Building a Business Worth Tens of Millions Isn’t Just a Public High-Wire Act of Devastating Defeat or Glorious Victory.
It’s also a Private, Even Solitary Pursuit that will Press the Very Depths of Your Soul and Test the Absolute Strength of Your Convictions.
Dear Business Builder:
Meet Steve. Lives near Austin. Runs a $5 million/year company. He’s currently the lead dog in his space. Nearest competitor, in marathon terms, is several miles behind him. He’s managed to shore up a respectable book of business in an industry that’s both fiercely competitive and has its share of global challenges.
Steve is a long-time Planet Perry member. He’s participated in many of our events and programs, including some of the odder ones. (The Financial Sozo seminar 3 years ago for example). And he’s radically altered his routine along the way.
Steve, for example, carves out Renaissance Time every morning, just as I’ve challenged all our members to do. He’s on board with our re-definition of work. He’s automated m-a-n-y processes. He’s incorporated my fractal pricing model from the 80/20 book and top customers pay top dollar.
He has adopted Planet Perry style educational marketing and does a superior job to anyone else in his space. He forges a human connection and delivers relevant and TRUE information to his prospects.
He’s done his time on the hamster wheel. He’s worn the sales hat, the marketing hat, the CEO hat, the financial hat, the product development manager hat. And on occasion the butcher, baker and candlestick maker hats. His intimate familiarity with nearly everything makes him a formidable opponent to his foes. A fastidious overseer of employees. A respected figure in his market space. An often-weary man with bloodshot eyes.
He doesn’t want to work one hour a day. He has no interest in just taking vacations or laying on the beach.
What’s he interested in?
Managing, stewarding, even cherishing the one opportunity he has now to make a BIG impact in the world.
Steve is an amalgamation of several customers I know. And he’s thankful. Beyond thankful, more like oozing with gratitude. His best friend from high school had become an alcoholic and died in a car accident last year. Many of his friends’ lives are littered with problems. And while he’s struggled at times to hold body and soul together, somehow he’s managed to mostly listen to the right teachers. He’s dodged bloody land mines, and today he finds himself in a place of respectability.
But his company only grew 12% last year and 10% the year before that, and he knows MUCH larger leaps are possible. He’s licking his chops because he can taste it.
He sees that the world itself is at a crossroads right at this moment. He knows great uncertainty looms, meaning both great danger and great opportunity.
Reminds me of when I (Perry) quit my Dilbert Cube job to become a freelance consultant right after September 11. A friend pointed out, “When the world’s in turmoil, people want ready talent that’s not gonna become a ball and chain.”[Ball and chain=employees, benefits, unemployment insurance, workman’s comp] if things go south.
My friend was right. Opportunity abounded.
Steve’s sense of danger vs. opportunity is sort of like that. But far bigger.
Will we experience a major economic correction? Will Europe or the Middle East go haywire, will the Euro shatter, will this political façade or that crack wide open?
Steve just knows people will need what he sells, on some level, regardless of outcomes and they may need it worse. In the ’08 crash when everyone else was pulling in their horns and licking their wounds, he put his sales guys and sales gals on planes. They sat with customers face-top-face. They huddled in their bunkers with blood running in the streets. He needs to remain agile.
He proved to those customers with hard data that for every thousand dollars they gave him, he would save them ten thousand. So if they had to mortgage their children to subscribe to his services, it would still be money well spent.
Thus he advanced while the world faltered.
Steve carries a sense of stewardship. Talents, ideas, opportunities, businesses, authority, finances, relationships are on loan from God. He’s 56 and his kids are getting out of college and at that age you keenly recognize that every day is a gift that will not pass again. It will not return.
Sow the wind, harvest the whirlwind.
He looks around and he sees so many people who are at his level and above. They are doing profound things. Solving fundamental problems. He shuns the small-minded thinkers who assume automation gets rid of jobs. He yearns for everyone to become an alchemist, even customers who are downloading spreadsheets when a computer could be doing the work for them.
He’s happy when his clients’ employees ‘get it.’ He’s happy when they secure a $5 an hour raise for thinking smarter. For being more self aware. Operating within a big picture instead of a smaller box.
He knows the pain of being the smartest guy in the room, the gifted man with keen awareness of so many things. The who watches as most of the world sleepwalks through life. Lumbering in its iPhone induced stupor. Moving through the day from one barnacle to the next and not living life at all.
My late friend Tom Hoobyar used to say, “Be one of those rare geniuses who does not capitulate to drinking and depression because you can’t stomach your heightened awareness of what’s really going on in the world.”
The curse of the gifted soul.
What’s the cure for that?
Stewardship. I’m running MY race, not anyone else’s race, I know this marathon, I know my shoes, I know my shorts, I know my backpack and the number on my shirt. Others’ race is not my worry. I have my running legs and my sea legs and my GPS coordinates. I know this trail. And when I get to new parts of the trail where I don’t know where to go, I ask. Someone always shows up and gives me directions, no matter how fragmented they are.
