Zander Fryer: From a Corporate Dropout to “The Next Generation Leader”

Zander Fryer

”If I can get to 1% of the world, then I truly believe I can help 1% of the world live more purposefully and more from a place of growth and love and less from fear, we might actually solve all of this world’s problems.”

 

Zander Fryer is a best-selling author and internationally renowned speaker who quit his successful corporate career at 27 to launch his company High Impact Coaching. He is a passionate individual, with the goal to inspire and empower entrepreneurs with the skills and tools to build impactful businesses and pursue their true purpose in life. His training today serves more than 50,000 people in 22 countries and more than 600 organizations around the world.

I had a conversation with Zander to learn more about his coaching career, his podcast, current business strategy and profit, and how he aims to reach 1% of the world’s population through his company.

Sh*t You Don’t Learn in College

Zander launched his podcast titled Sh*t You Don’t Learn in College in April 2021 and a book followed shortly in October. The impetus behind it is to bring a lot more value to a lot of people. Over the course of his 5 years as a success coach mentoring entrepreneurs to become six-figure and seven-figure business owners, he realized that there’s a lack of availability for this information and had to find some avenues that would get this information out there. “I think the lack of availability of good information is what causes some of the biggest discrepancies in our socioeconomic world.“

He believes that when the right knowledge and desire come together, anything can happen. But most of us only ever get one or two pieces to this puzzle before being told “no.” The SYDLIC podcast is a goldmine for those who want to live richer, more fulfilling lives. The interviews from world-class professionals in business, finance, sports, health, and entertainment bring knowledge to help guide you to live a life with more money, freedom, and meaning in life.

The best thing? It’s completely non-profit. Not only can you get access to a lot of information at a much lower cost, but every dime that comes in profit from both the book and the podcast goes back to feed children in Kenya and an organization called Shelter To Soldier, where they take shelter dogs to train them to serve as psychiatric dogs for veterans diagnosed with PTSD. This is in honor of Zander’s best friend, a Marine veteran, who committed suicide four years ago after suffering from PTSD.

Impacting 1% of the world’s population

“The big mission behind what I’m doing, both in our High Impact Teaching company and the Sh*t You Don’t Learn In College is my goal is to help 1% of this world live their lives from more of a place of purpose and love and less from a place of fear.”

Zander hopes to relay the message to 1% of this world’s population. Even though 1% doesn’t sound like much, if you take into account the world’s 7 billion people, you can reach 70 million people.

And so we learn early: giving is a powerful path to personal growth and lasting happiness. Like Zander, our passion should be the foundation for our giving; it’s not how much we give, but with love put into what we do give that really matters. We owe it to ourselves to share our experiences, wisdom, and talent with others. In this process of helping, sharing, loving, and connecting with one another, we discover that even though on the surface we might all look very different, at the core level we are all the same.

Radical Candor

It can be a bit worrying to have an employee who is not meeting goals and expectations. Confrontation is necessary, but it doesn’t have to feel agonizing for either of you in the process. Zander shared that one of the things they focus on in their organization is radical candor. In a nutshell, radical candor means challenging directly and showing that you care personally at the same time. At its core, it is guidance and feedback that’s both kind and clear, specific and sincere.

“Anybody in any seat in the organization can have any form of open and honest conversation with anybody else. And that takes a special type of person to be able to sit there and listen and take harsh feedback.” For Zander’s company to grow and scale, they place great importance on radical honesty and very direct conversations. Radical candor focuses on delivering tough feedback without the intent of hurting the person. This type of approach also seeks opportunities for improvement, so the person isn’t always left in tears after a confrontation with one another about how things could be improved or fixed.

To develop behavioral trust and feedback habits, begin first by getting feedback from others. Create an example that accepts and provides constructive feedback. Next, give feedback and measure feedback by challenging directly and showing that you care personally. Finally, encourage feedback to create a real process that allows team members to share their feedback comfortably with each other. Ultimately, to maximize the impact of radical candor, own the term and ensure that everyone in the organization had a voice.

Celebrating big and little wins

Goals are the fuel that powers success. They help us become better versions of ourselves and give our lives meaning as we pursue them with all that we have got. The key to success is to realize that our big goals are not going to happen overnight or in an instant. It’s easy to get discouraged when we focus on the things that seem impossible.

Sometimes, appreciation can be neglected in life and we often forget what we have done and what we have. Zander understands the importance of recognizing our little achievements. The small and significant steps we take to get to our end goals can mean the difference between failure and success. “We’re constantly appreciating tiny little things. We appreciate, and we celebrate, but we always look forward to the hard times,”  Each time that we accomplish something, big or small, in the pursuit of our goals, it builds momentum for us and gives hope for future endeavors.

Growth is never easy

“if you want growth, you’re going to go through uncomfortable, difficult times, because if you wanted it easy, you’re never going to grow.”

 

Growth is painful. Change is painful. Pain is an essential part of the process. It’s supposed to show you your strength and help you grow. Personal growth is difficult because it requires you to make a major shift in your life in terms of attitudes, behaviors, relationships, and values. The pain you experience from these changes in your life is necessary.

Zander believes, “Nobody likes the tough times at first. But if you start to realize what comes after the tough times, you can actually like the tough times and you can actually look forward to them.” Thus, if we remind ourselves that this discomfort is only temporary, we can reflect on the progress that we have made.

Catch my full conversation with Zander in the Fascinating Entrepreneurs podcast!

Transcript from Podcast

[00:00:00] Zander: For our organization to continue to grow and scale, we really value radical honesty and just very straightforward conversations in a way that people have to be open to the idea that it’s nothing personal. This is just facts. This is data. This is what’s going on. And once we get real on the data what’s really going on, then we can work on a solution.

[00:00:19] Natasha: Welcome to FASCINATING ENTREPRENEURS. How do people end up becoming an entrepreneur? How do they scale and grow their businesses? How do they plan for profit? Are they in it for life? Are they building to exit? These and a myriad of other topics will be discussed to pull back the veil on the wizardry of successful and FASCINATING ENTREPRENEURS.

Hey, can you tell me a favor? While you’re listening to this podcast. Can you open a web browser and type in officialnatashamiller.com. Yes, this is my brand new website that I built for you, entrepreneurs that want to scale and grow their businesses. It’s packed full of information articles, blog posts, podcasts, and also you can download the Free Profit Finder guide that helps you find more profit in your current business.

You can get on the waitlist for my digital course and be the first to know when my book Relentless is up for pre-sale.

Today, I talked to Zander Fryer, a very successful young entrepreneur, making his mark in the coaching industry. We talk about his approach to profit, how he’s supporting veterans and his current business challenges among other things. Now let’s get right into it.

[00:01:44] Zander: Number one thing that I love the most, I would probably say getting to coach and lead my team.

That was an air force ROTC in college and getting to lead. Other leaders was something I’ve always been passionate about. And it’s why I became a coach to begin with. That’s why I got into the coaching space. So obviously first started out like coaching people then started coaching other coaches. And now I get to coach the leaders within my organization that now go coach other coaches and other leaders.

It’s been this like every time I get to Uplevel and coach and lead, cool, cool people.

[00:02:14] Natasha: That leads me to a next question that I’ll ask you later, but how many full-time employees do you have and how do you keep them engaged, happy, and productive.

