In The Bright Ideas Podcast, we interview inspiring entrepreneurs and business owners about their business growth strategies and success stories. This week is a bit different, as Trent will be hosting the show while interviewing himself!
As a serial entrepreneur, Trent has more than ten years of experience with eCommerce and digital marketing. He is the founder of The Bright Ideas Podcast and the CEO of Flowster. Trent has led multiple businesses to success, including a 7-figure eCommerce company. His goal is to provide fellow entrepreneurs with actionable business growth strategies they can immediately implement in their businesses.
In this episode, Trent discusses why instead of treating your business like a job, you should create a business machine that runs, grows, and makes money for you. He lays down the three critical parts you need to focus on in accomplishing this. Trent also highlights what business owners should and should not do to make the best use of their time as machine builders. Finally, he emphasizes the importance of creating a quarterly planning template in your business growth strategies.
Tune in to this episode to learn more about Trent’s foolproof business growth strategies!
Click here to read transcript
Trent Dyrsmid: Hey there, everybody. Welcome back to another episode of The Bright Ideas Podcast. As always, I am your host, Trent Dyrsmid. Here on the Bright Ideas radio show, my goal is very simple: to provide you with this bunch of actionable tactics and strategies that you can implement in your business literally right after listening to the episode. We normally do this as I interview other founders and I get them to share the stories of their success. However, today’s episode is a little different. It’s going to be a monologue with yours truly as both host and guest.
What we’re going to be talking about today is how and why you need to know how to build a business machine as opposed to just building a business that’s kind of like a job. As you listen to this episode, you will understand far more of what I mean by that. Before we get into the meat of the episode, I want to start with today’s quick tip. If this is your first time listening to this show, you may not have heard this before, but there’s a software company that I created called Flowster.
It is a process management platform that our customers use to be able to easily train new employees on all of the repetitive processes that are in their business, as well as delegate work to them on an ongoing basis. In Flowster, there’s this thing called the Marketplace, which is stuffed full of premade business process templates. If you haven’t checked it out, I would strongly encourage that you do because everybody loves to have a good template, but nobody wants to make one. That’s why we create so many templates that you can literally just add to your Flowster account with a few clicks of your mouse. All right, with that said, let’s dive into the meat of the episode.
The biggest mistake that I see so many entrepreneurs making is that they spend way too much time, way too much time working in their business, and not near enough time working on their business. So why does this happen? Well, first of all, as kids and as we go through the schooling system here in North America, or pretty much anywhere in the world, we’re predominantly conditioned to be employees. As an employee, the way to make more money is you work more time.
If you get paid hourly, you get overtime. If you’re in sales and you make more calls doing your job in that company, then you’ll make more money. But here’s the thing: your business, it’s not a job. It’s not supposed to be a job and if you treat it like a job, it’s not actually ever going to be a successful or valuable business. The key, the solution to this problem is to treat your business like a machine instead of a job and the machine has a job.
The machine’s job is to make everything happen so that cash and profits are produced while value is being delivered to customers. As the business owner, your job is to build the machine as opposed to spending all sorts of time working in your business. To build any machine, you need some parts, and the parts that you need, at a bare minimum to build your business machine, is you need standard operating procedures. In other words, highly detailed sets of instructions for all of your repetitive processes.
Now, the reason that you need those is you’re not going to be doing all of the work yourself. Instead, you’re going to take people and do the work. Now, people is part three. Part two is automations. Wherever possible, use software to automate recurring or repetitive processes. Use software where people would do labor that they really shouldn’t be doing because the more that you have people doing labor that software could do instead of those people, you’re going to be driving up your costs. Also, you’re going to be making more mistakes because people are not perfect and they make mistakes.
Part number two is automations, and then we’ve kind of already talked about part number three. Part number three is people. Now, these people are going to be the ones working in the business for you. They’re going to be following your standard operating procedures. They’re going to be trained by you to be a part of the machine whose job it is, is to produce profits and deliver value to your customers. Now, these people, if you’re just starting out, they might only be virtual assistants.
Many years ago, when I started out, that was my first hire: virtual assistants. And you can get a virtual assistant from onlinejobs.ph from the Philippines who will happily work for 100 bucks a week or less for full-time effort. These folks, they can be phenomenal additions to your machine if you give them the right processes combined with some coaching and some mentoring and some accountability.
All right, so now, the other thing that I see a lot of earlier stage entrepreneurs, and myself included, making this mistake, is they make decisions from the mindset of where their business is today as opposed to making decisions from where their business is going to be in the future, whether that be a quarter from now, although that’s likely too short, maybe more like three years from now. “Well, I want my business to be a 10 million dollar business in three years.”
