Small business is at the heart of the Texas Economy.
In Episode 9, the finale of our 3 part series “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” – We complete the circle, and find out how getting everything in place that you would need to attract a good buyer – is actually the single best thing you can do refresh your business and get ready to be leaner, faster, and ready for big growth in the economic recovery.
What are the things I LOVE about your job? What are the things you wish you had more time for? And what are the things that are difficult and get in the way of being able to be in your flow-state; that make you the most valuable to your company? Once you determine what those things are you can tackle the problem issues and take them off of of you plate and make them into systems and processes.
This episode of Emerging Texas Strong is sponsored by Texas Mutual Insurance Company, a leading worker’s comp provider in Texas, and is a production of Earnest Media. If you are interested in sponsoring a heartful podcast focused on the journey of Texas business owners for a focused market audience email, contact@EmergingTexassStrong.com
Episode 9 Guests:
Dr. Stephie Althouse – Top-Notch CEO
Bios and business information for all the guests featured in Season 1 can be found on EmergingTexasStrong.com. Find out how you can work with them and support your Texas small businesses.
This episode of Emerging Texas Strong is sponsored by Texas Mutual Insurance Company, a leading worker’s comp provider in Texas, and is a production of Earnest Media.
EPISODE 9 TRANSCRIPT:
TX Mutual Insur…: 00:00 Support for the Emerging Texas Strong podcast comes from Texas Mutual Insurance Company, a Workers’ Comp provider, committed to helping companies build a stronger, safer Texas.
Host, Linsey: 00:10 On this episode of Emerging Texas Strong.
Linsey Lindberg…: 00:13 You are so fantastic. I can’t wait to dig in. This is great. And that’s what you’re talking about about approaching this as an exercise originally. Like what if, but you know, not intending to sell your business is 100% how I’m approaching what we’re doing on the podcast right now. And understanding that if you do set up as if possibly one day you were going to sell, you might actually start running a tighter business, a more profitable business, a business that you can delegate and step away from and have better processes and systems. So you can have a better work-life balance than if we don’t ask these questions at all.
Host, Linsey: 00:56 Welcome back to Emerging Texas Strong, a growing collection of stories, lessons, and advice from small business owners in Texas, working hard to survive this pandemic economy. We follow a collection of businesses and weave their stories together. As we navigate a full season of big picture topics like what’s at stake skills for making tough decisions and opportunities for future growth. In Episode 9, the finale of our three-part series, Should I Stay or Should I Go? We complete the circle and find out how getting everything in place that you would need to attract a good buyer is actually the single best thing you can do to refresh your business and get ready to be leaner faster and ready for big growth in the economic recovery. One fun thing I found while working on this podcast and listening to the words of advice is I’ve really internalized the topics and have made moves to fix the broken parts I’ve identified in my small business as well. One of the big ones is I took Dr. Stephie up on her offer of a reduced price. First month of Brilliance Extraction coaching. We met virtually to figure out where to start with Artisan Oddities. What was the biggest need for my company right now? Now, before I started working with Dr. Stephie, I only knew her as a guest on my show. And as we started chatting during the first interview, there were all these questions that kept popping up. They were like a challenge or a call to action for a small business owners questions. Like, can you leave for vacation without being chained your laptop? If there was an emergency and you weren’t available, could your business run without you and for how long? If you wanted to grow your business into new cities and new markets, do you have the infrastructure to support that growth? If you wanted to sell would somebody actually want to buy your company the way it is? And what are the pain points for both you, and the people who work for you now, and how can you make it better? These questions haunted me in a good way. I thought about my own reluctance to address them when we were so busy and there wasn’t any time to stop and change the system. That’s why I messaged Dr. Stephie after episode three aired. So I could become a client and try this thing out. So we did. I paid for a five-week coaching plan and together we decided that the best place to start was to create an employee training manual that will make my life easier. As I rebuild my team for the recovery, we strategize that not only would this single improvement help new team members feel supported, understand our company, vision, clarify company procedures, and take tasks off my overloaded plate, but even better. It also serves as a blueprint for how we can make our creative magic when we’re ready to expand. That, my friends, is a no brainer. Five birds in five weeks with one stone. So I said, yes. While conducting our latest interview, I asked Dr. Stephie, if we could go ahead and use the work that we’ve done together, as an easy thing to talk about as a case study for this episode. I already introduced my company and my job to you listeners, an episode to pivot. So you kind of have a small idea of what I do. I am the owner of Artisan Oddities Entertainment, a full service creative talent agency that builds and books, entertainment that is exciting, inspired, and memory-making for large scale live events in Central Texas and beyond. And you know, this is a business podcast. So let’s talk about the business side of it. First. Let me reintroduce you to Dr. Stephie.
