not far enough to where you are just totally clouded at that point. For some people it’s going to be about 18 months to 2 years. We recommend not going any sooner than 18 months. That becomes more strategic at that point and not as much vision. 18 months or longer and usually around a three-year period is where most people can kind of reach out and grab that. That’s category number one.
Category number two is family and freedom. Just write down the term “family and freedom.” You might be thinking, “Well Scott, I thought this was my business vision.” It is. We have a very thoughtful and mindful conviction. Family and business and life and commerce, they all interact and they interject each other. I’ve not met a human being yet who emotionally can segment and separate what happens at work from home and what happens at home or work. Now, I realize that there’s a cliché statement that says, “I keep work at work.” It’s just not true. We say that to make ourselves feel better, but the reality is if what we’re doing at work does not fuel and fund what we’re doing at home, then it’s really a less value than just having a work by itself.
We want to write down and when I say write down details of what you want your family to look like in three years and what you want your personal freedom to look like in three years, be specific. So in my vision it says, “Ashley and I will go on a date night every other week.” That’s our goal. It’s literally written down in our vision. We stick to it pretty well. It also says in there that “I want to coach my youngest son’s football team.” That’s part of our family vision and it’s also part of the freedom part of that vision.
So, write down specific things that you want to see within that next period of time, that term that you wrote down as it’s specifically relates to your family and your freedom. And the third section and I’ll pause that for this one, Steve. You got any thoughts or questions to add to this is the financial section. So, we get into the finances before we get in the products or team or clients we’re going to be working with or the culture. Because the finances will tell us how we can fund our family and freedom in that amount of time. You can start to see them kind of build on each other and when you’re coming up with the finances really what we’re looking at is what is the amount of profit that you want to see the business yield in that third year? What’s the amount of profit, not total revenue. I’m not as interested in your total revenue as I am in your bottom line.
What’s the amount of profit that you want that business to yield in that third year? So it can help fund your freedom and your family section that you put down there. Steve, does that make sense so far?
Yeah. It makes complete sense. The temptation is to look at this and just kind of put down dream numbers, right? Do you have a method that you use to kind of help people come up with realistic, but certainly stretch kind of numbers for this? I could probably write down a 100 million dollars in three years. That may be difficult, not impossible, but difficult to create.
Creating Financial Goals that Force You to “Stretch”
Yeah Steve, this is where the other categories come in because the vision story will begin to self-correct. So let’s say you put a 100 million dollars down and your yield profit on that, let’s just … Let’s just be really tight and say it’s 1%. You want that of 100 million dollars. You want a million bucks. I think that’s right, a million bucks in profit on 1% of 100 million dollars. So, let’s say that you put that down there and your expenses are going to be 99%. So we’re simply going to do revenue, expenses, and expenses include everything, all in. Even if you’re doing accrual accounting and then you’re left with a million bucks of profit at the end.
What happens is we then go into the next section. So in the financial section, give your best shot. If you don’t know where to start, look at your historical numbers and that’ll give you a starting point. If you don’t have historical numbers, then start with your profit. What is it going to take to fund that family and freedom section? Let’s say it was 20 grand. Start with 20 grand and then on a percentage of profit you can fit out your revenue. So once you got some numbers in there, then the numbers will begin to melt down and self-correct because of the next section.
The next section is your product and service section. What you want to do is you want to write down within that three-year window what are the products and/or services that I want to be offering in my business to generate that top line revenue, which would generate the bottom line profit to fund my family and freedom in that amount of time. So Steve, let’s go back to the self-correction in the finances. If you are a marketing consultant and you’re selling marketing service packages for $3000 a year per package, and you only have capacity to work with 50 people throughout the year you can do the math and you will quickly realize that a 100 million dollars is simply not in your wheelhouse.
Then you start to look at your products and services and it’ll start to educate your top line revenue number. It’ll start to self-correct what goes on there. Now, what you may find out is, you know what? I’m more in line to have a million dollars in top line revenue rather than having a 100 million top line revenue and if that’s the case I’m going to yield because I need a $100000 for my profit from my family and freedom section outside of my salary. So I’m going to need to run the business all in, hands down to $900000. Can I do that? Can I have costs of goods and deliverables and everything else. Run a business on a million in revenue, $900000 in expenses so I’m left with a complete triple netted out bottom line of a $100000 in raw cash sitting in a bank account.
You begin to maneuver that, then you go into the next section after product and service, and you answer the question personnel and team. What team is it going to take to deliver that product and service to get to that level of finance to fund this family and freedom in that amount of time? That will begin to re-correct your finances, as well. You may be a high knowledge business and realize, “Oh my gosh, I’ve got to have 70% personnel overhead just to run the business. I’m not going to be able to make it on a million in revenue. Therefore, I’m going to have to go a million four. So, I’ve got to go back to my product section and either increase my prices, come up with more unique products, or whatever.”