[00:02:26] Zander: That’s a great question. We have 20? 19? or 20 right now. We’re bringing on a couple of more, so it’ll be over the 20 mark. How do we keep them engaged, productive, and happy? A combination of different things. I think like the first thing that comes to mind for me is my goal as a CEO, as a visionary, as a business owner, is to have my vision encompass the vision of everybody else’s right. I want to make sure that I’m creating a culture and a community that is helping everybody within my organization accomplish their dreams, not just career dreams and business dreams, but life dreams. So that’s a big and important piece for me. And essentially the way that I do that is whenever I come up with a role or whenever I come up with that position that we need to fill the three questions. I always ask myself when we’re filling that and we’re interviewing candidates and things like that. It always starts with that point is you want to find that right person and get them to sit on the right seat on the bus. A Jim Collins would say, number one, I asked myself if I believe this person can do the job? Then I asked myself if they we’ll do the job? And then I asked myself, do they actually want to do the job? Is this their dream job? Is this something that they will wholeheartedly put all of their heart and soul into to actually make it happen? And that third one is actually the most important question, because I could hire someone that actually can’t do the job right now and won’t do the job right now.

But if they really want to, I could teach them how. So that’s probably one of the most important things for me is really making sure that whatever we do as an organization, the people that we find to fill those seats, there’s a ton of alignment. And when you have that and you have, there’s all the other things that good cadence, open communication, all of those things.

But when you have that stuff, you end up with a team that doesn’t need to be managed or led because they are self motivated.

[00:04:09] Natasha: I am a hundred percent with you on that. I have that too. Finally, do you use anything like US traction or Scaling Up as a –

[00:04:18] Zander: I’m a big fan Scaling Up? I don’t know why we’ve implemented EOS for a little bit.

And then for whatever reason, Vern just gets me. Scaling Up the direction we’re on.

[00:04:28] Natasha: Vern is awesome. I’m going to see him next week. So where are you taking this business in revenue? Like long-term?

[00:04:36] Zander: Longterm, it’s so funny because when I first got into the coaching space, it was so hard for me to see longterm because coming out of the corporate world, everybody talks about oh, you got to have your 10 and 15 and 30 year visions.

And I’m like, guys, I don’t even know what is possible right now. Why don’t I get my feet under myself a little bit first. So when I first started my business, it was so funny because as a coach, I was like, I just want to make six figures, and then I ended up getting to a six figure mark in about three months.

Okay. Maybe I’m setting myself a little bit short and then we got to like the seven figure mark in about 12 months. And so for me right now, I can concretely see how we’ll get to about the 12 million revenue mark within the next two years or so. Seeing beyond that, I still have trouble actually doing, because I don’t know exactly where I could go.

I would personally love to take this business to 50, to 100 million doing exactly what we’re doing right now. It’s probably going to have to change a bit, but that’s about as far as I can see.

[00:05:33] Natasha: That makes sense to me, why you would be attracted to Vern and scaling up versus EOS traction, which is amazing as well, but with your vision and where you’re going, it makes more sense.

So the podcast, The Sh*t You Don’t Learn In College, which I love you started it, it looks like in March of 2021, is that right?

[00:05:53] Zander: Not long ago, April 1st was when we launched. Yeah.

[00:05:55] Natasha: So I want to know the following. I’m going to give you all the questions and then you can just give me all the answers. How are you using it? Is it a funnel to your services to buy your book? Are you banking on sponsorships? What is it? What’s your plan?

[00:06:10] Zander: Yeah, so right now, the podcast in itself, the podcast and the book are completely non-profit. So we have our The Sh*t You Don’t Learn In College podcast and we’re actually launching the book in two weeks actually,

really my goal there was to just bring a lot more value to a lot more people, any revenue that we bring in from the whole The Sh*t You Don’t Learn In College brand actually goes back to feeding children in Kenya and an organization here in San Diego called Shelter To Soldier, where basically they take shelter dogs, and they train them to be psychiatric service dogs for veterans with PTSD,

so they’re saving two lives at the time.

[00:06:44] Natasha: I’m all for that. That’s amazing. Let’s just pause there for a moment. Of course, what an incredible initiative. And it’s really nice. So we’ll make sure that’s on the show notes, keep going.

[00:06:58] Zander: I appreciate that, so just so you’re aware my best friend committed suicide after suffering from PTSD. About 10 and a half years, he committed suicide about four years ago.

And he was a Marine veteran and so ever since then we’ve been supporting that organization. So every dime that comes in profit wise from both the podcast and the book goes to that. So really to your question, what are we using? The Sh*t You Don’t Learn In College for a, it’s actually not business at all. It was that non-profit of I’ve learned so much in my

life over the last five years of becoming an entrepreneur coaching, hundreds of other entrepreneurs to become six figure and seven figure business owners. And I had to find some avenues to get it out to more people that did not have access to this information. I think the lack of availability of good information.

Is what causes some of the biggest discrepancies in our socioeconomic world. And so there’s a lot of people that can afford to work with me directly. And when they can afford to work with me directly, I’m going to take them to the moon. But there’s a lot of people that can’t afford to work with me directly.

So how do I go create an impact with all of them? And that’s really what the podcast, so people can listen to it for free and the book people can buy it for 20 bucks or whatever. Like they can get access to a lot of this information in a much more cost effective way.

[00:08:12] Natasha: I asked this because you’re a very vibrant, very well spoken, thoughtful person. And you’re also a business person and you’re going to go into business to not make money, but I’ve just realized that podcasts are named John Lee Dumas is publishing his profit and loss for his podcast online, which you’ve

He’s

[00:08:31] Zander: been doing that for a while.

[00:08:33] Natasha: 2013. Yeah, he’ll be on the show soon, but so I’m looking at the various reasons people do podcasts. So another question about the podcast, how are you marketing? And what is your subscriber goal? Now? You just related that it really pushes toward nonprofit and you want it to be a nonprofit entity, but you’ve also noted that it’s in like the top 20. So you are not thinking.

[00:08:58] Zander: Yeah, not thinking small here,

[00:09:01] Natasha: so give it to us all the stuff. What are you doing?

[00:09:04] Zander: The big thing was The Sh*t You Don’t Learn In College. The big mission behind what I’m doing, both in our high impact coaching company and The Sh*t You Don’t Learn In College is my goal is to help 1% of this world live their lives from more of a place of purpose and love and less from a place of fear.

That’s it. If I can get to 1% of the world, then I truly believe I can help 1% of the world live more purposefully and more from a place of growth and love and less from fear, we might actually solve all of this world’s problems, right? 1% doesn’t sound like a lot until you factor in, 7 billion people in the world and you got to get to 70 million people.

So you’re asking my goal from a subscriber standpoint. Subscribers is one thing, but we want to get to at least 70 million downloads. We want to get to the point where 1% of this world’s population has actually been touched by the word, the message that we’re putting out there. So how we’re marketing it, how we’re growing it right now, we’re growing it by word of mouth.

All the network and all the influencers that I’ve connected with over my last five years as an entrepreneur. And then we’re starting to put some financial dollars behind it. We’re going to start doing some advertising so that the money coming in is going right back into pushing it to more people.

Again, the goal there not to cause I make enough money with high impact coaching. I don’t know.

[00:10:19] Natasha: What kind of advertising like on podcast players or?

[00:10:24] Zander: Podcast players, Facebook ads. One of the things that we’re looking at in the near future, I don’t know if you were aware of this, but, and I’m still not sure exactly what’s going on, but Facebook getting into the podcast space.

[00:10:35] Natasha: They got to have their hands

into everything.

[00:10:38] Zander: Yeah. So I think personally, I think that is actually going to be really big for podcasters. I think the podcasting industry itself is relatively small compared to where it will be. Cause it just, it grows slower. But it has steadily grown year, after year.

