Beyond The Launch: Working “ON” Your Business not “IN” Your Business Podcast Recap
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You're working hard day in and day out, but are you really getting anywhere?
You're not alone. Most business owners get stuck in the day-to-day operations and never take a step back to see how they can improve their business.
Imagine what it would be like if you could take a step back, look at your business from a high level, and make changes that will impact your bottom line for years to come.
Join Scott Monnett, Ken Eitel, and Vince Aguirre while we dive into this problem and offer solutions.
Scott has had the privilege to serve a variety of communities during 20 years of service in not-for-profit recreation and human service organizations through fundraising, program, and executive leadership.
A life-long advocate for civic leadership and entrepreneurship, Ken's career has included small business creation and ownership, the director of an entrepreneurship center and faculty member of a community college, and leadership in the not-for-profit and community development organizations of his community.
Over the last decade, as founder and President of Distinct, Vince has worked with over 400 small businesses and nonprofits. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science from DePauw University and is an MBA candidate with Quantic School of Business and Technology. He brings a passion for listening to client needs, understanding their challenges, and developing creative solutions that help them grow. Vince has worked with organizations of all sizes from solopreneurs to companies with 400+ employees and ranging from pre-revenue to 40M+/year in revenue. Vince is a proud son of Chicago's South Side and currently resides in Greencastle Indiana with his wife Shelby and son Xavier.
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- 0:00 How Do You Run Your Business on a Daily Basis
- 0:41 Business Mission Drift | How & Why do You Re-evaluate Your Business?
- 1:44 How to See the Bigger Picture
- 3:01 How to Zoom-out with Organizations You Work For
- 4:15 The Importance of Accountability & Mentorship in Business Relationship
- 5:46 How to Stay Motivated & On Track When You Have People Accountable
- 8:25 “My Way is the Only Way” | How to Listen to a Different Set of People
- 9:54 Knowing if You Still Have the Right Business Model
- 13:38 Process to Evaluate the Mission of an Organization
- 16:36 3 Important Questions When Building Your Business
- 17:45 People, Process, Product
- 19:53 What do Your Customers or Clients Know You As
- 20:38 What to do When You Don't Agree with the Other Board Members
- 24:08 Don't Be Afraid to go Get Something if You Don't Support It
- 25:43 You Have to be A Listener First No Matter What Your Position Is
- 26:53 Middle Manager | Leadership in the Middle
- 30:25 Surprises in Board Meetings
- 32:23 Strategies to Grow Your Business Team
- 34:04 Making Sure Everyone in the Team Has The Right Tools
- 35:39 How Everything is Constantly Changing
- 36:50 Strategies for Adding Board Members
- 38:19 When to Scale in Your Business
- 41:48 It's Very Hard to Build Net Worth if You Don't Have People Working For You
- 45:42 Hire Contractors | Market Testing
- 49:01 Next Session Topics
- 50:58 Closing Remarks
0:00 How Do You Run Your Business on a Daily Basis
Ken Eitel: What we're doing today is kind of based on an article that was in the Indiana Business Journal, the IBJ, authored by Kim and Todd Saxton. And it talked about something that I've said for many, many years and I struggled with. And that is, is how do you run your business on a daily basis yet, look at it in the future, see where it's been, where you are, and where you need to go to either grow that business or just quite frankly, sustain it. And so, we're going to talk about that today, and how that what that might look like. But then as we move forward over the next several months, we're going to be able to talk about the skills and the tools that you need to use to be able to do that.
0:41 Business Mission Drift | How & Why do You Re-evaluate Your Business?
Ken: So, how in the midst of the daily grind, how do you reevaluate? And why do you do that? So, we all have seen businesses have experienced what I call Mission Drift. And it's so easy if, think there's a great thing out there that complements your business. And so you kind of go off on a side road, so to speak. And you often another side, road and other side, and all of a sudden you've lost your core, you've lost that original mission that you had when you established your business, or your nonprofit, or those passions that you had, and you're so consumed with all these trying to go down all these different paths, that you lose what got you there. And that can be very dangerous if you don't recognize that. And, frankly, it's really hard to pull back. It's really hard to eliminate those.
1:44 How to See the Bigger Picture
Ken: But sometimes you have to have that courage to drop that. But how do you know that? How do you step back? How do you what I'll call zoom out, so to speak. And, and look at this from? Let's just call it the 30,000-foot level, whatever we want to say. So what the seeing the big picture through the microscope look like? Well, the Saxton says that you need to first dedicate time. And it's hard. I mean, we all get time-challenged, even I get time-challenged from time to time, you need to talk to others. Do you have an advisory board? Do you have employees involved in this process? Very important? Do you have customer participation? So it's just not getting the advisory board together of people who you like, or who are in your circle, it's having the courage to go out 360 degrees, and take a look all the way around. And lastly, make networking a priority. You know, what groups do you belong to? What social groups do you belong to? Quite frankly, you guys that are younger? What sports do your kids play? And how do you network, and swimming meets, there's a lot of time, work, and swimming. So these are things that are really important as you look out. So Scott, how do you know you do this? How do you do this? How do you zoom out within organizations you've worked for?