Well, do you think it’s a good idea to make decisions as though you are a 10 million dollar CEO or a 1 million dollar CEO if you’re already at 1 million dollars? Well, obviously, the answer is that you’d be much better off to make your decisions as a 10 million dollar CEO so what does that mean? Well, what does a 10 million dollar CEO do? What does a 10 million dollar CEO think? I can guarantee you that a 10 million dollar CEO’s do list and thinking style is substantially different than someone who’s running 100,000 dollar a year startup marketing agency, for example. Vastly different mindsets.
Let me talk about some of the things that 100,000 dollar a year business owner might do that there’s no way a 10 million dollar CEO would do: customer service, dealing with customer service emails, copywriting, making cold calls, or doing email prospecting, doing all the social media posting. All of those things would never be done by a 10 million dollar CEO. If you want to grow your business to 10 million dollars, guess what? You probably shouldn’t be doing those things either. Instead, what you should be doing is creating standard operating procedures so that, because that’s part of the machine, so that you can hire employees or virtual assistants, also part of the machine, so that they can work in the business and get those things done for you.
All right, so the key here is to alter your mindset, and I’m speaking to myself just as much as I’m speaking to you guys because I’m not perfect either. I make mistakes and mistakes like this all the time. As a matter of fact, that’s why I’m making this video is you need to always think about what’s the highest and best use of my time as the builder of the machine, not the line worker who’s doing the do, and doing the thing, and digging the ditch, or whatever metaphor you would like to use.
Okay, so I have something that I want to give you that is going to be very, very valuable. I literally just developed it for myself as a result of watching an interview with James Wedmore on the BiggerPockets podcast. That was a fantastic interview and I’ll put a link to it underneath the video or somewhere around this thing so you can find it. What I developed, taking James’ advice, was a quarterly planning template. And a quarterly planning template is a fairly simple thing, a simple exercise that you should be doing in your business every single quarter.
First thing: set a goal. Would you go to an airport, when they say, “Hey, where do you want to go today, Trent?” Would you go, “Oh, I don’t know. Just send me anywhere”? No, nobody would do that. You always go to the airport with a destination in mind. Well, guess what? Your business is no different. If you are entering a new quarter, you better have a destination in mind, doing just as good as we can, or as best as we can, or what have you, isn’t going to cut it because it’s not going to drive the behaviors that are in any accountability that’s necessary to get to whatever destination you decide.
Thing number one is you got to have a revenue goal. Now, thing number two is you got to have an offer. Now, there are lots of people from different businesses watching this, what is an offer? Well, an offer is the thing you sell. But here’s the thing: there are a couple of different attributes that make some offers substantially better than others. Number one is the offer must solve a problem that a clearly defined set of customers cares very deeply about.
If a clearly defined set of customers was people stranded on an iceberg, then an offer they would care very deeply about is a life raft. Do you think you would have any difficulty selling seats on the life raft of people stranded on an iceberg? No, I don’t think you would. They would line up. Some businesses or many businesses, obviously, have recurring offers, products that they sell all the time and that might be your offer.
It might be your core product offer but there’s attribute number two: scarcity. In the case of the life raft example, “Oh, my life raft only has 25 seats, who wants them?” Guess what? They’re going to sell out pretty quickly so I would suggest to the best that you can, develop an offer for that quarter that has some element of scarcity. Maybe it’s just a deadline. It’s only available until, or we only have this many, and once they’re all sold out, it’s gone, and we’re not going to make it available again for six months.
Don’t make it available again next week because that’s really crappy. Scarcity, people. Like, “I will always wait till next week. No big deal.” There needs to be serious pain in missing the offer so take those two elements and then figure out for whatever your business is, what is a really great offer. Maybe it’s a special… If you’re a marketing agency, for example, you could come up with an SEO package as an offer or you could come up with a content repurposing package as an offer. Or if you produce podcasts, for example, for your clients, you could say, “Well, I’m going to do an offer for production of six podcast episodes.”
You get the idea. Come up with something, and then, that leads us to number three of the quarterly planning checklist, and that is you have to have a strategy for how you’re going to sell it. How you’re going to get the traffic? Is it going to be ads? Is it going to be partnerships? Is it going to be affiliates? Who’s going to be in charge of that? If it’s affiliates and you don’t have relationships yet, how are you going to build those relationships?