I accept the fact that the road to success is always under construction and I just want to live the adventure, live in the flow.
And I want to grow this company to be worth $200 million instead of $20 million.
Some think that’s ridiculous. Geez, can’t you just go the wedding reception, eat the cake and be happy just like all the other guests?
No. The problem is when he goes to a wedding reception he’s afraid there’s going to be no one interesting to talk to. This is not snobbery. It’s just the reality of not sleepwalking through life with the rest of humanity.
Fortunately he finds: Yes, there are other interesting guests who discuss grander things than wine, dancing and cake. And yes you can have an engaging conversation over the dry chicken and mashed potatoes.
But still it’s not like there’s that many people around who get Steve. It’s not like his employees grasp the true size of his calling.
He struggles between the extremes. The other day he had nine thousand things going on and he had to argue with himself just to affirm it was OK to ask someone to go get him a cup of coffee.
He struggles with delegation. He struggles with GUILT (about all sorts of stupid things). He struggles with financial risk-taking (yes, you can be worth $30 million but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to meet payroll for July). And the higher you climb, the narrower the tightrope and the longer the voyage to the bottom.
You meet the same people on the way down that you met on the way up.
Managing technology is a critical piece. No trivial task. Development teams in many countries. The testing he has to perform, the hoops he has to jump through to satisfy his most critical customers, the politics between employees from time to time, and most of all he knows:
You don’t just wave a magic wand and leave your competitors in the dust.
Yes, I know it works that way in ebooks and product launches, but that never builds large fortunes. He needs to build a business machine. One which is internally challenging and complex, even as it’s ridiculously simple and joyful to use on the outside.
There is a whole section of his market that he has not conquered, and if he seizes it, life will be different. He’ll enter a stratosphere where any merger/acquisition opportunity will come to him.
He’ll have first right of refusal, he’ll be the 800 pound gorilla.
He’s not trying to be the 800-pound gorilla so he can own a yacht that’s 10 feet longer than Larry Ellison’s yacht. Nothing of the sort. He’s trying to do this because fundamental problems need to be solved and the world’s at a perilous juncture. He has this one opportunity to make a difference.
The next ten years are critical. The next ten are legacy.
So when he hears Richard Koch’s pronouncements about building Star Businesses and Simplifying, he ‘gets’ it.
He knows Richard’s advice is spot-on. He also knows that, strange as it sounds, it’s as much a spiritual journey as anything. This seems paradoxical, because most “average” people wouldn’t accept such a statement. But they don’t know Steve. (They don’t know YOU either.) Truth is ever stranger than fiction.
Steve says: “I’ve been swimming up the back of the wave for the last five years. I’ve got to get to the FRONT of the wave and wait for the next one. It’s all timing.”
He needs several things:
- A community that understands and embraces him and his mission.
- A road map for Proposition Simplifying his business.
- An outside perspective as he executes, together with a vision of how the organizational pieces flow together
- A positive shift in cash flow
- His next hire CANNOT be a mistake. The whole next five years hinges on it.
Steve is the prototypical participant for Star Simplifier Lab. Which is unlike anything else we’ve ever done.
All other such programs have been more or less an assembly line. This one is as hands-on as it needs to be. In fact Rebecca Hanan my resident Marketing DNA & Personality Type specialist will meet with his key team members. She will help them understand how they’re going to break apart this complex equation and solve it with ease.
One element that’s somewhat unusual is a small group 2-day retreat August 3-4. The group will gather at a private retreat center. This is not a hotel. This location will emphasize hospitality, solitude, community, focus and vision, rather than luxury and amenities. It’s oddly suited to the inner nature of this pursuit and I’m availing all the participants of whatever connections are appropriate.
All will share a sense of pulling away and seeing things from a broader perspective, and being able to share without hesitation. No conversation is off limits and no resource will be withheld.
We will work together for the duration of the summer and then as autumn approaches we’ll size things up and see where everyone is at.
Perhaps we’ll continue together. It’s unclear at this point. What is clear is, everyone is stewarding a major transition and needs to make it through safely.
Star Simplifier Lab is $22500. If you already came to Star Seminar you can deduct the full tuition you paid. We will break the SIMPLIFY process down into bite-sized pieces and we will put double focus on how you distribute the pieces to your various team members to get things done.
Most of “us” entrepreneurs are geniuses at…something. Maybe several things. Something related to our products or our customers or the way we break down certain kinds of problems.
And…. Many of us are savants to some extent when it comes to managing organizations.
This lab experience is for those savants. I’m one of them. So let’s find the culture elements that you excel at. Let’s identify the gifts within your team members that solve the rest of the problem. And let’s move forward to build true Star Simplifier businesses.
This is what we’re going to do:
1. We’re going to get you off the hamster wheel. To be blunt this is sort of like going on a diet. Off the Hamster Wheel is a time diet instead of a food diet. It’s breaking the addiction of reacting to stuff all the time. When you go on a food diet there’s a million rationalizations why you can’t do this now. “I can’t think when I’m hungry. My brain needs carbohydrates.” “We’ve got that family reunion coming up and I love barbecue.” “I’ll start next month.”