3:01 How to Zoom-out with Organizations You Work For
Scott Monnett: Yeah, I tell you it is often a challenge to not get caught in the weeds of the day-to-day business. And you know, for me, in particular, and I don't want to go too much into tools. But I actually have to schedule time. And many years ago, I actually looked at when am I most productive? So when can I complete the most number of tasks efficiently in my day? Versus when do I need to strategically plan out things I need to work on? And so, in doing that, what I do, I become very productive in early morning and late at night, getting tasks done, right. And those are the busy work. That's the in the job work that I'm able to take done. But it's that middle of the day, when I'm having, meetings or have time that I really am focused, and I'm intentional about strategic work, using my dry erase boards using my note boards and things like that. So it's being very intentional about my schedule, and knowing my strengths and weaknesses where those lie.
4:15 The Importance of Accountability & Mentorship in Business Relationship
Ken: So Vince, I know that you have done a lot of self-evaluation over a period of time we've had a really had our relationship business-wise, talk a little bit about the early years. And how looking at those early years back now and things you wish you'd have done and the things you're doing now to continue to change.
5:46 How to Stay Motivated & On Track When You Have People Accountable
Vince Aguirre: Yeah, so I think the early years at least for me. I was almost forced to work on and in the business. I couldn't even get tunnel vision. I'm working just in the business, which is what we're talking about, right like getting stuck in the business. But when you're starting off, especially bootstrapping a business idea, you have to do both. One thing I wish I would have realized sooner and in some way We did take advantage of this by working with you as a mentor. But the importance of accountability, mentorship, and even the idea of forming a board. You know, a few years back, I asked Ken to serve on a temporary board to kind of guide us. And within a few meetings, we were able to change a lot of things and make a really positive impact on our business, pay off debt grow sales, all kinds of things that we didn't realize were a problem until we got people together, that were experts and could hold us accountable. So the idea of publicly holding yourself accountable, whether it's a small private group, or even posting your goals, or your revenue, or something that can hold you accountable on Facebook, or an email blast, I think goes a long way. I'm really interested, Scott, and being a nonprofit leader, you are going to have boards. I'm kind of curious to hear how that can help you stay motivated and on track, and maybe some issues that can arise with having all these people holding you accountable as well.
Scott: Yeah, it's interesting, and you actually said something there about, using and posting and talking about goals and your objectives for your business. And, so many nonprofits are very similar to what you're doing it to statements in that they're small, there's one or two employees, it's really grassroots focused. And it's difficult to say, okay, how am I holding myself accountable in having that strong board presence or individuals that you work with on a regular basis, that can provide some of that accountability and even if we're all volunteers as well. And we often get asked to be on boards and participate. And a lot of times, we don't know a lot about the organization or agency when we're asked, so we have to do our homework. So as a nonprofit leader, my job is to not only be accountable to that board of directors but even to educate about what we're doing on a regular basis. And one of the things that I try to do as much as possible is share real stories, bring staff in, or, make sure I'm providing, a mission moment story during meetings or including that in reports, because it makes that connection happen. And then from the accountability, I'm one and you guys know, I'm very transparent and use of social media, I believe that social media and technology, with great power, comes great responsibility. And I think it provides a great opportunity as well, that it can be used for a whole lot of negative, but it can also make good things happen and I'm a believer in speaking things into existence and, and putting your goals out there of what you want to accomplish. Whether it's an individual or within your organization because that opens the door for partnerships that opens the door for maybe you recruit somebody else into your network or into your advisory board or your group that has a similar passion or a similar desire to serve that mission.
8:25 “My Way is the Only Way” | How to Listen to a Different Set of People
Ken: I think what I'd add to that conversation, is that one of the things that you have to do as an individual is understand when you bring these groups of people together, the first thing you have to do is listen to them. And at least I'll just speak for me, but sometimes I don't listen well, because I think, “my way is the only way”. And I can look back now or, but I guess I have to say decades and see where I've been stubborn. And as I grew, I can see where I became less stubborn. But, those folks are the folks that I mentioned here, they're the folks that are on the ground, you're tied up in the day-to-day, you're tied up in all just trying to get things done. And sometimes you don't see the stuff going around and going on. And it's these other people that are your lifeline to that, and you need to listen to them now in a leadership role. There are things you have to say no to also. And so, unfortunately, this is part of the mantle of being the owner, the CEO, the executive director. And sometimes you're right sometimes you're wrong, but at least people feel they've been listened to. And that's just so important to this process that we're talking about here. What would we think needs to go under the microscope? You know, one of those things As I talked about earlier and mentioned his ‘Mission Drift'. So, the question is, is your two years down the road? Your businesses open? You're not okay. You think about adding something? Or things have changed? Do you still have the right business model? How do you know that? What kind of what are the answers to that question? Do I have the right business model? Or Was I mistaken? Vince, I know at least one individual who's one of your examples on the website, who we worked with who had a whole different market, he never knew anything about. And his business doesn't look at all like it did on his business plan. So how do you ask those questions about do I have the right business model?