If it’s ads and you’ve never done any advertising before, you better be running some ad experiments beforehand, which I’ve talked about how I do my experiments on my Twitter profile and it’s actually pinned to the profile at the time of this recording. I would encourage that you check that out. It is a very smart way of doing experiments and getting really valuable data really quickly for not very much money.
Have a plan and in this SOP template, which I’m going to give you a link to here in just a minute, I’ve developed all this in the Flowster software so you have a place to stick all your notes for this. Now, of course, you could do this in a Word document if you have to, but the beauty of Flowster is it makes it very interactive for other people and Flowster will automatically run this workflow for you every three months so you don’t forget to do your planning before the quarter begins.
All right, so that said, how do you get to it? You go to flowster.app/quarterlyplanning. No spaces, no hyphens, no nothing, just flowster.app/quarterlyplanning. If you already have a Flowster account, this template is free to add to your account. If you don’t yet have a Flowster account, well, Flowster will ask you to sign up for a trial and you can get a free trial for seven days and if you don’t like it, then don’t keep going after seven days.
If you do like it, I would also encourage that you check out the Flowster Marketplace where we have hundreds and hundreds of other pre-made standard operating procedure templates for all sorts of things that would make your business more efficient, grow faster, and be more profitable.
All right, so thank you very much for tuning in. If you’re watching this video on YouTube, we’d love it if you’d leave me a comment, maybe smash the like button if you thought it was helpful. If you’d like to see more videos, go ahead and subscribe. If you’re watching this someplace else and there’s some way to interact or give feedback or ask a question or what have you, please do that because I thrive on receiving your questions so that I can help you to move forward as well as get ideas for additional content like this that I should be creating to be able to help you to achieve your business goals.
To get to the show notes for today’s episode, go to brightideas.co/377. If you found value in this episode and you think other people would find value in it, I would love it if you would take a moment right now on your favorite podcast listening app and go give us a like, a rating, and a review. If I may be so bold as to ask for five stars, I will. If you feel it’s worth it, I would love it if you would give us that rating. Thank you very much for tuning in. I look forward to seeing you back for another episode soon. Take care. Bye-bye.
Thanks very much for listening to The Bright Ideas Podcast. Check us out on the web at brightideas.co. All right, show’s over. I’m tired.
Trent’s Bright Ideas
- Don’t Treat Your Business Like a Job
- Set Standard Operating Procedures
- Automate Repetitive Processes
- Hire and Train People
- Make Decisions Based on Where the Business Will Be in the Future
- Create a Quarterly Planning Template for Your Business Growth Strategies
Don’t Treat Your Business Like a Job
Trent shares his take on the biggest mistake early-stage entrepreneurs make. Often, this is spending too much time working IN the business and instead of working ON the business. This is an important distinction.
The education system has conditioned us to be employees early on. And as we know, the way to make more money as an employee is to spend more time working. However, your business is not a job.
Trent shares, “It’s not supposed to be a job, and if you treat it like a job, it’s not actually ever going to be a successful or valuable business.”
The solution Trent offers for this is to treat the business like a machine with a job. And its job is to make everything happen, produce profits, and deliver value to customers. Meanwhile, as the business owner, your job is to build the machine.
Below are the three parts required in building your business machine:
- Standard operating procedures (SOPs)
- Software automation
Set Standard Operating Procedures
The bare minimum you need in building your business is to set standard operating procedures (SOPs). These SOPs are highly detailed sets of instructions for all your repetitive processes.
Remember: you won’t be doing all the work yourself; you have to hire people to do the work for you. And this is why having SOPs in place is crucial.
Automate Repetitive Processes
One of the key business growth strategies is to use software to automate repetitive processes wherever possible. Don’t delegate tasks to people that software could easily do. Otherwise, you will be driving up your costs. Moreover, software does not make mistakes, unlike people.
Hire and Train People
The people you hire are the ones who will work in the business for you and follow the SOPs you’ve set. Thus, you need to train them to be part of your business machine.
Trent suggests hiring virtual assistants or VAs if you’re just starting. For example, you can hire Philippine-based VAs from OnlineJobs.ph.
He says, “These folks, they can be phenomenal additions to your machine if you give them the right processes combined with some coaching and some mentoring and some accountability.”
Make Decisions Based on Where the Business Will Be in the Future
Another mistake Trent sees in many earlier-stage entrepreneurs is making decisions from where their business is today. Instead, entrepreneurs have to make decisions from where their business will be in the future.
