About the Episode
In business advice, one thing has always come down if you are not changing, you are dying. You always need to be flexible to the point where you can shift to better suit your customers, the trajectory of your market, your employees, and more.
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- The first 5 years are only the beginning as an entrepreneur
- Depth from time and experience
- Learning from the mistakes of others
- Don’t focus on the small steps for growth
- Continue to be curious, always.
- Curiosity equals questions
- Top of mind, keep your culture top notch
- Identifying what your responsibility is in your business
What’s shakin’, Hey, I’m Rick Jordan, and today we’re going all in. Today we’re gonna talk about, uh, there was an article that I was reading and I want to comment on this thing, an entrepreneur magazine entrepreneur.com. And I’ve been quoted in Entrepreneur Before, which is pretty awesome when I saw that come across. But this one sparked some thoughts and I kind of wanna weigh in and give you some things to look forward to this coming year. I mean, we’re still at the beginning of the year, right? So for those entrepreneurs or those thinking, or actually these are just good life lessons too, but then, the article was nine Lessons to Learn from being in the Entrepreneurial Trenches. And the person who was writing this, you know, was like nine lessons that they’ve learned in five years. And I’ve been an entrepreneur for much longer than that.
Now. I know a lot of people that are listening might be much less than that too. Might be just starting on, or maybe right about there. And I remember after five years, I’m just gonna phrase it with this, right, some of these things that we’re talking about here are great, but they’re very basic. And that’s why I wanted to weigh in on these things, on these nine reasons or nine lessons that were learned. Because after five years, geez, I feel like you’re just kind of getting started for real, you know, cuz I remember it was like, I’ve been doing it like on my own if you wanna call it that now for 16 years this year. I know. I don’t look that old. That’s great. Google says I’m 64, but I’m really not. When you search for me, I’m 43. And from doing this 16 years, I remember like five years into it, I still didn’t know what the heck I was doing, you know, but I was figuring it out.
And looking back, it’s like a lot of these lessons, these are good lessons in this article, but I want to give you some depth that I think only some time and experience can give you, and hopefully, this can help you accelerate too because that’s one of the things that I’ve learned in my life is that actually taking, this is probably the biggest lesson that I’ve learned, is taking a look at other people and, and the mistakes that they’ve made as they’ve gone before you. And it allows you to get to that point faster when you actually study others who have been there and done that before it, it’s really powerful. That’s the biggest lesson that I’ve learned over my 16 years of entrepreneurship, is taking a look at others, both their successes and their mistakes when they’ve fallen on their face, to actually get to that point quicker.
You know, I love studying other people, and I love modeling after other people. As you come into your own, this is one of the biggest pieces of advice that I give you as you’re starting to come into your own. It is okay to model people as you’re trying to figure your own thing out. It’s a good thing to model people because they’ve done this already. And don’t worry because it’s not you, you’re not copying. Because even if you’re doing like, sort of the quote, unquote same thing, the difference is you, you’re still different than that other person. So you’re gonna bring your own flavor, your own personality, your own intuition, your own guts to whatever it is that you’re doing, even though it might be similar, you know, or even close to the same as far as some of the same things you’re going after. Yeah.
So that’s the biggest thing that I can give you as far as my advice today. But I want you to listen to the rest of this episode because there are some things that I’m gonna point out from this article, these nine lessons that I want to talk about. Okay? And they’re, they’re spot on. I’ll give it that, but I’m gonna give you some depth. All right? The first one that this article was talking about was agility. Now, agility to me is the ability to shift and be flexible. And as things come up, you know, it’s, uh, it’s very rare for things to stay the same year to year. And if they do stay the same, you’re not gonna grow very fast, okay? You can continue to grow by, a single percentage point, that’s awesome. But you often need a big shake-up change in order to grow exponentially.