9:54 Knowing if You Still Have the Right Business Model
Scott: I think, one of the things I'll add from our perspective, and really here at Family Support Services, it kind of fits. So many years ago, I was introduced to Marcus Lemonis, many of us see him on CNBC on the Profit. And it took me about a half of the episode to attach myself to his thinking around the three most important things are people process and products, right. And so I took in, I read a lot about that, but then really started to look to see, alright, this fits in the nonprofit sector, right? If we look at it, look at our greatest asset, being the people, people of our organization, and then we look at the process, the way that we're fulfilling our mission, and we're doing our daily work, and then what we're doing, and that kind of gets into that staying focused and staying away from mission drift, right, looking at the product that we're providing, because, even as a nonprofit, we have to think in those terms. And when I look at that one of the things that I feel like we do very well is trust our people. And so when you mentioned earlier, Ken about listening first, when I came in just under five years ago, to this organization, Family Support Services was an agency that the work that we do is confidential, it's very heavily confidential, right, it's a lot of legal, it's a lot of laws, but it's working with families, the medical community. And what we didn't do well is tell our story and put ourselves out there and talk about our successes. And as we were able to engage and get more individuals in our agency thinking in those terms of, ‘Hey, let's tell our story. Let's collect this information. And let's be vocal about what we're doing.' It really started to change the visibility of our agency, but also started change the energy inside the four walls of our agency and what the staff wanted to bring to the table and the ideas. And I truly believe that's been a big reason for our success, because we trust our people. And when I look at what I do in the business versus outside, that in the business is, is really focusing on those three areas; the People, Process and Products, and then outside, how am I connecting others in gaining more acknowledgment for what we're doing and helping tell that story that, our advocates are pulling together every day. And so, I think it's really important to know who you are, and where you're going to avoid that drift.
13:38 Process to Evaluate the Mission of an Organization
Ken: So, before we get to the questions that came up, what I'm interested in Scott is a little bit bigger picture. And so, you came back to your hometown, with a lot of outside experience, in that outside experience. What is the process you used to evaluate the mission of the organization you were hired by? What did that look like? And other than Marcus? How did you determine what you just said that your organization needed to do? What was the process?
Scott: Yeah, so I think the first one, for me, when I started doing research is I started looking at some of the key components to telling our story about our mission. And this is after I met the staff, and I had a pretty good understanding that we had an experienced staff team of passionate staff team. That was the easy part for me to grasp on to. So, then we started looking at, ‘Alright, who knows what we do?' And we've got multiple divisions under our agency. But if you were just to cast and I did this, I did some sampling in some of the communities that we serve. And so, what do we do? We were very narrowly focused on what it was. We're a domestic violence service organization. You know, we only do healthy families. And there was really no understanding that of, in totality, we were only known for the touchpoint that that individual had been a part of, we weren't known for the other best services that we did. And so once I started to really gather some of that info, talking with folks like yourself talking with other community leaders in, the other counties that were serving, then it was okay, we can be more in where that started for us was looking at some of our partners, some of our referral agencies, we're looking at working with the hospitals and medical providers working with some of the other nonprofits and service providers in our community. Because they're the first line, we share so many clients and so many individuals that we had to reengage them and help have them bring them in under the fold. So, they would help tell our story of who we are and what we did, what we do as an organization. And so, breaking out of that confidential, we don't tell the story, everything's a secret mold was tough. I mean, it was challenging, and it pushed some of our experienced staff into some uncomfortable places. But in doing that, what we've been able to gain and the referral network that we have now is just grown immensely. And it's, it's quite frankly, to make their job easier. Because when we pick up the phone, and we say we're from Family Support Services, ‘Oh, well, we know what you do. And this is how we can help you'. And so that's made a difference.
16:36 3 Important Questions When Building Your Business
Ken: So, I think you did several things. First of all, you questioned your business model. I think that's an important piece of what to look at. You then looked at what partnerships that you need to try and build this organization. But then you also ask the question, and this is something that nonprofits don't always think about. But are you reaching your target market? Now, sometimes when I mentioned that word and a nonprofit board meeting, I get looked at. And I've learned that I maybe have to rephrase that. In your case, it's, ‘So who are our clients, or who are our partners?' Not where our market is, but so you kind of have to change.. I tend to use what people came to know, was ‘business-ease'. And I just needed to turn to ‘nonprofit-ease'. And so, it's all there. It's all the same. It's just stated a little bit differently. And but you did those three things in trying to change this organization. So that might kind of lead into our question, Vince.