And it’s much harder for a podcaster to become successful because they have to be so consistent for so long. You mentioned JLD right. He’s been doing a daily show for 11 straight years or something like that. Like it’s no wonder he’s got the place that he’s, that is because when you do it, that consistently for that long.

[00:11:07] Natasha: Yeah he is hammering it.

[00:11:08] Zander: You’re going to be great, right? Yeah. So for me, I personally think that Facebook getting into the industry while it may shake things up a bit, I think it’s going to provide a great opportunity to open up the world of podcasting to a lot more people. There’s something like 2 billion Facebook users, right?

2 billion people use Facebook. Whereas I think there’s only something like 400 million regular podcast listeners on a monthly basis. Now you’re opening up podcasts to a market that is five times the size and on top of, there’s going to be opportunities for people like us that are not like media companies, whole wide media companies to actually start advertising and growing our scale podcasting wise a lot easier.

So I think that’ll actually be really helpful. Cool.

[00:11:49] Natasha: And back to your impact for 1% of the world’s population, how are you measuring that? How are you going to keep that on the forefront. How are you going to prove that to yourself, to your team, to your follow-up?

[00:12:04] Zander: I think the first step that we’re shooting for is 70 million in terms of downloads or book buys or anything like that.

And I think that’s the first step. So 70 million is our goal from a download perspective. So it’s not going to happen this year. Now it’s going to happen next year. Now it’s gonna take some work. But our initial perspective is can we get directly, our word, our message into the hands that years, the eyes of 70 million people.

Now what’s really interesting is specifically at high-impact coaching. There’s a whole slew of unmeasurable impact that we have as well for every coach that we work with, every coach that we help get to six figures in the course of their career, how many people did they then go touch in the books that we teach?

And when they go help people, how many people do they then go help?

[00:12:54] Natasha: You can count on your numbers, but how are they really going?

[00:12:56] Zander: Exactly. So we know that on average, One of our clients who make six figures, we’ll work with, maybe 50 to a hundred clients over the course of a year. If we have a thousand of those we’re already at a hundred thousand just directly from that for the year.

And if we can continue to do that, we start to scale much faster

[00:13:14] Natasha: Okay, so I’ve got you warmed up. I’m going to ask the question that a lot of people may or may not be comfortable answering.

[00:13:21] Zander: Sure.

[00:13:22] Natasha: and I’m going to make it easy for you. So how do you define your metrics for profits in your coaching of coaches business and what is your net profit goal?

You can say it in a percentage or if you’re super brave, you can use a number.

[00:13:38] Zander: So our metrics for profit or how we measure profit is, I’m not a financial advisers, or I won’t be able to get the exact details of the verbiage, correct. But basically revenue minus all of our operational expenses, including, and I think this is where a lot of people mess this up is including my salary.

So I do not include my salary and. The profit of the business. I think that’s a big mistake that a lot of business owners make is they include their salary as part of profit. And it’s not right. I always think of my business as okay. If I were to hire out myself, if I were to hire somebody into my role, that’s what you’re actually looking at from a profit perspective.

Our goal right now from a profitability standpoint is between 20% and 25% or this is terrible because I should know this number. We’re somewhere around three and a half to 4 million revenue right now. So whatever 20 to 25% of three and a half to 4 million is, and that somebody can calculate that and let us know.

[00:14:30] Natasha: Awesome. Thank you for answering the question. Now, if you’re doing US Traction or Scaling Up, or even if you’re not. Hopefully you’ve broken down the goals and there’s metrics and KPIs and meeting those goals of course is cause for celebration. And it’s not that it’s easy to compensate people with time rewards or money, but you can figure that out.

But what do you do when you don’t have someone that is meeting their goals?

[00:14:59] Zander: You have a real conversation with them. I think one of the things, and this kind of comes back to the importance of number one, having the right people on the right seat on the bus, but also having the right culture and the right energy.

One of the things that we really focus on in our organization is two things, something, number one, we call radical candor, so anybody in any seat in the organization can have any form of open and honest conversation with anybody else. And that takes a special type of person to be able to sit there and listen and take harsh feedback.

But the more that you do it, and this is how we find out, like there’s a lot of people that are not good for our bus, because we are so open and honest that some people, it just rubs them the wrong way to hear harsh truth, but for our organization to continue to grow and scale, we really value radical honesty and just very straightforward conversations in a way that.

People have to be open to the idea that it’s nothing personal. This is just facts. This is data. This is what’s going on. And once we get real on the data, what’s really going on, then we can work on a solution. So that brings me to number two, one of our cultural values that we really focus on is celebrating and appreciating big wins or little wins even, we do it on a daily basis. In our meetings, we celebrate and appreciate little winds. We have something called shout outs every day. Everybody gives a shadow to somebody else on the other team for something they did. So we’re constantly appreciating tiny little. So we appreciate and we celebrate, but we always look forward to the hard times too.

And I think that’s something that is missed, right? It’s every single organization is going to go through hard times. What do you psychologically tie yourself to during these hard times? Are you saying that the business is going under? Or are you saying that this is a bad thing? The reality is and we all know this as people, right?

If you want to build a muscle, what do you have to do? You have to put the muscle under tension. You have to stress it to grow. Like growth hurts. Growth is painful, but we all want to be part of a growing business, but none of us want to go through the growing pains. This is the stupidest shit I’ve ever heard.

Sorry. I’m not sure if I’m allowed to say that, but we’re saying, oh yeah, absolutely. All right. But yeah so we want the growth, but we don’t want the growing pains. So really helping everybody understand that if you want growth, you’re going to go through uncomfortable, difficult times, because if you want it easy, you’re never going to grow. So when the entire team is on board with this principle of growth and discomfort and having an uncomfortable conversation and embracing tough times, you start to realize oh, that’s actually the fun part is like digging in and figuring out these problems to get to that next level.

[00:17:28] Natasha: Okay. So you said you look forward to those tough times. I’m wondering if you really mean you embrace them or do you really mean?

[00:17:37] Zander: Yeah, that’s the thing. So people want to embrace them. And here’s the truth. Nobody likes the tough times at first, but if you start to realize what comes after the tough times, you can actually like the tough times you can actually look forward to them.

I truly look forward to the moment that we go, oh, We’re stuck here at first. It sucks, you’re like, oh man. But then you go wait, this is a good thing. We found the ceiling, we found the sticking point. Now let’s go figure out what gets us pass this thinking.

[00:18:06] Natasha: I wonder if my team, when I say to them, because I’ve been in business for 20 years, we’ll go through a tough situation.

Somebody is “oh my God, I’m so sorry.” Or whatever it is. And then I’m like, We learned from it. We’re going to move on. This was a learning teachable moment and I’m sure they’re like, “oh my God, seriously, how many of those can we do?” The truth is, it does catapult you forward. It’s just very uncomfortable.

Which brilliantly brings me to my next question is right now, today, what are you as a CEO working on that’s a challenge that’s kinda rubbing?

[00:18:42] Zander: I’ll tell you right now, our biggest thing right now is scaling our, and we in the middle of solving this section being solved as we speak, but scaling our sales team.

So that’s been the biggest thing for us and that’s been the biggest with that. She just figured it out. So I’ll let you know, as of this month, we’re busting through that sticking point.

[00:19:02] Natasha: Are you looking for inbound sales people, which we consider farmers? Are you looking for outbound hunters or?

[00:19:10] Zander: Right now we’re looking for inbound sales people. We’ve got plenty of leads, we’ve got a phenomenal system. So we just made a couple of changes. That really opened that up for us. So right now we’re actually literally just bringing people on. So that would be –

[00:19:24] Natasha: I’d like to know more about like how you’re going to train them on that. I’ll tell you why. I have had conversations with a staff of incredible coaches, incredible opportunities.

