Today we’ve got another solo round—a solo sermon, if you will—on the Healthpreneur Podcast. In this episode, I am going to be talking to you about the magic of staying lean. Now, when I say staying lean, I’m not talking about your weight.
Yes, staying lean in terms of weight and fitness is great—but I’m talking about keeping your company lean. Many of us are fitness and nutrition experts, and I’m sure we all tell our clients that when you eat better food, you need less of it, right? Well, the same principle applies in business.
Many businesses—even successful ones—have a ton of waste. And all that waste means less profits and less money in your pocket at the end of the day, with more work than necessary. So I’ll be talking to you about how to minimize that waste and keep your company lean by hiring the best people, trimming the fat, and ultimately maximizing profits.
This is definitely an episode you don’t want to miss. There are some lessons in here that are crucial to any business owner, regardless of the size of your company or how much revenue you’re doing.
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In this episode, I will discuss:
- How to properly grow a team.
- The scaling scam.
- Why more revenue isn’t always better.
- Hire slow, fire fast.
- The Four Quadrant Exercise.
- The Danger Zone
1:00 – 6:00 – The Rodale story.
6:00 – 12:00 – Hiring and the scaling scam.
12:00 – 20:00 – The Four Quadrants Exercise.
20:00 – 22:00 – Scaling deeper, not wider.
What You Missed:
In the last episode, we were talking with my main man Jason Phillips, who has helped tens of thousands of people achieve their goals through his nutrition coaching platform.
He’s also created the first nutrition certification that will bridge that gap from knowledge to application..
Jason has scaled his business to over $100,000 per month in less than 30 months, so if you’re not so great at math like I am, that would be … two and a half years, right?
I wish I had done that well over two and a half years. I was a very slow and stubborn learner, so it took me about three years, I think, to crack $100,000 a year….
Jason is doing $100,000 a month!
Jason also talks about how he evolved from a scatter-brained, chasing-shiny-object type of entrepreneur, to being much more focused and driven based on his vision.
Definitely worth a listen and there are a lot of great nuggets in here.
You can catch it all here: How Jason Phillips Built a 7-Figure Nutrition Coaching Business.
Welcome to the Healthpreneur podcast, Yuri Elkaim here with you.
What’s up? I hope you’re having a great day. Today is another solo round—another sermon, if you will—and we’re talking about the magic of staying lean.
If you hear any background noise, it might be my little guy Oscar (who’s actually my big guy, he’s almost seven now, it’s crazy), he’s home sick from school today so he’s playing Lego in the next room. If you hear any stuff going on, that’s what’s happening.
I hope you’re doing great. I hope you’ve had a chance to listen to the last episode with Jason Phillips—amazing stuff with his nutrition certification program. We just had some really cool discussions about the reality of business, all the shiny object nonsense. Check out that episode if you missed it. It’s awesome.
All right, today we’re talking about the magic of staying lean, and I want to start by giving you some food for thought—literally. Most of us listening to this are in the health, fitness and wellness business and a lot of us have a very similar approach when it comes to food.
If you’re like myself you probably tell your audience, your clients—when you eat better quality food, you need less of it. Correct?
Why not the same thing in business? I’m going to elaborate on that in a second, but here’s the thing … What I’ve noticed, in my personal experience and seeing a lot of other businesses, working with a lot of other entrepreneurs, is that there’s often a lot of waste in many businesses. Especially as they grow.
So when I tell you that if we eat better quality food we need less of it … In business, how can we reduce the waste? I’ll show you an example and I’ll actually give you the solution in just a couple moments. But I want to share a little story first.
The Rodale story
So, Rodale—who is my publisher of my last two books—actually put up a statement that they’re looking for buyers. They’re looking for people to buy the company. This was in the summer of this year, 2017.
Initially, it shocked me. I was like, “Wow, this is like one of the biggest publishers in the world. They do Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Prevention magazine, all the biggest diet books for the most part are coming out of Rodale.” And I was like, “That’s really interesting.”
So what they’ve talked about in their press conferences is that they’ve had a lot of challenges in the last ten years as everything has moved online. Balancing the digital and print side of their business was a big challenge.
Because forever, they were a direct mail company. They would send out those postcard flyers or you would go to the bookstore, magazine shop and you’d see Men’s Health. Inside there’d be one of those postcards to subscribe to 12 issues and you would mail it in.