17:45 People, Process, Product
Vince: Yeah, let me go ahead and display that. Before I do. Though, I wanted to make a quick comment on Scott's People, Process, and Product. Something I learned way too late is the importance of that order. I always thought, in my naivety, if I had a product that was good, and I could build a process that anyone could be the people. And I've recently learned just the importance of that order. The people come first, even if you don't have the process, the right people can help you form the process, they can work within the process. So, I think that's a really important point. And a quick segue, Marcus Lemonis has a new home improvement show. And it looks really promising. I haven't seen it yet. But if you have the people product and process, you can do home improvement shows if you're Marcus Lemonis.
Scott: Yeah. Vince, if I can add to that I want to touch on because I'll tell you how I kind of got to that point as well, even from a nonprofit sector. I've spent much of my career in the YMCA and Boys and Girls Club, which are worldwide brands, right in the recreation and nonprofit sector. If you say those, what they are, what they do in their purpose and their mission. And so, I was the same way I used to say, I'm the Y guy, right? Everybody knows what the Y does. Everybody knows I'm the Boys and Girls Club guy. And, and what I found was that I wasn't appreciating the people and really valuing the people in the work that we do. And so, it actually took a mentor of mine Marty Pastura, who was the CEO for the YMCA of Greater Fort Wayne, watching how he operates and in the servant leadership style and the manner in which, he functioned and looking at the way he valued the people that it clicked for me at that point that it was like, ‘Wow, no, I got this backwards. I'm looking at, hey, we're the Y and this is what we can do. Or we're the Boys and Girls Club.' And I think it's really served me well, especially, in my current role of being a small nonprofit, but also working in helping other nonprofits down their path.
19:53 What do Your Customers or Clients Know You As
Ken: Let me just add to that quickly, Scott that says that whether it's a retail business or for profit, business or nonprofit it, ‘What do your customers or what do your clients know you as?', you talked about that earlier. And that's what happens when you get ‘Mission Drift' is people become confused. In our case, we're a flower shop. But we had so many gifts in the store that new customers didn't think of us first as the flower shop, they thought as a gift store. And that model still is today. Retail business especially tries to do everything for everybody. And you can't do that. So anyway, let's see if you want to get their questions, Vince.
20:38 What to do When You Don't Agree with the Other Board Members
Vince: I'll go ahead and read that. So, Facebook user asks, as a board member, or even report to a board, what is your MO, when you don't agree with the other board members or leadership? Scott, I think it's pretty natural to let you answer this one first.
Scott: So, if you know me, and I think you guys have probably heard me say a time or two, Susan Scott wrote an amazing book called fierce conversations. And I was at a conference once and she did kind of a video intro to the book. And then we had a session around that. And I fell in love with that idea that we want to have generative conversations in meetings, and not just board meetings, I think getting a meeting, we want to create discussion and provide an opportunity for giving and take and push back. Personally, I don't mind disagreement in board meetings is, as long as it's professional, it's cordial. And as Susan says, we go into that conversation, knowing that there's going to be an end, and we have to come to a mutual decision here. With that, it's okay to get fears, it's okay to have disagreements. Now, that being said, I wish I could say I've spent 20 years of my career and never had a conflict, that had a hard time being resolved with a board member or had board members that had conflicts with each other. And unfortunately, that's been the case, at various times, but I still think that overall, it's a healthy thing to have disagreements. And I think we, one of the things we can't do is hide from it. Especially in agencies, I've spent a lot of my time working with and being a part of agencies that were struggling in organizations that were struggling when I came in or took over a leadership role. And I've always been very open about that is that we're going to have to have tough conversations, and it's not going to be comfortable. And, and there's going to be some disagreements. But the beauty of a board is that we vote and the majority rules, right? And so if everybody knows their role, then we go along with that idea. So yeah, it's interesting. It can be an interesting dynamic; I've seen some of the worst of the worst. And I've really seen some that have been bad that it turned out really strong, as a result of that was disagreements.
Vince: And I think it's easy for me to say from the board member perspective, I can't really speak to reporting to a board. But from my perspective, on the boards I've been on, I've been on because the board saw value, in my opinion. So, as long as I come to the table, like Scott said, ‘come respectfully, and have a discussion that is respectful and productive', then I think it's important to dissent. [inaudible] considering I was actually reading this morning, it was 3AM, as I was changing diapers and feeding Xavier, but it was about the importance of a devil's advocate, right, maybe assign someone on the board to be the devil's advocate, and maybe play that role, even if you do agree with people are saying just to have that perspective. And I think that's really important.
24:08 Don't Be Afraid to go Get Something if You Don't Support It
Ken: I've been the president of several organizations, I've sat on financial institutions boards. One of the things that someone who I had great respect for, taught me was don't be afraid to vote to get something if you don't support it. And I think that takes a little bit of courage. But more than once, I've been the only dissenting vote. And I think that there is work that's done in board meetings. There's also work that needs to be done outside of board meetings, so that people aren't blindsided in a board setting. But I agree with Scott, it's just terribly important to be able to express your opinion respectfully. Also, frankly, be prepared to back it up. You know, in a board meeting, oftentimes an emotional disagreement doesn't get you anywhere without some good, solid reason of why you disagree. Now, there's different types of disagreement and different types of ‘I don't agree with the way this is going. Do you disagree with the whole organization? Do you just agree with disagree with the CEO and the way they're running the organization?' There are some things that are individual opinions, there are some things that have to be, or I'll call it Corporate Opinions.