And there are so less than to the point where I’m like, oh my God, I really need to call the CEO and let them know about my experience because that is not how it should be translated. And some really big organizations, like huge organizations, big names, first of all, they’re not getting trained very well, clearly. Yeah, so do you have a system for that?

[00:19:59] Zander: I think that’s one of the problems is once you get into that bigger organization, right? It’s like, how do you actually make sure that everybody’s getting trained for when you’re my size, when you’ve got a sales team of four, five, it’s not that difficult. When you’ve got sales teams of dozens or hundreds, that’s a whole different story, for us, it’s pretty straightforward simply because our organization actually does sales training. So we do a lot of sales training for, obviously we teach coaches how to do sales. I’ve taught a lot of different organizations how to do sales. So for us, it’s pretty easy to train them and it’s been a bigger issue of finding the right people that can do it and are willing to do it. And we’ve shifted that a little bit and made that happen but the training –

[00:20:37] Natasha: is the shortage of labor, right?

[00:20:40] Zander: Absolutely.

[00:20:42] Natasha: Not having the skills to, I talked about this recently with someone not having the skills, to know how to write a great job description with not only the duties, but what the outcomes are, and then not having a templated way of interviewing like a scorecard that really

[00:21:01] Zander: Yeah, like being able to quantitatively actually take someone through that process. So that it’s templatized. Yeah.

[00:21:06] Natasha: That’s a lot. I think I wanted to ask you this earlier, but do you have a human resources department? Usually companies don’t have one until about 150 people.

[00:21:15] Zander: Yeah. We’ve done a little bit of like HR outsourcing to companies like Bambi and ADP works with us. My wife does a lot of the HR handling, so we don’t have an official HR organization yet.

Too soon for us, but definitely something that we do fractionally if you will.

[00:21:32] Natasha: And the last question I wanted to ask you is have you been thinking about what your exit plan might be from this endeavor?

[00:21:40] Zander: It’s a great question and a question that I have personally struggled with for probably since I started the business, right? Because as a coach, the business is your baby, right? It is my passion. It is my dream. So there’s two minds that I always have about this. Number one, I always want to build my company to sell. So that is how I am building the. But number two is why kill the golden goose. So the way that things stand right now, if I were able to sell my company, let’s say it was like a 10 X multiplier. If I were able to sell my company for a 10 X multiplier, I would. And the reason why is people ask me that they’re like why?

And I’m like because what would I do afterwards? I’d probably just go build it again.

[00:22:21] Natasha: Zander just walked us through his podcast, marketing monetization plan, coaching coaches, and his exit plan. For more information about Zander, please go to the show notes where you’re listening to this podcast.

Want to know more about me, go to my website, officialnatashamiller.com. Thank you so much for listening. I hope you loved the show. If you did, please subscribe also, if you haven’t done so yet, please leave a review where you’re listening to this podcast now. I’m Natasha Miller and you’ve been listening to FASCINATING ENTREPRENEURS.

Will Curran: How Endless Events Pivoted Through the Pandemic

Will Curran, founder of Endless Events, has been named one of the top event influencers by every publication in the industry. For the last seven years, he has written trends of the most popular events guide. Will not only speaks and publishes on event tips, tricks, and trends but also actively creates events around the world every day for his award-winning New York City-based event company, Endless Events.

Will has a diverse background in taking events and businesses to the next level, ranging from event logistics to business development to technical production. As the “Einsteins” of events, his team’s mission is to simplify the event planning process by taking simple variables that may look normal at first and combining them together with their core values to create an equation for a truly remarkable event.

Endless Events’ growth during the pandemic

Endless Events has seen tremendous growth when the COVID-19 pandemic hit after transforming from a traditional event production company to a virtual event production company. “The pandemic was so beneficial for us. We ended up seeing probably our largest growth in a single year,” Will shared that the company grew by 200% last year.

Prior to the pandemic, virtual events occupied 1% of the market, but now they make up 100% of the market. Now we can see a huge explosion of hybrid events, which is the combination of in-personal events and virtual events, to create a great attendee experience. 

Will’s company, being one of the first companies to pivot to virtual, has been approached by clients who needed help in developing strategies for running virtual events. It was a great transition, from executing and designing events to becoming the people in the frontline and discussing event strategies with the executives.

Will’s podcasts

Will is currently the host of three podcasts, namely: #EventIcons, Event Tech, and Event Brew.

Starting in December 2015 and with over 100 episodes, #EventIcons is one of the longest-running podcasts in the event industry. Weekly, they interview icons and celebrities in the industry and give the audience the opportunity to ask questions they want. On the other hand, the Event Tech Podcast, a show Will co-hosts with Brandt Kluger, focuses on the latest and most innovative event technology trends. Lastly, Event Brew provides in-depth insights into what event experts think about the latest news, most controversial and interesting topics, and the biggest issues facing the industry right now. Will is joined by fellow professionals Nick Borelli, Dustin Westling, and Thuy Diep.

Inbound marketing strategies

In essence, inbound marketing is a strategy that attracts potential attendees to come to your website organically. It encourages the creation of content that helps draw in, engage, and excite visitors to grow a business that creates value and builds trust.

Will revealed that inbound marketing funnels their entire business. Endless Events’ vast content base is designed to push people to the website, digest the blog posts, get an ebook, get on a webinar, and convert that funnel. “The simple strategy for us in marketing is get them to the website, get them to download the content and it’ll work itself out.”

As a service-based company, working with Endless Events is all about experience and can only be conveyed through testimonials. Video has been very effective in sharing that experience online so that people can see it for themselves. Producing video content brings tremendous value to people because they can then learn a lot, change their mindset and learn new skills from it.

On helping his people be on track

How does Will make sure his team is putting forth their best effort and keeping growth on track? Aside from doing monthly town halls to report where they’re at, Will divulged that they are using Lattice, a cloud-based performance management solution for people leaders to build engaged, high-performing teams. “We really like it because it allows people to set those goals and then have them link them to apparent rock. So basically you can create company rocks or AKA like quarterly initiatives and then goals, and then link it to a department goal.”

There could be employees who are consistently achieving their rocks but might not really be setting big enough rocks for them. So Will tries to develop a culture where it is okay to fail. He hopes to encourage his people to set ambitious rocks, fail them at least the first time, and share what they’ve learned from it. “The first thing I do is try to foster that ability for people to know that they can fail and go after big things.”

In the event that an employee is not able to get back on track after failing a rock, Will makes sure to have a performance improvement plan in place. First and foremost, communication is of paramount importance to any business, and he believes having one-on-one conversations is a great chance to communicate your goals, motivate them, and ultimately, build trust among your team.

Learn more about my whole conversation with Will in the Fascinating Entrepreneurs podcast!

Transcript from Podcast

[00:00:00] Will: I definitely tried to create a foster, a culture of you can fail, right? Like I want people to actually set ambitious rocks, fail at them at least the first time. And then say what they learned. I think somebody who is consistently achieving their rocks might not be setting a big enough rock for them at that point.

[00:00:14] Natasha: Welcome to FASCINATING ENTREPRENEURS. How do people end up becoming an entrepreneur? How do they scale and grow their businesses? How do they plan for profit? Are they in it for life? Are they building to exit these and a myriad of other topics will be discussed to pull back the veil on the wizardry of successful and FASCINATING ENTREPRENEURS.