And I for one, believe in exponential growth versus incremental growth when it comes to, revenue, when it comes to profits when it comes to building your business, you know, exponential growth is the thing, is the thing that you want to go after. There’s a short amount of time that you have on this earth. And as you take a look at these things, you know, it’s like the cost of living increases that you get, you know, the 4%, 5% a year is a raise as when you’re working for somebody else. That’s incremental growth, right? Those single digits. But if you’re an entrepreneur, you’re going at this on your own and you’re building something, you could have people working for you. That exponential growth that you seek after is like 15%, 20%, 50%. And the only way to do that is to be agile, which means to be flexible, you have to be able to turn on a dime because the industry shifts.
Whatever you’re in, it’s gonna shift. Just take a look at the last couple of years. If it’s economics, if it’s a world pandemic, I, if it’s whatever, if it’s stocked, it doesn’t matter. If it’s a brand new industry that pops up, which also happens a lot these days, it seems you have to be flexible and agile enough to shift instantly to what’s going to meet your customer’s needs. And ult ultimately makes you money and continues to cause you to grow. That’s the first one. And that’s the thing is that if, if you’re not, if you’re not changing, you’re dying. That’s the bottom line. If you’re not changing, you’re dying. You have to consistently change and adapt and, and be flexible as an entrepreneur in order to gauge where your industry is going or, or where the world is going and how it matches up with your industry.
I’ve often seen things many years out in my industry in tech and in cybersecurity, and that’s how I’ve been able to pivot. That’s why I’m often the first one to do things like the first and only as of this episode, the first and only manned service provider to have a public offering, you know, and to do a, publicly held roll-up of others like companies like mine. I’m the first out of 143,000. I’m the first, you know, that’s why I, I see this consolidation on my industry, and I’m on the forefront of it. You have to be agile and you have to keep a look at the different things in your marketplace and shift as frequently and as quickly as what’s needed. That’s agility. All right? The second is its purpose. If you’re just going out there to make money, you might do that for a time period, but there’s one of two things that are going to happen if that’s the only reason you’re in this, okay?
The first one is, you’re gonna get depressed. Eventually, things are gonna fizzle out, or they’re gonna get super tough because as an entrepreneur, you have this ingrained thing in your chest, in your gut, and your core to continue to drive forward and help other people. If you’re just in it for the money, you’re gonna get just this empty feeling after a little while because there has to be a purpose in what you’re doing, you know, and your purpose at first. And this is okay, I want to, I want to tell you this, those who are just starting out, if you’re just starting out, because maybe you just got laid off or maybe you had to shift because, uh, you know, your company w went under that you were working for whatever. I was in your shoes with two newborn twins years ago. And I, I get it.
Because your purpose at first could be just to provide for your family. And you know what? That is your purpose. So it’s not just to make money. Your purpose could just be to provide for your family, but then you could know that after that point, it’s going to expand beyond your family. And I tell you, that is the beauty o of being an entrepreneur, are we’re put on this earth to be able to provide an environment for other people to have an amazing living. We are providers of entrepreneurs as entrepreneurs. We are providers as entrepreneurs. That’s not just for our families, that’s for other people’s families as well. We, have this amazing tribe that we build internally and externally to be able to lift other people up and create a space for them to grow and create wealth for themselves as they’re contributing to your vision in your purpose.
Take a li to listen back to how to lead Difficult people. That was an episode, right? And you can lead each other, you can lead other people according to their dreams that fit into your vision. It’s pretty cool. As entrepreneurs, we are providers to everybody else that’s around us, that’s e that’s including our family first and foremost. But then even outside of that, for other families, sometimes hundreds, sometimes thousands of families. And that’s something that can fulfill you. But then there’s also this greater purpose, how all of that fits into this entire great big country, this entire great big world. It’s really cool how it starts to scale up like that. And I know that if you’re in it for the right reason, you will find what this purpose is and it’s okay right away to not know exactly what that is. That is okay. All right.