25:43 You Have to be A Listener First No Matter What Your Position Is
Ken: But I'll go back, if you're the president of an organization, you have to be a listener first. Yeah. And if you're going to say to the presidency, and have a board of 17, or 18 people, and not expect somebody to disagree, you're just not being realistic. And so, you have to sit through those kinds of things. And then you really need to be able to have some place on your board the summarizer. If you've never looked.. there's teambuilding there's an exercise where you look at people's roles. One of those is, ‘Is this person, the devil's advocate? Is this person, just want to make jokes? Does this person want to just stir things up?' What are your board members' personalities in terms of the team, and this works in business, too. So as the leader of that organization, you have to do that. Now, let me also make a comment about people about Executive Directors. Not a lot of Scott will agree with this or not. An executive director, there's a new body may not be new, but at least to me in the last year or so, of leadership, and its leadership in the middle. And so, if you're an executive director, you have a staff to lead as Scott does. But you also have to be able to, in the sense, lead your board. And so, you're in the middle, you're middle management. And so, it's different. And I've not done a lot of study on it, but I've been in those positions. And talk a little bit about that, Scott, if you have disagreements, and you're in the middle, what different traits are needed, if you're a board member, or if you're talking to the board? Or if you're the executive director, and you've got a president, that you can't work with? How do you work through some of these things that this person is asking about?
26:53 Middle Manager | Leadership in the Middle
Scott: Yeah, you know, I love the word, you said, every board should have a summarizer somebody that's able to do that, and I've, I've never used it in those terms. But you're right. And, and so often when I look at disagreements. And again, there are some exceptions, throughout my career, working with other organizations that I've seen, but when I often see it, as that middle manager, it's many times, there's information, I could have done a better job sharing this information. Or, I could have done a better job collecting some data, or meeting with an individual outside the meeting to really get an idea of what they were trying to communicate in their dissension or in their disagreement with this, that with a certain topic. And so, I look at that as my role as the middle manager, in that middle manager role of working as the go between staff and volunteer, but also being the one that understands the makeup of the board, and why we have individuals on our board that we do, right? If Kan, you are on my board, I'm bringing you on for a certain experience and level of expertise and Vince the same way. I think you had mentioned that earlier. I'm bringing you on for your expertise, in your opinion your connection. And so many times we talked about diversity of board, and it goes to the natural diversity that we all think about but really diversity of board is also diversity in thought diversity and experience level, diversity and willingness to have some of those conversations. And so, I think and hopefully I'm answering your question Ken, but I think really, my role in one that I valued most, I say it often in my agency for my staff in the work that they're doing on a day-to-day basis. I'm the least important person in the building, right? Because they're the ones, if I'm doing my job, they're the ones that are able to make the connections and work with the clients that they need to. And on the flip side with the board, if I'm doing my job correctly, I'm the least important person in the board meeting, in those meetings. So as that middle manager, I want to be as insignificant on a day to day as I can possibly be when it comes to that in the business work, so that we can continue to look forward.
30:25 Surprises in Board Meetings
Ken: So, the other comment as we get ready to move on here is for me, is as a president of an organization. And I would guess, as the executive director of an organization, when it comes time for the board meeting, I don't want surprises. Right? I would hope that I had would have said numerous times, if you have a disagreement, you need to come talk with me. If there's an issue, you have an idea, come talk with me. I don't want to be surprised in a board meeting when I have an open door. So, to really maybe go a little bit more direct. If I'm a board member, or I report to a board. If I don't agree with that, I'm going to for lack of a better way, I'm going to put a business plan together, I mean, I'm going to get my facts together, I'm going to know what's going on, I'm going to have a reason, a good solid reason of why this needs to be done differently. And not only that, I'm going to have a suggestion of how it needs to be done differently. And so, then nobody's surprised when this comes up at a board meeting, or as the executive director, you're going to make a new proposal. It's already there. And it's one thing to work in an organization that has a dozen committees. It's another thing to work in that organization Scott's talking about that has two or three people. So, they're very different. But open communication, that's what it's all about. And that's just terribly important. This applies to nonprofits. It applies in faith-based organizations. It applies in retail businesses, it applies in website design businesses. It is our people who make the difference. And that's important. So, if you're okay, let's move on a little bit about, Vince, I know you're in the middle of trying to grow your team. And so, as you look at your business under a microscope, how are you trying to grow your team, and commitment and support? And why is it important? You look at that in a critical way.