Hey, can you tell me a favor? You’re listening to this podcast. Can you open a web browser and type in officialnatashamiller.com. Yes, this is my brand new website that I built for you, entrepreneurs that want to scale and grow their businesses. It’s packed full of information articles, blog posts, podcasts, and also you can download the free Profit Finder Guide that helps you find more profit in your current business.

You can get on the wait list for my digital course and be the first to know when my book Relentless is up for pre-sale. Today we talked to Will Curran who owns a completely remote workforce, audio visual company called Endless Events. He talks about how his business grew during the pandemic, how he uses inbound marketing SEO lead generation tool and how he communicates his sales goals with his team. Now let’s get right into it.

[00:01:40] Will: I try not to count like the number of specific events that we do, because sometimes like I’m a fan of bigger events with less than lots of little stuff. I think we ended up doing, I know definitely October was absolutely nuts, but let me see real quick. See if I can count.

[00:01:56] Natasha: We did 200,

[00:01:57] Will: So many.

Oh my gosh. I definitely don’t want it to.

Let me try to see, I’m just counting real quick. I’m looking through like our HubSpot and all the numbers. Like a hundred.

[00:02:08] Natasha: Okay.

That’s good. That’s good. Oh my gosh. Yeah. So how did the pandemic affect your business for the better?

[00:02:17] Will: Oh, definitely. The pandemic was so beneficial for us. We ended up seeing probably our largest growth in a single year, over year.

I think like everybody, anybody who was doing in person events that were all like solidified based wiped out, but then we had so many new clients and clients who decide to switch to virtual come over that we actually ended up doing. I think like we grew by basically 200% last year. So huge.

We have so many staff members or teams so much bigger now. I think it also forced us to grow and change as a company into like almost a whole new company, almost like Endless 4.0, I guess you would say.

[00:02:50] Natasha: So you’re totally remote. You’re distributed. How many full-time employees do you have today, approximately?

[00:02:56] Will: Almost a 50. I think we’re at like 42 and we have like positions open for 12 people. So probably be at like 50 by the end of the year. Yeah.

{00:03:04] Natasha: How is sourcing and qualifying new talent?

[00:03:07] Will: Oh, my gosh. So that’s probably one of the most interesting challenges that I think people have within business right now.

Is that in the events industry, I think there’s a mix of we’re feeling what everybody’s feeling in terms of like general labor shortage, the feelings of the unemployment, benefits coming to an end. And also some people being like do I want to go back to the events and street? But I think one of the most interesting things I’m seeing in this

stuff I’ll add to it is that sales roles right now, I think are really hard to fill. I think that what I think like ops roles still pretty decent difficult fill. I think marketing role is still pretty decent but like sales roles, like everybody came back and anybody was left in the industry and they were like, okay now that the vaccines are here, we need to start scaling up back again.

And there’s hire back the salespeople and we’ll hire back the ops people once the sales start to happen. And so what I’ve noticed. What happened at the beginning of the pandemic? I remember being able to cherry pick all the best people in March 2020. Yup. I want that person. I want that person.

I sat here and said, okay, what did we do wrong? Why are you having so much trouble filling sales roles? And I think it’s just because every company is hiring sales people, but then also too, I think there’s this general uneasiness in the events industry. There’s a scar that’s got left from how everybody got furloughed people, some people lost their jobs completely

[00:04:19] Natasha: 80% of our industry.

[00:04:21] Will: Yeah. Oh geez. That’s so crazy. And I think one of the interesting things about it is that it left this fear now that people who may have even been a company for a year now, maybe they don’t even like the company they work for.

They’re just afraid to leave because they’re afraid that. The Delta variant or the whatever variants can come is going to come wipe the industry again. And they’re going to be like damn, I really wish I hadn’t left that other job or whatever it may be. So I think people are just fearful right now.

They’re hesitant to try to make a switch, even though some people are like being forced to go back to offices and they want to be remote and everything like that, or, oh, “Hey, they know that the benefits are better”. I don’t, unless I don’t know, but I think that’s one of the most big challenging things is.

This fear that everybody has.

[00:05:02] Natasha: What about the difference between inbound and outbound sales? Which ones are you looking for mostly. And which are you having the hardest time?

[00:05:10] Will: Yeah, we’re all, inbound in Endless. We eventually have goals to be able to build out like an outbound, but our outbound model will probably be something more along the lines of promoting the inbound content and trying to get them into the investment to

[00:05:20] Natasha: I was gonna say good luck with that.

[00:05:21] Will: But yeah, definitely like I think cold calling is definitely dead. I don’t think anyone buys from someone who does like really

[00:05:26] Natasha: But even warm calling.

Yeah, that takes a hunter. And those are really hard to come by and very expensive.

[00:05:35] Will: Yeah. And so for us, yeah. Luckily we have a very strong marketing backend that has allows it.

So then that way, these leads that come in, they’re really passionate about it unless they love the content that they’ve digested. So I think that really adds a lot to making it easier. And also we have very systematized. I You and I, our system buddy is hard. So I think like we’re very systematized, so it makes very easy to be like, Hey, we have a process for everything.

And if you need an answer for something, you have an answer available to you. That helps a little bit, but definitely it’s I think the fear is probably making things harder.

[00:06:05] Natasha: So two questions to pick you back up that one is you do have and have had for some time, an incredible inbound marketing strategy? So let’s unpack that what’s the ROI and I’ll ask the next question later. Cause it’s too many questions.

[00:06:21] Will: Yeah. I mean it funnels our entire business. So like the ROI is basically in relative, like infinite, right? Like it’s everything that pummels our business. It makes it what it is. It makes it great. So if I were to just to shut off the blog, shut off the website, everything like that.

I pretty sure like the company was just like, collapse on itself. So it’s definitely a measurable on that end, but we’re always trying to do whenever we’re designing these campaigns, it’s just trying to make sure that yeah, like it’s continually moving the needle be data-driven, but ultimately to not only is it actually what’s funneling that revenue it’s become like almost, and this is the part of marketing that I think most people think marketing is it’s become almost unquantifiable in terms of the value.

It’s put us as a thought leader and it’s made us as having that brand and making us have that value in that place in the industry. And that honestly like the ROI and the stuff’s so hard to be able to calculate, but the ability to say, like you’re one of the leaders in the industry, I think is just awesome to be able to say..

[00:07:13] Natasha: Is that your number one marketing strategy in terms of inbound?

[00:07:19] Will: Yeah. Oh yeah. Like everything that I do when we’re designing and talking about Hey, how can we do marketing is designed to push people back to the website, to digest the blog posts, to get an ebook, to get on a webinar, to be able to digest that, convert that funnel and then to have a sales development rep follow up and add value along the entire way.

Everything else that we try to do where we try to negate that and try to like directly sell or anything like that doesn’t really work well for us. And we haven’t really built out a really extremely strong, like in terms of compared to some of these SaaS companies partnership program.

So definitely the simple strategy for us in marketing is get them to the website, get them to download the content and it will work itself out.

[00:07:56] Natasha: So are you writing and creating all that content yourself? Or do you hire another company to assist with.

[00:08:03] Will: Yeah, no, it’s not me. And in terms of me, it’s not Will Curran, but it’s my, our internal team. Yeah. We don’t outsource any of our content just because it, we find that you pay it too much of a premium on it and we know what we’re doing.

So we know Hey, we can take a writer who has no experience in the events industry and train them what to do. So yeah, it all comes in internally on our team and yeah, we’re really lucky. Honestly, the team people like talk about how “Wow, I love Endless’ content.” I’m like you “Guys it’s not me.”

I sometimes stand from a camera and have some cool ideas. I should. But like the reason why you see a podcast every day, the reason why you see a blog post everyday, while there’s an ebook coming out every quarter is because there’s a team who’s working on it every single day and not.