The number three, this one’s really cool because as you start to do this, you know, after a few years you’ll start to look back and if you are honest with yourself, you have to be completely open and transparent with yourself. That one isn’t even on here, you know? But I’m gonna give you that as a bonus right now, as an entrepreneur, you have to look in the mirror way more often than everybody else. And the reason you have to do that is that you have to be able to identify your superpowers. And when you just go into this, you may think that you’re good at a certain thing, right? That you’re good at, like the thing that your business is about, that you’re, that you’re starting, that’s okay. Like functionally, you’re good at that competency. You’re good at whatever it is that you’re doing.
You may find out that, or that could be the reason, like, yeah, I can do this. But if you’re in this for the long haul, and if you take a look in the mirror more often than most as an entrepreneur, you have to, you have to self-examine over and over and over and over again to discover what your true superpowers are. But conversely, in order to do that, you also have to discover what your kryptonite is. You have to be very honest with yourself on this. Otherwise, you will fall flat on your face and you will go under and you’ll be back working for somebody else. The only way you can continue to grow and continue to succeed is to continuously self-examine as an entrepreneur, to discover your superpowers and your kryptonite. There is no way if you think you know what they are right now, and you’ve been doing it one year, maybe two years, maybe even five years, there’s no way that you’ve discovered everything there is to know about yourself.
Why? How do I know that? Because I know that I haven’t discovered everything about myself, and I’ve been doing this for 16 years. I know that there is still more to discover about me and still more amazing things to discover about what I am capable of. And every time I level up, it surprises me it shouldn’t, right? Because I keep leveling up. But it’s like this whole new world, every time you identify a new superpower, and it’s also a whole new world, every time I identify a new kryptonite, I can identify over time the things that I need to go towards and things that I need to have my hands on, and then things that I absolutely stay away from because they will destroy me. You have to be so honest with yourself, first and foremost as an entrepreneur in order to discover these things. Super important.
Number four is curiosity. You know, uh, I’ve quoted this dude before, Navine Jane is a good friend of mine. He told me that success as an entrepreneur is not having the right answers. It’s having the right questions. You know, so when I took a look, I’ll give you an example. It was like a month ago. I’ll give you a really clear example of this. A month ago. I was like, man, okay, I want to close five deals this month. You know, cuz five deals will put a million and a half dollars in the bank. I’m like, that’s great. You know, we need cash to accelerate things, with what I want to do with, with some initiatives that I have. So I need to put a million and a half dollars in the bank, right? And, that’s the answer. That’s the answer, right? So it’s like, okay, I need to close five deals, but those weren’t the right questions.
So as I sat and thought about this, and this is thanks to my friend Navine Jane, I started thinking about this more. I’m like, what’s the right question here? And I discovered that the right question was, you know, what, how do I get in front of a thousand people? Because if I can do that, I, I have literally everything else in a place with the, with the existing services that I offer, with my company, with the team that I have to fulfill those. Everything else is right there. So it’s like, in order to close these five deals and put the money in the bank, the right question, not the right answer, the right answer to the, to the actual problem. And then that’s going on is to actually get that cash in the bank so that we can fund some other cool things that we’re doing right?
But the right question was, how do I get in front of a thousand people that are starting to fulfill this? That was just a month ago. We’re seeing their fruits and the results of it right now, you know, and there’s always a lead time on this stuff too. That’s another bonus thing for you. There’s always a lead time. Anytime you make a shift, there’s almost nothing that happens right away. I’ve noticed that there’s this magic time period of about six weeks of effort, and then you’ll start to see some of the results. That’s pretty typical after you start it. So if you’re thinking you’re gonna give up after six days because you’re not seeing it, you have to wait this out. And you have to continue to be curious about this along the way because this is the curiosity part. It’s like you, you have to keep going as an entrepreneur and become more and more curious about what’s going on around you and how to have the right questions.