If you want to have a $10 million business in three years, then make decisions like a $10 million CEO. “I can guarantee you that a $10 million CEO’s do list and thinking style is substantially different than someone who’s running a $100,000 a year startup marketing agency.”
Trent mentions things a $100,000 a year business owner might do that NO $10 million CEO would do, including:
- attending to customer service
- cold calling
- email prospecting
- social media posting
If you want to grow your business to $10 million, you should focus on creating SOPs. Having SOPs in place allows you to efficiently hire employees that will get these things done for you.
The key is to alter your mindset. Remember: “You need to always think about: ‘What’s the highest and best use of my time as the builder of the machine?’”
Create a Quarterly Planning Template for Your Business Growth Strategies
Trent developed a quarterly planning template for himself after watching James Wedmore’s interview from BiggerPockets Podcast. It is a simple exercise you can and should do for your business every single quarter.
Here are the three checklists in creating a quarterly planning template:
- Set a revenue goal.
“You always go to the airport with a destination in mind. Well, guess what? Your business is no different.” You have to have a destination in mind as you enter a new quarter. Doing as best you can with what you have will not drive your business forward.
- Have an offer.
Your offer is the thing that you will be selling. Trent says, “There are a couple of different attributes that make some offers substantially better than others.” The two things you need to keep in mind for your offers are:
- It must solve a specific pain point for a clearly defined set of customers.
- It must have an element of scarcity, like a deadline or limited availability. Trent emphasizes, “There needs to be serious pain in missing the offer.”
- Come up with a strategy for how to sell the offer.
Try to experiment beforehand. Some ideas to get traffic are:
To accomplish this checklist, you can get your quarterly planning template from Flowster. While you can simply plan in a Word document, Flowster makes the planning process more interactive. It will automatically run the workflow for you every three months, so you don’t forget to plan before every quarter.
The template is free for existing Flowster accounts. If you don’t have an account yet, you can sign up for a free trial for seven days. Flowster Marketplace also has hundreds of available pre-made SOP templates you can use for your business growth strategies.
What Did We Learn from This Episode?
- We learned the biggest mistakes early-stage entrepreneurs make and how to resolve them.
- Work ON your business, not IN your business. Treat your business as a machine.
- Automating processes and training people based on SOPs are key business growth strategies.
- Alter your mindset to make the highest use of your time as the builder of the business machine.
- Use a quarterly planning template to get to the business destination you have in mind every quarter.
[03:06] — The biggest mistake entrepreneurs make
- Entrepreneurs spend way too much time working in their business instead of working on it.
- Your business will not be successful if you treat it like a job. Instead, treat it like a machine.
- You need three parts to build your machine.
[04:44] — Part one: The importance of standard operating procedures (SOPs)
- Building a business machine requires establishing standard operating procedures (SOP).
- SOPs are highly detailed sets of instructions for the business’s repetitive processes.
- These are crucial because you’re not going to do all the work yourself; you need people who will follow them.
[05:06] — Part two: Why automate in business?
- Using software to automate recurring or repetitive processes is one of the key business growth strategies.
- Delegate tasks a software could do. If you don’t, you run the risk of driving up costs.
- Unlike software, people make mistakes.
[05:36] — Part three: Training people to be part of the business machine
- The people you hire will be the ones following your SOP. You need to train them to be part of the business machine.
- Virtual assistants can be excellent additions to the business if given the right processes, coaching, mentoring, and accountability.
[06:42] — Why entrepreneurs should not make decisions based on where the business is today
- Many earlier stage entrepreneurs make the mistake of making decisions based on where the business currently is.
- Make decisions with the mindset of where your business will be in the future.
- Create an SOP so that you can hire VAs that will get those things done for you.
- Always think about how you can make the best use of your time as a machine builder.
[09:31] — Business growth strategies: develop a quarterly planning template
- First, set a revenue goal.
- Second, have an offer. It should solve a customer problem and have an element of scarcity.
- Third, come up with a strategy for how you will sell your offer.
Trent Dyrsmid is a serial entrepreneur, husband, and father. He is the founder of BrightIdeas.co, Flowster.app and a 7 figure eCommerce business. With almost 10 years of experience with digital marketing and eCommerce, Trent eagerly shares his knowledge with others. Profit Magazine named Trent’s first company as one of Canada’s PROFIT 100 fastest growing companies for two years in a row before he sold it in 2008. Business in Vancouver magazine named Trent a Top 40 Under 40 Entrepreneur. Trent’s current company ranked 254 on the 2019 Inc 5000 list and 622 on the 2020 Inc 5000 list of America’s of the Most Successful Private Companies.