[00:08:40] Natasha: So is that your approach to podcasts every day, a blog post every day, and a quarterly download loadable thing.

[00:08:47] Will: I think where we’re at right now is we have three podcasts. We have a basically Monday, Wednesday, Friday release dates for them. So I would love to have two more podcasts, but they might seem to hate me. That’s too much content for that.

[00:08:57] Natasha: Wait, you have one podcast. But it releases Monday, Wednesday, Friday?

[00:09:01] Will: No three different podcasts.

And they each have different release days. And so event icons was the original one I started, which was all designed like interview the icons and events industry. Like I think you’ve even been on the show before twice now.

That’s right. That’s right. Oh yeah. They told her got about that. Oh my God. That’s how long that show has been going to. I don’t remember. And then we have Event Tech Podcast, which was just Brent and I spinning off to talk about tech nerdy stuff. And then the third one’s Event Brew, which is like my chance to basically get on everyone’s shit list.

And the events industry you talking like. And no one else talking about, and let’s be honest. I think we’re the only podcast events industry that has an E rating

[00:09:39] Natasha: You need to have me on that one. And I will let loose.

[00:09:43] Will: Well here’s, what’s interesting. Most people don’t know this about that podcast is we don’t do guests because it’s just the same consistent voices.

And we’re just constantly hearing our different pinks cause we all have different really wrapped opinions on it. So that’s the one show that doesn’t have any guests on it.

[00:09:57] Natasha: I just wanna say out loud. If you’re listening to this, and my demographic actually is not event planners, it’s entrepreneurs, but if you are a planner, please feed and water your artists, your technicians, your photographers. Please. Okay. Moving on.

The other question I wanted to ask is since you and I are both very much into systems and processes, what do you use to teach everyone in your onboarding? Do you use Trainual? Do you have Google docs?  

[00:10:27] Will: I love Trainual such a cool company. Chris Rondo is a longtime friend of mine.

And there’s a funny story about that. If anyone ever wants to hear how Chris and train Neil and I all go way, way back, but we don’t use Trainual. Our big thing is we’re very lenient on kind of two systems. One is more for ongoing and also for that initial training and the other one’s primarily used for onboarding and the initial training. So the first thing that we do is instead of doing like a Trainual system, we actually do like a base camp project. So we have just a template for every role within the company that says “Hey, this day, you need to learn about this.”, “You need to read about this document.”

And that pairs really well with the other system, which is our Slab document. Like basically it’s a Wikipedia for our company, huge fans of Slab.

[00:11:06] Natasha: You said what kind of?

[00:11:07] Will: It’s company called Slab or an app called Slab or like

[00:11:10] Natasha: Slab.

[00:11:11] Will: Yeah. Everyone’s sort of Notion probably by now at this point. And we use Notion at the beginning that we’re designing like Notion is it doesn’t allow really easily for if you’re on like mobile, if you like scrolled, sometimes you like am moving like a box or moving a whole text chunk.

And I liked There’s an editing time and there’s a reading time and I didn’t really need all the robust, like tables and database features that Notion offered. I just needed a place where we could write, “Hey, our brand guidelines and here’s where they are with images and videos” and things like that.

Or, Hey, here’s a step-by-step instruction guide. If you need to do request a PO for a new vendor or something like that. So Slab Kim really good for it. And I liked it because it was very lightweight. And I remember had an conversation with the owner when I first switched over. Cause we were like one of their first customers and he said you like most about slab and why did you switch from Notion?

And I said, It just does one thing really well. It just allows you to document. So yeah, that’s where we primarily use it’s in, the Wikipedia is mixed with videos, pictures, obviously, lots of text and things like that. And then yeah, when we onboard employees, we put them in base camp, which tells them which documents, which days, and you look at and who they need to meet.

And Hey, what apps do you need to download and all that sort of stuff.

[00:12:12] Natasha: So how do you define your profit goals to your team and measure and appreciate or develop your team?

[00:12:19] Will: Mostly when they don’t hit goal. Yeah. So this is on profit. We don’t look at top line revenue anymore. We look at profit. If you look at revenue, that’s fine.

[00:12:28] Natasha: But how do you get your team on board and communicate with them?

[00:12:32] Will: Definitely like the very complex piece of it. But the system that we use is we use EOS. Everyone’s heard Entrepreneur Operating System, right? Gino Wickman’s traction book. So very much follow that system pretty well. We tweaked it a little bit based on what worked well for us.

I have a VTO, which we make sure everyone reads and it’s part of the onboarding. And we tell people to go back to it regularly, we do quarterly planning and then announce it at a town hall every quarter, we do monthly town halls to where we’re constantly reporting on where we’re at. And that’s really where the goal comes in.

Pair that with the system of Lattice is what we use to do all of our performance management. And we really like it because it allows people to set those goals and then have them link them to apparent rock. So basically you can create company rocks or AKA like quarterly initiatives and then goals, and then link it to a department goal.

And then everybody’s individual roles then roll into that department role and it rolls all up and down. So all the updates they give go in one single base.

[00:13:25] Natasha: Who is managing that for you?

[00:13:28] Will: We have a people experience part. Yeah. Like an HR department, essentially. Yeah. We call people experience. Cause they do a little bit more than just like compliance and payroll and stuff.

[00:13:35] Natasha: We don’t use the word human resources anymore. It is merged into people ops.

[00:13:41] Will: People Operations. And we even thought people operations sound a little too hard. So that’s why we like experience.

[00:13:45] Natasha: You guys, the Einstein’s I’ll do everything just a few clicks different.

[00:13:50] Will: That’s true. Our finance departments called The Counter Holics so in fact exactly for it.

But yeah, so that system is managed by them, but then obviously like every manager’s in it doing, it does one-on-ones it does reviews. It does feedback. It does so much more. It’s really a killer. So everyone’s contributing in that different way, but when it comes to the goals specifically, I’m the one who puts them into the company ones.

And I set those and then obviously my whole leadership team then sets the department goals and they link it up and then we actually just started doing it this quarter is then having an audit of our leadership team. Look at every single person’s goal across the whole company and make sure they’re all lined in that.

No one’s going after any crazy ambitious things that don’t make sense or, Hey, does that not even help the department rocks that then helps the company rock. So that’s the one piece. And then I think the second question was like, what do you do when people don’t achieve those goals? Yeah.

[00:14:36] Natasha: How do you deal with that challenge and development of that person?

[00:14:40] Will: Yeah one of my things is I definitely try to create a foster, a culture of you can fail, right? Like I want people to actually set ambitious rocks, fail at them at least the first time, and then say what they learn. I think somebody who is consistently achieving their rocks might not be setting a big enough rock for them at that point.

Unless you like really are looking at, and you’re like, no, you’re just really good at saying your rocks and you are going a little bit after ambitious. There’s obviously a case by case scenario. But the first thing I do is try to foster that ability for people to know that they can fail and go after big things.

The big thing. I think when it comes to that idea of failure though, is I don’t want to know about failure at the third month or the end of the third month at the end of the quarter. And it’s just oh, Hey, the whole month everything’s been good. And boom, Wait, something went wrong? “Everything didn’t work, wait.”

How did he not work? What I want to see is “Hey, have you made that progress towards it?” “Have you worked towards it?” And obviously like our managers are all taught to look at Lattice and that’s one great thing I’ll be in the same system for the one-on-ones is they can see the rock status and see Hey, I’m off track, I’m off track and they get in their one-on-ones.