Dr. Stephie Alt…: 04:28 Hi, I’m Dr. Stephie, I’m the founder and CEO of top-notch CEO. I’m very passionate about supporting experts in converting the brilliance into more impact and more reward for that. I’ve developed a proprietary method called brilliance extraction. And what that does is it literally pulls the brilliance out of someone’s brain and makes it into a system that they can use to grow and scale up the business and also to transition the business into a new owner’s hands.
Linsey Lindberg…: 04:59 When we first sat down, you asked me, what are the things that I love about my job? What are the things I wish I had more time for? And what are the things that are difficult and get in the way of me being able to be in my flow state and do the things that make me the most valuable to my company. And then once we determined what those things were, then we started tackling, how do we take the problem issues off of the plate and make them not where they have to be addressed all the time? How do we turn them into systems and processes? And one of the things I liked so much about the work that we’ve done is realizing that at the end of the day, these are exactly the pieces of the puzzle that I did not have in place ahead of time, that when I do start thinking about long-term strategy, whether it’s being able to expand to other cities and bring other people into vision, or whether it’s being able to sell and walk away to something else, if I decide that that’s at some point, what I want to do, these are exactly the pieces of the puzzle that I will need in place for any of those visions, but also the, the piece of the puzzle that allows me to actually do my job better when we come back from the pandemic. I love this as an idea that one of the factors we haven’t put a number on is our happiness level in running our business. And maybe, if we were able to up that happiness level and take the, the, not-so-fun tasks off our plate, because we’ve now systematize them. Maybe, you find you’re not in a position where you’re dying to sell your business anymore. Maybe you’re ready to, to jump back in.
Dr. Stephie Alt…: 06:55 If you do decide to keep your business and continue to grow it, this reflection is great. So let’s say you have thought through the process of selling your business and you’ve come to the conclusion that there’s a lot of growth opportunity. And if I could just pain-point one, two and three in the bud in such and such a way, then I do really love my business. And I’ve got all this growth potential that I just thought of, because I was able to set the frustration that are, have about certain things to decide and just see my business with fresh eyes.