That was their business. That was their bread and butter and then everything shifted online and they’ve had a tough time. I don’t know the back end financials of the company, but I can only imagine what is going on, because one of the things that I’ve recognized in my health and fitness business is we’ve had a lot of bloating. I’m not going to call it wastage, but we had a lot of extra fluff in terms of personnel in our company, especially on the editorial side. So when we’re talking about our blog and our content development—we had a whole team of about five to six people there.
When we started to look at our payroll, I was like, “Wow, that is a large payroll just for that.” These people were amazing, they’re dear friends and I love them, but business is business. If you’re not seeing the profits you want to see, you’re not going to be in business very long—and Rodale is a prime example.
When I looked at my business I thought, “Well if that’s just my business, a tiny fish in this pond compared to a company like Rodale … Looking at how many people they have doing what seem to be redundant tasks. You have a senior editor, junior editor, editor in chief, editor of the editor under editor, proofreader.” I’m like, “What are all these people doing?”
I look at this and it seems like a lot of wastage. I really believe there a lot of wastage in these businesses where they have a lot of people who don’t need to be there.
I have nothing wrong with growing a team, because the bigger the dream, the bigger the team needs to be. If you really want to have great results and accelerate your success, surrounding yourself with amazing people is one of the only proven ways to do that. Really, it is.
With that said, there needs to be discretion.
There needs to be attention to detail when you’re hiring, when you’re looking to bring people in—and what I’ve recognized over the years is that people who I initially thought were A+ players turned out to be B players. That’s my fault.
That’s my fault in terms of jumping the gun, hiring people too quickly without having clear direction as to what they were going to do, what they were responsible for, what they were accountable to and what success looks like for both them and the company.
Hiring and the scaling scam
I want to give you a little exercise to help you avoid that from happening, but before I get there I want to talk about the scaling scam. The scaling scam is something I’ve recognized in our business and a lot of businesses in our space—where people continue to talk about growing to ten million, then 100 million, bigger and bigger, all this stuff.
Again, I’m definitely guilty of doing that. I’ve even said with Healthpreneur, our mission is to help a billion people on the planet. How are we going to do that? I honestly have no clue. But if I can help influencers like you become better at getting your message out and building more profitable business, then you’re going to impact more people and collectively we’re all going to win.
But, to avoid the scaling scam we really need to be true to ourselves and ask ourselves, “Why are we scaling? Why do we really want to scale? Why do we want to go to ten million from one million? Do we really know what’s involved?”
Because what happens is there’s this growth curve. There’s a lot of growing pains that happen as you’re building a business. The sweet spot, for a lot of businesses, is between 250,000 to almost $2 million in revenue. That’s a nice sweet spot in terms of … You have good cash flow, you have a good lifestyle and you’re impacting people in a pretty profound way, which is great.
I don’t know if it’s human ego or what, but we still just want to grow. And that’s fine—growth is necessary, it’s part of being human. It’s part of the journey.
So we want to go from two million to 10 million. Then we set this goal—let’s go to 10 million.
But all of a sudden we run into some roadblocks. There’s this gap from two to five million—even two to ten million—where there is a massive, massive learning curve. It’s like having kids, you don’t know what you’re getting into until you have them. Once you’ve gone down that path, what often ends up happening—and this has happened for me—is that you get to the top of the mountain and you look around and you’re like, “you know what? I don’t actually want to be on top of this mountain.”
I’ll share another little story with you. A couple years ago I was at a coaching mastermind group that I was part of and one of my friends—who is a very well known, successful person in our space, I’m not going to mention her name—was saying that they did about $10 million in revenue in the previous year … But she was really frustrated because they had little to no profit.
And I thought to myself—“You did $10 million in revenue but you have little to no profit to show for this?”
That really set off an alarm in my head. I’m like, “What’s the point?” What’s the point of faking it? Of showing everyone how successful you are and reporting revenue—which really doesn’t matter, by the way, it’s really about what you have in the bank that makes the difference at the end of the day.
We’re all bathing in these superficial “vanity” metrics. Whether it’s revenue or website traffic—numbers that make us look successful on the outside, but deep down, when we pull back the curtains and look at the business … The business owner, the CEO, the high level people—they’re stressed. They are swimming hard under the surface of the water to keep things afloat.
This year I had an epiphany, I was like, “What’s the point? When is enough, enough? Why go to 10 million if you’re at two?”