Hey, “what do I do?” “I have to help you?”, what I have to do to help you.” And then also then pair that with the system of EOS. I think it does a really good job. We have weekly meetings where they have to report on track or off track with their ranks. And whatever always try to do is encourage people to say are you really on track?

“Are you really off track you default to on track?” I think in remote culture, you have to let people default on track. Otherwise you people feel micromanaged, but if someone’s feeling like, oh yeah, I’ve seen it with them where maybe I haven’t seen much progress, haven’t seen much update. And they’re saying, yeah, I’m totally on track.

“Are you really come on, you can be honest here, say you’re off track.” And then they’re like, “yeah, I’m actually off track.”, I’m like, “Cool, no worries. Let’s put on the issues.” “Let’s talk about them all. I’ll help you.” So much to the point where sometimes towards the end of the core people who have been off track for like maybe a month or maybe they get off track halfway through the quarter and they can’t ever recover from it, does, whatever it may be.

So much to the point where sometimes we get to that. We have beaten this with a dead horse. You’ve tried to help me so much. It’s just the thing it’s unobtainable now for me at this point. And I go, cool. We’re going to set better rocks next time. And then I think the big thing though, is that’s like within one quarter, obviously, if you see this happen repeatedly over quarters, That’s where I think you start to have that performance, maybe performance improvement plan conversation, maybe have deep conversations, your one-on-ones, but I try to make it where people don’t feel the need to feel like they’re walking on eggshells.

That they’re, if they screw up, everything’s going to go poorly. It’s hard. Cause sometimes they, I think even people make that assumption on themselves, even though you enforce the culture as much as possible to fail.

[00:16:58] Natasha: What do you do to set a rock for someone who’s like an assistant, admin or something. That’s not sales generating.

What kind of rocks can they have? And again, rocks are these three month goals that flow up to the major goal of the year.

[00:17:15] Will: Yeah. Oh my gosh. So this is I don’t have a perfect answer for this. That’s pretty sure.

[00:17:19] Natasha: I’m asking personally.

[00:17:21] Will: Yeah, yeah.

[00:17:22] Natasha: I’m asking personally, but then everyone else listening to this is going to be like, yeah, how do you do that?

[00:17:27] Will: How do you do that? So one interesting thing, and I’ll do two examples. Cause you can do like the admin thing. I have to do this every quarter because my assistant obviously has to come with a rock and he’s like, how do I help? Like last year. Revamping all of our praise and he’s how do I hope with this?

And you have to have that conversation. So I think that’s our first thing is have a conversation idea because sometimes I think it’s easy to get stuck. And then just to classify as yeah, because my role can’t attribute to this, but what I’ve also noticed is sometimes even full departments can feel like they can’t attribute to a rock.

For example, so we’re updating our website, adding some additional content and my people express. How the hell do we help with this? Sales makes sense they want to know what’s going to be on there. And marketing’s always going to build it all operations, going to give information that helps with copy and things like that.

But then like people experience, what do I do? And I think sometimes you just start with that brainstorming conversation. Okay, let’s start to think about this. And I think if you have the person who set the rock or had the vision for what it is in this case, like the update website fell on me because Will’s school, web designer skills over here.

And so I sat here and said, there is ways that you can help. To be honest, we probably should update our careers page to better illustrate the people we want to get. We were actually going to move it into the header of the website so we can, in-court get more salespeople to apply for jobs, going back to that other issue.

But trying to figure out ways to like, Hey, maybe there’s a way that we can help communicate our awesome culture that helps sell us more. That helps illustrate the team and who was all on board. And then they started going, oh what if we update the whole about us page? I’m like, yeah, you guys know what about us better than anybody.

So let’s go ahead and update that page then. And I think when you start to get that brainstorm going, it’s very easy to see like how it goes. But I think sometimes when you just expect the person to come up with the goal all on their own, sometimes it can feel very lost and not sure what to do.

[00:19:06] Natasha: So I’m going to just say collaboration between the individual or the division and the leader to come up with rocks that make sense, and that are, cause everyone wants to participate, but it is hard to do non-revenue generating goals.

So if anyone’s listening to this and you have an incredible solution, can you email that to me?

 Okay, next question. I’ll pass it on. What is the number one toughest challenge that you’re facing right now in your business today?

[00:19:40] Will: Oh yeah. I think it’s, the first one that pops into my mind is that we’ve grown so much.

We have that stereotypical, “Now you’re so much bigger”. Here’s what does that need to look. It just bursts across everything and touches everything in terms of that growth. You have more employees. Okay. You need more structure, you need better documentation. Oh. We’re like hiring roles that have no documentation now.

Okay. Like how do we build that all out? And sometimes when you’re hiring for people that no one in the company knows what that role exactly does, you gotta figure that out.

[00:20:06] Natasha: Wait, what is one of those roles potentially?

[00:20:08] Will: So like we hired a sales enablement person and we were like, I know what sales enablement is.

I’ve read books on it. I have an idea that ideas are like a glue between the help just push people along.

[00:20:17] Natasha: Is it a business development type of role, what is it?

[00:20:21] Will: No, they don’t touch clients at all. They’re just like, back-end, what do I do to unblock you? They’re focusing on helping clean up processes.

They’re looking at data to be like, are we actually, our sales are at rest talking to the right people very much. Just trying to think what can we do to enable sales to happen more often? And yeah, Caesar’s his name and Charles to say is our, I don’t know if you’ll ever listen to podcasts, but we hired him.

And we were like, we don’t have any documentation. We have some basic orientation. Like you can learn about our processes. You can learn about what kind of clients were going after. We have a lot of dark, but we didn’t have anything. I said, here’s how to do sales and MIMLS and we had to hire that role and be like, hire someone smart enough that we’re like, you’re going to help us build that –

[00:20:56] Natasha: Write the manual .

[00:20:56] Will: And have that culture. Yeah, I think that’s a big challenge. Part of it that’s an example of one of the things, but I think one is capital.

[00:21:02] Natasha: A challenge for you with growing and having so many new people on a bigger payroll and accounts receivable, it can be 45 to 90 days for large events. And we’ll let me just put this to you. I interviewed someone actually, the podcast just released this week.

His receivables, construction was up to two years. Sometimes.

[00:21:27] Will: Yeah. Jesus. Yeah, no, we’ve been lucky that from the beginning, I’ve always desired to have really low receivables kinda naive. I was just like, oh yeah,

[00:21:36] Natasha: that’s easier-

[00:21:36] Will: Net 15 and I was like, you must follow net 15 and then-

[00:21:39] Natasha: Big companies don’t do that.

[00:21:43] Will: Yeah no, totally. And we’ll actually, this might surprise you. This is what’s crazy. Is that I naively was hitting in probably some ego speaking thing and they’re like, yeah. Like the more that you can increase the cash coming in the Greg Crabtree principle of if you can increase how fast your game receivable is, you can increase your cashflow and your like time thing and I was looking at it. I was like I think my total time from sale to like cash or execution was whatever. It was like 15 days or five days. And I was like, I’m gonna make this less than. I’m going to collect all my money before the event and believe it or not, we put in our contracts and we’re strong about, and you get these occasional clients like we have is very big client.

We just did this week and-

[00:22:16] Natasha: Apple’s not gonna do that.

[00:22:18] Will: We’ll get,

[00:22:18] Natasha: I mean let’s just –

[00:22:19] Will: It depends. It depends.

[00:22:21] Natasha: Okay.

[00:22:21] Will: Like we go in pretty strong, like art terms are like, we want to be paid very far ahead for the them. Cause we realized most of the work’s done before the event, you know this and so we just go in and saying that’s what.