Hopefully, you’re starting to see where your family and freedom is now educating every other section within the vision story and the last two are real simple. The client, who do you want to work with and who you not want to work with? Both questions are equally as important. Who do you want to work and who do you not want to work with? The final section is the culture section. If you were to ask somebody in three years in that term, “Hey, tell me about my business.” What would come out of their mouth? You want to start writing those statements down, which you want to hear in that three-year term. That’ll start to build your culture and will educate how you want to spend time with your team to build that in.
I love that. That is such a straight forward, methodical way to get to the vision. I love that it starts with what do you want to get out of the business. I think that is an underutilized question for most business owners. Most business owners wake up and they go to work because there’s work to be done. They probably start out that way because at some level they’ve got to pay the bills and they started this thing and stopping and asking what do I want, and then figuring out the rest of it really is just figuring out what do you think it’s going to take to create what you want. I love that. I think that’s brilliant.
Yeah. Well, what we found Steve is so much of business can feel so kind of pie in the sky and just out there, and it’s not tangible. We know a lot of business owners. They’re drivers and so a lot of times even that deep level of thinking they’ll go, “I don’t have time. I don’t have time. I don’t have time.” Well, one of the reasons they feel like they don’t have time is because they don’t know what to write down. Instead of just saying, “I don’t know what to say.” Typically, a driver is just going to go, “I don’t have time. I’ve got to go, I’ve got to go.” We try to take the confusion out of it to make it very methodical and at the same time Steve when people get down with this exercise you can see the clarity in their body language.
They sit back from it, it’s not perfect. We tell people that your vision’s only ever 90-95% complete. It’s never 100% complete. It’s always tweaking that’s going on, but for the first time for many of them Steve, they sit back and they’ve got images of their husband or their wife in their head. They’ve got images of their kids in their head. They’ve got images of these kind of dreams and desires in the head. They’ve also got the reality that’s swimming in their head of all the chaos that they’re currently living in.
For the first time, they’ve got something written down on a sheet of paper or on a document where they can look at it and go, “Okay, I can start to see through the chaos just a little bit. I can see a little bit of sunlight and just that little bit of sun.” You know what it’s like when it’s rained at your house for seven days and that first glimmer of sun you’re just like, “Oh. Bring that on me. I want to feel that.” That’s what this is like when people start to get in and really articulate and write down their vision story.
Yeah. I can see that this would be hugely powerful and I can see already just from thinking through as you’re talking the way I might answer some of these questions. The clarity is almost immediate. I think the question in the mind who is listening is going to be, “Okay, now that I’ve got the vision and let’s say I’m three years from the vision, now I’m a little bit scared because I’ve laid this thing out and I don’t know how to get from A to B.”
Yeah. That’s where we dive into the systems and processes of a business. So Steve when you think about this and I’ll keep this at a very high level because systems and processes are a deep well. And again, it can intimidate a lot of people, but let’s go back to our pilot metaphor. Get up in a plan, I never met a pilot by God’s grace. I never met a pilot who when they want to start the engine they run outside really quick outside the cockpit. They lean on the jet and they turn the jet, then they run back inside, and then they run back outside. Make sure the wheels are secure and then they start pushing the plane. I mean this sounds ridiculous. Sounds totally silly.
They sit in a cockpit and they push buttons and they pull levers. They push buttons and they pull levers. For a long time, they don’t do anything. Just kind of monitor the cockpit. Things are going on. A lot of the reason that small business owners are in chaos is because they’ve never taken time, A. To set the destination, the GPS of where they’re going. That’s what pilot does before they got a flight plan. Then, they don’t have a cockpit to be able to fly their plane with to where they’re looking at the four major systems of any business. Your lead generation, your marketing system. Your sales and conversion system. Your operations and deliverable system and your accounting or admin system.
The 4 Cs That Must Guide Your Decision-Making
Those are in every single business, those four systems. You can imagine they’re four segments of a cockpit. Your lead generation segment, your conversion segment, your operation segment, and your accounting or administrative segment. You got key elements or processes within those segments within your lead generation you got the dial on your dashboard that says “website.” You got the dial on your dashboard, which says “social media advertising.” You got all these dials and so you’re monitoring these dials and the easiest way that we have found to do it is something we call the “master process roadmap.” It’s where you layout those four segments. We call them our “lead segment.”
Actually, we call it the “captivate.” We keep it within the Cs. Captivate, conversion, coaching because that’s our business, and then collections. The only “C” I can come up with that had anything to do with money and so those four and then our team got together and we put down every single major process that we could think underneath those four sections. I literally got it on my computer right now. We got our dashboard, it’s a heads up display so our team can see this during our team meeting every Friday morning and during our daily huddle. This guides us through our decision-making process.
This is a key element to be able to fly the business by a cockpit rather than trying to flap your wings, which is most small business owners have relegated themselves to do.
Well, it gives you data. Having worked with dozens and dozens of clients and ask them questions about their marketing I can tell you that most of them don’t have many facts to go on. There’s lots of estimation and anecdote. In fact, I’ve got one client that famously every coach he would come back and this sky is falling. Our method of getting leads has stopped working and he was expecting it to stop work; stop working at some point. And then we go through the numbers. Every time, the numbers looked good. It goes to show you that the feeling that you get from experiencing something like that very rarely reflects reality and getting it down to numbers is important. But brings up another challenge.