32:23 Strategies to Grow Your Business Team
Vince: So to me, there are some things in our business right now that I have to work in, because the people in the process aren't in place. Over the years, we've added team members to do certain things, specialized talents, and skills. But we have to get to a point where I can really focus most of my attention on the business. You and I had talked about this before we went live today. And Ken kind of gave me a word. But there are some things right now that simply I have to do because the people and process aren't there. With me growing the team is going to allow me to really focus on, “on” the business, right. And making sure we're heading in the right direction, setting goals, holding people accountable, focusing on growth and strategy, and things like that, that I'm working on to a certain extent. But I can't dedicate all my time to when I have to be the person who launches websites, we're onboarding new clients, or meet with prospects every time. So that's kind of the place we're at. And we're you know; we're slowly growing everyone's struggling to hire right now. This is the first time we've had struggles finding people to avoid, but we have some really promising and I'm hopeful hopefully with them coming on board, I can really take that step back and really focus on strategy again.
34:04 Making Sure Everyone in the Team Has The Right Tools
Scott: Well, I think one of the things that we're finding too, in the nonprofit side, that I think even Vince, maybe I've not asked him to ask you specifically this, but I could probably make some assumptions is that, COVID and the pandemic, the last two years, has really changed that right. And where we were at two years ago, or where I was at, being more strategic and working outside of the organization has really changed. And oftentimes, I found myself in the last two years, very much like you Vince, being very internally focused and very focused on direct service and clients. And what am I doing to make sure that my staff not from a strategic standpoint, but from a task? What do I need to do to make sure the staff have the tools they need so we can do the baseline job that we have and whether that's answering calls or making deliveries of, goods or items we're supporting families with? I think that’s, one that I want to make sure, not only when I talk to my peers in my sector, but I want to make sure that everyone understands is that, just because we say, hey, numbers are getting better things are getting back to normal, whatever that is. But just because we're seeing that doesn't mean it's going to be business as it was in 2019. Right, it's going to be, we've got to regrow in and rededicate ourselves to some of that to.
35:39 How Everything is Constantly Changing
Ken: I think, Scott, that's one of the reasons we're talking about what we're talking about here is that, frankly, no, two periods of time are the same. I mean, everything is constantly changing. And so, while I hear you all talking about problems with hiring, and in the business, Hey, guys, I had that too. You know, it's like I've told several groups of people, and they've been talking about their challenges, ‘Hey, I've been through this, and I survived, you will, too.' You just have to understand having the right people, you have to understand that. You need to bring the right people in. And the other thing that I think we all understand, but you're not going to work 40 hours a week and grow and have a viable business. You're just like I did and like you all have I worked at four o'clock in the morning, I went back to work at eight o'clock at night. Because that's when I get twice as much work done. So those things are not new, maybe it's done a little differently. But it really kind of looks the same.
36:50 Strategies for Adding Board Members
Ken: The other point I want to make, and I know I'm going to revisit this just quickly, because it has to do also with hiring employees, you're hiring board members, you're not paying them, but you're hiring. So, one of the things I've learned, and one particular person that the foundation taught me this, is you need to have a strategy for adding board members. And one of those things is an analysis of your board and their talents and the personalities and their skills. And what do you need on that board to round out what you're doing? And I think I've been around nonprofits, and I know you have Scott, who just say, ‘Well, I know this person. And I think they'd make a good board member and then you go talk to them? Oh, it doesn't take a lot of time. You know, he's just a board meeting.' That's all you have to do. You need to be strategic about your employee. You need to have descriptions; you need to know what talent you need to give in time. Do you need finance people? Do you need legal people? Who do you need? And that's just as true of your business hiring, as it is a nominating committee. And that doesn't start two weeks for your annual meeting, that actually should be ongoing. So that's kind of one of those side paths I talk about.
38:19 When to Scale in Your Business
Vince: Ken, before we move on, there's another question you want me to pull that up? This is an interesting one and I'm curious what everyone's responses as well. In a service-based business, when you're trying to scale, do you believe it's best to hire first and sell your way into the salary? Or filling the salary, or to sell first and hire as fast as you can to fill out the job? This is something I'm struggling with right now. So, I'm gonna leave that up. Something I'm struggling with right now. And this is my personal belief in all things, I think Scott might agree, some things he said earlier allude to this. When you speak things into existence, and you set goals, your mind is going to be set to make them happen. So, in some ways, I believe that when you hire that person, that's extra salary, as long as you're being fiscally responsible, and you have some runway, you're going to work harder, and that person, if they're the right person is going to help you grow, where you're going to be able to get those sales that you're aiming for. So, by speaking that into existence, making the hire, training them having those extra hands and talented person, and just putting it out there. I think that's the way I'm going right now and it's working for now. But Ken, Scott, what do you guys think?
Ken: Go ahead, Scott, I'll let you tackle this one first.