Linsey Lindberg…: 07:36 Well, and I was thinking about how, you know, okay, so for myself, how we’ve been working through hiring practices and onboarding people. And when we first started talking about my business in specific, I was explaining that that is one of the things that makes my job hard is the employee retention and trying to onboard somebody is a very exhausting process. And when we’re talking about for a business owner, if you’re doing this scales and on one side is how much do I love doing the job? And the other side is how tired am I from the, not as fun parts of the job. And you’re trying to wait, which one is heavier? Well, by answering the question of how do I resolve some of these exhausting issues by creating the same processes that will make my business easier to sell in the future. I’m actually using this time and that thinking in order to make it better when I come back,
Dr. Stephie Alt…: 08:42 Yes, that’s exactly on point. In your case, you are a super creative person and you love it. You are lit up by it. What’s not lighting you up is necessarily all that logistic stuff. And remembering to tell someone don’t fall into this pothole or that pothole, et cetera. So by creating a system that takes care of at least say 90% of that, you’re so far ahead of the game. And the goal here is yes, we are preparing for the future, but really at the same time, you make your life so much more pleasant right now, as you’re growing this out of this pandemic, now you can onboard people and give them the training and make them successful and have them earn money and stay, and then possibly even take your secret sauce. Like we discussed to other cities and expand your business from there. And all the while you get to be in the flow of your top talent, which is clearly on the creative side. In fact, I want to pitch-in one story about another business owner I worked with before the pandemic. And I can actually tell you how he has done very well during the pandemic, even though he is in California, which was one of the most restricted States as we went through the pandemic. So his business is actually bathtub refinishing, which means essentially to spray paint, it’s a specialty painting process bathtubs, so they don’t have to be replaced. And this comes into play mostly for apartment buildings and property management companies hire them. He had seven locations when we started working with each other all throughout California, and one of the locations the employees left because they thought, well, why are we working for this company? We can just start a competing business in the same city, what a nightmare. So the owner had rebuilt this location, but in the meantime, he also had trucks that kept breaking down because he had customer ask for particular model of truck, and that model wasn’t available anymore. So he saw the difficulty of having to reinvest in new custom racks if he committed to different model of truck. So that was the situation when we met. And we ended up basically building a training system initially for quality control, because that’s where he was hiring to rebuild that location. And then from there we expanded the work. Eventually, actually it didn’t take very long at all. Eventually we also tackled the truck issue. Now, the funny thing about that was the truck issue was draining him. But when we first started talking about it, I wanted to address it right then and there. And he said, no, Stephie tried everything. There is no solution to this. I said, okay, okay, let’s work on the quality control. Then we worked on the quality control. We came up with a very pragmatic, very quickly built system that solved a lot of challenges. And then we expanded from there. And then what happened was the owners started to not necessarily spend less time in his business, but he spent the time on different things. He spent it on training his employees and growing this company and not dealing with all these headaches as much anymore. And then he was willing to actually let me look at this truck issue. And it took a couple of hours and to just make it massively better, a couple of hours for a problem that seems insurmountable. And during the pandemic, because they had by then with my help, streamline undocumented all processes and done a really fabulous job with training their employees. And even given some of the general managers, a little bit of a stake in the company, they were very well prepared to handle the challenges that the pandemic threw at them. It’s an example of how you can make your company better, create more revenues, make it more fun to run, be prepared for an exit, and then also be prepared for sustainability through really tough times.
TX Mutual Insur…: 13:27 Support for this program comes from Texas Mutual Insurance Company, a safety focus Workers’ Comp provider, supplying information and resources that can help Texas employers stop accidents before they happen more at texasmutual.com.
Host, Linsey: 13:42 And now back to our show. So while the world slowed down, I found myself confronted with all of these questions like, “Wow, if I wanted to sell, I would need to have standard operating procedures for everything. I need to have a training manual for new hires, diversified income streams, a strategy for scaling up and an actual long-term strategy too.” As I faced this daunting list of tasks that seemed more you corporate than the natural vibe of my creative business. I had a lightning flash moment where I answered all my own questions in one second. Oh, so a buyer wants to be sure that you are going to be successful for the next five years or more in order to buy your company for a good price. And they want to be sure that they’ve purchased a business that can be successful. Even if you are no longer involved. Duh. Please don’t judge me too harshly. Especially all you people who actually went to business school. I like so many entrepreneurs in Texas started my business because I had a skill and a vision. I never dreamt it would grow into its current size and success; silly me. And I never thought that I’d have to learn to be an amazing boss or be asked to strategize for growth or create SOPs. I wanted to make beautiful entertainment that contributed to the happiness and history of my city. Lucky me, I did that and more,
Dr. Stephie Alt…: 15:12 I’m willing to bet just about my bottom penny on Lindsay. You didn’t start your business with the idea, okay, I’m going to get up and I’m going to train a bunch of people on how to sell creative, performing that events. No,
Linsey Lindberg…: 15:27 A hundred percent not. I, I think I mentioned to you in our session last week, that if I had gone to business school, I would have done things 100% different, but instead I was an artist who felt like maybe I had what it could take to be a business owner. And so a hundred percent, the reason I started my business was I wanted to be in charge of my own destiny. I wanted to make creative, beautiful things as my gift to the world, and to be able to sustain myself on that as a single solo business lady.