Coming up with numbers for a lot of the different parts of business and figuring out which ones are meaningful isn’t always an easy thing to do. I imagine when you’re doing this with your clients it’s some iteration that goes into it. How do you kind of paired out the right numbers to be looking at?
Well, it’s amazing when ends up happening, Steve is the client knows the metrics. A. They’ve never been asked and B. They never pause long enough to think about it. It’s just like the processes. People say, “You help me build process my business.” We say, “Of course we can’t.” I don’t know your process in your business. What we’ll do is put you in a situation to be able to capture the processes that are already going on and we’re capture those. Now, we’ll tweak them. We’ll give you insight on how to tweak those and all those sorts of things, but we’re going to teach you the principle of capturing process rather than the actual process to capture.
If I bring you a process for your digital marketing agency I don’t really know anything about digital marketing and running a digital marketing agency. I know the principles of a business and part of that is capturing process. When we finally get to the opportunity to take a small business to a point to go, “Hey, don’t worry about somebody else coming in and building your processes. Let’s simply capture the processes that are already happening and then once you do that, you’ll know quickly what metrics are important and what metrics are not important.”
Yeah. I think that’s a fantastic approach. The challenges is just being aware I think sometimes for those of us in business, which where it helps to have an outside perspective. Have outside eyes come in because you come in, I imagine with your process and your system for looking at all of this stuff, but you also come in very importantly with outside eyes, fresh eyes.
And you can see it from that observer’s perspective that it’s very difficult in your own business to get to that thing.
Yeah. Yeah. Secondary for us is always strategic coaching. Primary for us is principle-based coaching. So principle-based coaching is vision, mission, value systems, processes. Strategic coaching is let’s do Facebook ads this month instead of Instagram ads. That’s strategic. Those are things that are going to be here today, gone tomorrow, but the principle of marketing is different. Let’s build that out from a principle base and then you can plug in whatever strategy kind of du jour. Whatever the strategy of the day is. There are a lot smarter people around that than we are.
What we’re here to teach is the principle and quite frankly as a heroic small business owner, that’s what business owners need to be. We just had a guy this morning, Steve. This happened this morning about probably five hours ago. It’s a guy who owns a home building here locally and we’ve been working for three and a half years to build up something that is so powerful. It’s just incredible who he has been able to touch and how he’s been able to engage his team and he looked at me this morning and he said, “I finally realized that my only job, my only job is to lead and coach my team.”
I said, “You got it like you’re there. You’ve got it.” Now he’s investing principle into this team strategy when he needs to, but principles on his team to fly the business by metrics. So he can spend time with his sales guy. So he can spend time with his payables person. So he can spend time really drilling down and leading. So he’s not talking about a lot of strategy anymore. He’s talking about leadership with his team putting them in position to be able to lead.
I heard another business owner this morning, It’s actually been a rich morning now that I think about it. He just onboarded a new person. The new person asked a specific question and he said, “Hey, I want you to go talk to so and so and so and so about that question. They are far better equipped to be able to answer that question for you.” It was a pricing question. You would think the owners have to hold on to that pricing question. No, he let it go. He delegated it a long time ago when he’s empowered his team to be able to do that. That’s what he spends his days doing.
That’s awesome. I think that’s what we call aspire to when we start businesses. Obviously, challenging sometimes to get there, but at the end of the day that’s what we’re all aiming for is to get to a point where the business is really serving us and we’re doing that we’re best at. I appreciate what you shared with us, Scott. Where can folks find more from you and your company and more about this vision idea?
Steve, I’d love to extend an invitation. We actually taken our entire vision tutorial, everything. Those seven categories we walk though. It’s the same tutorial we actually walk our clients through. It’s up online along with the templates. If you need help with that, you want to articulate your vision. No strings attached to it at all. Just go to mybusinessonpurpose.com/vision
So mybusinessonpurpose.com/vision and you can put your email address. You don’t have to wait on emails to come back to you. It’ll just popup automatically and you set aside the time and willing to put in the work, you’ll have an articulated vision faster than you can think of. I think it’s possible.
That’s awesome. That’s very generous. Thanks for sharing that. Again folks, go to mybusinessonpurpose.com/vision.
We’ll link that up in the show notes so you can just get it with one click there and Scott, it’s been a real pleasure. I’ve enjoyed the conversation. You shared some great stuff. I love your framework for developing the vision. I’m going to go. I’m going to go this afternoon and go through the exercise. I hope everybody listening does, as well. Thank you so much.
I hope you will, Steve. Hey, I know it’s a lot of work to put on a podcast. I just want to tell you thank you for allowing me to be here and share the stage with the folks that listen to you and these heroic small business owners that are really fighting to true to do something great. So thank you for that.
Yeah. Absolutely. Great having you on.