Scott: Well, it's interesting, especially being in nonprofits that's a fine line that we have to walk on a regular basis. As I talk to my staff, we've got, or my leadership team here, we've got a list of, wouldn't it be nice if we had and if I look at our funds, and I look at things we could probably do it? The challenge is how do we sustain that? We could add a, for example, a social worker or a life skill specialist. We could probably do that, but the challenge of us is we could do it in the now. But how do we ensure that those services are still available three years from now or five years from now? And so it's the sustainability that's a challenge. And so from a nonprofit sector that, I always like to take on that mindset of, ‘Yeah, let's let's do this, we can make it happen.' But the reality funding is that we have to have a path to the funding so that we can sustain that. And so, I think there are some cautious risks that you can take. But one of the things I really pride myself on is knowing the path, not where we're at now, but where are we going to be 10, 20, 30 steps from now. So that when it comes time, going back to our last bullet points of when it comes time to sit in front of the board, or in front of the executive committee, or the finance committee even, to sit in front of those folks to say, ‘I want to hire x position, this is how we can pay for it. Now, this is the plan moving forward. And this is this is where we can see receive that funding.' So for us, and for me, hiring of a simple position, isn't just we want to do it this is that we can afford to do it, it is having a conversation with self, having conversation with leadership team, then getting the board involved. And then at the same time talking to that potential donor or to that grant organization or supporter that will help us make that a reality. And not only now but into the future. So, it's a fine line.
41:48 It's Very Hard to Build Net Worth if You Don't Have People Working For You
Ken: Yeah, Scott, it is a fine line. In our case, you talk about, where your funding comes from. But in the term of retail business, and actually, in service-based business, there's no substitute for sales. I've made the statement several sessions ago, that, it's very hard to grow net worth, if you don't have people working for you. So, one person can only do so much that kind of goes to what we're talking about anyway, here, you're working in the business and on the business, what are you going to do. So, if you're going to wait for the sales to come to hire somebody, they probably are not going to come? Because there's a certain tension that comes with ‘living on the edge' is not the right term, but risk. And if you have laid aside resources, meaning money, in a savings account, like I talked earlier about, planning ahead, or you have the creditworthiness to be able to do something it's very hard with, if you do not grow your business with financial resources, it's even harder to not grow it with people. And so my sense of this is, is that if you believe in your heart, that your business has a market, that it's successful, as you look at it and reevaluate it, you need to grow. And those are your goals, whether they're five years, three years, 10 years, you need to hire people. But you need the right people. And that's a dice roll on itself. There's a term I use called conservative risk. And I believed in it for a long time. On the other side of that term is one I've used several times is called and we're going to talk about at some point, later, ‘Organized Abandonment'. So in talking about what this person is asking the problem with those two things is you have to be.. take a risk on somebody. But it's much harder to deal with organized abandonment when you have to eliminate a position because those are people's lives. So this becomes, in my point, the ultimate responsibility of knowing as much as you can and in a sense, are you as the business founder – are you willing to take less money now to hire somebody to grow the business, right? So that later on that net worth will grow. And so, this comes back to servant leadership, it comes back to giving yourself up for the benefit of the whole, and, but you're not going to grow if you don't hire people, and there's never any right time to hire people. And it could be a roll of the dice. But if you sense conservative risk, and you've done everything you can to prepare for it. As I've told people, ‘Look, folks, there are no guarantees here. Okay?' So, that's where I am with that. You're not going to grow without people.
Scott: And I think one of the things that I thought that occurred to me as Ken was talking, one of the benefits we have as nonprofits are, oftentimes we have partnership opportunities or collaborative opportunities that, maybe we can't afford something or a position at the moment. But agencies down the road has that in what can we do to work together? And I think we're starting to see more and more that occurring in the nonprofit sector, especially through COVID, how are we collaborating together? We can't be as a nonprofit everything to everybody. So how do we go down the street and say, will you help us, fill this need? And how can we help you in that situation?
45:42 Hire Contractors | Market Testing
Ken: I think the other thing that is out there now that I think has grown, and part of it's been because of the pandemic, but are outside contractors. And so I think Vince has used this numerous times, is if you can't afford to hire somebody, hire somebody on a contract. Hire somebody and 1099 em'. It means you have to report their earnings to the government, and they have to pay self-employment tax. But then your link.. contract with somebody for a year? Is it gonna work? Do test marketing, test it in some way. It's kind of like I've talked about, I'd bring a product in that I thought might sell do really well. And I put it in a hot spot, but I only order the minimum. I would an order five times what if it sold out, then I'd go back and place an order. If it sat on the shelves, I wouldn't reorder it. And so these are ways to test this. So I would suggest this individual look for someone who in today's world wants to work from home, or is interested in a more flexible schedule of their own. And hire them as contractors, 1099. I think there's a lot of people out there that that appeals to, so that's another solution.
Scott: Yeah, I've done that role for nonprofits in the fundraising sector. And I've hired in consultant, 1099, contract employees to do fundraising and development and things like that, as well. So it fits in, in all areas, not just sales for profit world. But fundraising and development is a great place for that too.
Ken: And also occurs to me, this is a great place to take people who are retired but still want to work. And who maybe don't leave need that living to support a family, they want to stay engaged, and they want to stay active. And they could be a piece of this too. And yet, they don't want to work for 30 years. They want to work for 60 days or 90 days. To try and test this market. So there's a lot of different ways to get creative. These are the things you think about when you put your business under the microscope, and you find a need. So how can I be creative in taking care of this need and also be physically responsible?