Dr. Stephie Alt…: 16:04 Well, and you know, that’s, most of us, I’m a recovering PhD chemist. I got into research. I love research. Then I discovered I love making practical things. So I transferred my knowledge into helping expertise, driven companies, to become very successful, to support and guide them. It doesn’t necessarily take an MBA. You have to roll up your sleeves and learn, and yes, there’s hard knocks, but you know what, the people who have an MBA, they also need the hard knocks to learn. We all do.
Linsey Lindberg…: 16:42 I think, I think that’s a really important thing to remember is that as a creative, I have a lot of skills and a lot of places that don’t come naturally to other people, but maybe it’s okay to admit that systems and processes and training is not my strong suit. And to go ahead and go to an expert and ask them to help me with that in order to do a better job for my company
Host, Linsey: 17:08 This year, I’ve taken the challenge. I want to be an amazing boss. I want to be a successful business owner. I want to be able to grow a team that shares my vision and my passion. I want to go on vacation without stress. I want to know that what I’m building now will have the ability to continue after I’m gone, whether that’s for retirement health, or let’s just say it burnout, what I’ve found standing in the face of those questions and claiming this responsibility is also that I want, okay, maybe want is too strong a word, but I mean, I guess I want to put in the work and develop systems plans and processes that will be required to fulfill those goals. Basically. I just want people to understand that it is important to sit down and ask yourself these hard questions. Number one, because reflection is always a good thing. And we have this time right now. And as you said, maybe, maybe it’s a blessing in disguise that we get the opportunity to stop and say, do I still love it? Am I still getting what I need? Do I want to be here? Do I want to make this very long struggling journey through this year? And then pick back up when it comes back. So I think it’s important to reflect. And then I think it’s really important to say, well, what can I do with this time so that I can come out stronger, make my life easier, and either set me up for being able to sell in the future, being able to grow in the future, or just put me back into more of a flow state for when I return.
Dr. Stephie Alt…: 19:01 This is so fabulous. I want to commend you for your mindset because that’s exactly what I would recommend is that okay, reflect, what do you want to do with this time that you may have on your hands now? Because business isn’t as strong, what are the opportunities that you can tap into? And then some things just aren’t happening or were not happening. Hopefully they’re about to open up more, but what can we do with this time to get stronger and better at what we’re doing and make things easier? And so in your case, I mean, it didn’t really take very long. It took a few minutes to really discover, you know, where are there some areas that could be fixed addressed quickly? I mean, literally we spent just slightly more than a month. What five weeks, six weeks on creating a sales process. That’s documented, that’s complete. That’s very practical. That’s taking advantage of the resources you already had. You had already some standard operating procedures that were a few PDFs basically, and incorporate them and then just pull the brilliance out of your brain. And initially it was this sort of ugly looking 14 step process. And then we said, okay, actually it’s five phases. One of the phases has two parts to it. And there’s two decision Gates. And we put this whole thing onto one page, which became a graphic that simplifies the whole process. You can look at at a glance and you can say, aha. Now I see the forest for the trees. So when you put yourself in the shoes of a newly onboarded employee who delivers the lifeblood of your business, which is sales, making them successful is, is so important and such a relief to you, as you told me. And so it’s so smart to do that with that. Now you have a system that you can use to grow the business strong in the cities where you are, but you can then also use it to grow it into other areas into other cities. And you shared with me that you’ve had people before was that, wow, Linsey, I love this concept of creating events that are so memorable and so fun that they become not only part of the history of the people who were at the party, but part of the city’s history that really hooked me, that really, really hooked me. And I think it’s so amazing. So the opportunity to take that to other cities is such a strong opportunity. And let’s say you could run with this opportunity. Or at some point you could say, look, I’ve grown this as far as I want to grow it, I want to invent a different game. I’m going to do something different, but you can sell that with that growth opportunity as part of the package. And you can support it with this training process that we created in something like five to six weeks. Wow. My goal is always to give a return on investment. That’s at least 10, maybe more than 10 times of the investment. In fact, I think in your case, it could be a hundred fold over the lifetime of this, and I’m not kidding. I mean, if you play your cards correctly, it can be a huge return on investment. And by that, I mean dollar wise, but also of course, in terms of what makes us happy, because what drives me also is not just the money return, the money return, as I said, 10 fold is the minimum ROI that I want to see the minimum.