Is it because you really want to impact people? Or, is it because you want to make more money? But again, just because you’re making two million now—let’s say your profit is $500,000—it doesn’t mean you’re going to have two or three million dollars in profit at $10 million in revenue.
Because the nature of the business changes. You have to bring in all sorts of new people, whole new infrastructure, it changes the game.
People are important, but what I’m going to challenge you with is, when you are looking to bring people on your team—hire slow, fire fast. And only settle for A+ players. It really is as simple as that.
You can replace three to four people with one unbelievable A+ player. And I would encourage you to pay that person well. Maybe not right out of the gates—give them one project to work on, see how they perform, if they exceed your expectations, then great, bring them on.
But the problem is when we start to bring people into our company who can just fill in the gaps— “Hey, I just need to do this for a while,” and then they end up sticking around for way too long …. Three years down the road you’re going to be like, “Oh man, I gotta let this person go but this is gonna be a tough conversation.”
So the question we always want to be asking ourselves is … “Knowing what I know now, would I hire this person again? Knowing what I know now, would I do this again?”
Always using our wisdom and experience to retrospectively look at our business and be honest with how we want to grow things. So yes, surround yourself with great people—but I would really encourage you to stay as lean as possible for as long as possible until it hurts. Until it hurts and becomes an absolute necessity to bring another person in.
Because unless you’re an anomaly like Thrive Market and you grew to 500 people in no time at all—most of our businesses are not growing at a rate where we can’t handle most of the deliverables with a small team.
I want to give you a really cool exercise to help identify how you can find these people and how you can get stuff off your plate that you don’t enjoy doing. Let me just go back to the scaling scam for a second—and I talked about this at Healthpreneur Live. (By the way, if you want to join us at our next Healthpreneur Live event, it’s September 20 to 23 in Scottsdale Arizona, you can request an application or invitation at healthpreneurgroup.com/live. It’s by application only and it’s already filled up pretty nicely!)
So, one of the things I shared on stage was this growth curve. So we start off in our business as a trainer, a nutritionist expert. We’re a great artist, we’re the technician, we’re doing the stuff, the content and delivery—sharing our expertise—and that’s how it starts.
Then, as the business grows, into the couple $100,000’s, we start becoming more of an operator—we have to start doing a lot more of the stuff. Building up funnels, doing all the little things that don’t really “jazz us up” all that much.
The company grows a little bit more and eventually we become the CEO—the corporate executive, CEO, the head of the company, the entrepreneur. Thinking of the company as an investment vehicle now. Looking at ways where we can work on the business, not so much in the business. Building systems and looking at separating ourselves from all the stuff we’re doing.
And that’s all important stuff! But then we hit this point that I call the Existential Business Crisis. You get to a point in your business—let’s say it’s a couple million dollars in revenue or a couple hundred thousand dollars in revenue—and you’re looking at what you’re doing and you’re miserable.
You hate your business because you’ve become so far disconnected from what you loved doing in the first place—which was just sharing your knowledge, being the technician. Understand that if you’re going to scale, you don’t have to be the CEO of your company.
If all you want to do is share content, just be honest about that. Just be like, “Here’s what I want to do. I just want to connect with our customers. I just want to create content. I just want to shoot videos.” And surround yourself with people that can take on the growing side of your business to move forward.
The Four Quadrants Exercise
To help you get more clarity on this, I have this exercise called the four quadrant exercise. Here’s how it works …
If you have a sheet of paper you may want to take it out and draw this. If you’re walking, driving, riding your bike—you can just mentally do this and then transfer it to the paper afterwards.
Start off by drawing four quadrants. You’ve got a sheet of paper, just draw a line down the middle and then a line across, so you’ve got four quadrants.
Bottom right quadrant is entitled “Stuff I Hate Doing.” It’s pretty straightforward. This is all the stuff you really, at the core of your being, can’t stand. For me, editing is that one thing. This could be a big list. This could be like laundry, editing, this can be whatever it is you want. It could be personal business. You’ll see why this matters in a second.
For me, editing is one of the worst things I could ever spend my time doing. I’ve got an article that’s an unbelievable 5,000 word article, it was supposed to go up on a very, very popular website seven months ago, and it’s still not up. It’s actually in my inbox with about the tenth frigging revision back and forth with the people people at this website.
It’s crazy. I don’t even want to touch it. It’s driving me crazy. It’s been more back and forth with them than writing a published book.