How to actually fulfill things, that are sitting on your plate right now and have the right questions in order to, to come up with the answers and the solutions. And to do that, in order to ask questions and have the right questions, you have to be curious. Curiosity equals questions. Who, that’s powerful, isn’t it? Man, that’s amazing. All right. The fifth one is healthy company culture. This is something that has to stay on top of your mind. And I tell you, as an entrepreneur when you have a team working for you, there is nobody else that has a responsibility. It is no one else’s responsibility except yours for company culture. The bottom line, as a CEO, you will start to be able, to relinquish things. And as I grow right now, because we just passed $10 million a year annually with our acquisition, we’re gonna continuously grow with more acquisitions this year.
But as I started to look at this and be like, you know what, what really is my job description? Because, uh, I offloaded operations. I’m not in the day-to-day right now. I, I offloaded finance. I’ve got a company finance manager that’s on board right now, a new controller. Uh, I’m offloading even some of the integration. And I’ve got a team that’s working on that. It’s like, what is my responsibility as a CEO? It’s vision. It’s cash making, meaning investor relations and shareholder relations. And lastly, it’s culture. That is my job description. Now, there is nobody else. As you continue to grow, it is your responsibility alone as an entrepreneur for the culture within your company. And I tell you, it’s like top down, it’s trickled down. It, whatever you are feeling, whatever emotions you have, whatever positivity you have, or whatever baggage you carry, will be taken on by your people as well.
Remember that because that is super crucial to your success and how fast you can continue to grow. And whether you get stuck for a period of time or can push past those difficult moments quicker because of the healthy company culture, take responsibility for it. Pick up that mantle. No one else can carry the company culture except you as the leader. The bottom line is yes. All right, the sixth one is an operational foundation. This is so important. This is what makes my company so beautiful at what it does and how we’re able to run 80 percent gross margins when the rest of the industry that I’m in is like 50 to 55, you know, sometimes 60 at the highest. It, it has to do with systems and processes, you know, and these are things, you know, there, there’s a sign, there’s a canvas. We’ve got ’em all over the office.
I’ve talked about ’em before, but there’s one that’s up that I don’t think I’ve talked about that says, you know what, if you don’t have time to do it right, when are you gonna have time to do it again? And this actually has to do with documentation and developing these systems and processes. And my team has gotten so good at this. It’s become part of our, culture to do it one time and list out the steps. There’s a phrase that one of my VPs came up with a long time ago, and he would say, slow down to speed up. Because if you slow down in the very first couple times that you do it and you actually have these things written out, you know, in whatever system you have, you can put it in a sauna. If you en Trello on Monday, you know all these different management systems that are out there.
In my industry, there’s one called IT Glue. It’s literally like a documentation system for IT firms. We have step-by-step standard operating procedures in there for almost everything, and we’re still creating them. And what’s, even more, is that these things are meant to be a living document because people will be able to come up with really smart ideas later on in the future. And then those are reviewed and then they’re, they’re added to the documentation. And because we slowed down and took the time to do it right and document step by step how we did something, now everybody else can go back and not have to try to figure out again or do it their own way and may, which might be outside of what your culture is. Remember the previous item we were just talking about, company culture? It could be outside of your culture for them to fulfill this operational process because they’re going rogue and doing it their own way, but now they have step-by-step to follow and it gets ingrained in every single person.
And the same deliverable happens every single time. This is how you scale. This is the only way to scale is to have these things down and have processes systematized that you can automate. You automate what you slow down to speed up to give yourself that operational foundation in order to scale. Boom. All right, number seven, this is important here. Integrity, this is super important. You mean what you say and you say what you do, period. There are no compromises, there’s no, there are no gray areas, right? The utmost integrity and ethics are required for longevity. Notice I didn’t say that it was for growth. If you take a look back at all of these companies that rose and then crashed so fast, it was because they were out of integrity. Something happened to where somebody who had great influence in the company, maybe not even the entrepreneur, or the CEO, but somebody who had great influence in the company.