Regardless of the rationalizations, we’re going to start. And we’re going to deal with the obstacles, the excuses, the lifestyle changes, the withdrawal symptoms. And we’re going to build a different groove with Renaissance time that starts to become so sacred you would never give it up.
Yes, there is a place where you crave healthy meals and eating a big bowl of M&Ms just makes you feel sick.
You’ll still feel the temptation from time to time but you’ll never want to go back.
And we’re going to implement this in a way that’s honoring to your team, so you’re not a their dictator but their elder collaborator.
Getting Off the Hamster Wheel is absolutely necessary because without it you will never gain clarity. You need to see “outside the system” and gain that outside vantage point.
2. We’re going to slice, dice and parse your business and market until we find the hidden stars. One of the hard things about making the pivot is we all have so much legacy stuff we don’t want to let go of! (Notice how much of this is saying NO to things?)
We’ll create them if necessary. And YES we’ve reduced Star business building to a scorecard, but it’s something that should be in your bones. Some people have never once been in a Star business in 30+ years so they don’t know what it feels like to be a Star.
It’s kind of like riding a bike. You don’t know what it feels like until you’ve done it. One of the subtler points in Richard books is, you’re better off being an employee in a Star than owning a non-star. I learned this 15 years ago when I was sales manager at Synergetic Micro Systems.
Synergetic was a tiny star. The part I was in charge of was $200,000 sales in 1997, just before I took over. It was a website and a few products purchased from Sweden and Germany. We had bootstrapped this business on the back of some European technology suppliers. It was duct tape and bailing wire.
It was also a small market. But it was a growing market and we were the only company in the US with our type of USP.
We became a mouse that roared. We considered every move. Never at any time did I have more than $2000 to $3000 of discretionary marketing dollars. All had to come back with friends attached in 90 days or less.
And we became hot. It was the right technology at the right time. And despite the feeling of careening down a mountain pass in a broken jalopy, we made it through the dire straits. My boss managed to meet payroll. We got angel investors on board, designed and developed a chip, and sold our firm to a public company for $18 million.
That kind of experience imprints you. Leaves its mark. It brands you with other people too. People respond to you differently when you’ve been through something like that and made it out alive. When I first met my late friend Tom Hoobyar in 2002, the #1 reason he respected me was… I had done it! I had made it through the gauntlet he was trying to survive. Even if it was just in a small way.
Me, I came out with a quarter million bucks. Not a fortune, but victory money for sure!
It was enough to set me free, and alter the course of my life a little bit. It enabled me to do what I’m doing now.
3. We’re going DEEP into SIMPLIFY strategy for market disruption. This is a disruptive strategy, it is nothing less than that and it’s a sure formula for taking the lead in any worthy market. It’s what every market craves. Either a Proposition Simplifier that brings elegance to clunky, excessively complex offerings. Or a Price Simplifier that crushes previous barriers, based on a Ginsu-sharp business plan.
I’ve spent weeks and months with Richard’s material on this; hours in conversation and weeks and months in execution. I’m applying it to my own businesses as well as new startups. And perhaps the most pivotal moment at the Star Seminar was when Richard had everyone score their business and everyone with a score exceeding 150 came to the stage.
Suddenly the hundreds of millions, even billions of dollars potential was evident. Some of the people in the room had the capacity for building MUCH larger businesses than most people in the “internet marketing space” even dream of.
Then with the gearshift to Price and Proposition Simplifiers, everyone saw clearly how to strip down their strategy. How to eliminate even more waste from the journey, and corner their market. I have a number of members who are now full throttle into this process.
Nancy Slessenger is building a world class, scalable recruitment firm. Jon Correll has skied the slalom of manual-labor consulting firm to Software As Service company. Now he’s landed in a territory that no one else has claimed. His firm is a classic Proposition Simplifier. Its potential runs into the hundreds of millions.
4. We’re going to boost your Star Principle Scorecard by 20-40 Points – because your business is not a single solitary star (or non-star) entity. Your business is a mix of mini-stars, cash cows, question marks and outright dogs. We are going to reach a stage of total alignment where you know exactly what to trim and where to pour the jet fuel.
5. We’re Going to Fight the Resistance and Feed the Artist – Steven Pressfield’s book The War of Art reveals the enemy all artists confront in realizing vision. Your foe is The Resistance which is the spiritual force that opposes all human progress. It goes by many names – procrastination, self sabotage, demon on your left shoulder, head trash – but however you prefer to think of it, it’s a real thing.
We are going to devote special attention to head trash. You can’t afford to have any at this stage of the game. I’m going to give you specific assignments. So, when we converge at the retreat center outside of Chicago August 3-4, you’re ready to….
Carpe Diem – Seize the Day.
Join us for the private adventure of a lifetime.
Application fee is $500. To engage, contact [email protected] or call +1 512.536.0799.