Host, Linsey: 23:21 Thank you for joining us on this Episode of Emerging Texas Strong. Let’s take a second and review a few things that might be useful to you from this episode. Number 1: When you start thinking about long-term strategy, the pieces of the puzzle that you’ll need to be in place for a beneficial sale are exactly the same pieces that will allow you to do a better job. When we rebound from the pandemic. Number 2: Look at what tasks you take on as a business owner that don’t bring you joy and resolve those pain points by finding a way to streamline systematize and remove those duties from your day to day chores. Number 3: you don’t need an MBA to learn how to do this. Just remember that you can delegate and ask for help and all the things that you aren’t naturally skilled. Number four, if you can, can identify something that will hit the business trifecta of smoother operations position for growth or future sales and will put you into more of a flow state at work, 10 out of 10, you should find a way or a coach to help you make that happen. Number 5: As you reflect on all of this, look at the ROI on time funds and happiness level, that will go into building these tools for your business. A small investment now can lead to big wins later. Thank you to Dr. Stephie for all of your help this year. And just so it’s a hundred percent clear to all my listeners. She is not a paid sponsor of the show and I did not pay her for anything except the five weeks of coaching services. I just wanted to be able to share my journey on this show in a very real way. But if you’re interested in reaching out for brilliance extraction services, you can take the same new client offer I did. She’s offered the first month of coaching half-off for all emerging Texas strong listeners. Find out more on our website, emerging Texas, strong.com under show guests or on the show notes page for episode nine. Speaking of which, if you’re enjoying this podcast or you found it useful, please share an episode with a friend. We want to grow emerging. Texas strong is a free resource for business owners. Send it to someone who could use these lessons to be happier and healthier business owners. Join us next week for the last episode of season one, it’s all about the silver linings baby. We’ll check back in with guests from season one and ask them about the recovery. How is it going so far? And we’ll find out some of the silver linings that they’ve discovered along the way. Podcast, production interviews, edit sound design and office snacks for the eEmerging Texas Strong podcasts are done by Lindsay Lindberg\, bios and business information for all guests featured in Season 1 can be found on EmergingTexasStrong.com. Find out how you can work with them and support Texas small business to share the hope that journey, the struggles and the advice. Be sure to follow like rate and subscribe to emerging Texas strong on the web. So you can always get the latest episode directly to your phone. And if you’re enjoying the show and you want to show us some love, stop in and leave a five-star review. It definitely helps more people find us. Follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn at emerging Texas strong or Twitter at Texas strong pod. And if you’d like to be interviewed, please reach out email@example.com. Emerging Texas strong is a production of earnest media. If you are interested in sponsoring a podcast focused on the journey of Texas business owners for a focused market audience, we’d love that email firstname.lastname@example.org. And remember, you’ve got a friend somewhere in Texas, who’s rooting for you. I’m your host, Linsey Lindberg. Join us next time for more stories of Texas small business on emerging, Texas strong,
Dr. Stephie Alt…: 27:10 Make those pain points go away and really have much more fun with the business again, and probably get back in touch with what makes you open this business in the first place
TX Mutual Insur…: 27:24 Support for the Emerging Texas Srong podcast comes from Texas Mutual Insurance Company, a Workers’ Comp provider committed to helping companies build a stronger, safer Texas.