We have all of our cash in hand two weeks before the event even starts. And sometimes you do have clients like Apple who come and say, “Hey, we’re not going to do this.” Most of them, don’t say, we’re going to pay you completely net 30 net, 90, whatever it is. Most of them then say okay how about this?

We’ll give you 25% upfront. We’ll give you 25% that first day of the vent. And then we want 50% off words. And then obviously it’s just negotiation

[00:22:55] Natasha: That’s a lot of admin.

[00:22:56] Will: Yeah. So what we found is we did that negotiation. Most clients end up just being like the most we’ll end up doing is 25% after the event.

And that what we realized is we line that up also with our profitability to know that. Let’s say for example, that a client decides to just completely screw you and says, I’m not happy. “I’m not giving you the money” or who knows, whatever reason ends up happening that we can’t get that last 25% we know based on our profitability that we can lose that.

And we’ll still be fine businesses. Aren’t going to like crumble and everything like that. So I think that’s where really where he designed your accounts payable and accounts receivable. Yeah. Your accounts receivable primarily, and then your, with your profitability, you can end up protecting yourself.

And then also utilizing, and that’s why capital’s not as much of an issue for us as we can use that as an acceleration that as we’re starting to collect these payments, it’s almost like the customers are feeling the fire for the future growth of the company too and while.

[00:23:43] Natasha: Yeah, great, so about profitability, there’s so many numbers to throw around and I vacillate between wanting to talk about gross profit and then net profit and the in between gross and net is really how you run the innards of your business in your type of business, do you know what the standard and that profit ?

[00:24:07] Will: For like the industry?

[00:24:08] Natasha: For AV not planners?

[00:24:10] Will: Yeah, not necessarily. And I almost don’t really care in some ways, cause I’m like, look, I’m going to do what I can and –

[00:24:15] Natasha: Well it’s a benchmark, right? I mean, like restaurants are four to 6% and 10 is like amazing. And anything more than 10% is like mind blown now. Hopefully you’re doing better than that.

[00:24:30] Will: Yeah. Yeah. Definitely better than that. Yeah. And I think for us, in terms of benchmarks, like my biggest thing is I use myself as a benchmark, right? Like I’m my own worst enemy. I’m the only one that I need to be worrying about and worrying about competing.

And so I stay laser focused on that, but also too, I think it opens the idea that you can have these conversations say like, why not can’t we go for this, right? Why can we not consider charging more, to have a higher margin than someone else in the industry? I think the biggest thing that what I try to do whenever it comes to margin and we talked about maybe this really gross margin is that I try to balance margin, but also making sure that we’re not out pricing ourselves. And that’s honestly the biggest dance that we try to do.

[00:25:05] Natasha: Yup, it’s a tight rope dance.

[00:25:07] Will: Yeah. And we let the clients dictate what they need to be. If we’re losing a lot of deals and we’re talking to them and the clients getting feedback, it’s price.

And then we look at those proposals or their companies, or hear feedback that they’re like, they gave you more or they do the exact same thing for cheaper. It makes you then go, “Okay, we need to drop our margin a little bit more on this.” But as time is going on, like our business, the way it’s involved in margin a lot is that it’s really become more people heavy.

So most people don’t, this is a unique thing about endless is that as a production technology coming, we don’t own any of the technology and that’s been purpose. I’m not trying to be like a subcontract, everything kind of company had don’t believe in that. I think you do have to have control, but for us, we realized that it was the people was the special element.

So we realized that, okay if that’s the case, like the people margins is really where it’s important. So we actually try to make more margin on people. Then we do try and off the rentals and things like that. Because if you try to mark up the rentals too much, then you start to look too expensive to everybody and everything like that.

And then I think then the other part of it too. If we recognize too, that “Hey, we’re not going to own the equipment.” So therefore, in theory, this is what I want you all to say is you have the same price as somebody who owns equipment. What we try to do is make on the business side of things, make up for it by, Hey, let’s get discounts from our vendors.

We’re going to say, “Hey look, you don’t have to deal with the client. You’re literally just going to drop off a truck. You’re going to slide the thing down and you could give us all the gear and we just take it off your hands. We’re going to give it back to you in good condition.” All good. It goes a lot.

We find with a lot of companies is. Oh, wow. That’s nice. So basically we’re getting free money. We don’t have to do any work at all and as long as you return the gear and there’s no damage and there’s no super wear and tear whoa, that’s great. So we pair that with the discounts and then also just the fact that we have so much buying car because we don’t own everything we’re renting all the time.

So these companies are really happy because

[00:26:45] Natasha: So they give you a 10%, a 10% discount at least, right?

[00:26:48] Will: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. So we try to pair that mix. So for us, it’s about making sure that we have good margin on labor and then making sure that we work our relationships, utilize our position in the industry to be able to get good deals.

So then that way, when Natasha comes in and says, Hey, I want you to do an event. We can sit here and say yeah, you’re going to get the same price that you. I say probably cause it all depends obviously, but we’ve always lost business obviously to people who do own gear and they really want the business, but we can usually price match on what’s coming down the line because we have that good pairing on the other side.

[00:27:19] Natasha: And your overhead is different also being fully distributed, remote work. Okay. Last question. What is your exit plan?

[00:27:28] Will: Oh my gosh. So this is a weird one. I don’t necessarily have an exit plan because I don’t have any desire to exit. And this is a weird one because I think for most entrepreneurs they use, there’s like the 50% I do then there’s like the 50% who are just like, this is a lifestyle business for me.

I’m like in between, this is like maybe the 1% weirdo category of being like I love not exiting because I love what I do first of all. And that’s the easy answer. But the second thing is that when I don’t love what I do, I find a way to make it, what I will have to do. And not like a forcing coercing way.

But for example, when I was starting to get really burnt out on what we were doing in terms of the business, it was coming repetitive. I really want to learn more about video creation. And I was really passionate about Casey Neistat was doing his blog and doing all this travel. And I really wanted to travel more.

And I was like how the heck can I do this? Instead of, I think most entrepreneurs would say, I want to sell the company and go and do that or whatever it is where most people think in that methodology. I think to myself, how can I do that within Endless? And so what I did. Let’s start making video content endless.

And it paired well with the goals of what the company was trying to do, which is continue to do content marketing and everything like that. I literally bought a camera. I started doing a bunch of vlogs and things like that personally, but then I also started doing these whiteboard Wednesday videos. I learned how to light a whiteboard and things like that.

And it was really cool because it allowed me to explore that passion. And for me, that’s what it’s about. Exploring the passions, getting a chance to do new and different things. I’m think I’m like some entrepreneurs where it’s not as much about the money. It’s just an enabler for you to get to do other things.

But when you can go into work in, for example, me right now, as we’re growing the company, it’s a really exciting time for me because I’m like, cool. These are so many new problems and challenges and I want to tackle them all. And then I think the time where you start to say her, and there’s no challenges, everything comes routine.

You’re like, oh how can I maybe make a new challenge for us? In the business, but go and create awesome new content.

[00:29:15] Natasha: Avoid those moments of just coasting, because that can lead to despair and depression and selling your business.

Will unpacked a lot of his strategies for growing and managing his nearly 50 person company that is still growing along with the challenges that come with that growth.

For more information, please go to the show notes where you’re listening to this podcast. Want to know more about me, go to my website, officialnatashamiller.com. Thank you so much for listening. I hope you loved the show. If you did, please subscribe also, if you haven’t done so yet, please leave a review where you’re listening to this podcast. Now I’m Natasha Miller and you’ve been listening to FASCINATING ENTREPRENEURS.

Sign up for the newsletter