Remember, the culture comes from the top. So ultimately it’s still the CEO, it’s still the entrepreneur’s fault, in my opinion, right? Somebody messed up somewhere and did not keep integrity with whatever the situation was, whether it was financed, whether it was relations, with other employees, whether it was relationships with customers. They did not stay within integrity and actually do what they say they were going to do. There’s another canvas in our office that says, do what you say you’re going to do exactly how you say you’re going to do it. And when you say you’re going to get it done, that in a nutshell is integrity within your company as an entrepreneur or as a c e o Think I’ve said enough about that because you can stop listening if that’s not you, and if you don’t intend, because you and I would never get along if you don’t plan to operate in integrity.
All right, this next one, number eight, optimism. Yeah, I just hired that controller that I was talking about, right? His name’s Jared, and it’s awesome cuz uh, he’ll hear his name, I’ll give him a shout-out right now. And he came up to me, he is like, you know, I’m a bit of a pessimist. It’s my job to mitigate risk. I’m like, yeah, it is, man. But at the same time, you can also expect good outcomes. And as we started talking about some things, it was like his third day and he comes to me, he is like, you are for real, like one of the most positive and optimistic people that I’ve ever met in my entire life. And you know what? Everybody else in my company can say the same thing about me. And guess what? It’s fucking infectious. Okay? This is part of what the culture is, this optimism.
Because no matter what it’s like, it’s, it’s not, you know if it’s going to work, it either works or it works. There is no other option. You know what? And even when you fail a failure is just simply a temporary setback. When you’re optimistic about this and saying that you’re still gonna push forward no matter what because we’re gonna figure out a different way because it either works or it works. And this is going to just spread like wildfire amongst your team and amongst the people that you serve, your customers, your clients, even your family as you take it home. Now, this means that you’ll still have rough days, but that the rough days just come and they go. Some will knock you on your ass, but then you can still say, tomorrow, I still have tomorrow and I get to do this. It’s never I need to, I have to, anything like that.
Because if you get knocked on your ass today, guess what? You get to fix it tomorrow, which is awesome because you know, as you can start to pull out of your own strengths, your own superpowers, as you identify these, that you will get through this, you will figure out a way for it to work. That is optimism and that is infectious. Ha. All right, the last one I got for you today. I’ve given some bonus ones in here too. All right. Mindful hiring. All right. This is something that I’ve had to learn about myself, and I’m gonna give you something that I’ve learned about me as far as my kryptonite goes. It’s actually a superpower about me, and it’s also my kryptonite. If you take compassion and empathy and you kind of roll it up into this nice little, whatever you want to call it, that’s actually a superpower of mine because I love helping people.
I love helping people that work for me. I will jump to their aid and do everything I possibly can to be able to lift them up to a point where they can walk again themselves, you know? But they have to use their own legs at the same time. I’ve noticed that it’s like, I can only bring you so far, but when it comes to hiring, I’ve noticed in the past that that is actually kryptonite. Mine. If they’re already working for me, no big deal because they’re, they’re already within my team. They’re in my, my work family if you want to call it that. However, when I’m hiring, and this is why I don’t do hiring anymore like me, I’ve found somebody else to have a more objective point of view when it goes to other people actually to have a more objective point of view because I get caught up in everybody’s story.
And it’s because I know that I can help. I know that I can help almost everybody that comes through my door, but I also know now that I’m not supposed to, I know that it’s not my job to be compassionate and empathetic towards everybody that’s out there because those individuals, a lot of people need to start by having compassion and empathy for themselves. And I can start to identify that when they’re already working for me. But Mike, it’s great when they’re working for me because then I am compassionate and I am empathetic, but when it comes to hiring, it’s kryptonite for me. So mindful hiring is something you have to keep in mind. I hope you’ve learned something today because this was just an awesome time for me to be able to do this with you today. Hey, I really enjoyed this episode today because this was just absolutely amazing to go through these things. It really sparked a lot of my own thoughts, and I know that you’ve learned something today. I know that you can take this back and crush it for the rest of the year, Going ALL IN.