So, I’ve delayed this whole process by about seven months because of all the back and forth editing. That’s just to give you an idea of how much I hate editing. You can see how the passion bubbles up there. That’s the stuff you want to write down in that bottom right quadrant.
Bottom left quadrant is stuff I dislike. This is a notch down from the hate. It’s stuff where there’s no energetic, “Oh my god, I can’t stand this.” It’s stuff that you don’t like doing but you don’t absolutely hate. It’s between the hated stuff and stuff that you’re okay doing.
It’s stuff I dislike to do. For you that might be, I don’t know, looking at financials. It might be writing. Whatever it is for you, you want to write that stuff down in this left quadrant.
Top left is what I call your “Younique Genius™.” Here you’re looking at one to three things that energize you. That you can do until the end of time and that you do better than anyone else.
For me that’s communicating—sharing my content/teaching/selling in this medium—basically the spoken word. If it’s on video or audio, that’s what I love doing and that’s why I have this podcast.
Second thing for me is strategizing and then obviously the delivery. The teaching, the speaking, communication, it all kind of boils down to two things—strategy and delivery of communication.
That’s all I want to do in the spoken word. What are the one or two, maybe three things that you do amazingly well that you can do for the end of time and it would totally energize you?
Finally in the top right is the final quadrant and it’s what I call the danger zone. This is where you start getting into trouble—and that’s why I call it the danger zone—because as you grow your business, as you’re wearing all the hats, you start developing skillsets that are necessary to develop in order to build your business. Especially if you’re growing things in a bootstrapping fashion.
But, the danger zone is comprised of activities that you’ve become dangerously good at in order grow your business, but these are things that don’t really jazz you up. For me, copywriting is an example of that.
I love copywriting, it’s super important to master. You have to understand the basics of direct response and practice it because it doesn’t matter if you’re sharing this stuff on video or in the written word—you have to understand the elements that go into direct response and influence and all that stuff.
But to sit down and write a sales letter for me, is not something I really enjoy doing. But I’ve done a lot of it because I’ve had to over the years.
The danger zone is stuff that you’ve become really good at, but that you don’t want to do too much of. It’s the stuff that you procrastinate on, it sucks the life out of you to some degree. And these activities become the key hires in your company.
If you don’t like copywriting, you hire someone who does. And all they do is write and copywrite, all that stuff. If you don’t like doing operations or managing people, that’s the danger zone that you’ve had to build up over time, that’s what you hand off. You get someone who’s a project manager, operations person, you have them do that stuff.
Do this exercise. I’m telling you, it is so clarifying—you’ll get your list of things you hate doing, that are in your danger zone, and the things you’re amazing at doing. Once you have that, what I would suggest is that at a very minimum level, you’re looking at a virtual assistant or someone at a low pay rate to take on the hate and dislike stuff.
That’s simple stuff like, “Hey, can you edit these videos, can you edit this article, can you edit this transcript.” That’s simple, you don’t have to spend six figures on that type of person.
Top right, danger zone, those are the key hires in your company. These are the key A+ players that you want to spend a good amount of time vetting and making sure they are the right fit for your company—because if you get these people onboard, man, they will make your life so much easier and your business will move. It’ll just be like a knife going through butter. No problems.
That’s a really cool little exercise that will definitely help you out.
Scaling deeper, not wider
Again, I want to just finish off by leaving you with a question to think about—“Why do you want to scale?” And again, there’s nothing wrong with growing. But I want to leave you with another notion, which is that with Healthpreneur, we really believe in scaling by going deeper not wider.
Think about that. Instead of impacting 10 million people, what if you impacted 1,000 people 10x better, 10x more deeply, 10x more intimately? Is there anything wrong with that?
Maybe you can charge more money. You can have a more fulfilled business by really connecting with these people who you actually know.
Something to think about. And then with that said, who do you need on the bus to help make that happen?
Those are your questions to ponder for today’s episode. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. I’ve enjoyed delivering this message to you because it’s something I really believe in. At our peak we had a team of about 13, 14 people and now we’re down to about five. In terms of our health and fitness business, with Healthpreneur, we’re basically about three core people and then a few ancillary. A handful of people, and we’re going to grow that a little bit, but we still want to be very cognisant of what we’re doing.
So that’s all for today’s episode. If you have enjoyed this, I’d love to hear your comments. If you haven’t yet subscribed to the podcast, you can do so on iTunes.
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