Scott: Yeah, Vince, I don't know about you but that sounded like a pitch for Ken, who's retired and looking to fill time. Maybe I could use a development officer. I'm sure we could work something out.
Vincent: I'm just gonna say the exact same thing. It sounds like for the next 30 days for one of us.
Scott: I'm not sure that I want to raise money, okay? There are other things I enjoy doing. And as Vince knows, and I think Scott knows I'm open to some of that.
Vincent: All right. So, the person who asked about filling the sales job, Ken's your guy.
49:01 Next Session Topics
Ken: So, as we move on, let's finish up your account. So we know where we're going. And we'll get done here. So as we move forward, I think, what we're looking at maybe next session, is to talk about what is a business vision and mission, because some people confuse those things. It's now become a discussion of purpose statements. You know, it's wordsmithing, as far as I'm concerned, but it's about where you want to go and what you see when you get there, and how you're going to get there. So we're going to take this on an end-theme, I guess I'd call it into things such as, how do we evaluate that purpose statement? If you haven't heard of a SWOT diagram, it's assessing your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and your strengths. It's a great tool for long-term planning and to look at yourself. And this won't be just one session, we might do each one of those sections in a session. It's just so enlightening. And then another important piece that I think we want to look at, is setting five-year goals. But then also backing that out? And what do I need to do? What are my objectives need to be in three years, and just in the next one year, Vince has done this. And he knows when we did it, that we needed a huge wall, a white wall to do it. So we have to work out some of the logistics of that. And then the whole thing is how do I put these things in action? I don't mind talking about stuff. But at some point, somebody's got to do something. And so some of those kinds of subjects, not the least of which then is how do I assess my markets? And are there new markets? And I'd serve in my current markets, and in the nonprofit world that Scott's clients, in my opinion. So, that's where we're going to move on. I enjoy this. Scott has been just great to have you. Vince, you want to close this out. Or Scott?
50:58 Closing Remarks
Scott: Well, I guess yeah, I think one of the things that I love, and I said before, I appreciate the invitation, because often, I talked to so many organizations that are struggling, or so many organizations that ask some of the similar questions that our users and our guests ask here today of, ‘How do we do this? Or how are you successful? Or what agencies do that might be doing A, B, or C, better than anybody else?' And I often ask that question, because I want to sample of what we're doing versus some of the best of the best, right? And I think it's so important for the nonprofit sector, and I'm speaking mainly to my peers and the folks that I work with, is to really be open to learning from more than just the sector, right? If you're serving in victim assistance, make sure we're looking in healthcare, and we're looking in faith-based and we're looking at mental health, and we're looking in the ‘for profit sector', for the best practices and what's happening. And I know we do that often. But it's so easy, not only do we suffer often from ‘Mission Drift' as the nonprofit sector, but we also focus or we also suffer from siloism in tunnel vision, and really just becoming ultra-focused on just our mission. And I've had individuals come to me and say, ‘How do we launch a nonprofit? Or how do we serve the mission better?' And the first thing I always start with is, start focus on the business first, right? Because you can serve a mission, but it's not going to sustain the way that it should, if you don't have a business plan if you don't have goals, if you don't have a focus on, ‘Oh, this is the way the business runs, and this is what I'm going to need to run the business.' A mission without a business plan is a passion and passions, ‘ebb and flow' often in our lives. So, I want to make sure that our nonprofit friends are hearing that because it's such an important topic, and I think there's so much work to be done in that area.
Ken: I agree with that one of the points I want to make that I continue to talk about, is those folks that have come with me that have a passion and want to start a nonprofit. To fulfill that passion, first, my first question then who else is doing it? Because of those partnerships, so much of what's already there, if you just look for it. And if you want, the average life of the nonprofit, I think is nine years. At least that's been my view. And if you want to have sustainability over a period of time, you really need to find somebody that's doing something similar and enjoying that cost.
Vincent: Yeah! Well, thank you, guys! Again, Scott, you're always welcome to join us let you know the next session is going to hop back on. And for anyone who's watching this right now, you can go ahead and go on Facebook, YouTube, or anywhere you listen to podcasts, and you can subscribe to us by searching for the Small Business Squad. You can also find a history of previous videos and podcasts going to becomedistinct.com/blog. So, thank you guys both really enjoyed this as always. Ken any final words before we shut it down.
Ken: Just glad to have Scott. Vince, I just appreciate your initiative in this. And I just want everyone to think about all the things we've talked about nonprofit or retail business. They really all are very much the same. And they're all basic skills, basic tenets. And the other thing that I've said to my students, and I've said to people I've been working with and other individuals. Sometimes we only think about applying these to our personal life too. And I always ask people if they have a personal mission statement. And so, I'll just leave it at that.
Vincent: Awesome! Well, thank you both very much it's good talking to you today!
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